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Why Quinn, Sharks Think AHL Is Best Place for Gushchin’s Development Right Now



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Danil Gushchin isn’t coming back up to the San Jose Sharks, at least not immediately.

Yesterday, Gushchin got sent down to the San Jose Barracuda. With Nico Sturm also going on a two-game leave of absence to attend to a family situation, and the Sharks having just 11 forwards on the roster, it was reasonable to assume that Gushchin would be coming right back after the Cuda’s back-to-back on Friday and Saturday nights.

The San Jose Sharks’ next game is Nov. 20 at the Vancouver Canucks.

However, Sharks head coach David Quinn shared today that barring unforeseen complications, that a player or two coming off the IR would fill San Jose’s two open roster spots, and not Gushchin.

That’s likely defenseman-forward Jacob MacDonald and defenseman Matt Benning, who have been fully participating in the last couple practices.

This afternoon, MacDonald skated with the fourth line in practice, while Luke Kunin took Sturm’s third-line center role.

For Quinn, Gushchin didn’t make a strong-enough case to stay up.

“The other night, I thought he got a little bit overwhelmed defensively. I thought it was a little bit of a hard game for him,” the San Jose Sharks bench boss said of the Russian’s performance on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.

He liked Gushchin’s season debut on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers more.

“He does good things with the puck. He’s a smart player and he’s competitive,” Quinn said then. “I thought he did a lot of good things today.”

Sharks Locker Room: Quinn Talks Gushchin’s Season Debut, Hoffman on Snapping Slump

In two games on the second line and with power play time, Gushchin registered one assist and three shots, averaging 14:57 a night.

Ultimately, for the San Jose Sharks and Quinn, it’s about what they think is best for the 21-year-old’s development.

Is it better for him to thrive in the AHL – the 5-foot-8 winger leads the Barracuda with 13 points in just 11 appearances – or to survive in the NHL?

It’s clear what Quinn thinks: “Especially for someone his size, you continue to dominate down there as you get a little bit bigger and stronger and grow up a little bit.

“Sometimes, it’s just time, he’s 21, at 23, he’s gonna look a lot different, right? Sometimes, it’s just the maturity of your growth that will allow you to be more productive at this level.”

The point is, the San Jose Sharks are still high on Gushchin.

“He’s 21 years old, and he’s continuing to learn,” Quinn said. “He’s such a skilled player who takes pride in getting better and is so coachable.”

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