It’s no secret that Nikolay Goldobin has been in Travis Green’s dog house all year long, the 23 year old, former first round pick has seen his fair share of healthy scratches this season. Nikolay Goldobin has shown some flashes of excellence in his 123 NHL games but those moments seem to fall by the wayside in the eyes of Travis Green.
It’s clear that there is a way that Travis Green wants his players to play, he wants them to be involved in the play on both sides of the ice, Green wants his guys to be engaged in every board battle and be strong on the puck whether they have possession or are trying to retrieve the puck.
That stuff is all great, but scoring lines in the NHL shouldn’t be treated the same as a bottom six line, some lines need to be looked at differently if their production is good enough. For example, Alex Ovechkin can try things that Nic Dowd can’t, players are all treated differently so why aren’t the lines treated differently in Travis Green’s eyes?
The coach has had problems with Goldy’s game for a good portion of the season and has rarely praised him, like he mentioned back at the beginning of January when asked about Goldy.
“To win in this league, you’ve got to be going. You’ve got to skate. You have to take away time and space. You can’t just wait for time and space. The onus falls on the player. He needs to make an effort to get the job done.”
It’s been a tough few months for Goldy and looking back it could have started when the Canucks acquired Josh Leivo in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Leivo plays a game that coach Green regularly praises, some nights Leivo does deserve it, but he also fits the mold of a Travis Green type of player. I don’t want this to be a shot at Leivo because I think he has brought a lot to this team since they acquired him, but at the same time he has simply not performed as good as Goldy has when paired up with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser on the top scoring line.
Five on Five Time on Ice as a trio.
77-40-6 = 156:01
17-40-6 = 197:04
Goldobin has been more of playmaker than a scorer this season and when a playmaker is not playing with scorers it makes it extremely tough to make a mark on the scoresheet. Earlier this season Travis Green paired up Jay Beagle and Nikolay Goldobin and said “I thought when I put Goldy with Beagle, I thought it would be pretty obvious of the kind of game that he has to play when he’s with that line.”
Goldobin is still young, but at 23 years old he is definitely at a crossroad in his career. You hear a lot of retired NHL players talk about adjusting their game to find a spot in the NHL, Goldobin will likely not do that, he is top six scoring winger and will probably not ever adjust to be a defensive specialist. When you see Goldobin and Pettersson moving the puck it just seems different, they both move the puck with the one extra pass mentality and that can either result in a wide open net or simply one too many passes.
Many fans reaction to Goldy’s game is that he makes one or two defensive lapses a game and those often result in goals against. I’m not going to say that I haven’t seen this at all, but I damn sure am not going to say that I have seen it every game. Over the past few weeks, Goldy has taken Travis Green’s video tips and given more of an effort to be strong on the boards in the neutral zone while also being tougher in the corners.
Petey-Goldy 344:49 time on ice together at 5on5, 9 goals against.
Petey-Leivo 272:25 time on ice together at 5on5, 14 goals against. pic.twitter.com/vIbkmZh2Xn
— Chris Faber 🤙🔥🎤 (@ChrisFaber39) March 21, 2019
The problem for me is that even though you can say that Goldy is bad defensively, his five on five stats are actually indicative of being one of the better linemates for Elias Pettersson.
I understand that many believe Josh Leivo is a good option for the Canucks and with Nikolay Goldobin’s recent struggles, Josh Leivo has found a steady role as the third piece of the Pettersson-Boeser combo. Josh Leivo has two goals and two assists in his last 18 games, in those games he is averaging over 18 minutes of ice time. Comparing that to Nikolay Goldobin’s last 18 games, where Goldy has two goals and two assists, but in only 14 minutes of average ice time.
This shows that Josh Leivo is getting plenty more time than Nikolay Goldobin on the same line as Elias Pettersson over the past 18 games that they were both in the lineup.
So what is the future for Nikolay Goldobin? A lot of Vancouver media is coming around to the belief that Goldy’s time in Vancouver could already be over. If this was the last season we saw Nikolay Goldobin I personally belive it would be a mistake. Coaches coach to get the best out of their players, Travis Green has gone away from the trio of Goldobin-Pettersson-Boeser, even though that trio has one of the highest GF% on their team and even ranks up against some of the best in the NHL.”
Goldobin wants to be an NHL player, but when we hear that Goldobin was wondering “Why are you picking on me?” when being shown video by the coaching staff it brings me to believe that the trust between player and coach could be lost. Travis Green has implemented his “Tough Love” on some players that has found good results. What if Goldobin is further ahead of some of those guys at this point in his career? Goldobin was leading the team in assists at a certain point of the season and at the time who would have believed that he would have been benched for nine of the previous 27 games near the end of the season.
I believe in Goldobin, I think the way he thinks the game is something that not enough players on this team possess, his underlying numbers confirm that not only does he contribute to the top scoring line but he actually can make them better. Goldy still has a decent way to go to be an everyday top six winger in the NHL but with the recent decisions by the coach, we may not get to see peak Goldobin in a Canucks jersey.
For those who say that Goldobin can only play with Pettersson and if he doesn’t play on that line he is ineffective, you are not wrong, Goldobin has struggled when not with Pettersson.
I actually remember a duo that wasn’t as effective when they weren’t paired up together.
Maybe this is a bit of a stretch…
But seriously Travis, play Goldobin with Pettersson.
The problem isn’t going to fix itself and we are drifting closer and closer to the point where we will not be signing Nikolay Goldobin this offseason. This Canucks team needs so much more scoring talent as we move forward in rebuilding to be a playoff team and moving out Goldobin would be a mistake. Jimbo made two big moves at the 2017-18 trade deadline and that was acquiring Nikolay Goldobin and Jonathan Dahlen. It would sure be a tough look to see both of these players not make an impact on this team moving forward.
The team claims to believe in Goldobin but if they don’t play him in better situations we could see the highly skilled Russian elsewhere in the NHL. I don’t know exactly what the future hold for little Nicky but I would sure like to see the remaining games this season feature the scoring trio that leads this team in goals for percentage.
If the #FreeGoldy movement isn’t heard loud enough I hope that it is now. Travis Green may need to make adjustments when dealing with these high skilled players, The West Coast Express line was treated different than the young Sedins at the time and if the Canucks want more scoring from their top end players I would try and treat them as top end players.
It has to at least be worth a shot, the playoffs are out of reach and coach Travis Green should be looking at options for next season and unless we climb into the top two of the draft or sign Artemi Panarin, there isn’t much help coming for Pettersson and Boeser. Ride the wave and unleash the chains of the young trio to shine as a top NHL scoring line. Pettersson has shown he can carry a line at times this season and with the chemistry we saw at the beginning of the season it blows me away at time that Goldy-Petey-Boes isn’t and everyday thing.
These final few games will likely decide, what is the future for Nikolay Goldobin?