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Finding the Nikolay Goldobin of Every NHL Team

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Nikolay Goldobin is in a unique situation with the Canucks, but does that mean he’s actually a unique player?

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres
Canucks right wing Nikolay Goldobin (77) against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Nikolay Goldobin has been one of the most confounding Canucks to get a read on.

He’s fifth on the Canucks in scoring and has tantalizing puck skills. Based on that, he shouldn’t have a problem getting into the line-up of this skill-depleted club.

However, Goldobin’s apparent defensive deficiencies have kept him in the coach’s doghouse for most of the season. He’s also had some bad puck luck, missing on a few surefire goals throughout the year.

While Goldobin’s situation is unique to the Canucks, it isn’t unique around the NHL. You can look at other NHL teams to find talented young guys who are in the coach’s doghouse, or young guys that deserve a bigger opportunity but aren’t getting one.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

The NHL is a young man’s game, but coaches are still hesitant to give opportunities to young guys who deserve it. Fret not Goldy, you’re not alone here.

Not every team has a clear-cut Goldy comparable, so I’ve rated each team’s “Goldobin” out of five.

Last note? I tried to have some fun with this, so don’t take it too seriously.

Here are Goldy’s numbers for reference: 23 years old, 52 GP, 6-19-25, 14:47 ATOI

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim Ducks right wing Daniel Sprong (11) controls the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Honda Center.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim Ducks: Daniel Sprong

21 years old, (with Anaheim): 29 GP, 9-4-13, 14:18 ATOI

Since joining the Anaheim Ducks, Sprong trails only Jacob Silfverberg with nine goals since Dec. 5th. Despite that, he’s 11th among forwards in average ice time.

Comparison: 4/5. Sprong is younger and is a shooter rather than a set-up guy. Otherwise, he’s Goldobin. He’s recently been scratched by new “head coach” Bob Murray as well.

Arizona Coyotes: Christian Fischer

21 years old, 60 GP, 11-5-16, 13:19 ATOI

Goldobin does remind me of Alex Galchenyuk-lite, but it’s Christian Fischer who’s situation compares better to Goldy. Fischer played big minutes early, but can’t find consistency and has seen his ice time dip accordingly.

Comparison: 4/5. Basically the same as Sprong, minus the healthy scratches.

Boston Bruins: Danton Heinen

23 years old, 57 GP, 9-12-21, 13:32 ATOI

After an outstanding rookie season last year, Heinen has been hampered by the sophomore jinx. Still, the coaching staff has been patient with Heinen and they’ve been rewarded of late. Maybe Travis Green needs to take a page out of Bruce Cassidy’s book?

Comparison: 3/5. Good boys from Langley, B.C. don’t get criticized for defensive responsibility as much as Russians.

Buffalo Sabres: Conor Sheary

26 years old, 55 GP, 9-15-24, 14:34 ATOI

No offence to Sam Reinhart, but Sheary isn’t quite the same without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby feeding him the puck.

Comparison: 3/5. Similar profile to Goldy, although less room for improvement for Sheary based on age.

NHL: New York Islanders at Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett (93) and New York Islanders left wing Anders Lee (27) battle for the puck during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett

22 years old, 55 GP, 11-12-23, 13:31 ATOI

Goldy has been pushed out of the top-six in Vancouver by Green. Bennett has been pushed out by superior players in Calgary

Comparison: 2/5. Bennett has rounded-out his game to be a solid bottom-six guy. Good luck getting Goldy to do that.

Carolina Hurricanes: Saku Maenalanen

24 years old, 23 GP, 4-3-7, 9:29 ATOI

Sak-who? The Canes signee from Finland has looked good in limited minutes. One of those guys, like Goldy, who could probably produce more in a larger role.

Comparison: 2/5. Saku appears to work harder than Goldy. Good bet that Green wouldn’t put him in the press box.

Chicago Blackhawks: Brendan Perlini

22 years old, (with Chicago) 29 GP, 3-1-4, 9:45 ATOI

After a break-through season with the Coyotes, the offensively-gifted Perlini has hit a wall in Chicago. His ice time has plummeted, and he looks like a player to needs another refresh (this smells like a Jim Benning special).

Comparison: 3/5. Perlini has lost the trust of his coach, and the benching appears to have hurt, not helped.

Colorado Avalanche: Sven Andrighetto

25 years old, 42 GP, 4-5-9, 11:36 ATOI

After scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace when he arrived to Colorado, Andrighetto looks like an afterthought now.

Comparison: 3/5. Goldobin is a better player than Andrighetto.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Alexander Wennberg

24 years old, 59 GP, 2-21-23, 15:49 ATOI

Wennberg, like Goldobin, might need a fresh start. It’s not like Torts doesn’t like Wennberg, who’s been playing the Swede more than 17 minutes per game of late.

Comparison: 3/5. Wennberg looked like a superior player to Goldobin in previous seasons, but not this year.

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Dallas Stars
Dallas Stars right wing Valeri Nichushkin (43) and Ottawa Senators left wing Ryan Dzingel (18) fight for the puck as the Dallas Stars mascot looks on during the third period at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars: Valeri Nichuskhin

23 years old, 42 GP, 0-7-7, 12:14 ATOI

You think the Canucks have issues with Goldobin? How about the Stars, who were relying on Nichushkin for secondary scoring. Yikes

Comparison: 2/5. I still think Goldy is undervalued and snake-bitten. Nichushkin has just been bad.

Detroit Red Wings: Anthony Mantha

24 years old, 46 GP, 14-14-28, 17:27 ATOI

Another player who’s taken a while to “figure it out.” He had a slow start this season, but patience in the player has paid off. Not to mention, Detroit doesn’t really have anyone else right now.

Comparison: 4/5. The players are similar, the situation is not. Give Goldy Mantha’s ice time, I bet he outperforms the Detroit winger.

Edmonton Oilers: Jesse Pujujlarvi

20 years old, 46 GP, 4-5-9, 11:24 ATOI

Poor Pujujlarvi. Maybe McDavid will ask for a trade too.

Comparison: 2/5. Very different players, but coaches don’t trust either of them.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers forward Denis Malgin (62) and Edmonton Oilers forward Tobias Rieder (22) look for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers: Denis Malgin

22 years old, 44 GP, 7-7-14, 12:58 ATOI

Another small, quick, skilled European who plays well with skilled players. However, he’s spent most of his season with Jared McCann and Troy Brouwer, which has hurt his production.

Comparison: 4/5. Malgin is very similar to Goldobin at the same age. Buried behind decent top-six in Florida.

Los Angeles Kings: Adrian Kempe

22 years old, 58 GP, 9-12-21, 13:50 ATOI

Scoring more with better linemates and opportunity. Has four goals and eight points in his last eight games.

Comparison: 4/5. The verdict here? Give Goldy more ice time.

Minnesota Wild: Pontus Aberg

25 years old, (with ANA/MIN), 43 GP, 11-11-22, 15:17 ATOI

A wonder that Aberg has been a constant victim of the waiver wire. He produces when given the opportunity.

Comparison: 4/5. Same as Goldobin, minus the catchy last name.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) during the warm-up session before the game against Toronto Maple Leafs at Bell Centre.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens: Artturi Lehkonen

23 years old, 60 GP, 7-17-24, 15:24 ATOI

In terms of production, age, and skill-set, he’s almost the same player as Goldobin. Lehkonen, however, has the benefit of chemistry with Finnish linemates.

Comparison: 5/5. Very similar to Goldobin, but Julien isn’t as hard on Lehkonen.

Nashville Predators: Ryan Hartman

24 years old, 62 GP, 10-10-20, 13:30 ATOI

One of the big differences between Goldobin and Hartman, is that the Preds coaching staff stayed behind Hartman during his struggles. He had a 27-game goalless drought but didn’t lose his spot in the lineup.

Comparison: 2/5. Similar in age and production, but two very different players.

New Jersey Devils: Jesper Bratt

20 years old, 47 GP, 7-24-31, 15:06 ATOI

Not a great comparison on the Devils roster admittedly. Bratt is the player the Canucks coaching staff wishes Goldy could be.

Comparison: 1/5. Bratt’s putting up better numbers than Goldy at age 20, and starts the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at New York Islanders
Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) celebrates with center Brock Nelson (29) after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period at Barclays Center
Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

New York Islanders: Jordan Eberle

28 years old, 56 GP, 13-15-28, 16:33 ATOI

An odd comparison but hear me out. Eberle is one of the least-trusted defensive players on the Islanders. He’s one of the worst Islanders forwards in goals-against per 60 and scoring chances against per 60.

Comparison: 3/5. Eberle’s apparent lack of defensive awareness and toughness were reasons why he left Edmonton. Could Goldobin reach a similar fate?

New York Rangers: Pavel Buchnevich

23 years old, 43 GP, 12-11-23, 14:29 ATOI

If these two were traded for each other, would anyone notice? Buchnevich has been in David Quinn’s doghouse all year, even though he’s one of the Rangers most skilled forwards.

Comparison: 5/5. Same as Goldobin with a much better shooting percentage (18.5% compared to Goldobin’s 7.1%).

Ottawa Senators: Mikkel Boedker

29 years old, 53 GP, 6-23-29, 14:59 ATOI

If Goldy doesn’t reach his ceiling, I could see him as a Mikkel Boedker type.

Comparison: 3/5. Might be 5/5 in a few years...

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) celebrates their win with left wing Oskar Lindblom (23) and right wing Travis Konecny (11) against the Vancouver Canucks at Wells Fargo Center.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom

22 years old, 60 GP, 11-12-23, 12:35 ATOI

Loads of talent but found himself buried early on. Unlike Goldobin, however, the coaching staff has given Lindblom more responsibility of late.

Comparison: 4/5. The reverse Goldy effect works here, with Lindblom being rewarded with more ice time after a slow start.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Dominik Simon

24 years old, 51 GP, 7-15-22, 13:14 ATOI

Sheltered, not trusted, and used sporadically in Pittsburgh’s lineup.

Comparison: 5/5. Goldy without the draft pedigree.

St. Louis Blues: Jaden Schwartz

26 years old, 47 GP, 6-22-28, 18:17 ATOI

Schwartz is much more established, but has suffered bad puck luck like Goldobin. Unlike Goldy, he has the pedigree and doesn’t get punished by the coaching staff.

Comparison: 2/5. Similar in the sense that both were snake-bitten, but floodgates have opened for Schwartz of late.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Vegas Golden Knights
Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Andreas Johnsson (18) looks for a pass during the first period against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs: Andreas Johnsson

24 years old, 53 GP, 16-16-32, 12:52 ATOI

If the Canucks want to replace Goldy, I’d be throwing Johnsson or Kapanen an offer sheet.

Comparison: 2/5. Johnsson is better, but I wonder if Goldy could close the gap if he were trusted by the coaching staff.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Ondrej Palat

27 years old, 44 GP, 7-19-26, 15:23 ATOI

Feel like Goldy could outscore Palat with trust from the Canucks coaching staff.

Comparison: 1/5. Not many problems like Goldy’s in Tampa.

Vegas Golden Knights: Oscar Lindberg

27 years old, 34 GP, 4-8-12, 12:03 ATOI

Multiple coaches soured on Lindberg after a good start to his career with the New York Rangers. He’s now nothing but a spare part in Vegas.

Comparison: 3/5. If Goldy ends up in a Lindberg-like situation, he’s going back to Russia.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs
Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky (65) skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Washington defeated Toronto.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Capitals: Andre Burakovsky

24 years old, 55 GP, 7-10-17, 11:17 ATOI

Like trying to force a square peg into a round hole, Todd Reirden has tried to turn Burakovsky into a defensive specialist in Washington’s bottom-six. He needs a change of scenery, just like Goldobin.

Comparison: 5/5. Virtually the same player, except Burakovsky has size and a better NHL pedigree.

Winnipeg Jets: Nic Petan

23 years old, 13 GP, 0-2-2, 7:13 ATOI

Gotta feel for the Delta native, but he could probably score at Goldobin’s rate in Vancouver.

Comparison: 2/5. A reason why things could be worse for Goldy. He wouldn’t see much more ice than Petan if he was a Jet.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Philadelphia Flyers
Would Goldobin flourish with a change of scenery, or would he enter Mikkel Boedker/Oscar Lindberg territory?
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the players I listed as examples were a bit of a stretch. 11 of 30 teams had a player that I ranked as a 2 or less in terms of a comparable.

What this does show is that there are other talented, young players around the league who have trouble getting into the lineup, whether that’s deserved or not. On good teams, it’s a matter of having too many talented players (what a problem to have).

In Goldy’s situation, it should be frustrating because the Canucks are playing guys like Tim Schaller, Tyler Motte and (insert AHL-replacement level player here) over Goldobin.

He might not be Green’s favourite player, but there’s no reason why Goldobin shouldn’t be getting a longer look in the top six, especially when a guy like Ryan Spooner comes in with five points in 41 games, and immediately gets a look in the top-six.

If there’s any solace here, it’s that Goldobin isn’t alone. He’s not the first, nor the last player to be unfairly shafted by a coach in the NHL.