CHL Import Draft: Sarnia Sting Strike GOLDobin…Again

Sarnia Sting’s Nikolai Goldobin (Photo Courtesy of Metcalfe Photography)

By Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood)

“With the 36th pick in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, the Sarnia Sting select Nikolai Goldobin” were the likely words from Sting GM Jacques Beaulieu as Sarnia made their first round selection last spring.

As with most unknown Russian junior league players, the fans of the Sarnia Sting knew very little about what type of player they were receiving in Goldobin.  After a month of Ontario Hockey League action, there is no longer a sense of unfamiliarity with the Russian forward as Goldobin is quickly turning heads with his recent outstanding play. Coming off of a three game week where Nikolai Goldobin recorded one goal and five assists for six points including a game high three-point contest versus Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Sunday, Goldobin’s transition to the North American game is quickly putting it together. His strong performance will certainly put him in contention for the OHL Player of the Week honours.

The young 2014 NHL Draft eligible Russian played with the Russian junior league team, Russkie Vityazi Chekhov, last season posting a respectable 13 goals and 22 points in 50 games. Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League took notice of his rare talents and selected him eighth overall in the 2012 KHL Draft. Luckily for the Sarnia Sting, Nikalai Goldobin chose to bring his talents to the border city as the team’s second import player replacing former OHL star Nail Yakupov.

In recent years, Sarnia has had good success at the CHL Import Draft table locking up some high quality players. In 2010, Nail Yakupov was brought to Sarnia as the second overall selection and quickly made himself noticed breaking the Sting rookie point records previously held by the infamous Steven Stamkos.

Goldobin, who recently turned 17 on October 7th, certainly comes with much less hype than Yakupov but he has shown early on to share a few similar attributes as the former high-flying star winger. Like Yakupov, Goldobin is a left-shooting winger in a smaller frame (5’11”, 154 lbs) that thrives playing on his off right wing.

Similar to Yakupov, Nikolai has a crafty playmaking ability that few of his OHL classmates could replicate. Goldobin has elite-level vision and his skill for threading needle-like passes goes unmatched. His playmaking ability truly is among the elite at the major junior level and he has just begun playing with the confidence that could make him a star in the OHL. Not overly speedy and certainly not a bull on the puck, Goldobin thrives on his vision and slick puck skills to elude defenders. Goldobin is currently riding a four-game point streak and it is no coincidence that his team in Sarnia shares the same four-game win streak.

After several weeks of experimenting with line chemistry, coach Beaulieu has placed Goldobin on the top line alongside Montreal Canadiens top prospect Alex Galchenyuk and the move has paid huge dividends as the duo has formed tremendous chemistry with each other and overage winger Craig Hottot. Over the past few games, Galchenyuk and Goldobin’s harmony on the ice has been symphony-like as their orchestrated passing has been timely executed showing all signs of a beautiful partnership for the year to come. With Goldobin’s ability to see the ice and elevate the play of his line-mates around him he has been especially important to Sarnia’s offensive attack.  Early signs point to Sarnia having found another offensive gem via the CHL Import Draft and Nikolai Goldobin is a name the Ontario Hockey League will soon familiarize them with.

VIDEO: Nikolai Goldobin scores a highlight reel goal in Sarnia’s 3-1 win over the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds (Courtesy of OntarioHockeyLeague.com)

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