Some believed that the Dallas Stars managed a serious steal by drafting Valeri Nichushkin 10th overall on Sunday, but as with many Russian players, the threat of the KHL made others wonder if it was actually too big of a risk.
Stars GM Jim Nill told the Dallas Morning News that Nichushkin is free from his overseas deal and that they should be able to overcome “The Russian Factor.”
“We plan on signing him as soon as possible,” Nill said. “He’s free. His contract is free from Russia. We have notice from the NHL, from the KHL. So there was no problem that way for us. That’s not a concern.”
Nichuskin told R-Sport (translation via the Tampa Tribune) that he intends to jump to the NHL, although there’s a caveat at the end that might remind some of Nikita Filatov’s situation with Columbus years ago.
“I’ve already made up my mind that I’m leaving,” Nichushkin said. “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. My contract with Dynamo has been terminated, and I’m leaving as a free agent. I’m lucky that the club has met me halfway on this. We’ve agreed that they’ll release me, but if something goes wrong across the ocean, I’ll come straight back.”
Nill believes that Sergei Gonchar could help Nichushkin, much like he did with Evgeni Malkin during his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think Sergei Gonchar’s going to be a big, big part of Valeri Nichushkin’s development,” Nill said. “Sergei Gonchar’s a high-end character guy. He’s the guy that gets a lot of credit for improving Malkin in Pittsburgh. The timing’s worked out perfect. He’s a great ambassador of the game and character guy. Now we have a young guy coming in that can learn from him, that’s really a bonus for us.”
Overall, it seems like the Stars think that the 18-year-old prospect is worth the risk, even if they’re seemingly downplaying the dangers.
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: All that’s been announced about Silfverberg is that he’s under evaluation and will not return.