Heading into the 2013 NHL draft Valeri Nichushkin was a bit of a mystery. He was rated as the second highest European player in the draft, yet no one was sure where he would end up going in the draft or what he truly brought to the table. However, his path to the NHL has been pretty good to follow and today we’re going to break it down for you.
When and Where was he drafted?
After a less than impressive showing as a 17 year-old with his KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk, Valeri Nichushkin used a decent World Junior Championship showing to help him climb the NHL draft rankings. While looking out-of-place with Traktor, he did look solid with Chelmet, Chelyabinsk’s junior team recording 10 points in 15 games. The biggest problem was that no one really knew what to expect from him, but that didn’t stop the Dallas Stars from taking him off the board in the top 10.
The Stars took Nichushkin 10th overall and it proved to be a great decision seeing him crack the roster out of training camp and post some impressive numbers.
How did his 2013-2014 season go
No rookie had a better season than Nathan MacKinnon, but credit needs to be given to Nichushkin who had an immediate impact with the Stars. In 79 games the rookie recorded an impressive 34 points and brought character to their line-up. It took him little time to adapt from the KHL to the NHL as he looked like an NHL regular throughout the year. He also saw some playoff action with the Stars recording 2 points in 6 games. He made an immediate impact not only with the Stars but around the league, leading many to believe the Stars have found a real gem.
However, perhaps most impressive was his attitude and commitment off the ice when faced with challenges. Leaving the only country and family you’ve known to go to a new country and family where you don’t speak the language is a pretty tough task for any rookie. Nichushkin never let that get him down as he brought enthusiasm with him every where he went.
All in all, Valeri Nichushkin had a solid rookie season for the Stars that has everyone in Dallas excited. His 6 foot 4 body and large frame make him a power on offence but many fear could affect him in a full 82 game NHL grind.
Thoughts On Last Season and Future
For Nichushkin his stats speak for themselves last season. He had an incredible rookie season, one that left many teams envious of the Stars who were able to nab the highly skilled Russian. His large frame helped his offence and his ability to adapt to the North American game. He looked like a regular NHL player who belonged on the Stars first line last season. However, as with every great break-out season the sophomore slump is a dreading trend. Many believe that Nichushkin needs to get into better shape if he hopes to continue to compete at a high level with the Stars during an entire season. The wear and tear on a play is brutal and towards the end of the year he showed signs of slowing down.
He’s an exceptional talent who will have a high bar to reach in his sophomore season, but he’s very capable of making the adjustment for next season and the Stars shouldn’t have to worry.