Valeri Nichushkin, Avalanche Agree to 8-Year Contract Extension Worth Reported $49M

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 26:  Valeri Nichushkin #13 of the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup in celebration after Game Six of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. The Avalanche defeated the Lightning 2-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche announced they signed Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year extension that will keep him under contract through 2030.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported Nichushkin will earn $49 million, which averages out to $6.1 million annually.

Avs president of hockey operations Joe Sakic commented on the deal:

"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. 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."

Nichushkin is coming off a career year. He scored 25 goals and assisted on 27 others during the regular season.

dom @domluszczyszyn

A slight overpay for Valeri Nichushkin after a career year, but one he can feasibly live up to with more power play opportunity. <a href="https://t.co/G8V6SP4S9F">pic.twitter.com/G8V6SP4S9F</a>

He continued to make a positive impact in the postseason, finishing with 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 20 playoff games as Colorado lifted the Stanley Cup for the third time.

Will Petersen @PetersenWill

It can't be overstated how good Valeri Nichushkin was for the Avs in the playoffs, particularly the Final. If the Conn Smythe was like the NBA Finals MVP, and just for the last series, Nichushkin would have won it. Huge signing by Sakic and MacFarland. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoAvsGo?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoAvsGo</a>

The Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back titles in 2020 and 2021, reaching a third straight Stanley Cup Final in 2022. The Pittsburgh Penguins successfully defended their championship in 2017 as well.

Recent history favors the Avalanche as they look to add a fourth Stanley Cup triumph in 2022-23. They already had most of their key players under contract for the upcoming year.

Nichushkin was one of the notable exceptions. Nazem Kadri is another, and the fact the Avs tied up a contract for Nichushkin so quickly could increase their chances of retaining Kadri, who finished with the third-most points (87) on the team.

It's also possible Colorado prioritized Nichushkin because it grew worried about its odds of re-signing Kadri and didn't want to wind up losing both players.

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski reported Kadri "will get contract offers above and beyond what Colorado would like to give him." He cited the Boston Bruins and Seattle Kraken as teams that could pursue the 31-year-old forward.