Russian hockey club CSKA Moscow said it will sign Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin.
CSKA said in a statement it has reached an agreement with the 21-year-old Russian and that a two-year contract will be signed “in the near future.”
Nichushkin, who was the Stars’ top pick in the 2013 draft and 10th overall, has 23 goals and 41 assists in 166 NHL games for Dallas over three seasons. His name did not appear on the Stars’ training camp roster released on Tuesday.
CSKA has finished at the top of the regular-season standings in the Kontinental Hockey League for the last two seasons and lost in the Gagarin Cup finals last season.
The Stars will retain Nichushkin’s NHL rights until he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at 27 or he is traded. Nichushkin would not be able to return to the NHL for at least two seasons, unless the KHL contract has a specific out clause like the one he had when he was drafted.
“The good news is he’s 21 years of age, he’s going to play over there and keep developing,” Stars general manager Jim Nill told Sean Shapiro from the Traverse City (Mich.) prospect tournament. “I just hope we get a more mature player when he decides to come back over. It’s not the end of the world.”
Russian reporter Igor Eronko said via Twitter, “Per source Nichushkin doesn’t want to play for Lindy Ruff. Although he wants to return to #Stars someday. Ruff’s contract is for 2 more years.”