Avalanche's Nichushkin in line for big raise after impressive playoffs

Cale Makar, Valeri Nichushkin each had two goals, Mikko Rantanen dished out three assists, and Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves as the Colorado Avalanche triumphed over the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0, and take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Colorado Avalanche are up 2-0 on the Lightning, and the previously-unsung Valeri Nichushkin has been a big reason why.

Nichushkin has had a coming-out party in these playoffs, making crucial plays and averaging 0.81 points per game playing on Colorado's top line.

In the 42 career playoff games he played before this year's run by the Avs, he averaged 0.21 ppg.

Nichushkin followed up a goal and an assist on Burakovsky's OT winner in Game 1 of the Final with the first goal of Game 2, which eventually counted as the game-winner thanks to a Darcy Kuemper shutout.

Nichushkin tacked on the fourth goal in the 7-0 blowout as well for a grand total of three goals and four points through the two contests.

As if that wasn't enough, the six-foot-four winger is on a bargain contract, earning a highly-palatable $2.5 million this year.

Unfortunately for the Avs, that's not going to last.

Nichushkin is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and when he and his agent are sitting across from GM Joe Sakic at the negotiating table, they probably aren't going to be humble about his playoff heroics.

Regardless, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman thinks they'll work it out. "The word here is Colorado has made him a priority," he said during the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast of Game 2. "He’s pricing himself even higher, but the word is they’ve indicated to him they would like to keep him and he’s a priority to keep.

"The one thing for everyone to remember is that Nichushkin had a tough time in Dallas, and he likes it here and he remembers that, which is what Colorado considers its advantage."

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