Nikolay Goldobin – Player Profile – Sarnia Sting
The 6’ and 185 pound Goldobin was born in Moskva, Russia and is in his second Ontario Hockey League season. He began his junior hockey with Russkie Vityazi Chekhov of the MHL (Russia’s junior league) in 2011-2012. He scored 13 goals and 9 assists in that season.
That led him to being drafted in the first round of the Kontinental Hockey League draft by Metallurg Novokuznetsk as the 8th overall pick. He was then selected by the Sting in the first round of the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. He was the 36th overall pick in that draft.
That summer, Goldobin played for Russia at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial where he scored once and added two assists in 4 games. He then made the jump to the OHL. In his rookie season he scored 30 goals and added 38 assists playing in all 68 games. He finished first among rookies in goals and points and was named to the second all-rookie team.
With 43 games of 68 gone in the season, Goldobin has 31 goals and 37 assists and has been involved in a whopping 47.8% of Sarnia’s offense. He recently just ended a 22 game point streak with 21 goals and 22 assists. It is the third longest streak in the OHL this season.
Goldobin is an excellent skater with elite offensive talent. He has the ability to bring fans to their feet when he goes on a rush. He has elite vision and passing abilities and an unmatched ability to find teammates where one didn’t think it was possible.
One of, if not the most offensively talented players in this draft class from the OHL.
Goldobin doesn’t come without his warts which is why you’ll see him ranked all over the place in independent rankings. First among those warts is the “Russian Factor”. Of course you have to weigh that in, but it’s tough to pass up an electrifying offensive threat. But when you consider that he passed up playing in the KHL and a chance to earn some big money for two seasons to play in the OHL that threat has to be considered somewhat less worrisome.
Secondly, there are worries about his defensive game, or lack of it. Again, you have to consider the offensive upside he brings. We are strong believers that what he brings to the table cannot be taught. However, defense, whether team defense or individual defense, is something that a patient team can and will teach.
Finally, there is some worry about his work ethic. Goldobin worked hard in the offseason to add some bulk to his frame. However, it’s his on ice work ethic that comes into question but that is in his game away from the puck.
When your agent is Igor Larionov, you have to believe that the agent knows just what it takes to make it in the NHL and will steer Goldobin in the right direction.
We spoke to Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects who covers the Sting extensively about Goldobin:
OHLW: No question Goldobin has elite offensive talent. Some question his defensive game. We are of the belief you can't teach his talent but can teach the defense. In your opinion, is it as bad as some make it out to be?
Ross: Goldobin's offensive talents are off the chart and while he has been criticized about his commitments to the defensive game, I certainly feel he can develop and improve those skills under the right coaching. While setting up teammates with creative crafty passes has become his standout quality, it is his intelligent hockey sense that allows him to read the ice at such an elite level and that means he can utilize that same attribute to focus on his defensive assignments too. He just has to "want" to do it and it's his wildly inconsistent intensity that leaves scouts questioning his value.
OHLW: In one and a half season's that I've seen him, it's more the "effort" he puts into defense that is lacking then it is the "knowledge" of his responsibilities. Do you agree with that assessment and can it be rectified?
Ross: I would agree that Goldobin needs to spend more effort focusing on his defensive commitments. As I mentioned above, Goldobin is an intelligent player - it is the reason he's able to dissect his opponents so well and attack offensively. Where Goldobin lacks is his intensity and overall compete level. He's shown a hunger to score when the puck is on his stick but he would rise to new levels in scouts' eyes if he showed more passion and drive to compete. We witnessed a solid defensive performance at the recent CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, where he walked away with MVP honours so it's not all bad news in the d-zone.
OHLW: He's added some bulk this season, but some refer to him still as "small". He has obviously put in the effort in the offseason so it can't entirely be work ethic?
Ross: Goldobin came to camp looking bigger in a more mature body. Compare to NHL caliber players, Goldobin would be considered undersized but he's strong on the puck and is quite elusive making it virtually a non-issue. I can't speak to his training but if he's willing to dedicate himself off the ice and improve his overall strength then it's only going to make him a scarier player to defend considering how lethal his offensive talents are.
OHLW: Having been in on almost 48% of the Stings' offense, it goes without saying he has elite offensive talent. How do you see him bringing that to the NHL level?
Ross: What Goldobin has accomplished as an OHL with such little offensive support is very impressive, as he sits as one of the OHL's top producers after leading all rookie scorers in 2012-13. He's proven that he can lead the offensive charge but also compliments teammates well sending slick imaginary passes for easy tap-in goals. At the next level, Goldobin could adopt a similar role as current NHLers such as Jordan Eberle or Patrick Kane - two players who can slow the game down with using exceptional puck handling abilities. He's the type of player who can buy extra time for teammates using his deceptive hands and projects as a future staple on the power play.
OHLW: Goldobin is all over the map in some Independent draft rankings. In your opinion, why is that?
Ross: It's a bit perplexing to me why he's ranked so drastically different in the draft rankings, especially in a draft class that is void of players lacking his high end offensive abilities. I am sure his defensive inconsistencies, wavering compete level and even his Russian passport concern some scouting agencies and contribute to these variances. Similarly to Max Domi being selected 12th overall last season, teams looking to add skill should consider Goldobin in the top half of the first round as well. It will be interesting to watch Goldobin and his Sarnia Sting to see if they creep into a playoff position. Goldobin could elevate his value with a strong showing in the post-season as he's been known to have a "clutch" element in his game - just ask the London Knights.
OHLW: You had the opportunity to watch Nail Yakupov in Sarnia extensively. Can you compare the two players and style?
Ross: Besides their Russian bloodlines and ability to put fans on the edge of the seat, the styles of Nail Yakupov and Nikolay Goldobin are drastically different. Yakupov relies on his blazing speed, quick release and one-on-one aggressive attacks to produces goals. Conversely, Goldobin's offensive game is based on patient calculated attacks by drawing opponents to him and then beating them with magician-like puck handling displays. Goldobin is capable of dangling in traffic and dissects the ice with surgeon-like vision. While both players are exciting to watch, each bring a different level of excitement to their games and both are equally successful at what they do.
OHLW: Finally, where do you see him going in the NHL draft in June?
Ross: Personally, I would consider drafting Nikolay Goldobin in the 10-20th range but I expect him to slide a bit given the above mentioned concerns and see him as a late first or early second round selection, at this point in time. That could change if a team holding multiple first round draft picks likes the offensively dangerous Russian since there are few players as gifted offensively as Nikolay Goldobin.
You can follow Brendan on Twitter here .