The fact Valeri Nichushkin is the first 18-year-old to play for the Stars since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993 tells you he’s different.

The fact he’s the first Stars rookie to score four points in a game since Jere Lehtinen did it in 1996 tells you he’s gifted.

The fact teammates believe he’s only scratching the surface of his potential tells you he’s special. Maybe very special.

“Val’s play continues to grow. For me that’s really important,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said after Nichushkin had a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday. “He made a couple of really good plays on those goals, and physically, he’s been dominating some battles.”

Nichushkin learned the game on Russia’s bigger rinks and only started playing in North America this season. That might have been a factor in his being held to two points and a minus-3 in his first 12 games. Since then, he has 13 points and is plus-12 in the past 15 games.

That’s a tremendous rate of improvement.

“When you look at the first few games in this league and the last nine or 10, he’s definitely transitioned well,” said center Tyler Seguin, who was the goal-scoring beneficiary of Nichushkin’s three assists Saturday and also set up his goal. “Now, as a whole, we want to stay consistent.”

The irony is it’s difficult to define what consistency is for Nichushkin.

He is a big body at 6-4, 205. He’s a speedy skater when he hits his stride in open ice. He’s powerful in carrying and protecting the puck.

So is he a dynamic puck carrier who sill sets up his linemates? Is he a strong two-way player who can cause some physical damage? Is he a sniper who can pick corners and cash in on chances?

He might be a little of all three.

He has been compared to Rick Nash for his mix of size and skill and to Eric Lindros for his head-down style of bulling forward. He has been compared to Evgeni Malkin, who has twice led the NHL in scoring and three times has ranked in the top two in MVP voting.

“Sometimes when he’s carrying the puck up the ice, it’s almost like Malkin,” Stars captain Jamie Benn said. “The kid’s 6-5, or whatever, and skates like the wind. I don’t think teams actually realize how fast he’s going until he skates by them.”

Nichushkin is learning English by taking lessons and living with a Texas family, but his progress has been slow. Benn was asked what his communication is like with Nichushkin on the ice, and he laughed.

“Absolutely none,” Benn said. “We try to keep it as simple as possible for him. When he gets the puck, we just let him do his thing. He’s a smart hockey player. He knows how to create stuff.”

On Saturday, Nichsuhkin made a pass out of the defensive zone that created an odd-man rush for Benn and Seguin. He then made a slick exchange with Alex Goligoski at the blueline that helped create an opening for a Seguin shot from the slot.