High praise: Nichushkin’s playing style ‘almost like Malkin,’ says Stars captain Benn


With seven points in his last three games, Dallas rookie Valeri Nichushkin has drawn plenty of attention recently — and one of the main topics of conversation has been to find players with comparable skill sets.

From the Dallas Morning News:

Is he a dynamic puck carrier who sill sets up his linemates? Is he a strong two-way player who can cause some physical damage? Is he a sniper who can pick corners and cash in on chances?

He might be a little of all three.

He has been compared to Rick Nash for his mix of size and skill and to Eric Lindros for his head-down style of bulling forward. He has been compared to Evgeni Malkin, who has twice led the NHL in scoring and three times has ranked in the top two in MVP voting.

“Sometimes when he’s carrying the puck up the ice, it’s almost like Malkin,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “The kid’s 6-5, or whatever, and skates like the wind. I don’t think teams actually realize how fast he’s going until he skates by them.”

Nichushkin (officially listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds) was the 10th overall pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and always believed to be a great talent, but one that concerned various NHL clubs because of the “Russian factor.” Teams worried about him staying in the KHL — he won the Alexei Cherepanov Award last season as the league’s top rookie while playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk — yet Stars GM Jim Nill saw something too special to pass on.

“I think it’s no secret, everybody had him as one of the top three players in the draft,” Nill said, as per “If he was playing [Canadian junior hockey] somewhere in Moose Jaw or Peterborough, he probably would have been a top-three pick. There is risk with the Russian factor, everybody knows that. Where we were picking, he was a player we couldn’t pass on. There was just too much there.”

Nichushkin has had his struggles this year, but blossomed once put on a line with Benn and Tyler Seguin. The trio combined for nine points in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Philly and Nichushkin now sits seventh among rookie scorers with 15 points in 27 games.

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier
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Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.

Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games


One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.