Nichushkin stays put with Avs; Malkin set to leave Pens


Colorado Avalanche right-winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel, right front, cuts the hair of an unidentified fan along the fence line during a rally outside the City/County Building for hockey champions of the NHL, after a parade on Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Forward Valeri Nichushkin remains with the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche, while Evgeni Malkin’s tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins could end after 16 seasons.

Malkin decided to become a free agent rather than re-sign with the Penguins before free agency began, a person with knowledge of the move told The Associated Press on Monday. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither Malkin nor the Penguins have released the information publicly, which comes two days before the opening of the NHL’s free agency period.

Malkin’s decision potentially heralds the end of an era in Pittsburgh, where the future 36-year-old teamed with Sidney Crosby to win the Stanley Cup three times. Malkin has topped 20 on 13 occasions and immediately becomes one of the hottest players expected to hit the market on Wednesday.

Malkin’s move comes as the Penguins attempt to balance their payroll and after re-signing defenseman Kris Letang to a six-year, $36.6 million deal last week. Malkin had just completed an eight-year, $76 million contract.

Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said last week that he was not as close to a deal with Malkin as he was with Letang.

Pittsburgh agreed Monday night to a six-year, $30 million deal with winger Rickard Rakell, which the team acquired at the trade deadline from Anaheim.

“Rickard has proven to be a great addition to our team this season,” Hextall said. “He brings versatility and attack to our roster, and we know he will be an impactful player for us going forward.”

Nichushkin, meanwhile, is going nowhere after signing an eight-year, $49 million contract with Colorado. He has spent the past three years with Colorado and is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 25 goals and 52 points in 62 regular-season games before adding nine and six in the playoffs. playoffs.

Nichushkin’s signing and Malkin’s impending departure overshadowed several other roster-related developments on Monday, with teams having until the afternoon to determine whether to issue qualifying offers and keep their free agent rights. restricted.

One of those decisions involved the Avalanche, with forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel going from celebrating with the Stanley Cup on Saturday to not receiving a qualifying offer from Colorado.

Aube-Kubel, 26, has four seasons of NHL experience and was picked up by Colorado after being waived by the Philadelphia Flyers in November. He had 11 goals and 22 points in 67 regular season games with the Avalanche, and no points in 14 playoff games.

The Chicago Blackhawks’ talent purge continued with the rebuilding squad set to part ways with four other regulars.

The Blackhawks first placed veteran forward Brett Connolly and center Henrik Borgstrom on waivers with the intention of buying out the rest of their contracts. The team also opted not to extend qualifying offers to center Dylan Strome and forward Dominik Kubalik in moves that followed the trade of Chicago forward Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa and center Kirby Dach to Montreal last week.

The Washington Capitals’ attempt to replenish their goaltending ranks resumed with Ilya Samsonov set to become a free agent after not receiving a qualifying offer days after trading Vitek Vanecek to New Jersey.

General manager Brian MacLellan said the team entered the offseason determined to redo its goaltender and also made offers on Samsonov.

Pay played a role in the decision, with Samsonov eligible for arbitration. By projecting Samsonov to play a backup role, the Capitals feared he would get a more suitable contract for a starter.

Washington was already looking for a veteran goaltender and now may need two.

“We’re open to all avenues,” MacLellan said Friday during the draft. “The goalkeeper market is changing as we go here day by day. You try to stick to things that appeal to you and might work for you. We have free agency on Wednesday, so we’ll be involved in all goaltending discussions. »

Somewhere else:

–The Edmonton Oilers granted Evander Kane permission to speak with other teams before he was eligible to become a free agent. In a text message to The Associated Press, Kane’s agent, Daniel Milstein, wrote that he was entering into talks with other teams while continuing talks with the Oilers.

Kane signed with Edmonton in January after the San Jose Sharks terminated the remainder of his seven-year, $49 million contract for violating COVID-19 protocols while in the American Hockey League. Kane challenged the Sharks’ decision by filing a grievance with the NHL Players Association.

— The Columbus Blue Jackets have refused to make offers to defenseman Gabriel Carlsson and center Kevin Stenlund. Carlsson has just two goals and 16 points in 75 games over six seasons. Stenlund has 11 goals and 20 points in 71 games over four seasons. The Blue Jackets extended qualifying offers to four players, including star forward Patrik Laine (26 goals, 36 assists last season).


AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy contributed to this report.


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