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Jaromir Jagr continues to heart this Dallas Stars rookie

IMG_3347DALLAS, Texas - There is no such thing as a bad interview with Jaromir Jagr. The man delivers. 

One of this era's best hockey players is not only still playing, but playing well at 41. He was in town for the New Jersey Devils' game against the Dallas Stars, providing the perfect time to ask him to expand on a beauty quote he delivered not too long ago about Stars rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin.

Last month, Jagr said of the 18-year-old Russian he could become the world's best player.

I asked Jagr why he believed such a strong statement.

"'Cause I know," he said.

I prodded him to educate me.

"Somethings, some people can see. It's tough to explain it," he said. "I'm saying, he has the tools to be the best player. He has the size. He can play 1 on 1. He is strong. He has the shot. He is quick. It's up to him. How is he going to practice? Some guys, no matter what, are not going to do it. They can't. They don't have the strength, speed or size. That's what I said. He has it all. 

"He's like (Penguins forward Evgeni) Malkin. It's up to him."

Drafted 10th in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Nichuskin looks like he was worth the risk to take. The risk was the NHL team that drafted him had to agree to play him at the NHL level, or he would play in the KHL in Russia.

In 50 games, Nichushkin has 11 goals and 14 assists. He is a plus 15, and was selected to play for Team Russia in the Olympics. As good as Stars' captain Jamie Benn is, Nichuskin can be better.


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Jagr knows! He's certainly seen more than enough during his long career to know what it takes to become a dominant NHL player. As long as Nichushkin continues to display the inner drive to learn, improve and work hard, there's little question that he has the potential to be an absolute beast in the NHL for many, many years. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing for me is his ability to draw penalties against the opposition at such a young age. Usually young players are taking lots of penalties and not drawing many. Nichushkin has been the polar opposite so far. He's just barely begun the scratch the surface of his potential. This should be REALLY fun to watch over the next five, ten, fifteen years!

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