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NHL free agent rumors: Former top pick Valeri Nichushkin expected to return to Stars

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2018-06-22 Alec Gearty

Valeri Nichushkin's return to the NHL appears to be imminent.

Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill confirmed on Thursday that the team plans to sign Nischuskin once the free agency period opens July 1. Nischuskin, 23, was selected 10th overall by the Stars in 2013. After three years with the club, Nichushkin, a restricted free agent, bolted to Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in 2016.

Nichushkin spent the following two seasons with CSKA Moscow, but the Stars never relinquished the rights to the Chelyabinsk, Russia, native. As CSKA Moscow fell in the Gagarin Cup finals, Nischuskin revealed his strong intention to return to the Stars.

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"Val very much wants to come back," Nichuskin's agent, Mark Gandler, told The Athletic in June. "Dallas wants him back and we are just very hopeful we'll be able to take care of this very soon."

The time spent in Russia provided Nischuskin with a chance to grow. Nichushkin finished his second stint in the KHL with 51 points in 86 games, as he regained the elusive scoring touch he once had in Dallas. Nill is looking forward to seeing Nischuskin return to his old form.

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"He's still a young man," Nill said. "We think we're getting a better player and a better person."

The addition of Nischuskin will be the latest move in the active offseason for the Stars. Dallas finished the regular season with 92 points, but wasn't able to earn a spot in the playoffs. Head coach Ken Hitchcock retired and University of Denver's Jim Montgomery was tabbed as Hitchcock's successor.

The looming question regarding Nichushkin's status will soon be resolved come July 1.

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