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Stars send McKenzie back to AHL, Nichushkin to return?

Dallas Stars v Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 5: Valeri Nichushkin #43 of the Dallas Stars skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 5, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Stars 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Claus Andersen

Dallas sent reigning AHL Rookie of the Year Curtis McKenzie to the Texas Stars on Wednesday, fueling speculation that sophomore sensation Valeri Nichushkin would return from a seven-game absence on Friday against Anaheim.

McKenzie, 23, appeared in two games for Dallas, including his NHL debut on Oct. 18 vs. Philadelphia -- but failed to record a point. He was one of the replacement options head coach Lindy Ruff tried after losing Nichushkin to a hip/groin injury in Dallas’ second game of the season (against Nashville on Oct. 14).

Getting Nichushkin back would bolster a Dallas offense that’s already on fire; the Stars are third in the NHL in goals per game, at 3.44, and the 19-year-old Russian is coming off a strong rookie campaign in which he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games.

Nichushkin also had a decent playoff debut in last year’s heated first-round series against Anaheim, finishing with a goal and two points in six games. He practiced on Monday, but didn’t play in last night’s OT loss to the Blues.