Coming into the season, one of the young players that was expected to make an impact for the Dallas Stars was Valeri Nichushkin. It seems awfully silly to use those expectations in the past tense, but through two games, Nichushkin hasn’t notched a point and has posted a minus-1 rating.
Obviously this could all change with a single game. Nichushkin has been getting a very good chunk of playing time, and has looked timid, but solid overall. There isn’t any reason to worry about whether or not he’ll find success in the long run as this 2013-14 season wears on.
Nonetheless, it’s important to keep in mind that regardless of whether Nichushkin continues to remain quiet on the stat sheet, or goes off on some historic, Tomas Hertl-like run, the Stars made the right decision in keeping him with the club, rather than allowing him to go to the KHL.
Nichushkin is too young to go to the AHL, which means that the options for the Stars coming into the year were between keeping him with the team or allowing him to go to Russia to continue his development. There are multiple reasons that keeping him here was the right decision.
The “Russian factor” is always a concern with taking a young player from Russia. Which is why Nichushkin, a top five talent, fell to no. 10 overall when the Stars drafted him this past summer. Allowing him to play in Russia may have increased the risk that he’d forego joining the Stars and instead remain in the KHL, which is always a lingering concern.
There is also the matter of the different rink sizes between the two leagues, and the culture shock, and the style of play, all of which Nichushkin has an opportunity to get used to. When you combine the factors, even if Nichushkin struggles at times this year, there’s no doubt that keeping him here was the right decision by the Dallas Stars.