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Allen: Nichushkin could be among NHL's hottest unrestricted free agents

June 20, 2022, 8:21 PM ET [29 Comments]
As soon as the Stanley Cup Final is finished, the Colorado Avalanche will be looking to re-sign their most important playoff scorer.

And we may not necessarily be talking about Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche's primary summer objective will indeed be locking MacKinnon into a long-term deal. Given that Mikko Rantanen is at $9.3 million per season, MacKinnon could receive $10 million per season.

But the Avalanche would also very much like to re-sign Valeri Nichushkin. Going into Monday's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Nichushkin leads the Avalanche with seven even-strength goals. His total of eight goals is third behind MacKinnon (11) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine).

This season he seemed like a bargain at $2.8 million. Today, he seems like he will be one of the more desirable unrestricted free agents in the marketplace if the Avalanche don't get his name on new contract before July 13.

The 6-foot-4 right wing posted 25 goals and 52 points in 62 games this season. If you combine his regular-season and playoffs, Nichushkin totals 33 goals and 65 points in 78 games. He was +21 this season and he's +56 in his three seasons in Colorado.

Combine those numbers with the fact that he's only 27 years old.

How many players in the free agent marketplace will boast all of those selling points? He could double his salary on a four- or five-year deal.

Sources told me this week that Avalanche will push hard to get him re-signed.

But Nichushkin and his agent know several teams are looking for scoring this summer. He's only 23 days from from being UFA. When you are this close, it might be too tempting to see what's out there.

The Colorado hope would be that the Avalanche win the Cup and Nichushkin wants to come back to go for two in a row.
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