The Dallas Stars are young, fast and dangerous. It begins with their top-line punch of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, but there are more reasons why Dallas is back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years.
One is right wing Valeri Nichushkin. The 19-year-old was selected with the No. 10 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft and immediately made the jump to hockey's highest level. He did not look out of place, scoring 14 goals and 20 assists. Even more impressive, Nichushkin boasted a plus-21 rating, showing the ability to play well at each end of the ice despite his young age. For most players his age, it takes some time to learn how to play responsibly in the defensive zone.
Now, on an even bigger stage, the Stars will depend on Nichushkin to help them advance past the Western Conference First Round. The skilled wing is likely to skate on the Stars' top line alongside the aforementioned Seguin and Benn, which should give Nichushkin an opportunity to convert on some quality scoring opportunities.