By Ed Kimberley
But first, a small digression.
Most people in the world of hockey are hotly anticipating the beginning of a new NHL season and so they should; it’s looking to be an exciting year. Stories already are circulating around the newly announced hybrid icing to try and minimize injuries on icing plays, the helmet removal rule pre fight and the restructuring of the divisions.
Talent-wise, we saw an interesting offseason and it will be interesting to see which of the many rookies will be named the Calder Trophy winner. My 10 cents are that it is likely to go to, Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin. Nobody pre-draft was denying Nichushkin’s talent; comparisons were being made to Malkin and Ovechkin, BIG comparisons. Seeing him skate in pre-season, his composure on the puck is sublime. or a big guy (6ft3 – 200lbs) the comparison to Ovechkin and they way they both use speed to drive the net is proving accurate. I might be wrong, but a top 5 talent fell to 10 when the Stars picked him up because teams seemed un-easy to take a gamble on if he would (or even could) leave a KHL contract.
The deal that was struck with Jim Nill was that if Nichushkin was to not make the Stars roster/or besent down; he would be loaned back to Russia. This is another reason I think Nichushkin will step take the Calder accolade. He has everything to lose. He has made it quite clear the NHL is where he wants to be, and he’s got to prove it. The lure of the KHL has been tempting for many a Russian never to return and for the likes of MacKinnon, Jones and even Finnish centre Barkov who can mature their game close to home in the junior leagues, they can afford to play the NHL waiting game.
Back to the EIHL … Continue reading “Early Runners: An EIHL summary”