The Dallas Stars have just made a major move and in the process have put a player with a ton of upside on the free agent market.
For months now there have been rumblings regarding the future of 24 year old Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin although none of the rumors have truly solidified until now. For fans who were hoping that the Stars would find a home for the young forward via trade it seems that general manager Jim Nill has been unable to find the veteran of over 200 games a new home.
According to a report from National Hockey League reporter Andy Strickland of Fox Sports it now appears that the Dallas Stars are moving towards a buyout of Nichushkin's contract. Although the buyout has not yet been made official, Nichushkin still has to clear waivers, the fact that Nill was unable to find a trade before making this moves make it extremely unlikely that anyone will claim him on waivers. The fact that Nichushkin is set to earn $2.95 million next season likely plays a huge role in Nill being unable to find a trade partner, especially when you consider how many teams are up against the cap now. The NHL announced it's salary cap for the 2019 - 2020 NHL regular season and although initial projections had it at $83 million the final number actually came in $1.5 million lower than that at $81.5 million. That additional cap constraint likely forced Nill's hand here and moved him to make the buyout on the final year of Nichushkin's deal.
Now it has to be said here that Nichushkin seemed to take a major step back after returning from a stay in the Kontinental Hockey League, one that was the result of a contract dispute between the young forward and the Dallas Stars. The interesting thing here will be whether or not his decline was the result of bitterness between him and the Stars organization, or if Nichushkin has truly regressed that badly in 3 short years.
Remember this is a guy who was a top 10 pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, so the pedigree is there, and I would not be the least bit surprised to see a rival team take a swing at him at a lower number.