The Dallas Stars already boast one of the more impressive systems in the league, as far as their organizational depth is concerned. It was part of reason why they were able to pull off the major coup that was bringing in Jim Nill to replace Joe Nieuwendyk as general manager.
That system got even better when the Stars selected Valeri Nichushkin no. 10 overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. If the initial projections/expectations for his career are any indication, as he’s already drawn comparisons to Alex Ovechkin, the Stars got themselves a mighty big steal.
Nichushkin was a top five prospect in the draft, so there’s no real explanation as to why he dropped all the way to 10, but smart money says it’s because of that negative Russian stereotype and the dark cloud that is the KHL hanging over the league. However, Nichushkin doesn’t appear to have any desire to play in Russia at this point in time. He said he plans on playing in the states.
Which is a positive right off the bat. In fact, Nichushkin is already out of his KHL contract and is eligible to join the Stars right away. Their pre-draft interviews had Nichushkin already holding onto a strong desire to play for the Stars. Which means we could see a contract for him in the immediate future.
Nichushkin is a big kid up front, standing 6’4″ and has the skill to go along with it. He has excellent hands and vision, with the upside of being an absolute nightmare matchup as a power forward. His defensive game could use some work, but all indications are that this kid has the talent to play with the Stars tomorrow.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, however. We’ll see how his summer workouts shape up and where he ends up if it’s not with the Stars quite yet. Regardless, it certainly looks like the Stars got the steal of the draft in grabbing a top five talent at no. 10 overall.