Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
News
Social Networks

X-Factor: Nichushkin Finds Comfort Level With Stars

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 10:11 AM / News
By Brian Compton
X
Share with your Friends


X-Factor: Nichushkin Finds Comfort Level With Stars
The adjustments to the NHL and North America were not easy ones for Dallas Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin, but the 19-year-old Russian seems to have found a comfort level as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach. That is very good news for the Stars.

The Dallas Stars are young, fast and dangerous. It begins with their top-line punch of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but there are more reasons why Dallas is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.

One is right wing Valeri Nichushkin. The 19-year-old was selected with the No. 10 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft and immediately made the jump to hockey's highest level. He did not look out of place, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists. Even more impressive, Nichushkin boasted a plus-21 rating, showing the ability to play well at each end of the ice despite his young age. For most players his age, it takes some time to learn how to play responsibly in the defensive zone.

Now, on an even bigger stage, the Stars will depend on Nichushkin to help them advance past the Western Conference First Round. The skilled wing is likely to skate on the Stars' top line alongside the aforementioned Seguin and Benn, which should give Nichushkin an opportunity to convert on some quality scoring opportunities.

Nichushkin didn't enjoy as much success offensively as other first-year players, but he did finish in the top 10 in scoring among rookie players. He spent the early portion of the season trying to find chemistry with Seguin and Benn, which proved difficult at the start while Nichushkin tried to adapt to a new country and a new League. Things certainly got better as the season progressed, to the point where Nichushkin was selected to represent Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"There is no secret that I had a poor start of the season, but I stayed patient and worked on my game," Nichushkin told NHL.ru, the League’s Russian website. "I did not have any success right away, but it came to me with some time. It feels like it keeps getting better now. It is definitely getting easier since I see the results."

Nichushkin continues to adjust to life in North America. Not only has he tried to keep up with the pace of the game on the ice, but he has spent this season trying to improve his English while becoming acquainted with his new home. It can't be easy, but Nichushkin seems to be adapting well.

His size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and skill are impossible to ignore, and there's no doubt Nichushkin is capable of having a huge impact on the outcome of the Stars' first-round series, and possibly beyond if they're able to have success in their first postseason appearance since 2008.

"I knew he had a lot of potential, but I didn't know he was going to become such a good player so early," said Benn, who compared Nichushkin to center Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins. "For an 18-year-old from Russia, it's not easy to come over here -- the lifestyle and the North American game. But he's adapted really well to this game."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 37 23 8 6 105 100 52
2 CHI 36 24 10 2 112 74 50
3 NSH 34 23 9 2 99 71 48
4 STL 35 21 11 3 103 90 45
5 WPG 36 19 10 7 92 84 45
6 LAK 36 18 11 7 100 89 43
7 SJS 36 19 12 5 100 93 43
8 VAN 33 20 11 2 99 91 42
9 CGY 37 19 15 3 108 99 41
10 MIN 33 16 13 4 96 93 36
11 DAL 34 15 14 5 99 116 35
12 COL 35 13 14 8 92 106 34
13 ARI 35 13 18 4 82 113 30
14 EDM 36 7 22 7 76 125 21

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Seguin 34 25 18 4 43
J. Benn 34 10 20 -3 30
J. Spezza 34 6 19 -11 25
T. Daley 34 8 9 -14 17
A. Roussel 34 7 9 -2 16
A. Goligoski 34 1 14 2 15
C. Eakin 31 6 7 2 13
S. Horcoff 34 5 8 1 13
E. Cole 33 6 6 -5 12
R. Garbutt 26 6 5 -5 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 14 8 5 .904 2.99
A. Lindback 1 5 0 .864 4.29
#LONESTARSSTATE GAMEDAY FAN

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+