Russian winger aims to crash top three NHL prospects

Russia's Valeri Nichushkin, who sunk Canada's hopes for a bronze medal at the world junior, then...

Russia's Valeri Nichushkin, who sunk Canada's hopes for a bronze medal at the world junior, then finished the season for Chelyabinsk in the KHL, gets poked and prodded during medical testing Friday as part of the NHL scouting combine. (Veronica Henri, Toronto Sun)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:58 PM ET

TORONTO - For a guy who can’t speak English, Valeri Nichushkin has a lot of people talking at the NHL scouting combine.

After the 6-foot-4, Russian wrapped up his physical testing on Friday, he towered over the assembled media and said through an interpreter he’s pleased to have disrupted what many thought were the clear cut top three picks for the June 30 draft in New Jersey.

“I am glad there is so much attention on me and I’m happy to be here,” the left winger said. “The draft will show who is the best and I am prepared to play next season in the NHL.”

Nichushkin is known on these shores for the bronze medal-winning goal against Canada at the most recent world juniors. That started a second-half surge with his hometown club Chelyabinsk and brought him to the top rung of the KHL. He was ticketed for Moscow Dynamo next season, but insists he has a deal with that team that makes him “a free agent”, with an option to go back and play rather than stay here for junior or AHL seasoning.


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