Shakir Mukhamadullin is a Young New Jersey Devils Defensive Prospect
To this day many New Jersey Devils fans don’t know how to say this Russian name Shakir Mukhamadullin (Moo Ha ma Dew Lin). The Ufa native of Russia in his U-16 season for Salavat was a 16 point campaign and began to hit 13 points in 15 games played total while playing for Salavat Yulaev’s under 17 age group. This is where the Russian national team came in. Mukhamadullin scored 6 points in 19 games played for Russia’s under 17 international junior team.
Mukhamadullin eventually tore up the MHL the Major Junior Circuit club tied to Salavat Yulaev of the KHL. He went onto score 10 points in 13 games and was promoted up and played a game in the next tier at the VHL. The upper brass of Salavat Yulaev knew during the early goings of the pandemic that they would need a really good defenseman. So the early part of 2020 put a tough spin on the KHL.
Mukhamadullin only scored one point in 27 games, however, the offense isn’t his only dimension. He’s actually a very physical, very wise, well-positioned defender with a high octane slap shot that is a lethal laser beam of a shot. That was in the 2019-20 season prior to a breakthrough year in the 2020-2021 season.
Salavat Yulaev saw a major breakthrough where Mukhamadullin scored 7 assists and 10 points in 39 games played at the KHL level. The Russian national team ran by Igor Larionov. Although Mukhamadullin didn’t score in 7 games played he did show he could improve the team defensively and get them to the bronze medal game.
Mukhamadullin will eventually come to New Jersey on an entry-level contract where he will develop in Utica for a season or two because the ice dimensions are different here than in the KHL. Shakir will be getting to work with Soviet hockey legend and New Jersey Devils great Sergei Brylin.
The language barrier won’t be much of a factor because you have Brylin who is a native Russian speaker along with another defensive prospect Nikita Okhotyuk. Having Mukhamadullin and Okhotyuk around will allow both players to assimilate from the AHL level to going up to the NHL level. A coach like Lindy Ruff at the NHL level for the New Jersey Devils took on a few KHL products of Mikhail Maltsev, and Yegor Sharangovich so I can see Mukhamadullin grow comfortably under Ruff.
As long as Shakir begins to add more muscle mass, and keeps improving his defensive capabilities along with using that howitzer of a slap shot I can see him as a top 4 left-handed defenseman that will give Tom Fitzgerald many options to make other players more likely to be dealt. New Jersey Devils fans need to keep patient with him and let him bloom into a very seasoned defender that will make New Jersey’s defense a very terrorizing opponent once again.
The future is very bright for the young Russian defenseman who has been playing big roles defensively for team Russia during his hockey development. Once Mukhamadullin gets developed at the NHL level I can see him being a key cog in the machine providing a 200-foot game creating cycling passes from the blue line to jumping in on the power play getting top two defense pairing minutes. He and Kevin Bahl and countless other Devils players will gain experience and eventually help secure leads.
This kind of homegrown hockey for a player like Mukhamadullin will prove to hockey critics that not only was drafting a diamond in the rough. But this is why General Manager Fitzgerald trusts his scouting staff. Some people still think Fitzgerald should have taken Hendrix LaPierre at 20th overall. However, Hendrix’s injury history was something I was very concerned about and I’m half surprised that the Devils went with Mukhamadullin.
The New Jersey Devils knew what they wanted and the scouts pounded their fists for their guys before the draft. Once the Devils already made selections for Alexander Holtz from the SHL, and Dawson Mercer of the QMJHL, the Devils had scouted the KHL and its feeder systems.
For those still skeptical I’d trust the scouts in Russia under Fitzgerald because there is a lot of unlocked potential. The Devils saw it in Arseni Gritsyuk, Daniil Misyul, and Yegor Zaitsev to name a few. But Mukhamadullin is a guy I want most fans to keep on their radar in the next few seasons from Russia. By the time he is ready to play in New Jersey, the team should become a dominant hockey power again.
main image credit