Sometimes with hockey or with life, I suppose, some things are not meant to be. That was the case with the Vancouver Canucks and the speedy Russian forward Nikolay Goldobin. Although I’m certain there were great expectations, he’s obviously has worn out his welcome with the team and now is moving on.
My First Glimpse of Goldobin as a Canucks’ Player
I remember the first time I watched Goldobin play. The Canucks had just traded for Goldobin, and his first game was on Hockey Night in Canada on March 4, 2017. I liked him right away. I was quickly impressed with his speed and puck-handling skills. He also seemed to have a good sense of timing, and I recall that he scored the game-winning goal in a 4–3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
But that’s water under the bridge now, and not everything that’s happened in Goldobin’s Canucks’ career has been good. Actually, it went quickly downhill from there. So, here we are in April 2020 and, although he had a better-than-decent season with the Utica Comets, it comes as no surprise that the word this week is that Goldobin will leave for home and sign with a team in the KHL. Rumor is a two-year contract so he can try the NHL again two years from now.
The word is that Goldobin will sign with CSKA Moscow. As Goldobin told the TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal on April 11, “The Canucks did not want to sign me, I was disappointed how it turned out in Vancouver but I am happy to sign in KHL and will try NHL again in two years.”
As I noted earlier, Goldobin had played this season in the AHL and had scored 19 goals, 31 assists, and 50 points in 51 games with Utica. That’s almost a point-a-game pace, but it wasn’t enough to get him another stint with the big club. He only played a single game with the Canucks in 2019-20.
What Did Canucks General Manager Jim Benning Have to Say?
The Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning noted that he believed the team had given Golbobin “every chance” to succeed in the NHL. Furthermore, he noted that Goldobin’s signing a two-year KHL contract last week wasn’t a surprise.
Benning was clear where the young Russian stood with the team, “We tried to move him at the (trade) deadline, but didn’t have any success.”
Benning added, “I was aware he might try to sign back in Russia. We tried to work with him and give him chances, but over the last year, other people in our organization have moved by him and we have young players who are going to need an opportunity, too.” (from “Ben Kuzma: Canucks were ‘fair’ with exiting Goldobin, says Benning,” Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province, 13/04/20).
Goldobin didn’t have great success with the Canucks, but if you’re any kind of a fan at all, how can you not be attracted to the young Russian’s potential? He’s a skilled puck-handler, has great vision, and is really fun to watch.
I once had a Canadian university-level hockey coach tell me that, if a player can skate and think, playing good defense is simply hard work and strong willpower. The Canucks obviously were willing to bet that, at only 24 years of age, simply didn’t have the will power and drive he needed to learn to play defense.
Here at NHLTradeTalk.com, we wish him luck. I look forward to seeing him in two seasons. I hope he doesn’t come back to burn the Canucks. But then, stranger things have happened.
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