It’s no secret that the Stars have been talking with Joe Pavelski this summer after the Mats Zuccarello extension talks went a bit awry. The Stars are looking for top-six help, and while they have some space in the cap to find it, it’s becoming clear that Jim Nill wants plenty of room to work this offseason.
However, much like a responsible wardrobe, the Stars know you can’t add without first making room, and that means the bottom-six will be seeing some turnover. After Tyler Pitlick’s trade to (presumably) clear a million in cap room, Valeri Nichushkin is set to become the latest former Star as of Saturday morning:
Dallas Stars placing Valeri Nichushkin on waivers for the purpose of buying out the one year remaining on his contract. #NHL #buyout— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) June 29, 2019
Nichushkin was No. 8 on @TheAthleticNHL's buyout rankings. He's attractive because his age means he gets bought-out for 1/3 instead of 2/3.— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) June 29, 2019
He'll be a nice bet for someone at a lower cap number. https://t.co/qRj7RKtfBD
How much space will this clear for Dallas? Well, a healthy bit, at least this season: $2.25 million.
This move, plus not qualifying Brett Ritchie and trading Tyler Pitlick helps clear out the Stars bottom-six group and cap space to chase a top-six forward.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) June 29, 2019
Given Nichushkin’s goal-less season and healthy scratches for most of the playoffs, it’s hard to be surprised by this move, even if it does fly in the face of Jim Nill’s prior aversion to losing assets for nothing (which, it must be said, has faded lately after losing players like Nemeth, Elie and Smith on waivers in the last couple years).
With the impending Julius Honka trade, this is a pretty stark moment in the Jim Nill era: his very first draft pick has been lost for nothing, and his second draft’s top pick is probably not going to garner that much more. It’s a bit of biting the bullet for Dallas, but the consolation here is that teams usually don’t make these kind of drastic moves to clear cap space without pretty good designs on how they’ll be using it. Free agency starts on July 1st, in case you haven’t heard.
For the other 30 teams in the league: If you’re hoping to get Nichushkin on a cheap, one-year deal now? Well, this is what you’ll be looking at:
Val Nichushkin, being bought out, is where offence /really/ goes to die, but for both teams. pic.twitter.com/wcr7zwPOZb— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) June 29, 2019
One final note: Nichushkin was one of the longest-tenured Stars left on the team, debuting in Dallas the same year as Tyler Seguin in 2013 (at 18 years old!) and holding his own. It’s a bittersweet day to be moving on from the big Russian, who (prior to Jamie Oleksiak’s return) was the third-longest tenured Dallas Star (in terms of his first NHL game with the club) behind only Jamie Benn.
All the best to Nichushkin in the next phase of his career. If nothing else, we’ll always have this video: