21-Year-Old Left Wing – Dallas Stars
Valeri Nichushkin Contract Information:
Signed a three-year, entry-level deal with Dallas in July of 2013.
Nichushkin will remain a restricted free agent after Dallas gave him a qualifying offer Monday.
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Valeri Nichushkin: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
After scoring 14 times in his rookie season, Nichushkin was essentially redshirted for 2014-15, appearing in just eight games due to a hip injury. By season's end, Nichushkin was back in the lineup, and with a full offseason to recover, he'll be an X-factor for the Stars entering the upcoming campaign, and a potential fantasy sleeper. The 6-foot-4 winger has a strong pedigree as a former No. 10 overall draft pick, and at 20 years old, still has room to take a dramatic leap in the production he provided as a rookie. Nichushkin has seen time in the Stars' top six in the past, and if his combination of speed and size plays up in training camp, he could come away with a first- or second-line role in hand. If that comes to a fruition, it's not unreasonable to expect him to flirt with 20 goals, though his assists might not be quite as plentiful. But even with a deficiency in that category, Nichushkin's big frame will allow him to regularly overpower smaller defenders, and with creative passers surrounding him in Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn, his upside as a scorer remains sky high. Target him in the later rounds, as there's enough talent here for a breakout to materialize.
Nichushkin had an impressive rookie campaign, tallying 14 goals, 20 assists and a plus-20 rating. If he can avoid the pitfalls of the sophomore slump, he could be a pick in your draft that pays dividends beyond his selection slot. He'll likely line up on the right side of the Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin line, which means that he'll be the benefactor of one of the best forward tandems in the NHL. But he's a high-risk, high-reward player. Any first-unit power-play time disappeared with the arrival of Jason Spezza. But a second unit with Nichushkin, Alex Hemsky and Cody Eakin would be a unique combination of power, speed and skill. He's still developing, so he'll have his ups and downs. But he will be better prepared for the length of an NHL season this time around and that could mean 50 points are within reach. Stardom -- no, superstardom -- may still beckon in two years time. And when it does, he might be better than Jamie Benn AND Tyler Seguin. Dynasty leagues need to act now or forever miss their chance to roster him.
The talented Russian fell into the Stars' lap with the 10th pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and the expectation is that he'll immediately jump to the NHL -- partly to keep him from returning to Russia (he's unlikely to report to the minors) and partly because there's plenty of room on the top two lines for a scoring winger. His name is being mentioned in early Calder Trophy talk and it seems well justified at this point. He looks legit. UPDATE: A strong preseason has him all but guaranteed a spot on one of the top two lines to begin the season.