While Canucks fans and coaching staff deliberate line-up changes with the pending return of Loui Eriksson and Brendan Gaunce, the focus shifts to who steps out of the top 12 to make room for one or both of these guys.
Well… Rather than gifting Eriksson and Gaunce roster spots, I’d like to propose something a little different.
Let Loui sit in the AHL for a few games… Call it a “conditioning stint”. Lets give a look to a guy in Utica who has been scorching hot so far this season: Nikolay Goldobin. The 22 year old Russian sniper has 5 goals and 7 assists in only 10 games this season.
The Canucks have promoted the concept of internal competition for the entirety of the off-season. This entails a merit-based system to help keep players on the big-boy squad honest and to create a hunger in Utica for players hoping that outstanding and consistent performances will warrant a look in Vancouver. Great idea and a fantastic way to build a culture of accountability for both the NHL and AHL squad.
What good is it; however, if the guys performing in the AHL aren’t given a legitimate chance in the show? Goldobin has 12 points in 10 games now and appears to be finding his stride. At only 22 years old and in the top 10 in AHL scoring, I hope there are at least discussions surrounding bringing him up for a few games. We all know that Goldobin has a lot of skill and a penchant for connecting puck with mesh, but he can only grow so much on the farm team. In order for a guy like that to improve, he needs NHL experience.
Meanwhile, despite a fantastic start to the season, there are a few bodies on the Canucks that are not really living up to the hype. While I like Sam Gagner and Alex Burmistrov, their performances of late have been on the underwhelming side. Maybe slotting Goldobin in for one of those two fellas could create a spark – creating another line for the opposition to be concerned about.
I understand that defensive responsibility reigns supreme in today’s NHL. 2-way players are valuable and, lets face it, Goldobin ain’t one of ’em. That being said, neither is Brock Boeser. But, line him up with Horvat and it’s magic. Maybe the underutilized Michael Granlund and defensive centerman, Brandon Sutter could benefit from Goldie’s creativity? Maybe pairing him up with Virtanen leads to a little chemistry?
No matter how you look at it, you inject a guy with Goldobin’s skillset into the line-up, you open up a world of possibilities. And hey, if he stumbles and falls – no big deal, send him back in exchange for Gaunce.