News
Social Networks

30 in 15: Nichushkin getting his chance with Stars

Saturday, 09.21.2013 / 2:49 PM / News
By Tal Pinchevsky
X
Share with your Friends


30 in 15: Nichushkin getting his chance with Stars
Valeri Nichushkin dropped into the Dallas Stars\' lap at No. 13 in the 2013 NHL Draft. The team has plenty of reasons to be excited about the 6-foot-4 Russian forward.

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2013-14 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.

The Dallas Stars' offseason was marked by a series of additions to their roster. But none was bigger than rookie Valeri Nichushkin -- at least in stature.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Russian forward fell to the Stars at the 2013 NHL Draft, who took the top prospect with the 10th pick. From the moment he slipped on their jersey, the Stars couldn't hide their excitement at getting the hulking forward, who won the rookie of the month award three times last season with Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"We're excited. We think he's very close [to NHL-ready], but I don't want to put expectations on him, either," Stars general manager Jim Nill told NHL.com. "I want to be careful. He's going to get every opportunity in the world to be on the team. We want to keep him around for a while."

Nichushkin entered Stars training camp with NHL-caliber size; now he has to show he can use it to earn a spot on an NHL roster. He already earned all kinds of attention before being selected by Dallas. Prior to the draft, NHL Central Scouting had Nichushkin ranked second among European skaters, behind Aleksander Barkov, whom the Florida Panthers took with the second pick in the draft.

Concerns over Nichushkin's KHL contract compelled some teams to shy away from him, but he had said before the draft he had terminated the remainder of that contact and wished to play in North America during the 2013-14 season.

"We were excited," Nill said of being able to select Nichushkin. "I think it's no secret everybody had him as one of the top three players in the draft. There is risk with the Russian factor, everybody knows that. Where we were picking, he was a player we couldn't pass on. There was just too much there."

Also playing into Nichushkin's favor in Dallas is the presence of veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar, an offseason acquisition who, like Nichushkin, was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia. While with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gonchar played a crucial role in the development of star Russian center Evgeni Malkin. The Stars hope Gonchar can play a similar role with Nichushkin.

The Stars were excited about the prospect of Nichushkin making the team out of training camp, and nothing changed once he strapped on the skates for the beginning of the team's training camp. In the first few days of camp, the teenager already was turning heads among his potential teammates.

"I saw him a couple of times. I think he's a really good player," veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas told the team's web site.

Coach Lindy Ruff said, "You can just see his size his strength. I think he's going to have to get used to the physical nature of players at this level, but it looks like he can handle it."

First impressions notwithstanding, if Nichushkin does make the team he likely won't skate on one of the top two forward lines. He'll have his minutes closely monitored but should benefit greatly from skating alongside veterans Shawn Horcoff and Rich Peverley, offseason acquisitions who likely will center the team's bottom two lines.

Wherever Nichushkin lines up, it could be the first crucial steps in the career of a rookie the Stars see becoming a franchise pillar one day.

"We're excited about Nichushkin. Physically he's ready. He's a man already. We're just going to monitor him real close and let him come in and see where he fits in," Nill said. "We've added enough depth where he doesn't have to be a go-to guy. He can just come in and play, and that's going to be key to his development."

Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL
 
DallasStars.com is the official Web site of DSE Hockey Club, L.P.  The Stars name and logos are registered trademarks of the NHL and the Stars. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2014 DSE Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Corporate Partnerships | Contact UsPrivacy Policy | AdChoices | Job Opportunities | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map | Find us on Google+