Dallas Stars Draft Pick Valeri Nichushkin Free of KHL Obligations

Bruce Bennett

The risk of taking Russian players in the NHL Entry Draft is well-known but Nichushkin says he can leave [the KHL] if he wants.

The risk of choosing a Russian in the NHL Entry Draft - It's discussed every year, but Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars moved on a golden opportunity with vigor Saturday in choosing Dynamo's Valeri Nichushkin with the tenth overall pick.

Will they have a problem getting him to stay? Not according to an interview he gave R-Sport in Moscow, translated here by the Tampa Tribune.

"I've already made up my mind that I'm leaving," Nichushkin told R-Sport at the end of May. "At Dynamo they've been pretty calm about it. I was told that I can leave if I want. There are no legal problems with that at all."

He can leave if he wants, and it appears as though he does indeed. The Stars now have the summer and development camp to make absolutely sure of that fact.

"My contract with Dynamo has been terminated," he reaffirmed ,"and I'm leaving as a free agent. I'm lucky that the club has met me half way on this. We've agreed that they'll release me, but if something goes wrong across the ocean, I'll come straight back."

So there's the risk here. The KHL could pull him back if he fails to the make the NHL roster out of training camp in September.

Still the question will be asked, as it was in May: Why leave more lucrative contract offers in the KHL to play for a max in the NHL of approximately $900,000 on an entry level deal?

"If I'm honest, Dynamo isn't event offering that much," he told R-Sport.

That could always change in the future if Nichushkin takes off at the NHL level as well as Nill and company might hope, but complications stemming from such a conflict of interests seem at least three years away today as the draft progresses.

Nichushkin has intimated publicly that he will come to North America and stay if he's able to play at the NHL level.

"The most important thing is to be picked by the team than really needs you. Of course, I'd like to be chosen among the first players, because it's more honorable. But it would be better if I'm picked by the team that wanted to see me on their first line."

With Loui Eriksson, Alex Chiasson, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, (and Jamie Benn? If Dallas can acquire centers?) as possible wingers in the "top-six" and inclusion on the Stars' top line may not be realistic.

Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff are liable to take an approach with young players emphasizing patience and development, meaning Nichushkin may have to force their hands with an impressive push from below - But that's the kind of atmosphere they want moving forward.

Development and training camps will follow in the coming weeks and months and the potential October roster will begin to take shape accordingly.

For now Stars fans can simply be excited about landing a supposed elite offensive talent at no. 10, and safe in the knowledge that, despite his nationality, he's not going anywhere.

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