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Nikolay Goldobin recalled to Canucks, sparking the “Goldy Wars” debate once again

Sven Baertschi was assigned to Utica to make room for the 24-year-old winger.

Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks
Nikolay Goldobin #77 of the Vancouver Canucks sports a Hockey Day in Canada toque before their NHL game against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena February 9, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

You had to imagine that the Goldy Wars were going to re-emerge at some point this season.

That point of the season is today.

Nikolay Goldobin was recalled by the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday morning, after leading the Utica Comets in scoring with 20 points in 18 games. Clearly too talented for the AHL, it still remains a mystery whether or not he’s a bonafide NHL player.

The knock on Goldobin is that he’s been able to produce with guys like Elias Pettersson, but looks lost when he’s not playing with someone skilled. The eye test will tell you he’s clearly talented when the puck is on his stick. However, the eye test and the analytics tell you that the opposing team bombards the unlucky Canucks goaltender with chances when Goldy is on the ice.

Only during the 2017-18 season did Goldobin produce at a second-line rate at even-strength (1.7 points-per-60). Last season, his 1.29 points-per-60 was comparable to that of a fourth-line forward. If you’re a Goldy believer, you could contribute that to diminished confidence, but his usage and most common linemates (Pettersson, Horvat, Boeser) would tell you he’s been given ample opportunity.

While Travis Green will be looking for Goldobin to provide some offence, he will surely be looking for a player with a more well-rounded game as well. For some insight on that, I reached out to Ben Birnell of the Utica Observor-Dispatch for comment.

“With Goldobin, the offensive skill has always been evident during his time with the Comets. He seemed to have a good attitude about being back in the AHL.

“I think in recent contests he’s shown a better all-around game. He had been killing penalties earlier in the season, but he hadn’t really been among the guys on the penalty kill recently.

“That said, he blocked a shot Saturday in a tight game against Laval , which was good to see from him.”

One spot that makes sense for Goldy to slot into tomorrow against Pittsburgh is alongside J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat on the second-line. Although most Canucks fans were happy to see MacEwen get his shot on that line, something had to change after that unit was on the ice for more scoring chances against than any other line, even if Miller and Horvat did produce the team’s only goal.

Here’s some of the reaction following Goldobin’s recall:

As for Sven Baertschi, you have to feel for the guy after a pedestrian showing during his time back with the big club. Now, he’s being yo-yoed back and forth between Vancouver and Utica, all the while preparing to become a father.

Yet as one opportunity ends, another arises. Our writer CanucksAbbyFan posed the question to the Twitterverse, will should be answered in short order soon enough.