Nichushkin spent last season playing with Traktor of the KHL, scoring six points in 18 games. He represented his country as the World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal for Team Russia, as well at the World Under-18 Championships. His KHL rights currently belong to Dynamo Moscow, though he had a 2-year contract with Dynamo terminated so that the could attempt to come over and play in the NHL. The agreement was terminated on the condition Nichushkin return to the team should he not make an NHL club.
The Chelyabinsk, Russia native is ranked No. 2 among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting, No. 4 among all skaters by ISS, and No. 5 among all prospects by TSN's Craig Button. ISS has projected him to play similarly to Jaromir Jagr, which is high praise indeed.
Nichushkin has impressed the scouts at almost every level. He has played in a handful of U-18 tournaments for Russia while also moving his way from Traktor's semi-pro affiliate onto the KHL squad. Nichushkin also played in 25 KHL playoff games this season for Traktor. While most prospects in the CSS rankings have only picked up junior league experience, Nichushkin has already proved he can play with top tier talent with his phenomenal KHL play.
Valeri Nichushkin is an interesting prospect. He has the size of a legit NHL power forward, with room to fill out his frame, but he also has the high-end skating of a player much smaller. He has great size, his speed is excellent, and he has some ability to dangle on top of all of that. He has shown the ability to exploit gap weakness in opponents, and has used his speed as a main driver for his offensive game. He does show the ability to make plays, but is far from a polished offensive player in that regard.
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