Avs’ Valeri Nichushkin (suspension) to miss rest of playoffs

Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin was put in Stage 3 of the Player Assistance Program of the NHL Players’ Association and NHL on Monday, leading to a suspension of at least six months that will force him to miss the rest of the playoffs.

After six months, Nichushkin will be eligible to apply for reinstatement. He will not be paid during his suspension.

The news of Nichushkin’s punishment came hours before Colorado took the ice for Game 4 of a Western Conference semifinal series against the Stars in Denver. Dallas holds a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Nichushkin was tied for the NHL lead in the current postseason with nine goals. He also had one assist through eight playoff games. He finished the regular season with 28 goals and 25 assists across 54 games.

Nichushkin, 29, spent 22 games in the player assistance program this season from mid-January through early March. In addition, he missed the Avalanche’s last five games of the 2022-23 postseason due to what was termed personal reasons.

The Russia native played for the Stars from 2013-14 to 2018-19 before signing as a free agent with Colorado in August 2019. In 512 career NHL regular-season games, Nichushkin has 116 goals and 158 assists with a plus-89 rating.