Now, let's make something clear. A contract is a contract. So, we can understand that Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin wanted to fulfill his contract with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League before making any comments that he wishes to return to the National Hockey League for the upcoming season.
However, he could have had a contract with the Dallas Stars in the first place... The issue in Dallas was reportedly the relationship between the 23-year-old winger and then head coach Lindy Ruff. While the Stars hired Ken Hitchcock last season to take over for Ruff, by then, Nichushkin had signed a two-year agreement with the Russian club in the summer of 2016 when he couldn’t come to terms with the Stars on a new deal. The Russian forward never had anything nice to say about Ruff through his three seasons with the Stars, which made for quite a messy exile in the end...
It sure made it seemed like Nichushkin wasn't getting what he wanted, following his three-year entry-level contract and got loads of criticism from around the League for his decision to head back home.
"I talked to Val, he had a commitment and he knew that going in," general manager Jim Nill told the Stars website last summer. "He talked to the team, and he knew he had to go back one more year."
Now, there is great developments in Dallas. At the beginning of the month, Jim Montgomery was introduced as the new head coach by the Stars, becoming the second head coach in three years to go directly from the college ranks to the NHL.
It sure got Nichushkin's agent talking about what is next for his client, in an interview with Sean Shapiro of The Athletic.
“Val very much wants to come back,” Nichushkin’s agent Mark Gandler told The Athletic. “Dallas wants him back and we are just very hopeful we’ll be able to take care of this very soon.”
"“He is not the same guy who left Dallas. He’s an experienced guy who understands situational play, understands systems. (He) is not just a guy who takes the puck and goes with it. He is a playmaker, he makes plays at every square foot of the ice. You could see his experience shows."
This could be good news for the Stars and Nill, who might be willing to give him a second chance in the end. However, there is also another potential bump in the road, as Nichushkin was one of five Russian hockey players not cleared to play for the “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” who won a gold medal but had to play under a neutral flag.
His agent did not shed light on the issue...
“How he got on that list? I have no idea. Nobody knows,” Gandler said.
Let's see if Nichushkin gets his chance back with the NHL and the Stars.