While it wasn’t expected that Nikita Gusev would come over to the NHL this season, any lasting hope has been extinguished. Gusev has signed a two-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg to remain in the KHL for now. Gusev was one of the assets the Vegas Golden Knights acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the expansion draft, and some thought former teammate Vadim Shipachyov may be able to convince him to come to North America a bit sooner.
Drafted in the seventh-round by the Lighting back in 2012, Gusev was always a lottery ticket that was unlikely to pay off. His ability is clear—the 25-year old scored 94 points in 75 games for SKA this year, between regular season and the playoffs—but he’s never expressed much desire to come to North America. After winning a Gagarin Cup alongside Shipachyov and other stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk last season, Gusev is primed to become one of the very top players in the entire KHL, and probably very handsomely rewarded for it.
Because of the lack of a real player transfer agreement between the two leagues, Gusev will remain linked to the Golden Knights for the time being. Should they decide to sign him after his current contract ends, he will not be subject to the entry-level contract system*.
*This article originally wrote that his rights would expire at the normal UFA age (27), though Corey Pronman of ESPN provided details otherwise.