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.
Cody Eakin has cashed in on the best offensive season of his young career.
On Friday, Dallas announced it had signed Eakin to a four-year contract extension which, per the Dallas Morning-News, is a $15.4 million pact with a $3.85M average annual cap hit.
Eakin, 24, is coming off a solid season in which he posted career bests in goals (19) and points (40). He’s making $1.9 million annually on his current deal, which has one year remaining.
It’s a nice payday for the former Washington draftee and good value for Dallas. It stands to reason that, at a relatively young age, Eakin has yet to reach his ceiling; this spring, he joined fellow Stars teammates Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin on Team Canada’s gold medal-winning side at the 2015 Worlds and had a strong tournament, scoring four goals and six points in nine games.
It’s also worth noting that, along with top-two centers Spezza and Seguin, the Eakin extension now puts all three of Dallas’ top pivots under contract through 2018.
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.
Whether you like the moves he’s made since becoming Dallas Stars GM or not, you really can’t accuse Jim Nill of being lazy.
Every summer, the Stars seem to be one of the “winners” of the off-season, yet they’re still searching for their first playoff series win since that surprisingly deep run in 2007-08.
The 2014-15 season might just be the last one where they were able to play the “scrappy upstart” role, even if they seem to carry somewhat similar strengths and weaknesses into next season. Broadly speaking, at least.
Expectations are rising each year, and with good reason.
The Stars nabbed Antti Niemi’s rights from the San Jose Sharks and then handed him a three-year, $13.5 million contract. Backup goaltending – and let’s be honest, goaltending in general – was a big sore spot for Dallas last season. Now Nill is spending $10.4 million on “two No. 1 goalies.”
That was a big enough change in itself, yet Nill had another trick up his sleeve, sending Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt to the Chicago Blackhawks for Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns.
Each summer, the Stars have landed a big-name forward in a trade:
2013: Tyler Seguin
2014: Jason Spezza
You can’t do that forever and also retain a ton of cap space, even with bargains for Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, so now Dallas is close to the ceiling. Especially after blowing much of their remaining budget on Johnny Oduya.
There weren’t many subtractions beyond assets handed over in trades and the departure of Shawn Horcoff, so the Stars look imposing on paper. Now it’s up to Lindy Ruff to make it all work.
With captain Eric Staal entering the final year of his seven-year, $57.75 million contract, GM Ron Francis has a big decision to make.
Does he ink the 30-year-old to a new multi-year extension? Or does he deal the former first-round pick in the hopes it returns some scoring help?
Staal is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2015-16 season.
He could be eyeing another significant payday on the open market, especially given what the likes of Jason Spezza got out of Dallas and Ryan Kesler signed for in Anaheim. All three are in their early 30’s.
“We’ll look at the whole situation and try and figure out what’s best,” Francis told the team’s website recently. “As we said from Day 1, it has to make sense for our organization. We always talk about the term of the contract and the money in the contract – making sure we’re not blocking things going forward either.”