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Quinn on Why Mukhamadullin Will Stay With Barracuda for Now

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Everybody’s excited about Shakir Mukhamadullin’s potential.

Head coach David Quinn. The San Jose Sharks. The rest of the NHL.

“We all just have to be patient,” Quinn cautioned today, in the Sharks’ first practice back after a nine-day layoff.

Because of injuries to left-handers Mario Ferraro and Henry Thrun, Mukhamadullin was called up before the All-Star break. He made his NHL debut on Jan. 27, played in all three San Jose Sharks games before the break, impressing everybody who watched him, even those not associated with the Sharks.

NHL Scouts Excited About Mukhamadullin (+)

“He’ll be [Jay] Bouwmeester. Great future,” one NHL scout from outside of the San Jose Sharks organization told San Jose Hockey Now.

However, that future, at least in the NHL, will have to be put on hold, at least for now.

Ferraro and Thrun hit the ice today, and Ferraro especially seemed confident that he would be back for the Sharks’ first game back on Feb. 14.

So Mukhamadullin, sent down to represent the San Jose Barracuda at the AHL All-Star Game, will stay down there for now.

The Barracuda do have a little more to play for than their parent club. The 14-22-8-0 Cuda are struggling to stay in the AHL Pacific Division playoff race, 12 points out of a spot. That’s not great, but they’re one winning streak from putting themselves back in the conversation, as opposed to the Sharks, who are 23 points back of the last wild card berth.

“Right now, we feel that’s the best spot for him,” Quinn offered. “Just from a confidence standpoint, keep playing those big minutes. I know he’s playing good minutes here, but just continuing to bring his game to another level.”

This is in line with what he said about Mukhamadullin right before the break: “Regardless of whether he played well enough, what’s best for his development is really the only thing that matters.”

Mukhamadullin registered his first NHL point, an assist, in his three big league contests. He also added four penalty minutes and skated an impressive 21:09 a night. The Sharks went 1-1-1 in those games.

But that doesn’t mean that Mukhamadullin is a finished product, by any means.

“I thought he had good games,” Quinn said. “He was C+, B-, and he did a lot of good things.”

Keep in mind, this is grading Mukhamadullin against the best league in the world. But on a curve?

“Relative to who he is? I’d give him a higher grade. It’s a scale, right?” Quinn was quick to add. “He’s a [22-year-old] playing his first NHL games.”

So make no mistake, Quinn and the San Jose Sharks are expecting a lot of Mukhamadullin in the coming years.

Immediately though? Quinn just wants the young blueliner to take his demotion in stride.

“It’s always interesting to see a player when they get called up for the first time, play, small window of opportunity here and then go back down,” he said. “A lot of guys end up bringing that game to another level. So I think there’s an opportunity for him to do that.”

And in the years to come?

“Obviously, he’s going to get bigger, right? He’s going to fill out. He’s [22] years old, he’s filling out still. That’s just gonna happen. It’s just time,” Quinn said of the listed as 190-pound blueliner. “He’s has all the qualities you’re looking for in a defenseman. He’s tall, he’s rangy, he’s wants to be physical, and he makes good decisions.”

Quinn was excited about the Bouwmeester comp. The 17-year NHL veteran, a true two-way force, topped double-digit goals three times, was a special teams staple, and played 1,240 regular season games, averaging 24:04 a night.

“Shak may skate a little better than Bouwmeester,” Quinn added.

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