Valeri Nichushkin, the top-ranked Russian for the 2013 NHL Draft and No. 2 European prospect overall, says he’ll be playing in North America for the 2013-14 season.
Nichushkin, 18, reportedly had his contract purchased by KHL giants Dynamo Moscow for $10 million earlier this month. But despite that (reported) huge price tag, the former Traktor Chelyabinsk product says he’ll be leaving Russia upon getting drafted.
According to three different NHL.com mock drafts, Nichushkin is projected to be a top-six pick (two NHL pundits have him going at No. 5 to Carolina).
In addition to his size, Nichushkin has been a productive scorer — he had six points in 18 games during the KHL regular season, then nine in 25 Gagarin Cup playoff games.
For an 18-year-old playing in what many consider to be the second-best league in the world, that’s quite a feat.
This announcement comes just prior to Nichushkin heading to Toronto for the NHL Scouting Combine. It could be a move to ensure teams that he’s not a risky selection, given the number of young Russian prospects (see: Kuznetsov, Evgeni) that have chosen to stay in the KHL rather than head to North America.
It should be noted, however, that Dynamo did not respond to inquires about Nuchushkin posed by R-Sport.
Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick
Dion Phaneuf‘s first home game as a member of the Ottawa Senators is going more smoothly than his debut did on Wednesday.
Ottawa fell 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings last night, and they need another goal to tie up the Colorado Avalanche. Still, Phaneuf’s making a bigger impact on Thursday, collecting two assists … his first two points in a Sens’ sweater.
You can see his crowd-pleasing first helper above.
Here’s his second assist for good measure:
Update: The Avalanche held on, taking a 4-3 edge. Even so, Phaneuf’s getting a warm welcome in his new hockey city.
Phaneuf on the Ottawa crowd reaction: "It gave me chills."