Big Nuke: Why Val Nichushkin Is Undervalued
(The NHL season may be suspended, but the content will keep right on coming here at Colorado Hockey Now)
When I first heard, back in September, the Avs were bringing in Valeri Nichushkin, I thought “he’s going to be a good camp body, someone to push the kids and provide some forward depth in Loveland.”
I’m bloody glad I was wrong.
How Did He Get Here?
The former 10th overall first-round pick of Dallas came over after an uneventful stint in the lone-star state, along with a stop back in Russia in-between. Val was a brilliant junior, still to this day, still has the third-best points-per-game record in the KHL by any draft-eligible player this decade, not named Tarasenko or Panarin. Good company indeed. The talent was always there, and was evident in a good rookie year, yielding 34 points. He was hindered by groin and hip issues in year two, resulting in surgeries just one month into the season. He was shelved for the rest of the year, returning in 2015-16 for a return of 29 points over 79 games. At the conclusion of the season, Val and the Stars had a dispute over his role. As a pending restricted free agent, he returned to Russia to join CSKA on a two-year deal, to play in a bigger role.