For a team in a supposed rebuild, the Vancouver Canucks sure have a difficult time holding onto young talent. Earlier this week reports surfaced that the team had been looking to trade 25 year old defenseman Ben Hutton, as he’d been supplanted by veterans Michael Del Zotto and Erik Gudbranson in the team’s lineup. The latest report, from The Athletic’s J.D. Burke, indicate that the Canucks may have to cut bait with 22 year old Russian sniper Nikolay Goldobin this upcoming season, as well.
According to Burke, Goldobin, despite showing some real progress last season, could be on the outside of the Canucks’ top six forward group, which means he’s unlikely to find a regular role under head coach Travis Green. If this indeed ends up being the case, Canucks general manager Jim Benning must either find a trade partner for Goldobin or risk losing him for nothing.
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.
Now… some perspective is needed when discussing Goldobin. Because, while he may have elite level talent and skill, the youngster has just 12 goals and 19 points in 61 career NHL games, the bulk of which came in last season’s 14 point campaign. The 22 year old native of Moscow, Russia managed eight goals and 14 points in just 38 games last season and was absolutely electric for the AHL’s Utica Comets with 9 goals and 31 points in 30 games. There’s no doubt that he has the talent, but can he translate that talent into offensive production? That’s the real question.
If indeed Goldobin is push out in Vancouver, expect fans to voice their displeasure. After all, this is a team that’s in year three of a five year rebuild and their biggest offseason news was the acquisition of three veteran players and the resignation of their president Trevor Linden. If Green can’t find room for Goldobin in the lineup, surely fans will pile on the team’s acquisitions of Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel and Tim Schaller.