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Avalanche re-sign Valeri Nichushkin to 8-year, $49 million contract

Avalanche Valeri Nichushkin

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JUNE 26: Valeri Nichushkin #13 of the Colorado Avalanche lifts the Stanley Cup after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game Six of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Colorado Avalanche managed to keep a significant part of their Stanley Cup winning roster.

The team announced on Monday that it has re-signed forward Valeri Nichushkin to an eight-year, $49 million contract extension before the opening of unrestricted free agency on Wednesday.

That comes out to a salary cap hit of $6.125 million per season.

Without a new deal Nichushkin would have been one of the top players to enter unrestricted free agency this summer. Now he is staying in Colorado.

This is a pretty monster deal for both Nichushkin and the Avalanche.

[Related: Avalanche re-sign Georgiev; shuffle front office]

For the former, it completes an incredible career turnaround just three years after he was bought out by the Dallas Stars following a year where he scored zero goals (and recorded zero penalty minutes) in more than 50 regular season games. He signed a bargain contract with Colorado that offseason and in his three years with the Avalanche not only blossomed into one of the best defensive and two-way wingers in the league, he also saw his offense steadily improve until having a breakout season this year.

For as good as he was during the regular season, his game reached an entirely new level in the playoffs when he was one of the Avalanche’s most important players on their Stanley Cup run.

[Related: 2022 NHL Free Agency Signing Tracker]

With Nichushkin now signed and Alexandar Georgiev locked into a three-year deal following his acquisition from the New York Rangers, it seems likely that Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri -- Colorado’s other big unrestricted free agents -- are likely to hit the open market. Colorado does still have roughly $14 million in salary cap space, but it still has several roster spots to fill and has to re-sign restricted free agent Artturi Lehkonen to a new deal.

Nichushkin’s deal might not age well long term as he gets into his 30s, but he should still be a top-line two-way forward for the foreseeable future and be a key part of an Avalanche team that has the potential to win another Stanley Cup (or more) in the seasons ahead.