Checking off a restricted free agent (RFA) from the unsigned list — though not the one fans are anticipating the most — the Vancouver Canucks have re-signed forward Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, one-way contract for $900,000.
Considering the length of the deal and last season’s rollercoaster for Goldobin, the Russian forward enters the 2019-20 season with a large task ahead of him as he faces plenty of pressure to produce and prove himself in Vancouver.
Goldobin’s 2018-19 Season Recap
Goldobin, the former first-round pick by the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 NHL Draft, saw numerous ups and downs as a member of the Canucks last season. He began the season slow but went on a tear at the start of November, showing fans his potential to be an offensive weapon. The winger put up 12 points in 14 games during the impressive month-long stretch.
Afterwards, Goldobin struggled to find his footing as his offensive production dropped off. He only registered 11 points in 35 games following his strong November, and also had difficulty on the defensive side of the ice. This tough combination earned him no favours with head coach Travis Green and resulted in limited ice time before eventually being benched or scratched.
With his overall lackluster season that resulted in 7 goals and 20 assists in 63 games, Goldobin reached the conclusion of his entry-level contract at the season’s end with some uncertainty.
His New One-Year Contract
The uncertainty around Goldobin’s future remained throughout the summer before Canucks’ GM Jim Benning finally re-signed the RFA to kick-off September. However, with a one-year, one-way term, the contract has raised new questions regarding where he fits in the long-term plan of the team — which is why this season is so important for the forward.
As is common with one-year deals for young players, Goldobin’s new contract reads as a “prove it” deal. With last year’s strong stretch but tough finish, he will need to prove that he can produce consistently and be a legitimate top nine — or even top six — forward option for the future.
Goldobin’s Fit in the Lineup
Luckily for Goldobin, with Vancouver’s new look up front with the additions of J.T. Miller and Micheal Ferland, the 23-year-old will have a competent cast to work with. Likely slotted somewhere in the top-nine forward group, Goldobin will have all the tools — from ice time to linemates — that he needs to succeed.
A plus-side to Vancouver’s current forward situation is the competition between cusp-players. Fellow forwards like Josh Leivo (who also recently re-signed to a similar one-year deal as Goldobin) and several others will undoubtedly create healthy competition between the skaters and push Goldobin to produce.
If he doesn’t put up points, the Canucks have the depth to replace the Russian forward, making his play that much more pivotal to his long-term future with the team.
2019-20 Season Expectations
In order to prove his spot on the team, Goldobin will need to improve from the 0.43 point-per-game pace he scored at last year. Considering he had an extreme dry spell to start the season and his stellar November numbers, if he is able to play more consistently for the entire season then this shouldn’t be too difficult. That is why consistency will be the key for the right winger and will make a potential 50-plus point total — a rough 0.2 point-per-game improvement from last season — through a full 82-game campaign a real possibility.
Showing signs of offensive prowess, it’s no secret that Goldobin has the potential to put up plenty of points. Now, all that’s left for the forward to do is prove it with his numbers when the season rolls around.
With his contract situation, the team’s bolstered offense, and likely lots of opportunity, it will be interesting to see if the hopeful diamond can emerge from the rough when Goldobin hits the ice this season.
Ben covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers. After graduating from his Communications program at Centennial College, he went on to work for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL writing game summaries and feature articles for the team. Now taking his writing to THW, Ben looks forward to continuing his passion for sports and writing.