A young National Hockey League forward that is coming off inarguably the best season of his professional career thus far may be headed for the trading block sooner rather than later.
The 2017 - 2018 National Hockey League regular season was a breakout year for 22 year old Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin but it was one that was prompted by a number of injuries involving players ahead of him on the depth chart. Goldobin was given a crack at the Canucks top 6 group of forwards largely due to an injury to Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi and unfortunately for Goldobin it looks like Baertschi is both healthy and ready to go for the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season.
In a recent report for the Athletic JD Burke touched on what is likely to come next for the young Goldobin and according to him it sounds like a trade is a very real possibility given the fact that waivers are not really a desireable option in this scenario.
Now with a healthy Baertschi returning to the Canucks’ lineup along with several other free agent additions, it’s back to square one for Goldobin. It’s not so much whether Goldobin can keep his spot alongside Bo Horvat anymore, but a question of whether he can prolong his time with the Canucks period.
If Goldobin doesn’t crack the top six of the Canucks’ opening lineup, it’s hard to imagine head coach Travis Green finding room for him elsewhere. At that point, Canucks general manager Jim Benning needs to either find a trade partner or risk losing him to waivers, which is a real possibility given Goldobin’s age, pedigree, and flashes of elite offensive skill.
This of course is a problem that has been entirely created by the flashes of ability that Goldobin demonstrated during his short stint with the Canucks as a replacement last season. Goldobin appeared in a total of 38 games for the Canucks last season and over that stretch he recorded 8 goals and 6 assists for a total of 14 points over that stretch. When you consider the fact that he had only had 23 games of NHL experience split over 3 different seasons, and 2 different teams, prior to his most recent campaign, those are very good numbers for a young prospect.
It's enough that a rival NHL team with a lack of depth on the wing would almost certainly consider the possibility of picking up Goldobin and taking a gamble on his upside. At 22 years old he still has plenty of time to continue developing and considering what he showed when given a bigger role on the team there's a lot of potential upside there. The timing for the Canucks is particularly frustrating as previously they would have been able to send Goldobin down to the American Hockey League to continue playing for their affiliate team the Utica Comets, but now when Goldobin is placed on waivers he has to be waived by every team in the National Hockey League. That seems unlikely, or at the very least extremely risky, given his performance last season.
Photo Credit: Brooke Lavalley/Columbus Dispatch/Zuma