It has been a rough season when it comes to injuries for the Avalanche to the point where they have been without five of their top six forwards recently. However, they will welcome a key part of their attack back tonight as winger Valeri Nichushkin has been activated off injured reserve. He had missed the last month after undergoing ankle surgery.
The 27-year-old had a breakout year for Colorado last season, setting new career highs across the board offensively and becoming a legitimate impact power forward. The Avs rewarded him with a max-term extension to make sure he didn’t hit the open market as he inked an eight-year, $49MM pact two days before free agency opened up.
With Nichushkin only having that one breakout year, the move appeared to carry some risk but he got off to a blistering start this season before the injury as he had seven goals and five assists in his first seven contests while playing on the top line in Gabriel Landeskog’s absence. With Colorado still dealing with a long list of injuries, he’ll almost certainly be in a similar role right away.
Speaking of that injury list, the Avs are still without defensemen Josh Manson, Bowen Byram, and Kurtis MacDermid while Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Artturi Lehkonen highlight the list of six forwards that are still injured. Of those, Lehkonen is the closest to returning as he’s listed as day-to-day.