New Jersey Devils Get Interesting Update On Shakir Mukhamadullin

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

The New Jersey Devils got an update on the status of 1st-round draft pick Shakir Mukhamadullin. The defenseman was playing for Ufa in the KHL, but he missed most of the second half of the season. Now, he’s going to get shoulder surgery according to Corey Masisak of The Athletic.

Masisak also said the Devils will let Mukhamadullin play in the KHL next season before signing him to a contract in 2022. Obviously, teams almost always have a long-term plan for these prospects, but we usually don’t hear about them until those plans are in the final moments. We’ll hear that the Devils are planning on signing Akira Schmid days before they announce it on Twitter, or when Alexander Holtz season ends in Sweden the rumblings will begin that he’s on his way to North America. However, it’s rare to hear about plans to sign a prospect after a season that hasn’t even started yet.

Mukhamadullin is a controversial prospect. In fact, he’s probably the Devils’ most controversial prospect. The Devils took him with the 20th-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He was expected to go in the 50 or 60 range, but the Devils did not have a 2nd-round pick. If they really liked Mukhamadullin that much, they either needed to trade back (which they probably should have) or they had to take him at 20.

The pick was widely panned as terrible off the jump, which is going to give Mukhamadullin an uphill climb when he gets to North America. He’s a player who clearly needs to grow on and off the ice. The 19 year old is listed at 6’4, 170 lbs. He needs to gain weight if he is going to survive the NHL for a full season.

There are ups and downs with Mukhamadullin. He played on the top line for Team Russia at the World Junior Championships. Overall, he had really good stats. However, there were some boneheaded plays that went straight to the blooper real.

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That will always be Mukhamadullin’s game, but if he could gain some muscle mass, then playing the body will become an important part of his game. He’s not like a Ty Smith or Reilly Walsh type defenseman. He needs to shut down opposing offenses to be valuable to this franchise. Mukhamadullin’s timeline actually has a lot to do with what the Devils do with their 1st-round pick this season. If the Devils take someone like Owen Power, Luke Hughes, or Brandt Clarke, then the pressure is off Mukhamadullin a little bit. If not, then they clearly expect Muk to be part of the defense closer than we think.