AVALANCHE

Avalanche stay vague, but management takes first questions on Nichushkin

May 9, 2023, 12:24 PM

Chris MacFarland...

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the first time since Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin left the team 17 days ago under mysterious circumstances, someone in management took questions on the situation.

On Tuesday, Colorado GM Chris MacFarland met with the media to discuss captain Gabriel Landeskog undergoing yet another knee surgery and likely missing the 2023-24 season. But it was also the first time since Round 1 ended in a disappointing seven-game loss to the Kraken that an executive has spoken.

After receiving a few questions about Landeskog, MacFarland was asked about Nichushkin. There’s been a police report and a 911 call revealed around an “incident” at the team’s hotel before Game 3 against Seattle, but details remain hard to come by.

“It’ll just be consistent with what the messaging has been. We can’t comment on Val’s situation at this time,” MacFarland said at first.

When pressed with a follow up, MacFarland gave the most information yet on Nichushkin. The forward signed an eight-year, $49 million contract last offseason, and MacFarland confirmed he would like him on the team moving forward.

“He was a very important part of the team in our past, and that’s our hope that he’s going to be a very important part of our team in the future for sure,” MacFarland said.

MacFarland was asked another question, about if the uncertainty with Nichushkin is frustrating, given how much salary cap space the contract takes up. Nichushkin is projected to earn $7.5 million next year with a $6.125 million cap hit.

“I think we know what we have in terms of our cap,” MacFarland said. “We think we have a pretty good feel on the areas we want to tighten up and and improve to get the roster where we feel is in a good place as we enter training camp next year. So we’re excited.”

Previously, only head coach Jared Bednar had taken questions on Nichushkin, consistently saying it was a “personal situation” causing the absence.

The Avs scored two or fewer goals in three of the five games without the productive forward against the Kraken.

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