The Dallas Stars made one of the best value picks of the 2013 draft, when they selected young Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin with the no. 10 overall pick. They were able to grab him at that spot, despite Nichushkin coming in as a potential top five talent in the draft.
The reasoning behind him slipping down to no. 10, despite his massive potential, is quite easy to determine. The fact that he’s a young Russian, and the threat of the KHL snatching up players continues to loom over the league, led many to shy away from him. But the Stars did not.
And they may be better off for it. Nichushkin has already come out and said that his intention is to play in the NHL. He has no intention of going to the KHL, unless he doesn’t make the team out of camp with the Stars. He’s already signed his entry level deal. He has a chance to make an impact for this team in 2013-14.
He certainly has the skill set to do it. Physically, he’s already ready to make a big impact for this team. He’s 6’4″ and about 200, so he could stand to pack a bit of meat onto that tall frame, but that shouldn’t hold him back from contributing this season. Add his skill set to that size, and you have a player that could be dangerous right off the bat.
Nichushkin’s upside is that of an elite power forward. He has a nose for the net, but he also has good enough hands that he could be a strong playmaker out on the wing as well. He’s going to be a weapon in the future for the Stars, but why wait? He’ll likely get a shot in 2013-14, and that’s the right move.
We’ll see if he’s able to crack the lineup out of camp, but outside of a rough training camp/preseason, there’s really no reason we shouldn’t see this kid come in and make an impact with the Stars immediately. He has the size and he has the skill. He may not be a force immediately, but has the ability to make a positive impact for this team right away.