Another issue emerges with Valeri Nichuskin’s situation in Colorado

Another issue emerges with Valeri Nichuskin’s situation in Colorado

We hope he gets the necessary help, but he’s not the only one that needs it.

Chris Gosselin

For the second year in a row, Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichuskin has to step away from his team as an early playoff exit looms. On Monday, hours before Game 4 of the second round series against the Dallas Stars, it was announced that Nichuskin was placed in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program of the NHLPA and NHL. Under the terms of the program, Nichushkin will be suspended without pay for a minimum of six months and then will be eligible to apply for reinstatement. You may recall that a year ago, the Russian winger left the Avs hours before Game 3 in the first round against the Seattle Krakem due to “personal reasons” after police were called to his hotel room and found a heavily intoxicated woman pleading for help.

Head coach Jared Bednar and teammates commented on Nichuskin’s situation following a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Stars on Monday, and the gist of the message is for their teammate to get help.

However, the team also needs to think about what needs to happen next with Nichuskin and his contract, and as Michael Traikos explains, another issue comes up for Colorado.

Nichushkin has six more years remaining on an eight-year contract that carries a $6.125-million cap hit, but it has become pretty clear he will not play the remainder of that deal in Denver. His 12-team no-trade clause kicks in next July, but Traikos is adamant that a trade is almost impossible.

However, the problem is that a buyout causes even more headaches:

“So what do the Avalanche do now? Well, they can try and trade Nichushkin, but good luck getting another team to take a chance on a player who won’t be able to apply for reinstatement until sometime in November. They can try and buy him out of the remainder of his contract, but that will be even more costly than keeping him around.”

A league source has confirmed Nichushkin’s $6.125 million AAV won’t count against the Avs’ cap payroll next season while he’s serving his suspension and that it will apply once he’s reinstated and returns to the lineup.

This gives Colorado some time to find an adequate solution for Nichuskin’s contract and, more importantly, what to do with it.

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