INSIDE THE AVALANCHE

Jared Bednar shares thoughts on futures of Nichushkin, Landeskog

May 18, 2024, 1:38 AM | Updated: 1:56 am

Jared Bednar...

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

As the clock creeped close to 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar met with the local media.

He called it “the worst press conference” of the season, after his team fell in Game 6 by a score of 2-1 in double overtime to the Dallas Stars. The Avalanche’s season ended, and Bednar said unless you win the whole thing, this one was the least fun.

But in a presser with many questions about the disappointment, Bednar shared thoughts on two potential key pieces for the Avalanche moving forward. Both make a lot of money, but the situations of forward Valeri Nichushkin and captain Gabriel Landeskog could not be more different.

Nichushkin is suspended for at least six months as he entered Phase 3 of the NHL / NHLPA player assistance program. Landeskog hasn’t played since 2022, missing the last two seasons as he rehabs a knee that eventually went under cartilage transplant surgery.

“You hate having that uncertainty because it makes it harder to plan for management,” Bednar said. “You’re hoping for answers, clarity so you can build a team around them. It’s obviously a couple of guys that have a significant cap hit.”

Landeskog is in the middle of an eight-year $56 million deal that runs through the 2029 season. Nichushkin’s deal goes through 2030 and is for $49 million total. The Avs would have to trade him this summer to get out of it, as his transgressions aren’t enough to void the contract.

But when it comes to Landeskog, who hasn’t played since the team won the Stanley Cup 23 months ago, Bednar has faith he can get back.

Bednar said it wasn’t “close” for Landeskog to play in these playoffs, but he has all the faith in the world in Colorado’s leader.

“I’d like nothing more than to see him come back and play. I think that can happen. If anyone can do it, Gabe can do it,” Bednar said.

A long offseason awaits for a team that had championship hopes. They have major questions on Nichushkin and Landeskog, ones that need to be answered before the plan for 2024-25 can be mapped out.

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