Stars ink top pick Nichushkin to three-year deal

In a week where the Dallas Stars made their share of personnel moves, new general manager Jim Nill made another move on Saturday that could pay big dividends for the franchise as soon as this year in inking Valeri Nichushkin, the 10th overall pick in last Sunday’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft, to a three-year entry-level contract.

Of course, this means the 18-year-old Russian phenom will not be able to return to the top league in his home country, the KHL, should he not make the Stars’ opening night roster and begin the year in the NHL like many think he should.

Nichushkin recently arrived in Frisco for the Stars’ annual development camp where many of the organization’s top prospects are put through the paces for several days at the team’s Collin County headquarters.

While most feel the talented Russian scorer is a lock to start next season in the NHL, there is now at least the possibility that if the Stars decide he needs a bit more seasoning after training camp, the option to send him to the club’s top minor league affiliate, the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League, is now on the table.

But no matter where Nichushkin starts next season, the man now in charge of Dallas’ front office feels signing him to an entry-level deal to ensure Nichushkin couldn’t return to the KHL was something he had to do.

“Valeri is a skilled and competitive forward who we feel was at the top of the talent pool in this season’s NHL Draft,” said Nill in a club-issued press release. “He spent the last season playing against men in a very strong league and we feel that he can come in and immediately compete for a job at the NHL level.”