Valeri Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin

27-Year-Old Left WingLW
Colorado Avalanche
IR
Injury Ankle
Est. Return 12/7/2022
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Nichushkin struggled to find his way over the course of four seasons with Dallas, but a move to Colorado in 2019-20 has completely revitalized his career. He quickly developed into one of the NHL's most effective defensive forwards, and this past season he added the offense to his game. In 62 games, Nichushkin totaled 25 goals and 52 points. His previous career highs were 14 goals and 34 points, both coming in his 2013-14 rookie season. Nichushkin picked a good time for his breakout as he was scheduled for unrestricted free agency this past summer. The Avalanche paid a premium to retain him, inking the big man to a new eight-year contract with an AAV of $6.125 million. Nichushkin will have more value to Colorado than fantasy owners, but there should be enough here for him to be worth a mid-to-late round pick this coming fall. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed an eight-year, $49 million contract with the Avalanche in July of 2022.
Skates again
LWColorado Avalanche
Ankle
December 3, 2022
Nichushkin (ankle) skated Saturday for the second time this week, Brennan Vogt of Colorado Hockey Now reports.
ANALYSIS
Nichushkin, who was first seen on the ice Tuesday, skated for about 10 minutes, gliding and testing out the ankle. The forward was given a timeline of a month after undergoing surgery in early November, so he could rejoin the Avalanche next week. Prior to the injury, Nichushkin had seven goals and five assists through seven games.
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NHL Stats
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2022 NHL Game Log
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2022–23 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    20:28
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    3:12
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    2:16
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2020–21
14:05
0:53
1:26
2021–22
19:02
2:20
1:45
2022–23
20:28
3:12
2:16
Avalanche Depth Chart
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Avalanche Power Play Depth Chart
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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2020
2019
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2013
Nichushkin recorded 10 goals and 11 assists in 55 games for the Avalanche in 2020-21. A heavy-hitting winger, he's played some of the best hockey of his career over the last two seasons. With Joonas Donskoi selected by the Kraken in July's expansion draft, Nichushkin could have a shot at filling a second-line role in 2021-22 if he can outplay Andre Burakovsky or Alex Newhook. Fantasy managers in formats that count hits will value Nichushkin more, as he's typically good for at least a hit per game. The Russian winger could challenge for his second 30-point campaign this year, but his appeal will likely remain highest in deeper fantasy formats.
Nichushkin enjoyed a resurgence in his first year with the Avalanche in 2019-20, scoring 13 goals and 27 points in 65 games. He added 113 shots on goal and 84 hits, providing a well-rounded physical game on the third line. While it would take injuries in the top six to get the Russian winger into a power-play gig, Nichushkin is a solid depth scorer capable of 20 to 25 points in the 56-game, 2020-21 campaign. The physicality is a bonus, and playing with a strong offense such as Colorado's will likely keep him positive in plus-minus rating.
Nichushkin's return to the NHL was a total flop, as the 24-year-old managed only 10 assists in 57 games. Despite having Alexander Radulov -- another talented Russian whose first couple of attempts at making things work in North America didn't go smoothly -- as a potential mentor in Dallas, Nichushkin seemed unmotivated, and he was a healthy scratch for all but one game of the team's playoff run. He still has an impressive array of offensive skills, but the Stars bought out the final year of his contract, he hasn't yet latched on with a new club, either in the NHL or KHL.
Nichushkin headed back home to Russia a couple of seasons ago, but now he's back in Dallas on a two-year deal after scoring 27 goals and 51 points in 86 games for CSKA Moscow. Still only 23 years old, he'll get another chance to justify the hype that came along with being the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but so far in his career (both in the NHL and KHL) he has yet to fully capitalize on his enticing blend of size, speed and skill. The Stars need someone to emerge as a scoring threat behind Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, though, and having Alexander Radulov as a mentor could be just what Nichushkin needs to unlock his talent.
The “enigmatic Russian” is one of hockey’s most pervasive stereotypes, and though it may be tempting to apply it to Nichushkin, the guy deserves the benefit of the doubt after a hip injury essentially wiped out his 2014-15 campaign. No, last season wasn’t a good comeback, but there’s no doubting the raw size and talent of the 2013 draft’s No. 10 overall pick. He also has a clear path to a top-six role in one of the league’s stronger offenses, and as Nishushkin enters his third full NHL campaign at the tender age of 21, he’s a strong candidate for a breakout. After last season’s single-digit goal total, he’s also likely to come quite cheaply on draft day. Expectant fantasy owners have been burned by Nichushkin before, but if you keep the investment low, the payoff could be outstanding.
After scoring 14 times in his rookie season, Nichushkin was essentially redshirted for 2014-15, appearing in just eight games due to a hip injury. By season's end, Nichushkin was back in the lineup, and with a full offseason to recover, he'll be an X-factor for the Stars entering the upcoming campaign, and a potential fantasy sleeper. The 6-foot-4 winger has a strong pedigree as a former No. 10 overall draft pick, and at 20 years old, still has room to take a dramatic leap in the production he provided as a rookie. Nichushkin has seen time in the Stars' top six in the past, and if his combination of speed and size plays up in training camp, he could come away with a first- or second-line role in hand. If that comes to a fruition, it's not unreasonable to expect him to flirt with 20 goals, though his assists might not be quite as plentiful. But even with a deficiency in that category, Nichushkin's big frame will allow him to regularly overpower smaller defenders, and with creative passers surrounding him in Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, and Jamie Benn, his upside as a scorer remains sky high. Target him in the later rounds, as there's enough talent here for a breakout to materialize.
Nichushkin had an impressive rookie campaign, tallying 14 goals, 20 assists and a plus-20 rating. If he can avoid the pitfalls of the sophomore slump, he could be a pick in your draft that pays dividends beyond his selection slot. He'll likely line up on the right side of the Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin line, which means that he'll be the benefactor of one of the best forward tandems in the NHL. But he's a high-risk, high-reward player. Any first-unit power-play time disappeared with the arrival of Jason Spezza. But a second unit with Nichushkin, Alex Hemsky and Cody Eakin would be a unique combination of power, speed and skill. He's still developing, so he'll have his ups and downs. But he will be better prepared for the length of an NHL season this time around and that could mean 50 points are within reach. Stardom -- no, superstardom -- may still beckon in two years time. And when it does, he might be better than Jamie Benn AND Tyler Seguin. Dynasty leagues need to act now or forever miss their chance to roster him.
The talented Russian fell into the Stars' lap with the 10th pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and the expectation is that he'll immediately jump to the NHL -- partly to keep him from returning to Russia (he's unlikely to report to the minors) and partly because there's plenty of room on the top two lines for a scoring winger. His name is being mentioned in early Calder Trophy talk and it seems well justified at this point. He looks legit. UPDATE: A strong preseason has him all but guaranteed a spot on one of the top two lines to begin the season.
More Fantasy News
Skates Tuesday
LWColorado Avalanche
Ankle
November 29, 2022
Nichushkin (ankle) skated Tuesday, Adrian Dater of ColoradoHockeyNow.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Sheds crutches
LWColorado Avalanche
Ankle
November 24, 2022
Nichushkin (ankle) is no longer on crutches, Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reports.
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Lands on IR
LWColorado Avalanche
Ankle
November 9, 2022
Nichushkin (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, per CapFriendly.
ANALYSIS
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Undergoes ankle surgery
LWColorado Avalanche
Ankle
November 8, 2022
Nichushkin recently underwent ankle surgery, coach Jared Bednar told Peter Baugh of The Athletic on Tuesday.
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Remains sidelined
LWColorado Avalanche
Lower Body
November 5, 2022
Nichushkin (lower body) won't play Saturday against the Blue Jackets, Peter Baugh of The Athletic reports.
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