If you follow the league really closely, or played NHL 16 when the Dallas Stars were the most fun team to use, you’ll remember the name Valeri Nichushkin.
The 10th overall pick in the 2013 Draft by the Stars had a standout rookie season in 2013. But a rash of injuries and disagreements with the Stars coaching staff led him to head back to the KHL this season.
With the KHL’s financial troubles, and the coaching change in Dallas (Lindy Ruff out, Ken Hitchcock in), it appears Nichushkin may be ready to come back to the NHL.
He’s in Russia now and it’s 50-50 on whether we get him back next season. In the end it’ll be up to him if he wants to come back. It’d be huge for our franchise if we can get him back. – Joe McDonnell, Dallas Stars Director of Amateur Scouting
Not knowing Nichushkin’s situation makes the upcoming Expansion Draft quite the headache for GM Jim Nill.
They need to know his plans by June 18 to make an informed decision on who to protect. Otherwise, they’d potentially be cornered into protecting him to retain his rights even if he’s in no-man’s land. It would be an acceptable outcome to lose a player like (Cody) Eakin or (Antoine) Roussel if the Stars get Nichushkin as the replacement. But to protect Nichushkin and lose one of those players, only to discover weeks later that the former is staying in the KHL, would be a blow to a team that’s trying to win now while (Jaime) Benn and (Tyler) Seguin are elite players. –Satchel Price, SBNation.com
If he’s unprotected, whether he plans on coming back in 2017-18 or not, Valeri Nichushkin is the perfect option for the Golden Knights. He’s 22 years old, won’t command a large contract, has the talent of a top line forward, and has proven it at the NHL level… at the age of 19 nonetheless.
In the event Nichushkin is selected by Vegas and chooses to remain in Russian, the Golden Knights retain his rights until the age of 27. If he opts to come back, they can sign him to a one year qualifying offer worth less than $1M, or sign him to a longer term deal worth probably triple that.
Remember that Shapachyov guy? Maybe he can come in handy here. How bout a quick text? Пожалуйста, верните Валери (Please come back Valeri).
That should do it. But hey, even if it doesn’t, there’s not going to be many players better (and younger) than Nichuskin in the Expansion Draft. He’s absolutely worth a shot.
(Oh, and if they do protect him, it might be even better news for the Golden Knights. Hey Cody Eakin, you thinking Summerlin or Henderson?)