Razor with an Edge: Calderskin

Monday, 12.9.2013 / 10:17 AM CT / Razor With An Edge
By Daryl "Razor" Reaugh
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Razor with an Edge: Calderskin

Let’s go back to 1989-90, Mike Modano’s rookie year.

That season Mike was just 19 and compiled an impressive 29 goals and 75 points for the Minnesota North Stars. He was the most talented young freshman in the league but shockingly was not ‘Rookie of the Year’. No, that honor went to 31-year-old Sergei Makarov.

Say what Razor?!

Oh, you heard me right. Sergei Makarov; he of the Challenge Cup, three Super Series, three Canada Cups, three Olympic Games, and seven World Championship titles. A world class transplant from the Soviet Red Army Team where he played ‘pro’ for 11 years on the famed K-L-M line. Makarov, a player approaching the 9th hour of his hockey career named ‘rookie’ of the year in the NHL thanks to his 24 goals, 86 points and the then farcical nature of the National Hockey League.

Hardware Larceny, indeed.

Just how robbed did Modano get? Well, following the embarrassment of naming Makarov over Mike, the league changed criteria for Rookie of the Year to state (among other things) that a player had to be age 26 or younger to be eligible.

So we fast-forward 24 years and begin to make the case for the Calder (Rookie of the Year) for a current Stars rookie.

Valeri Nichushkin, ironically a young Russian born in Chelyabinsk where Makarov played Junior hockey, has certainly played like a Calder hopeful over the past month. Since November 1, the 18-year-old right winger has racked up 14 points in 15 games and just became the first Stars rookie since 1997 to be in on four goals in a game.

Nichushskin, who G.M. Jim Nill made the 10th overall pick in a bold move in this past summer’s draft, is rare in that he is a bull-strong forward at a very young age. Oh he’ll still fill out (which is frightening), but right here right now he can more than hold his own with the MEN of the planet’s best hockey league, just months after being named Rookie of the Year in the KHL.

He combines that strength with a powerful skating stride, orangutan-like reach and a fierce desire to do well - really well. This kid sets his personal bar of expectation higher than the spires atop the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Saint Petersburg (top notch Russian reference by me).

When he was floundering, frustrated and made a healthy scratch five games into the season, the many who had picked Val to be a finalist for Rookie of the Year appeared, well, optimistically misguided. But the kid just keeps getting better. He’s surely back on the watch list now.

If he stays on the same trajectory, he’s gonna finish with somewhere around 60-70 points, and stats don’t tell the whole story with him. He hits, he steals pucks, he’s learned to work and play defense (all be it spotty at times, but remember, he’s 18). In a nutshell, Nichushkin is gradually becoming a complete package - check that, not a nutshell - a Russian nesting doll. Yes, cause there seems to always be a little more to discover when it comes to this fabulously talented young Dallas Star.

If he were to capture the Calder as Rookie of the Year in the NHL he’d be the first in franchise history to do so, righting a wrong from 24 years ago. If he doesn’t - no worries, he’s already surpassed the incredibly forgettable four games Sergei Makarov played for the Stars in 1996.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 55 35 16 4 153 127 74
2 DAL 52 33 14 5 169 137 71
3 STL 54 29 17 8 128 128 66
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 50 27 19 4 145 132 58
6 COL 54 27 23 4 146 148 58
7 NSH 52 24 20 8 130 137 56
8 ANA 49 24 18 7 106 113 55
9 MIN 51 23 19 9 126 122 55
10 ARI 51 24 21 6 136 156 54
11 VAN 51 20 19 12 119 138 52
12 CGY 49 22 24 3 129 145 47
13 WPG 50 22 25 3 129 143 47
14 EDM 52 21 26 5 130 151 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 52 28 30 16 58
T. Seguin 52 27 28 12 55
J. Klingberg 52 8 35 17 43
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 52 16 24 -1 40
C. Eakin 52 10 13 2 23
A. Goligoski 52 3 20 20 23
M. Janmark 52 10 9 13 19
A. Roussel 50 8 10 6 18
V. Nichushkin 49 6 12 8 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 9 5 .910 2.46
K. Lehtonen 13 5 0 .908 2.82
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