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.
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn had a second hip surgery done on Monday in New York and according to The Dallas Morning News, could begin skating in August.
Benn joins Trevor Daley, Ales Hemsky, Valeri Nichushkin and John Klingberg as Stars players who have undergone hip surgeries over the last year.
So what’s with all the hip surgeries in Dallas?
Mike Heika reports it’s part of a philosophical change the Stars are embracing.
Here’s more from his story:
Benn has suffered from femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), or bone spurs that form on the head of the femur. The spurs irritate and can cut the labrum in the hip socket, and that can cause pain. Benn battled through the pain with shots, off days and grit, but the surgeries should help prevent that going forward.
“They are starting to figure out a correlation between FAI, sports hernias, groin pain and labral tears,” said Stars’ head athletic trainer Dave Zeis. “There’s no doubt we’re concerned, and we’re researching everything we can. I think you can attack it aggressively, or you can bury your head in the sand and say they are manageable, organizationally.
“The question is when do you intervene? We feel we have more information, and we feel we’re going to learn even more going forward.”
If all goes well, Benn, who was named a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award this week, could be ready for the start of the season.