Dallas Stars Daily Links: Valeri Nichuskin's Summer Vacation

Big Val goes on the record about everything except how he plans to shoot high glove every time this year. You May Also Be Interested In: The Wild inked a former Islanders to an extension, Alfie's got a sore old back, and Hockey Reference adds possession stats, finally.

Note: Starting Monday, we'll be doing these links on a daily basis. You can expect to see more hockey content as hockey gets rolling again, and that means less meandering prefaces to the actual links the post is kind of supposed to be all about. You're welcome.

Whenever you make a big investment, lots of thought goes into the project/proposal/acquisition being discussed. You research your Roth IRA, you check out the housing market in your prospective neighborhood, you look at the optimal model year for that car you've been lusting after for some time. Regardless of the specific thing you're looking to throw money at, you know that lots of careful deliberation will take place before the transaction is settled.

So, last year, you may have heard about how the Stars used their #10 pick in the NHL Entry Draft on one Valeri Nichuskin, also known as kind of one of the best players anyone could possibly get. Well, the Stars agreed with that sentiment and chose to disregard the murmuring about the "Russian factor" and the whole "Valeri is a girl's name, I think, or my name isn't Brett Hull" discussion that took place around the league. Nuke has been a Star for a year now, and Dallas has had over 365 days to reflect upon their treatment of this large and in-charge Russian super prospect within their fold.

You may remember lots of flap about how Nichuskin was going to live in an American home with an American family and learn American English (note: lol) through the tried-and-probably-true method of immersion. That is, Val was going to force himself to use English in every aspect of his daily life in hopes of accelerating his acquisition of linguistic fluency in the northern, western hemisphere. He was going to be so inundated with American culture that he couldn't help but start admiring G.I. Joe and Target for the marvelous wonders they displayed to all humanity fortunate enough to stray within their sphere of influence.

Anyhow, we're one season into the #iamVal experiment, and now is a good time to assess the project. Verdict? Fourteen goals and 34 points in 79 games across many different lines, with a scratch thrown in here and there for good measure. Subsequent to this performance, a natural question is, how did Valeri Nichuskin react after the season ended in disappointment after the first round loss to the Ducks?

Well, a translated rsport.ru interview has surfaced at The Hockey Writers, and it seems only fitting that we give it a little look-see in hopes of garnering some insight about how a top prospect improves upon a successful rookie season during his 18/19 years of life on this crazy little rock we call Earth. Per THW:

- How did you rest this summer?

– Right after the season I went back to Russia. I spent two weeks in Chelyabinsk and two weeks in Moscow. Then I had a short vacation in Spain and I got back to Dallas. I was on vacation for five to six weeks, no more.

Now let me just admit that I probably couldn't properly pronounce Chelyabinsk the first one or two or ten times around. Val clearly went somewhere cool, a place that doesn't speak English, and good for him! He's earned a little vacation (after practicing his English), after all. And the fact that he's back at training camp and taking interviews seems to bode well. One can just barely imagine a disgruntled Val pouting about his TOI in the midst of a recently successful season, but Val appears to be in a better place than that. Surely there is some modicum of danger in returning to eastern Europe right now, but Val's family is there, and that's where he went.

Another observation about Nichuskin was that he seemed to wear down as the season wore on, only scoring a couple of goals after the Olympic break. Sheesh, Val, why should the league's stopping for a few days affect your play so much? Gain some endurance and play out of your mind every night, just because you're a 1st-round pick. We Sort Of Demand It Of You! But how are you feeling this summer?

Now I feel a lot "fresher". I am well rested and I can feel how it’s different practicing now. I’m full of strength now!

Note: Val also says that after working out all summer, he is "only" at 210 pounds.

So anyhow, it appears that Nichuskin has been training extensively, but not so much as to corrupt his speed around the bases, so to speak. He has, however, learned a brand of conversational English (or perhaps I should say "recalled" a brand of conversation, Mr. Plato) heretofore unknown to him, and it makes me happy for an unknown reason.

I think the main takeaway here is that Val did take a vacation back to Europe, and he has also gotten a Russian-speaking linguistics teacher who will help him to learn English even better. If we're tempted to fret because the whole "immersion" tactic doesn't seem to have done the job start to finish, we should calm down. (Perhaps you're not even tempted to fret in the first place, which is great.) Val is stronger, smarter, more linguistically capable, and even wiser after his rookie season. Whatever mistakes happened last year might happen again, but his having experienced the NHL and all of its brutality can only be a good thing for year two.

But hey, maybe the mascot will make Val a superstar by cheering him during games. Everyone loves a good ol' Starboot chant, right? I believe that is now trending on Twitter, oh no, sorry. You just missed it.

* * * *

Friday Links are here, and they are filled with hot takes.

Mike Heika had a chat on Thursday, and there are lots of questions about the Stars that he answered. [DMN]

Puck Daddy looked at the battles shaping up in training camps across the Western Conference, and surprise, surprise, they did not key in on the Cole/Sceviour fight to the death for the 2nd-line winger spot. They do expect Kari to get hurt again this year, which makes sense, since everyone is always shooting things at him all the time. [Puck Daddy]

Josh Bogorad looks at what the Central Division has done to prepare for the season. ICYMI, Winnipeg is not a threat based on summer activity. [Stars]

Here is a mean person saying mean things about the Dallas Stars. I didn't enjoy reading this. [Hockee Night]

Robidas is going to miss the first part of training camp due to a screw in his knee. Don't worry, it's supposed to be there. [The Star]

Nino Niederreiter has agreed to a three-year deal with Minnesota worth $8 million. He had been blustering about a "lucrative" offer from a "very good" team in the KHL, after which everyone just started laughing, finally just sitting down, having a few drinks and signing a contract drawn up on a magazine. [Hockey Wildnerness]

Speaking of former Stars, here's a look at the memories Ray Whitney left during his time in Phoenix. He even got Hart trophy votes a few years ago. [Five for Howling]

Daniel Alfredsson might attend Detroit's training camp without a contract after feeling a tweak in his back. Doctors later confirmed that it was caused by "being like, really old, man. Retire already. I am a real doctor." [Freep]

A team we rarely talk about here: the Panthers. I liked this collection of thoughts on the cats' chances at making the playoffs this year. (Remember when Dallas wondered about that, ha ha #jinxed) Also, Florida lost 13 one-goal games with Tim Thomas in net. Why did nobody tell us this before we picked him up? [Litter Box Cats]

Ryan Malone (and John Moore) have signed with New York. Malone was busted for a DUI and cocaine possession a little while back, but those charges were dropped because he is a famous person. Now he's in New York, where temptations will be few and far between. I hope he doesn't touch cocaine ever again, because he is a human being and it would be nice if he stopped doing that and lived a long, happy life with lots of grandchildren. [THN]

Female hockey fans have some things to be thankful for over the past few months, but the NHL still has a long way to go before it will be time to start celebrating. [The Pink Puck]

Hockey Reference has added possession numbers under "additional stats"! Now you can look at just why Vernon Fiddler is better-suited as a fourth-liner. [Hockey Reference]

Finally, if you want to feel good about the new NHL rule tweaks, this will help: they might hurt Chicago. [NBC Chicago]