Happy Friday morning, Stars fans! Just think, one more day and then it’s 48 hours of pure happiness; unless you have something boring or upsetting planned, then I’m sorry.
ALSO: I wanted to remind everyone that yesterday/today (considering that the game started on June 19th and ended on June 20th) is the 15 year anniversary of your 1999 Dallas Stars WINNING THE STANLEY CUP!!!!!!! I trust you spent yesterday/today basking in the glory of this joyous occasion. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS.. (15 years ago at least!). Here’s a video just to remind you of how great that moment was:
And with that, let’s get back to the point of the article!
Here’s the next report card (only 3 left after this one, thanks for reading them!) on #43, the Choo Choo train, Valeri Nichushkin:
Valeri Nichushkin played his first NHL season at the mere and young age of 18. With one year under his belt, he is turning out to be one of the biggest steals from the 2013 draft.
Valeri Nichushkin pulled off one heck of a rookie year, and he did it before he was even of legal age to drink (in the States at least… best wishes, Mother Russia). Nichushkin proved himself by playing a hearty 79/82 game season, and he did it mainly paired with the Batman and Robin of our Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Though his time on the top line wasn’t permanent, he always tried his best when on the freeze, regardless of line placement. He ended up finding the twine 14 times and rattling off 20 assists throughout the regular season in an average of 14:58 on the ice. As you can see, these numbers are monumental for a 19 year old draftee whose first goal didn’t happen until November 3rd.
Valeri Nichushkin pulled off an impressive postseason showing as well. With the majority of his time being spent on the third line, considering the RW spot on the first line was occupied by Alex Chiasson, Nichushkin found the back of the net 1 time as well as tallying 1 assist. In his first NHL playoff appearance, he found himself greatly contributing to the Stars cause throughout his 6/6 game appearance.
Shortly after the Stars drafted Nichushkin, they signed him to a three year entry-level deal with a salary of $925,000 until the 2015-2016 season. Nichushkin is guaranteed a green sweater for the next few seasons along with a plentiful contract and beneficial salary. The case for the Stars is perfect, as well, because of their grasp on one of the most, if not the most, talented young players in the league, along with 2 years left on the deal and a minimal salary attached. Win-win for both sides.
In my opinion:
My opinion is simple. Valeri Nichushkin is a high-quality player who is still in the developmental stages of his career. With his already acquired skills at such a young age, he adds to the young caliber of talent in the Stars arsenal. He meshes well with whoever he is paired up with, and knows how to work his line to their ultimate potential.
He is a great offensive threat. With his size and skill, he possesses a dual-threat that not many NHL players can attest to having. He plays a very strict offensive game, and makes sure he is always in the right place in case something goes south fast.
But with his skill comes limitations. Every once in a while, the 19 year old self will take control and let out his cockiness, leading to a bad turnover in the zone or a loss of possession, which occurred multiple times this season. But, with every young, new player comes these same setbacks and it’s up to the coaches to teach it out of them.
But overall, Val needs to stay in Dallas until the end of his career. Sure he has some drawbacks, but those can be fixed easily with training until all you have left is a high-quality player that will become the franchise tag in the seasons to come. When people think of the Dallas Stars, they will think of Valeri Nichushkin. Jaromir Jagr said after seeing Val play that he thought Valeri Nichushkin had the “tools to be the best player in the world”. Just to let you know, those words are coming from the current “best player in the world”. Val will be a key factor in making or breaking the Stars Cup chances, depending on how quick he can turn his game into sole playmaking ability.
The bottom line on Valeri Nichushkin:
Valeri Nichushkin was an unknown name from Russia and wasn’t projected to go for a while into the first round of the NHL draft. But Jim Nill decided to take a chance on an 18 year old and ended up not regretting it. Nichushkin proved himself to be a dominant factor in the Stars regular season road to the playoffs this past season, and proved to the 9 teams who passed him up that they should have truly considered his name one extra time.
The Stars could keep Nichushkin. Big Val is a decent playmaker with a good set of skills that not many other rookies can claim to possess. His offensive game is balanced, though sometimes he can find himself slipping up and giving away a decent chance, and his frame is difficult to face, though he neglects to use a physical edge most of the time. If the Stars keep him, they will be picking up a valuable wing that could end up being a major factor in their shot at a date with Stanley. This is the most logical idea, especially with 2 seasons still remaining on Val’s entry deal.
They could trade him. If the Stars were looking for a 2nd line center or Top 2 defenseman, they have an army of forwards at their disposal and could choose to deal 1 or 2 if need be. If another team needed a sweetener just to close the deal on a blockbuster name, Nichushkin could end up filling this void. But this scenario is truly a longshot at best, so don’t get all worried that we’re losing the Choo Choo Train just yet.
The Stars’ young talent is what lifted them back into Cup contention this past year and it looks as though it will be the key factor moving forward. Valeri Nichushkin is the youngest current member on the Stars roster and is one of the best as well. His talents will be greatly used in the seasons to come and Stars fans are lucky that Jim Nill decided to call his name.
Comments below and GO STARS.