With the Avalanche season officially drawn to a close, it’s time to turn our attention to what is sure to be an interesting offseason. According to CapFriendly, the 2020-21 Avs squad has 14 members currently signed on next season, leaving some decisions for GM Joe Sakic to make on some of his uncontracted players. With an estimated cap hit of roughly $59.1 million for next season’s Avalanche, and with the NHL salary capped at $81.5 million, Sakic and Co. have roughly $22.4 million to work with…with plenty of work to do.
Colorado Hockey Now will work its way down that list of a few of the unsigned Avalanche and make a case for and against re-signing the prospective free agents, providing stats, analytical insights and opinions on the matter ahead of the opening of the NHL’s free agency period beginning on Oct. 9.
One of the better feel-good stories in the NHL this past season was Val Nichushkin. A former 10th-overall selection (2013) by the Dallas Stars, Nichushkin was pegged as the next generation’s Evgeni Malkin with an Alex Ovechkin-caliber ceiling. NHL legend Jaromir Jagr even went as far as to say back in 2013 that Nichushkin “is going to be the best in the world.”
Fast forward seven years and Nichushkin certainly isn’t the best in the world, nor does he even come close to holding a candle to a Malkin or Ovechkin. Still, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic gave the 25-year-old winger a third chance at the NHL and things have so far worked out pretty well. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Coming off a prove-yourself one-year, $850,000 contract, Nichushkin figures to get a bump into seven-figure territory this offseason.