MOSCOW, May 1 (R-Sport) – Dynamo Moscow has acquired NHL draft prospect Valeri Nichushkin from Traktor Chelyabinsk, confirming ongoing rumors that the 18-year-old right wing was headed to the reigning Gagarin Cup champions.
Dynamo sends Traktor a future draft pick and cash, according to a statement published Tuesday on Dynamo’s website. Details about Traktor’s haul were not immediately known, but Russian media reports over the weekend said the team, which lost to Dynamo in the finals last month, was set to receive $10 million.
Nichushkin, NHL Central Scouting’s second-ranked European skater heading into June’s entry draft, has been at the center of several minor controversies over the past two weeks, some of which may have affected his less-than-stellar performance at the under-18 world hockey championship in Sochi last month.
The 6’3” 196-pound Chelyabinsk native joined the national team a game late while Traktor battled Dynamo in the Gagarin Cup. While he scored seven points in six games for the under-18 squad, head coach Igor Kravchuk said repeatedly the young forward was battling fatigue.
Nichushkin was held off the score sheet in Russia’s 2-1 loss to Finland in the bronze medal game, two days after trade rumors began to swirl, prompting Kravchuk to suggest his team captain was emotionally and psychologically spent.
While it remains to be seen how Nichushkin's on-ice showing will affect his draft stock, the presumptive top-five pick muddied the situation last week by telling reporters he plans to play out the duration of his KHL contract, which expires in 2015. He said he wanted to model is career arc on Vladimir Tarasenko, 21, who was drafted 16th overall in 2010 by the St. Louis Blues, but struck an agreement with the NHL team that allowed him to play two full seasons with Sibir Novosibirsk before moving to North America earlier this year.
Nichushkin, meanwhile, bolsters Dynamo middling attack, which finished eighth in goal-scoring last season with 150. The power forward will likely be expected to join Denis Kokarev and Alexei Tsvetkov as Dynamo’s front-line scorers.
Nichushkin tallied six points in 18 games for Traktor following a late-season promotion to the big club. He contributed six goals and three assists in 25 playoff games.