The Dallas Stars have positively surprised this season, and even though the team has been hurt by injuries on the defensive side of the puck, their offense has been able to make up for it.
Much has been talked about Tyler Seguin – who has been lights out since arriving from the Boston Bruins in the offseason – and his chemistry with team captain Jamie Benn, as both players lead the team in scoring so far. There’s one player, however, that doesn’t get enough credit, rookie Valeri Nichushkin.
The 10th overall pick in this year’s entry draft had a slow start to the season and suffered several difficulties to adjust to the pace of the NHL. However, since settling in, he has been improving constantly and has formed an explosive first line next to Benn and Seguin.
In 35 games played this season, Nichushkin already has 19 points (seven goals and 12 assists), good for fourth in the NHL among rookies; he’s also tied with Alex Chiasson, another Stars rookie that has been leaving a long-lasting impression with the team this year. Aside from the numbers, Nichushkin has improved his decision making and his movements on both ends of the ice, and the Stars have greatly benefited from his improvements.
The talent was always there with the Russian winger, and while many expected to see him struggle in his first year in the league, he has emerged to the point that he’s a solid offensive weapon in the top line of an offensive-talented team. Since he’s only 18 years old, there’s nowhere to go but up in terms of progression, so the Stars could have a great winger for years to come if Nichushkin keeps improving at this pace.