Draft Preview: Valeri Nichushkin

Russian Valeri Nichushkin is one of the highest ranked prospects in the 2013 NHL Draft after his rookie KHL campaign.

Valeri Nichushkin

Right Wing, Traktor Chelyabinsk
6’4″, 200lbs
Born: March 4, 1995 – Chelyabinsk, Russia

Valery Nichushkin is a large man. At 6’4″, he is one of the taller forward prospects in the 2013 NHL Draft.

More importantly, Nichushkin has been playing big league hockey in Russia for almost half a season. He played a portion of this past season with Traktor Chelyabinsk’s farm club in Russia’s Major Hockey League before moving up to Traktor after his bronze-medal performance in the World Junior Championships. In total, Nichushkin played 33 games (including playoff games) in the KHL this season, along with 15 in the Major Hockey League. That’s 48 professional games…and while he only managed to score 6 points (4 G – 2 A) in the regular season and 9 points (6 G – 3 A) in the playoffs, remember that Nichushkin was only 17 years old when he made the move. He’s a draft-eligible player with basically a season under his belt of hockey against several former NHL players. The KHL recognized this feat when they awarded him with their rookie of the year award. On the International Scouting Service’s report card, Nichushkin ranks “Very Good” or “Excellent” in all categories, with his “Excellent” ratings coming in size (obviously), hockey sense and offensive ability. According to the ISS, “He isn’t your typical Russian offensive dynamo as he plays an intense two-way game and shows fantastic will to win in big games.” Future Considerations, meanwhile, aptly refers to the 6’4″ Russian as a “man-child”, while touting his ability to pump up the play of those who play around him.

In terms of weaknesses, Nichushkin reportedly has question marks in both his consistency and his durability. Future Considerations and McKeen’s Hockey both also mention that Nichushkin has a reputation as puckhog. As McKeen’s puts it, he “gets self-centered and impetuous – tries to do it all himself – and either ignores or doesn’t see passing options.” The consistency question can be tied to questions about his overall effort level – while none of the scouting services will outright declare Nichushkin “lazy”, there are questions about his level of “inspiration”.

However, questions aside, should Nichushkin live up to his potential, it is believed that he could become a Jaromir Jagr-style offensive playmaker.

Service Rank
NHL Central Scouting 2nd (International)
ISS 4th
The Hockey News 5th
Future Considerations 5th
McKeen’s Hockey 6th

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A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.