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 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 10 5 9 6 14
J. Spezza 10 4 7 2 11
C. Eakin 10 1 7 2 8
P. Sharp 10 4 2 1 6
R. Faksa 10 3 2 2 5
A. Goligoski 10 3 2 -5 5
P. Eaves 7 2 3 3 5
J. Klingberg 10 1 3 -3 4
A. Hemsky 10 1 3 -1 4
M. Janmark 9 1 3 -1 4
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 5 1 0 .906 2.58
A. Niemi 1 3 2 .872 3.33
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