With the tenth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft the Dallas Stars may have found their next big Star, Valeri Nichushkin. The former KHL Rookie of the year slid in the draft despite having as much, if not more talent, than anyone else. Obviously Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones were higher up the Stars draft board but Nich is far from a consolation prize.
According to International Scouting Sevices (ISS),
Nichushkin is a phenomenal talent who has seen his stock fall and rise quickly all year long. He isn’t your typical Russian offensive dynamo as he plays an intense two-way game and shows fantastic will to win in big games. He has great size and knows how to use it well to protect the puck. He is very strong on his skates and also has the quickness to burn opponents the second he gets them off balance. Nichushkin has eyes in the back of his head and is always in the right place to make a play but also always seems to be one step ahead of everybody else and very rarely hesitates to attack a situation when he identifies it.
The key takeaway from this, and most other scouting reports on Nichushkin, is he is highly skilled two-way player. He has size, toughness, and grit to play a very physical brand of hockey but also possess speed, intuitiveness, and puck skills to fill a highlight reel. He is a player who can contribute to the entire game and not just on the offensive end. He’s not the next Ovechkin because he can actually play offense AND defense.
Says ISS Scout Ross MacLean,
The real appeal to him was he was a very non-stereotypical Russian. He’d block shots. He’d back check. He wasn’t that uber-offensive Russian flash that we got so used to with Kovalchuks and so on.
He fell in the draft because of speculation he may be unwilling/unable to play anywhere but the NHL majors. Word is, if he doesn’t make an NHL roster he will return to play in the KHL rather than play in the minors. Teams tend to get a little gun-shy about the slightest of hiccups, you can imagine how this may have deterred some teams. While this may be a red flag it’s not a very big one. Even if it is true that he must make a roster or temporarily play in the KHL he’s well worth the #10 pick.
Nich has a great shot of making the team immediately anyway. This pick is bold but not risky. This pick will define the Stars future for years to come.
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