Dallas sent reigning AHL Rookie of the Year Curtis McKenzie to the Texas Stars on Wednesday, fueling speculation that sophomore sensation Valeri Nichushkin would return from a seven-game absence on Friday against Anaheim.
McKenzie, 23, appeared in two games for Dallas, including his NHL debut on Oct. 18 vs. Philadelphia — but failed to record a point. He was one of the replacement options head coach Lindy Ruff tried after losing Nichushkin to a hip/groin injury in Dallas’ second game of the season (against Nashville on Oct. 14).
Getting Nichushkin back would bolster a Dallas offense that’s already on fire; the Stars are third in the NHL in goals per game, at 3.44, and the 19-year-old Russian is coming off a strong rookie campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games.
Nichushkin also had a decent playoff debut in last year’s heated first-round series against Anaheim, finishing with a goal and two points in six games. He practiced on Monday, but didn’t play in last night’s OT loss to the Blues.