Valeri Nichushkin Staying with the Champs
Valeri Nichushkin is going nowhere people! The breakout star of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs has just re-signed with the Colorado Avalanche. NHL Insiders have said the Avs locked up the Russian for eight years and $49 million. It is a well-deserved deal for Nichushkin, as he was absolutely incredible at both ends for the Avalanche.
Today was a hectic day for the Cup champs. Along with extending Nichushkin, there was a front-office shake-up as well. Joe Sakic was moved to President of Hockey Operations, with Assistant GM Chris MacFarland promoted to General Manager. Ahead of Wednesday’s start of free agency, nailing down Nichushkin is a crucial move that will set the tone for the summer. While it does likely mean Nazem Kadri will move on, the front office had a tough choice to make. At 27, Nichushkin still has a number of good years ahead. Especially considering the career season he had, keeping him around with the likes of Cale Makar and Nathan Mackinnon will probably help him age gracefully.
It’s hard to believe that he was out of the NHL a few seasons ago. It’s something that could hurt the Dallas Stars even more than it already has. Letting Nichushkin go out to Russia while extension talks broke down is nothing short of a botch. Bringing him back and buying him out of his contract is worse. Then seeing him walk over to your division rivals and become an analytical darling is the cherry on top. All in all, the term isn’t great for Colorado but it’s the price you pay if you want a chance at more cups.
Step One Complete
Avalanche superfan Gavin Daly said it best when it comes to this offseason for the champs: tough decisions are going to have to be made. Fan favorites could very well have to walk out the door. Kadri is an obvious choice, but not the only one. Mackinnon needs to get a Brinks truck before next summer. Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook will be off their ELC before you know it. The futures of both JT Compher and Erik Johnson are currently cloudy. Sakic and MacFarland could pull off some magic, but it won’t be easy. While settling Nichushkin and the goaltending situation with Alex Georgiev is a good start, the front office’s hands are still full. I still have faith that they’ll figure it out to a reasonable end. It’s hard to get atop the mountain, but even harder to stay on it. Let’s see what happens next.