Elite Sharks prospect arriving in San Jose today, but one big question remains

SAN JOSE – Defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin, one of the key players the Sharks acquired from the New Jersey Devils as part of last month’s Timo Meier trade, was set to arrive in the Bay Area from Russia on Thursday, although it remained unclear when he would play his first game with his new organization.

Mukhamadullin, 21, was one of New Jersey’s three first-round draft choices in 2020 and just completed his season with Salavat Yulayev-Ufa of the KHL. He was eager to come to California and meet people inside his new organization, a team official said.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Mukhamadullin had 25 points in 67 regular season games for Salavat Yulayev, which is coached by former Sharks player Viktor Kozlov. The team lost in the KHL’s conference quarterfinals as Mukhamadullin had a goal and an assist in the six-game playoff series.

Sharks coach David Quinn said earlier this week he’s looking forward to meeting Mukhamadullin, already considered one of the Sharks’ top overall prospects.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good reports on him,” Quinn said. “I’ve never seen him live, obviously, but other people like him, so it’s going to be exciting to have him here.”

Early indications are that if Mukhamadullin does play, he’ll begin his North American professional career with the San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks’ AHL affiliate. The Sharks are on a three-game road trip through Western Canada next week and the Barracuda play games in Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday and host Bakersfield on Saturday and Sunday.

Mukhamadullin is in the first year of his entry-level contract after he was loaned by the Devils to Salavat Yulayev at the start of the season.

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The Sharks, already eliminated from playoff contention, have 12 more games after this week, with their last game on April 13. The Barracuda, which is fighting for a playoff spot, also has 12 regular season games left after this week.

“It’s early,” Quinn said. “We’ll see how that plays out.”

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