With all the big moves Dallas made this summer — Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Antti Niemi — it’s easy to forget that one of the club’s biggest acquisitions could come from in-house.
Valeri Nichushkin, who missed 74 games last year following hip surgery, is currently working out with teammates and giving positive reviews on his health:
Nichushkin, 20, lost nearly all of his sophomore campaign to the hip ailment, which he tried to play through at the beginning of the year, only to go under the knife in mid-November. That prevented him from following up on a rookie year in which 14 goals and 34 points and finished 12th in Calder voting; Nichushkin did return for a handful of games at the end of the regular season, and also represented Russia at the 2015 World Hockey championships.
Now at full health, the big-bodied Russian should slot into Dallas’ dynamic top-six forward group, one that projects to feature last year’s Art Ross winner Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky and Sharp.
If there’s one safe bet with the Dallas Stars, it’s that they’ll be one of the most exciting teams in the NHL next season.
That being said, “entertaining” and “successful” don’t always go together in professional hockey.
More than a few times today, PHT’s discussed a few curveballs that might befuddle this team. Even so, this team stands to be electric and boasts one of the highest ceilings of any team in the NHL.
As risky as spending $10.4 million on good (but maybe not elite) goalies might be, there’s a perfectly reasonable possibility that Dallas will find the right formula to make it all work. That’s on head coach Lindy Ruff, as mentioned earlier on Saturday.
Let’s remember though that sports are, ostensibly, about entertainment; it would be a borderline travesty if the Dallas market doesn’t light up the box office for this time.
Just ponder their offensive attack for a minute.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn stand as one of the dynamic duos of the NHL. Jason Spezza has his flaws, yet he’s also often a brilliant playmaker. Patrick Sharp boasts a handsome two-way game and 2015-16 could be much kinder to Valeri Nichushkin and Ales Hemsky.
John Klingberg’s potential is almost as impressive as his braids were embarrassing.
We’ll have to wait and see if the Stars can justify all the hype with wins and a deep playoff run. Either way, they’re just about guaranteed to be appointment TV for anyone with even a remote interest in the sport.
That’s a victory in itself.
It seems like it’s been all about hype and hip surgeries lately for the Dallas Stars.
Ales Hemsky ranked among those who underwent a procedure recently, joining a group that included Jamie Benn this offseason (while Carl Klingberg and Valeri Nichushkin also went under the knife). The 31-year-old raved about his decision to do so to the Dallas Morning News.
“I can already feel I have more motion,” Hemsky said. “It’s just been two months and I know I have a long way to go, but I can feel the difference.”
Injuries have been an unfortunately common issue during the skilled winger’s career, yet he seemed especially hampered in his first season with the Stars.
Despite playing in a respectable 76 games in 2014-15, he was limited to 11 goals and 32 points. Hemsky seems pretty sure that things will go more smoothly next season, at least physically speaking.
As a wild card for a team hoping to make a significant jump after all of those splashy additions, it’s intriguing to note that Hemsky actually welcomes the pressure for next season.
“It’s nice to have hype,” Hemsky said. “If you don’t have hype, you don’t have passion. I like having the passion and expectations.”
Considering his past as a long-suffering Edmonton Oiler, it’s probably a welcome change … but a healthy season would be a breath of fresh air, as well.
The Dallas Stars have been busy this summer. However, one of the players they seem to feel so optimistic about heading into the 2015-16 season comes from within their organization.
Valeri Nichushkin, 20, showed plenty of potential in his rookie season with the Stars two seasons ago, scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games. But last season, he played in only eight games and recorded only a single assist.
A hip injury that required surgery greatly disrupted his sophomore season, keeping him out of the Stars lineup from early in November until the beginning of April, when he was recalled for a late push by Dallas to try and make the playoffs.
“We’ve got high expectations for him. He ended up playing in the last four games of the season and it was great to see the chemistry that him Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky,” said Stars GM Jim Nill, via the Dallas Morning News.
“They played together and it was amazing to watch. We’re excited. We think that they could be something special.”
Earlier this week, the Stars signed Johnny Oduya to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million. Prior to that, they acquired Patrick Sharp from the Chicago Blackhawks.
The beauty of adding a player like Patrick Sharp is that, theoretically, it could make life easier for other Dallas Stars. Imagine, then, if Ales Hemsky sheds the “free agent bust” label in 2015-16?
Line combinations are subject to significant change, yet it’s plausible that Dallas will sport a second line featuring Hemsky and Sharp on the wings and Jason Spezza at center.
That’s a pretty tantalizing thought for some Stars fans:
The biggest question might just be if the 31-year-old can really stick with Sharp and Spezza (assuming first, of course, that there aren’t any other big moves coming for Dallas).
Hemsky was frequently a diamond in the rough for the Edmonton Oilers, at least when he managed to play. These days, things really have just been rough, though.
As much as injuries and other bits of bad luck factor in, one cannot help but wonder if Hemsky is already past the point where he can turn things around. He was limited to 32 points in his Dallas debut, and he’s only enjoyed one 40+ point season (43 in 2013-14) since 2011-12. When does benefit of the doubt run out?
He stands as one of those summer conundrums. On paper, with those linemates, he could stand as a pivotal player. On the other hand, Hemsky could just as easily be lost in the shuffle … again.