Russian Stanley Cup hero signs bumper new deal
Russian hockey star Valeri Nichushkin has been rewarded for his Stanley Cup heroics by re-signing with the Colorado Avalanche on a new eight-year deal worth a reported $49 million.
Nichushkin helped Colorado to a first Stanley Cup title in 21 years when they overcame two-time defending champions the Tampa Bay Lightning last month.
The Russian forward, 27, was entering the summer as an unrestricted free agent but has agreed a bumper new deal to remain at the Avs, the team confirmed on Monday.
“Signing Val to a long-term deal was a top priority for us this offseason, as he would have been one of the most sought-after forwards on the open market,” said Avalanche President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic.
“Val is a big, strong, fast, tenacious winger who is relentless on the puck. He can play on the first line with our top guys, you can move him up and down the lineup. He plays power play, penalty kill, any situation you need him to. He works hard off the ice as well in the gym and is a humble person and great teammate. He is such an important player in our lineup and a huge reason why we won the Stanley Cup.”
The Chelyabinsk-born Nichushkin was first drafted into the NHL by the Dallas Stars back in 2013, but his career at the organization never really took off and he spent a spell back in his homeland at CSKA Moscow before eventually returning to the US.
He joined the Avs in 2019 and came to the fore in last season’s championship-winning team, not least in the finals against the Lightning.
Overall in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nichushkin recorded career-high numbers with nine goals, six assists and 15 points.
It was revealed after Game 6 against Tampa that Nichushkin had played with a significant right foot injury which meant he could only get his skate on with medical assistance. The star even appeared in a wheelchair at part of the Avs’ victory parade in downtown Denver.
Elsewhere in NHL news featuring Russian stars, it was reported this week that Pittsburgh Penguins icon Evgeni Malkin would test free agency this summer, likely ending his 15-year association with the organization.