Valeri Nichushkin

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NHL Free agent roundup: Islanders re-sign two RFAs; Nichushkin joins Avalanche

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It didn’t involve any of the big names that are still unsigned, but there was some movement on the NHL’s restricted free agent front on Monday afternoon thanks to the New York Islanders, while the Colorado Avalanche took a gamble on an intriguing unrestricted free agent.

Let’s take a look at the signings.

Islanders re-sign Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle

The Islanders reached deals with two of their remaining RFAs when they announced new deals for forwards Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle.

Dal Colle’s contract is a two-year deal, while Ho-Sang gets a one-year deal that will probably be a make-or-break season for him with the Islanders.

Anthony Beauvillier remains the Islanders’ only unsigned RFA at this point in the offseason.

Ho-Sang is the intriguing one here because he has such enormous potential but has not yet put everything together in the NHL or earned the trust of the organization. If he manages to do all of that he could be a huge X-factor for the Islanders this season.

He has 24 points in 53 career games at the NHL level.

The 23-year-old Dal Colle appeared in 28 games for the Islanders this past season, scoring three goals to go with four assists.

Avalanche get Nichushkin

After spending two years in the KHL, Valeri Nichushkin returned to the NHL for the 2018-19 season and signed a two-year, $5.9 million contract with the Dallas Stars.

It proved to be a disappointing and uneventful deal for both sides. He failed to score a goal in 57 games while recording just 10 total assists. His contract was bought out by the Stars following the season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

On Monday, he signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche with the hopes that he can bounce back.

Nichushkin’s 2018-19 season was one of the most bizarre seasons in league history as he became the first player to ever play at least 50 games in a season while scoring zero goals and recording zero penalty minutes.

After a promising rookie season back in 2013-14, Nichushkin’s development offensively has completely stalled, resulting in just nine goals and 31 assists in 144 NHL games. He is a fine defensive forward but has not shown any ability to make much of an impact with the puck.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Stars place Nichushkin on waivers for buyout

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A person with direct knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press the Dallas Stars have placed former first-round draft pick Valeri Nichushkin on waivers to buy out the final year of his contract.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the Stars did not announce the move made Saturday, two days before the start of the NHL’s free agency period.

The 24-year-old Nichushkin is from Russia and was selected by Dallas with the 10th pick in the 2013 draft. The forward had no goals and 10 assists in 57 regular-season games last year and appeared in just one playoff game.

Overall, Nichushkin had 23 goals and 51 assists in 223 games with Dallas over four seasons. He was set to count $2.95 million against the Stars’ salary cap next season.

The Vancouver Canucks announced they placed center Ryan Spooner on waivers to buy out the final year of his two-year, $8 million contact. The seventh-year player had three goals and nine points in 52 games with the Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers last season.

PHT Morning Skate: Gretzky doesn’t ‘know if hockey has ever had a classier man’ than Arbour

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Wayne Gretzky knew the late Al Arbour’s Islanders well from their Stanley Cup Final meetings in 1983 and 1984 and Gretzky has nothing but good things to say about him. (Newsday)

Are you surprised by the lack of updates regarding the potential sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins? Maybe you shouldn’t be. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Here’s a detailed look at Valeri Nichushkin, who is one of the Stars’ bigger X-factors going into the 2015-16 campaign. (Dallas Morning News)

Vladimir Tarasenko’s eventful summer is coming to an end. Next he’ll join his teammates in the daunting task of living up to the high expectations thrust upon them after they’ve endured quick playoff exits in recent years. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Was Tuukka Rask’s workload an issue last season? (Puck Daddy)

Need a pick-me-up? Here are arguments in favor of each Western Conference team winning the Stanley Cup. (USA Today)

Nichushkin says surgically repaired hip is pain-free

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With all the big moves Dallas made this summer — Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Antti Niemi — it’s easy to forget that one of the club’s biggest acquisitions could come from in-house.

Valeri Nichushkin, who missed 74 games last year following hip surgery, is currently working out with teammates and giving positive reviews on his health:

Nichushkin, 20, lost nearly all of his sophomore campaign to the hip ailment, which he tried to play through at the beginning of the year, only to go under the knife in mid-November. That prevented him from following up on a rookie year in which 14 goals and 34 points and finished 12th in Calder voting; Nichushkin did return for a handful of games at the end of the regular season, and also represented Russia at the 2015 World Hockey championships.

Now at full health, the big-bodied Russian should slot into Dallas’ dynamic top-six forward group, one that projects to feature last year’s Art Ross winner Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky and Sharp.

Dallas Stars ’15-16 Outlook

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If there’s one safe bet with the Dallas Stars, it’s that they’ll be one of the most exciting teams in the NHL next season.

That being said, “entertaining” and “successful” don’t always go together in professional hockey.

More than a few times today, PHT’s discussed a few curveballs that might befuddle this team. Even so, this team stands to be electric and boasts one of the highest ceilings of any team in the NHL.

As risky as spending $10.4 million on good (but maybe not elite) goalies might be, there’s a perfectly reasonable possibility that Dallas will find the right formula to make it all work. That’s on head coach Lindy Ruff, as mentioned earlier on Saturday.

Let’s remember though that sports are, ostensibly, about entertainment; it would be a borderline travesty if the Dallas market doesn’t light up the box office for this time.

Just ponder their offensive attack for a minute.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn stand as one of the dynamic duos of the NHL. Jason Spezza has his flaws, yet he’s also often a brilliant playmaker. Patrick Sharp boasts a handsome two-way game and 2015-16 could be much kinder to Valeri Nichushkin and Ales Hemsky.

John Klingberg’s potential is almost as impressive as his braids were embarrassing.

We’ll have to wait and see if the Stars can justify all the hype with wins and a deep playoff run. Either way, they’re just about guaranteed to be appointment TV for anyone with even a remote interest in the sport.

That’s a victory in itself.