While we're speculating on who will line up for the Dallas Stars in October, let's start with figuring out not if, but where Valeri Nichushkin will play. Jim Nill asked for patience in a recent radio interview as the talented first-rounder continues to flesh out his game.
Val's recent challenges are well documented:
...[T]he 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.
For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn't get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff's doghouse early on.
But for the fans of 29 other teams who would cluck their tongues over his perceived loss of value (and volunteer to take him off Dallas' hands for a nominal exchange), Nill sent the message that Nuke is in for the long haul during his SiriusXMNHL interview on Wednesday:
Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.
"We're happy with Val," he said (at around the 5:30 mark).
"He is only 21. I know there's still lots of room for growth, so we're going to be patient with him. We think he's a big part of our future."
Mike Heika gives his best guess at the Stars' 2016-17 lines and probably feels the same way you do about the NHL's lack of injury disclosure rules.
Last night, in The Final Countdown:
- Not even the return of Steven Stamkos and a tower-of-power performance from Andrei Vasilevskiy could overcome two goals from Bryan Rust and beast-mode Evgeni Malkin. The Pens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Eastern Conference Final in Game 7, 2-1. [Raw Charge]
Rust's big night was also a first for his team. In, like, ever.
Trevor Daley, too injured to play, still joined the Pens on the bench, and the smile says it all. #FeelTeamSix
But should the Pens be worried that Sidney Crosby touched the Prince of Wales Trophy, again?
Meanwhile in the
Westeros Western Conference: If Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau win the 2016 Stanley Cup with the San Jose Sharks, they'll join some interesting statistical company, including perhaps the most extraordinary club of all. [NHL]
Also, there's this:
If you haven't yet chosen a side in this final, consider not choosing at all. Sportsnet's Dimitri Filipovic puts it in perspective this way:
Either Joe Thornton or Phil Kessel will soon be lifting that Cup with a big ass grin on their face and that's perfectly cool with me.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) May 27, 2016
Elsewhere, Down Goes Brown reviews the playoffs to date and chooses John Klingberg and Kris Russell for the 2016 All-Disappointment Team. [Sportsnet]
"...[L]et's do what any true hockey fan does when confronted with greatness. Let's ignore it, and pick on the guys who weren't quite good enough instead." - Sean McIndoe
Did the #MurderDeathKill Division seal the St. Louis Blues' fate after all? R.B. Fallstrom suggests that two grueling seven-game series against the Blackhawks and the Stars might have left them too depleted to hang with the Sharks. [AP via Yahoo Sports]
Now that the dust has settled, the Blues are taking stock of what when right and wrong. (Bonus track: heartwarming Steve Ott anecdote as told by David Backes.) [ESPN]
Steve Dangle fans can hear his take on the topic in yesterday's Dangle Podcast.
Said this on today's podcast: Is the Gudbranson-McCann deal going to be one of the final great for-or-against analytics debates?— Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) May 26, 2016
And Dominik Luszczyszyn examines the WAR numbers for this year's final four to extract eight simple rules for building a Cup contender. [The Hockey News]
The ECHL Kelly Cup playoffs begin tomorrow, and they're an eerie reflection of the upcoming Stanley Cup series, as the defending champion Allen Americans (San Jose Sharks) will duel the Wheeling Nailers (Pittsburgh Penguins). [SportsDayDFW]
Finally: Kids, gambling is bad, m'kay? A Twitter fan who was willing to bet there was no way the Blackhawks and the Kings would both get eliminated in the first round found that out the hard way. (Trust me when I say you have to click through and see all the text and images, because they are quite simply beyond belief.)