Previously: The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Jonathon Drouin from the Halifax Mooseheads.
The Nashville Predators might be making what some would consider a high risk move, at least by their standards. Taking Valeri Nichushkin fourth overall has all kinds of yellow flags, a lot of fans would be quick to say “what about Radulov?” To that the answer is, “what about Datsyuk, Malkin, and Ovechkin?” It almost seemed like a foregone conclusion the Nashville Predators would be selecting Aleksander Barkov, the Center from Finland, so what changed? Nichushkin’s contract situation mostly. It was thought he would have to sit out at least two seasons before he could come in on his entry level deal, but it has came through the wires recently that he will be released from his KHL contract in order to play his career in the NHL.
Now the question in many people’s minds, what is the difference between a Valeri Nichushkin and an Aleksander Barkov? Well, one of them is a dynamic winger (more likely a right winger than left) and a big bodied forward much like the Predators have and love with Colin Wilson, the other one (Barkov) is a playmaking center who is responsible in his own zone, and has tape to tape passes. Truthfully, either pick would boost the Predators up quite a bit, but with Filip Forsberg already being in the mold of a playmaker who can put the puck on someone’s stick, we now need someone to put the puck in the back of the net. That would be Valeri Nichushkin. He reminds me a lot of Scotty Hartnell, with the offensive skill of Radulov. If he can/will stay loyal to the Predators, then he could be a great player for us.
I won’t lie to you, the fact the Predators themselves haven’t had overwhelming luck with Russians is in the front of my mind. But, the NHL draft is about taking the best player available, and Nichushkin fits that mold. Granted, he’s only had 6 points in the KHL regular season, and 9 in the post season, but he’s also been playing against grown men just like Barkov. Add in the fact he has room to grow his frame greatly (he’s 6 ft 3 and 195 lbs) and he could be that perfect compliment to Colin Wilson AND Filip Forsberg. Add in the fact we’ve still got Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Brendan Leipsic in the system and you could have a very explosive series of players for years to come.
Tomorrow: The Fansided NHL Mock Draft continues with the Carolina Hurricanes picking next in the Fansided mock draft.