Avalanche re-sign Valeri Nichushkin to 8-year, $49 million contract

By: The Trend Wire

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A sizable portion of the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche roster was retained.

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Prior to Wednesday's start of unrestricted free agency, the organisation announced on Monday that forward Valeri Nichushkin had been re-signed to an eight-year, $49 million deal extension.

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This equals a salary cap hit of $6.125 million for the entire season.

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Nichushkin would have been among the top players to sign an unrestricted free agent contract this summer had he not signed one. He is currently staying in Colorado.

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For Nichushkin and the Avalanche, this is a fairly big issue.

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For the former, it brings to a close an astonishing career comeback just three years after he was released by the Dallas Stars following a season in which he had no goals (and no penalties) in more than 50 regular-season games. 

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He signed a cheap contract with Colorado that offseason, and in his three years with the Avalanche

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he not only developed into one of the league's top defensive and two-way wings, but also saw his offensive slowly improve until this past season, when he had a breakthrough year.

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As good as he was throughout the regular season, his performance in the postseason, when he was a key member of the Avalanche's Stanley Cup winning team, reached an entirely new level.

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The other two key unrestricted free agents for Colorado, Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri, appear to be headed to the open market now that Nichushkin has been signed and Alexandar Georgiev

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has been committed to a three-year contract after being acquired from the New York Rangers. Although Colorado still has around $14 million in salary cap room available

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it must also fill a number of roster vacancies and re-sign restricted free agent Artturi Lehkonen to a new contract.

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Although Nichushkin's contract may not hold up over the long term as he approaches his 30s

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he should continue to play top-line two-way forward for the foreseeable future and will be an important member of an Avalanche team that has a chance to win another Stanley Cup (or more) in the coming seasons.