What a difference a few weeks can make.
Nichushkin, now playing on the club’s top line next to Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, has nine points in his last 10 games while displaying the power, finesse and pedigree that saw Dallas take him 10th overall at the 2013 draft.
And he’s definitely won over his boss.
“I see his all-around game as being good,” Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “I see his attention to detail playing defense as good as any young player I’ve been around.
“Shot lanes, backchecking, attention to where he should be in his own end, he’s as good as any young kid I’ve coached.”
Nichushkin rediscovering his game is a huge boon for the Stars. He showed huge promise in his rookie campaign — 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests — but his sophomore campaign was one to forget, as he missed the majority of the season following hip surgery.
This year, he was slow out of the gate (which some attributed to the hip problem), but has come on in recent weeks. His ice time has also spiked, too, as he received a season-high 17:03 from Ruff in last week’s 4-2 win over Vancouver.
But perhaps the biggest feather in Nichushkin’s cap is that Ruff — who’s never been afraid to call out players publicly — now showers him with praise.
“He’s in a real good spot now,” Ruff said. “Mentally and physically.”