- © REUTERS / Anne-Marie Sorvin
© REUTERS / Anne-Marie Sorvin
MOSCOW, December 10 (R-Sport) – Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin told R-Sport on Tuesday he feels he is able to compete with the world’s best players is burning with desire to go to the Sochi Olympics.
Snapped up as the No. 10 overall pick in June’s draft, the 18-year-old has already broken into the team’s forward line along with Canadians Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, notching up 12 points in 15 games since it happened last month.
“Now I am playing against the best players of other teams, against those who will participate at the Olympics,” Nichushkin said. “I don’t think I perform any worse than anybody else, I don’t lose the physical challenges, I’m playing OK. We’ll see how everything will turn out, but of course I want to play at such a prominent tournament.”
The 6-foot-4 forward added none of the Russian coaches had called him or his more experienced teammate Sergei Gonchar so far.
With his recent performances Nichushkin has thrown his hat into the ring for the Calder Trophy given to the top rookie of the season, as fifth top-scoring newcomer with 15 points.
“As regard to the Calder Trophy, only 50 percent depends on me, the other half depends on the team’s performance,” he said. “If I play well and the team wins, then I may get it. But I don’t think about it, I’m just playing and working.”
Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov must submit his Olympics roster to the International Ice Hockey Federation by January 7, a month away.
In Sochi, four-time world champion Russia is under great pressure to win gold following Vancouver 2010 failure, when the team was destroyed 7-3 by Canada in the quarterfinal.