NHL Rumors: 3 Teams Linked to Pending Free Agent Valeri Nichushkin

The Colorado Avalanche are facing some tough decisions this summer after winning the Stanley Cup. General manager Joe Sakic is in tough to bring everyone back as winning championships in a cap era is a tall task. Sakic's early attention this offseason is likely heading for his crease, meanwhile there's a couple of Avs forwards who are also in need of contracts. One in particular, Valeri Nichushkin is one to watch as the winger is expected to receive serious interest from a number of teams, including:

Washington Capitals

A Russian-born player in Washington, who knew? The Caps are looking to upgrade their top six and while they'd likely prefer a center to sign early on in July, if they can add Nichushkin to their mix, expect to see a deal completed. The 6-foot-4 winger plays a heavy game and would give them another towering winger to go along with Anthony Mantha. Nichushkin showed a ton of character in the postseason and had himself a breakout season at the most opportune time. The 27-year-old recorded a career high 25 goals in 62 regular season games and another 15 points in the postseason. Look for Washington to be in contact as soon as the market opens.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are looking to be aggressive this offseason and are ready to use some of their $25 million in cap space on some help to their wings. Nichushkin would be a nice add for the Devils who could use some size and some scoring touch for their top six to go along with a couple of young centers the team plans on building around. We'll have to see how the Jesper Bratt negotiations go, and if Miles Wood gets dealt, but at the end of the day, the Devils would be a better hockey club if they added Nichushkin to their mix. 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Once the Maple Leafs land a starting goaltender, look for them to try and land a left winger for their second line. Word is they aren't thrilled to start Alex Kerfoot there and would prefer someone who plays a heavier game and isn't afraid to mix it up in the dirty areas, much like Michael Bunting does for the team on their first line. Playing alongside John Tavares and William Nylander is an easy sell, but the Leafs will be in tough with limited cap space. There's also a chance they move Petr Mrazek, Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl before the July 13 free agency period opens, so if they end up with more resources, look for Toronto to make a serious run here.

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