TORONTO - San Jose's 2014 first-round draft pick Nikolay Goldobin has had more than his fair share of attention-grabbing moments at this year's IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
Known for his vision, puck handling skills and scoring touch, he opened the tournament with a vital power play goal to get Russia within a goal of Denmark. Then he netted the shoot-out winner to clinch the victory.
He added an assist to his tally with a stylish set-up in the team's 7-0 win over Switzerland on Sunday.
SHARKS AT WORLD JUNIORS
Playing Monday on back-to-back days for the first time in the tournament - against a rested Team Sweden - Goldobin buzzed around the Swedish net on a number of occasions. The Moscow native gave his opponents' defensive corps, including fellow Shark prospect Julius Bergman, plenty to worry about. But in the end he was kept off the score sheet and Sweden registered a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
Goldobin sets extremely high standards for himself, and despite his efforts, felt there was a lot of room for improvement in his performance.
"It was the second game in a row for us. We were all a little tired," said the 19-year-old, who is playing this year for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League. "We have to play better. And I have to play better. It was a bad game for myself. I have to protect the puck much more and don't turn it over."
Despite the loss, Goldobin and his teammates are sitting in a good position looking ahead to the medal round. After a final preliminary round against the Czech Republic Wednesday, the quarterfinals are Friday, with Russia having demonstrated as usual that they are serious contenders not to be taken lightly.
"Of course, every team is playing for (the) gold medal, and it is (a) very difficult tournament to win, but I still believe we can do it," said Goldobin, who the Sharks selected with the 27th overall pick.
During his time in Toronto, Golbobin has savored the opportunity to showcase his skills on such a grand stage.
"It's great being here," said Goldobin, who played two seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, where he collected 36 goals and 56 assists in 67 games last season.
"When 20,000 look at you it's unreal. And when you score, it is best. But I wish we could play in Russia with everybody cheering for us," he joked.
Noting that he looks forward to returning to Toronto as a visiting Shark in the not-too-distant future, he said his season in Finland - and his experience at this event - are preparing him well for his NHL future.
"I hope to be playing in San Jose next year," said the six-foot, 185-pound forward, who has six goals and five assists in 18 games played for HIFK this season. "I am doing everything for that. I am trying to show all the scouts what I can do with my best. I hope the fans like me. I would be happy for that."
He added that Helsinki is "a great city for hockey" and the league has a style that is more similar to the NHL brand than many people think.
"They play Canadian hockey - very aggressive," he said. "We decided with my agent Igor Larionov to play there. I just thought it was good to play there."
Another part of the World Juniors Goldobin has enjoyed is the chance to take the ice against some other Shark prospects, whether it's Bergman or Mirco Mueller and Noah Road on Team Switzerland.
When asked if he had engaged in any good-natured ribbing with those players, he said there's no way he would do that.
"We just smile at each other and say hello. We respect each other too much to do trash talk."
Bergman said he loves Goldobin's sense of humor.
"He's a great guy - a funny guy. I like that he always says what he thinks."
Just like Russia, Sweden has a day of Tuesday, before ending their preliminary play against Switzerland on Wednesday.