When Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill acquired Tyler Seguin, he was giving the team one of the best young duos in hockey. Seguin and Jamie Benn combined to score 71 goals and 163 points in their first season together.
More often than not, rookie Valeri Nichushkin was playing alongside them and while he didn’t put up nearly as many points as Seguin or Benn, he did have a solid season with 14 goals, 20 assists, and a plus-20 rating. Nichushkin, who turned 19 in March, also represented Russia in the 2014 Olympics and drew some high praise along the way.
Benn noted that sometimes when Nichushkin is carrying the puck “it’s almost like Malkin” because he “skates like the wind.” Benn is obviously biased in favor of his teammate, but after New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr watched Nichushkin play in three games, he was left with the impression that Nichushkin “is going to be the best in the world one day.”
That’s incredible expectations to thrust upon Nichushkin and maybe he’ll never reach that level, but the ceiling for him is clearly high. It might take a couple more seasons before he breaks out, the Stars’ elite duo might evolve into a fearsome trio.