Colorado Avalanche Lose Huge Piece Indefinitely to Player Assistance Program

The Colorado Avalanche have lost a critical part of their offense for an indefinite period, as 22-goal man Valeri Nichushkin has been placed in the NHL/NHLPA's Player Assistance Program.

Nichushkin was having a career year, tied for second on the Avs with his 22 goals, while his 13 power play goals are good for 2nd in the entire NHL. 

The 28-year-old Russian forward was at the center of an off-ice scandal just two games into last year's playoffs, when a severely intoxicated woman found in his Seattle hotel room had to be transported to hospital. Nichushkin then disappeared from the team for the balance of the playoffs for "personal reasons."

Nichushkin's $6.125M cap hit will continue to count against Colorado's cap, putting the Avs in a difficult spot as they look to replace him on the roster.

However, as noted by Cap Friendly, if the player is expected to miss 24 days and 10 games, the club can opt to put him on LTIR as a form of cap relief, if it is needed.

Regardless, replacing Nichushkin will certainly be difficult. He's fourth on the team in scoring with 42 points in 40 games, and his 22 goals is just three off his full-season career high.

As per the Player Assistance Program's rules, Nichushkin will not be able to return to the Avalanche until he's cleared by the program administrators.

 Photo: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports