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What Are Gushchin, Robins Doing to Stick Around Sharks?

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Danil Gushchin and Tristen Robins showed last night why the San Jose Sharks have kept them around.

Now let’s not fire up the hype train: The 2020 draft picks flashed, but against the Anaheim Ducks’ B-team in a 5-4 victory.

I don’t think they’re making the NHL tomorrow.

But last night was still a noteworthy achievement for first-year pros Gushchin and Robins – after all, they faced mostly AHL-or-better competition – just like surviving the first round of roster cuts was:

Gushchin, Robins Survive Sharks’ First Roster Cuts

There’s no doubt that Gushchin and Robins have raised their stock after solid Rookie Faceoff and training camp showings.

Here’s what I liked from them last night.

Last night, Gushchin consistently kept advancing the puck into good places i.e. somewhere his teammate could do something with it or at the very least safe places. The stereotype for an offense-first Gushchin-type player is Turnover Central – that wasn’t the case last night, and he still managed to make some very clever plays.

Gushchin (75) seizes the middle of the slot, a prime attack area, hoodwinking Axel Andersson (63) with his stickhandling. He then sees Max Veronneau (74) chugging behind, great vision, and drops it off for the trailer. Credit to Veronneau too for beating Nathan Gaucher (46) into open space.

“Puck seems to follow him everywhere on the ice. Lots of touches,” an NHL scout told me about Gushchin, who impressed him at the Rookie Faceoff.

You can see that here too:

Gushchin is dogged on the forecheck on Josh Mahura (76). This is no small feat for the 5-foot-10 Russian winger: Mahura has NHL games under his belt.

Gushchin’s pressure kicks off a chain of events that leads to Andrew Agozzino (26) and Veronneau finding Gushchin, who has skated to a soft, open area of the ice. The 20-year-old sniper shows patience, holding the puck as he flies by Anthony Stolarz, waiting for the goalie to open up…or for the Ducks’ defense to get sucked in, getting Veronneau open.

Gushchin is a work in progress, but safe to say, there’s a lot to work with.

Meanwhile, Tristen Robins flashed early.

I love the quickness here, just that quick footwork beating another guy with NHL games under his belt like Glenn Gawdin (42). Get it into a dangerous place, let your linemates take care of business, which Scott Reedy (54) does.

This was just the first salvo in a night full of scoring chances for Robins and his linemates Reedy and Jonah Gadjovich.

“They played well,” San Jose Sharks bench boss David Quinn said of Gushchin and Robins last night. “I thought that the Gushchin line was good. I thought the Robins line was very good for us.”

One thing that will help Robins long-term? The coaching staff has been complimentary of what he’s doing defensively, which is an obstacle for many a young player in the quest to establish yourself in the NHL.

“They like my two-way game right now and I feel like that’ll help me in the long run,” Robins shared, when asked what the San Jose Sharks like about his game. “I think if I round out [my play] on both sides of the puck, it will give me more opportunity.”

Let’s see how much more opportunity that Gushchin and Robins will get. The Sharks are set to leave for Berlin on Saturday. Could either surprise, and get on the plane?

“I’m gonna do everything that I can to push for a spot,” Robins said, “but at the same time, I have to play to my strengths.”

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