Nichushkin returns to Avalanche after Player Assistance Program


Valeri Nichushkin has returned to the Colorado Avalanche from the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance program. After being in the program for 40 days for an unknown reason, Nichushkin returned to practice. He will provide a much needed boat to the struggling Avalanche offense once he returns to game action. The Russian was on a bit of a fiery streak before leaving the team, scoring ten points in ten games.

Game Action

It is not clear when the forward will return to game action, but Samuel Girard may give us an idea. Head coach Jared Bednar treated Girard as if he was returning from an injury. On December 22nd, Girard was given the green light to rejoin the team, and he made his first appearance in a game just nine days after. If the same holds true for Nichushkin, we could see a return against Chicago or Detroit next week.


The Avalanche have been struggling without the power forward in the lineup. With Nichushkin in the lineup, the Avalanche are 26–11–3, without him they are just 9–8–2. Nichushkin brings something that many players on the team cannot, a two-way game. He will pressure the opposing team on defense to steal the puck. He will then drive to the net like an unstoppable train on its tracks, earning the nickname “Choo Choo” from fans. The power play even has seen a difference as well. Ranked eighth before Nichushkin’s departure, it now ranks 19th since.


With the injection of offense and defense that Nichushkin will provide, Colorado may not have to shop nearly as much next week at the deadline. His 42 points in 40 games were helping the Avalanche cruise to easy victories, or giving them the confidence to do it. If he can have the same boost in play that Girard had after his return, the man will be someone to fear on ice. This will for sure give the Avalanche some confidence by moving forward down the stretch.

Leave a Reply