The Dallas Stars lucked into Valeri Nichushkin in the 2013 NHL Draft. It hasn’t been all good fortune since then, but the big winger is about to return from a two-year sojourn in the Kontinental Hockey League with a new contract and a new outlook. Can Big Val reclaim his place as one of the Stars’ brightest lights?
Sean Shapiro takes a look at the limited KHL video available online – mostly game highlights – and offers some tantalizing glimpses of Nichushkin’s progress in his latest Film Room:
According to those who have watched Nichushkin closely, he has matured during his tenure in the KHL both as a human being and as a hockey player. He’s been heralded as a more complete player and for a Stars team desperate for secondary scoring, there is hope that he can help solve one of the bigger issues that plagued Dallas last season.
Whether it was due to a higher level of comfort or a mental switch, Nichushkin ... looked more comfortable taking advantage of his size and strength in the KHL.
Sean offers some context from his long talks with new head coach Jim Montgomery – and taps the brakes just a tad regarding some expectations:
Based on the film and my conversations with Montgomery, I think Nichushkin will be in a position to succeed this season. Montgomery wants to play a possession style that fits with Nichushkin’s physical tools, and he could be a weapon in creating extended zone time for the Stars.
I also think it’s important to temper offensive expectations when it comes to point totals. While Nichushkin can be a brute around the net and cause some havoc, he really isn’t much of a finisher. He struggles to lift the puck in tight spaces and under pressure, and those are requirements for frequent goal-scoring success in the NHL.
There’s much more under the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Mike Heika marks up Esa Lindell and finds the 24-year-old blueliner has quietly become a key piece of the Stars’ future.
We'll see what the new coaching staff will do with defensive pairings at training camp in two weeks, but it's clear both Lindell and Klingberg like playing together.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 30, 2018
If that continues, Lindell will be a very important part of the Stars. https://t.co/Mch04QcRqH
Because everybody wants a Tyler Seguin sighting, here he is winning something at the annual BioSteel camp.
Here’s a photo of Craig Ludwig and Ed Belfour hanging out during the summer break, and I expect at least a dozen comments before anything else gets mentioned.
You’ll be delighted to know that the organization has named a rink in the new StarCenter Mansfield after Cup-winning captain Derian Hatcher. Matthew DeFranks spent a few moments with the icon.
Around the League(s)
The Calgary Flames have wasted little time in signing defender Noah Hanifin to a longterm deal. The former No. 5 overall will receive $4.95 million AAV for six years.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has left pending UFA Max Pacioretty hanging out to dry all summer, and Patches’ friend Lars Eller has some emotions about it.
He is as committed and cares as much as anyone I’ve ever played with. Any team would be lucky to have him.— Lars Eller (@lellerofficial) August 30, 2018
How many of us were rooting for the Arizona Coyotes to draft Auston Matthews anyway? The Hockey News shares a John Tavares-inspired thought experiment, plus more Erik Karlsson speculation, in its latest podcast.
THE HOCKEY NEWS PODCAST: It's the Hot Takes Edition, including off-the-wall reader questions such as "Will Matthews pull a Tavares and sign with Arizona someday?"https://t.co/M28ScpP8au pic.twitter.com/qw0xlO4cis— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) August 28, 2018
Greg Wyshynski wrote a piece about potential point totals for every NHL team, only to have ESPN put it behind the paywall because it belongs in the “gambling and predictive space.” Oh well.
Oh this was fun. Point total predictions for all 31 NHL teams https://t.co/TBm1xMQ7Nl— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) August 30, 2018
I’m just going to leave this here and let you discuss it. Enjoy.