Valeri Nichushkin will spend another year with CSKA Moscow.
On Wednesday, Dallas announced that Nichushkin — who left the team last season to play in the KHL — will stay in Russia for the 2017-18 campaign, with the expectation he’ll return to the Stars the following season.
The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Both the KHL and Russian hockey federation have been vocal with their stated goal of keeping KHL players from leaving for North America and bringing NHL free agents back this summer, to prepare for and participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Nichushkin, a big-bodied center that scored 14 goals and 34 points for Dallas in his rookie year, figures to be part of that plan.
CSKA is a KHL powerhouse, and has made several significant moves this offseason. Most recently, the club signed former Habs d-man Nikita Nesterov and ex-Avs forward Mikhail Grigorenko. The club also re-upped with Ilya Kovalchuk — who was flirting with a return to North America — and said that prized Minnesota prospect Kirill Kaprizov would remain with the team for the next three years.
CSKA also reportedly has an agreement in place with Colorado d-man Nikita Zadorov, should he fail to re-sign with the Avs.
All that said, it’s somewhat intriguing that Dallas’ coaching change from Lindy Ruff to Ken Hitchcock didn’t sway Nichushkin. The 22-year-old, taken 10th overall in 2013, clashed with Ruff on a few occasions. In March of last year, Nichushkin had to address an interview with a Russian news outlet in which he said Ruff didn’t trust him, or play him enough.
Not long after Hitchcock was introduced as Dallas’ new head coach, the club’s director of scouting told NHL.com it was “50-50” that Nichushkin would be back this season.