SAN JOSE – One by one, forwards from the Sharks’ AHL affiliate have been recalled this season and given a chance to play at the NHL level.
The most glaring omission has been Nikolay Goldobin, the Sharks’ first round pick from 2014. Goldobin was recalled on Wednesday morning ahead of San Jose’s game with Florida at SAP Center, though, and is looking to play in his first NHL game since Nov. 22, 2015.
Coach Pete DeBoer would not say whether Goldobin would be in the lineup against the Panthers.
“We’re going to make some game time decisions tonight when we get to the rink,” DeBoer said after the morning skate. “He’s here because there’s a good chance he’ll play. [He] deserves it.”
Goldobin had one goal and two assists in the Barracuda’s 4-1 home win on Tuesday night. The 21-year-old is third on the team in points (37) and fourth in goals (13) in 43 games.
“I was at the game last night, I thought he was our best player,” DeBoer said. “Like a lot of those young guys, we’re trying to reward those guys on merit, and he deserved to be up here today.”
Goldobin is the seventh Barracuda forward to be recalled this season, joining Kevin Labanc, Timo Meier, Ryan Carpenter, Marcus Sorensen, Barclay Goodrow and Daniel O’Regan.
The most frequent criticisms of Goldobin during his time with the Sharks and then after his reassignment to the Barracuda were that he needed to work on the defensive aspects of the game, as well as his compete level. According to DeBoer, “he’s improving.”
“You forget he’s still a young guy, he’s  years old. I think every time he spends a week down there playing and playing big situations and big minutes and special teams, he’s getting better on both ends of the ice. He’s also getting more strength in his game, and all those things.”
If he gets in against Florida, the most likely place would be on the fourth line with Chris Tierney and Melker Karlsson.
“He might not be a typical third-fourth line guy five or 10 years ago, but I think that’s changed,” DeBoer said.
“With the centermen we have when we have [Tomas] Hertl in the middle, those are four talented centermen. I don’t think anyone can complain about playing with any of those guys.”
In nine career NHL games, Goldobin has one goal and one assist.