Despite erratic year, Stars say Nichushkin still ‘very important player to us’

AP
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Dallas did the expected on Tuesday, and made a qualifying offer for RFA forward Valeri Nichushkin.

Now, for the tricky part.

Described as a “very important player to us,” by GM Jim Nill (per the Morning-News), Nichushkin has until July 15 to accept the offer. He could also try and negotiate an extension with the Stars, or he could sign an offer sheet with another club.

With all those options available, it makes for an interesting dynamic.

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin’s had a pretty eventful first three years in the NHL. He played very well as a rookie, scoring 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games, but his sophomore campaign was a nightmare — he missed nearly the entire season with a hip injury and subsequent surgery, and only appeared in eight contests.

Last year, he struggled.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff made him a healthy scratch early in the season, saying Nichushkin needed to “get his head in the right place.” In late March, an interview with with Russian news outlet Sport-Express made waves, as Nichuskin said he didn’t feel head coach Ruff trusted him, or played him enough.

Not long after, Nichuskin’s agent tried to clear the air.

“Val loves it in Dallas,” Mark Gandler told the Morning News. “He’s very happy there.”

In the end, Nichushkin finished with just nine goals and 29 points in 79 regular season contests. He wasn’t much of a factor at all in the playoffs, playing 10 of 13 games while going goalless.

Last month, Nill preached patience with the 21-year-old Russian, saying “there’s still lots of room for growth.”