The Dallas Stars have a plethora of draft picks for the NHL 2013 Entry Draft. Four of their draft picks are in the first two rounds. The possibilities with these draft picks are extraordinary for what seems to be one of the strongest draft pools in recent years. The Stars have options with what they want to do; they could use some picks to trade up, or possibly trade down to gain more picks and get even more depth in the draft.
What the Stars need
The thing the Stars are lacking is another young forward with talent that will get seats filled at American Airlines Center. Jamie Benn and other young players have stepped up and taken on that responsibility, but I expect the Stars to go out and pick up a flashy forward in the first round. The Dallas Stars could use a strong right winger to fill in the roster. One that stands out is Valeri Nichushkin.
Nichushkin played in the KHL for the 2012-2013 season. He is a winger, standing at 6’4” and weighing nearly 200 lbs. He looked very comfortable during the U20 World Junior Tournament. Despite his size, he skates with speed and explosiveness. Coupled with his ability to be powerful with the puck, he is a very tough player to stop.
Nichushkin uses his speed and power to frequently crash the net, something that the Stars’ offense could improve on this season. From watching highlights from international play and KHL play, he uses his strength and his reach to constantly get around goalies low. Nichushkin has a quick shot that can catch goalies off guard as he skates through the slot. Aside from his ability to skate so effortlessly through the center of the ice, his defensive mentality was very impressive. There are several times that he has gotten his stick into the lanes to stop passes and rushes by opposing players, often leading to fast breaks the other way. He also isn’t afraid to dish out some hits as well. This kid has ‘Pesky Stars’ written all over him!
Some concerns about him are that he may be too comfortable with the puck, and has coughed the puck up in the neutral zone trying to skate through defenders as opposed to dumping the puck into the offensive zone. A legal issue is that his contract with Dynamo (KHL team) states that he can play in the NHL next season, but not in an affiliated league (AHL, ECHL, etc.).
Nichushkin scored the game winning goal in overtime of the Bronze medal game at the U20 World Junior Tournament. He was also the KHL’s Rookie of the Year this past season.
The Dallas Stars would benefit greatly by having someone with the power, finesse, and speed of Nichushkin. Nichushkin would also benefit by being a part of a rebuilding franchise. One in which he has the potential to have a significant role for years to come.
As one of the top ranked European skaters, if he drops low enough, I would expect Dallas to pounce on him. If not, he may be a prospect worth trading up to get.
Look for more draft watch updates with the days drawing nearer to the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
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