New Jersey Devils: Shakir Mukhamadullin’s Mistakes Outdoes Production At World Junior Championships

Shakir Mukhamadullin #17 of Russia. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
Shakir Mukhamadullin #17 of Russia. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

Shakir Mukhamadullin had an overall good tournament, but some glaring mistakes is all anyone could talk about.

The New Jersey Devils selected three players in the 1st round of the NHL Draft this season. That made the World Junior Championships very fun to watch, because each had a pivitol role in their team’s success. Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer were always coming in with certain expectation, but at the end of the day, they’d be considered great players even if they fell flat on their face. It is only a maximum of seven games.

However, that line of thinking doesn’t work for Russian defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin. The surprise 1st-round pick came into the tournament with a microscope on him because of where the Devils chose to take him.

Honestly, the Devils probably only took him with the 20th-overall pick because he wasn’t going to last until the 3rd round, where they had their next draft pick. He was likely going in the 2nd round based on his upside alone. That still doesn’t stop the takes from coming in droves on Twitter.

Mukhamadullin is just a magnet for hate from prospects Twitter. Is there a good reason for it? Honestly, yes and no. He makes some major mistakes, and more times than not they are due directly to decision making. He isn’t flawed in terms of talent or physical attributes, but the decisions he makes on the fly will drive fans up a wall.

Still, his numbers overall are impressive for the tournament.

He has no points, so that’s a lightning rod for criticism itself. Add in the mistakes he’s made with the puck on his stick, and the high amounts of shots on goal with nothing to show for it, and he is going to get criticized. However, to act like he’s the worst defenseman in the tournament is just patently false.

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Mukhamadullin was taken to be a long-term project for the Devils. GM Tom Fitzgerald said he fell in love with him when researching another prospect (Rodion Amirov). Mukhamadullin has a lot to fix before he’s even close to NHL ready. He’d get eaten alive if he played the way he does. This is just to say the hate thrown his way is insane. He’s a teenage prospect at defense that has a lot of tools to be a really good player. He’d probably do well to go to a better coach, but as long as he’s getting opportunities in the KHL, he will grow as a player. That’s all Devils fans care about at this point.