Former Vegas Golden Knights forward Nikita Gusev was a restricted free agent, but he could not be signed to an offer sheet and was not eligible for arbitration. That left him in a tricky spot if he couldn’t reach an agreement with the Golden Knights on a new contract, and recently his Russian agent explained that there would be a deadline for him to consider a return to the KHL. That won’t be necessary, as instead the New Jersey Devils have acquired the forward in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick. The Devils immediately signed Gusev to a two-year, $9MM contract. PuckPedia reports that the deal will break down as follows:
- 2019-20: $700K salary + $4.3MM signing bonus
- 2020-21: $4.0MM salary + modified no-trade clause
The 27-year old Gusev was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning back in 2012, but has played his entire career in the KHL to this point. He signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Golden Knights earlier this year, but didn’t get into a game with the team down the stretch. His contract was still burned, leading to a difficult situation for Vegas. The team is in cap trouble this offseason and already had to trade away the likes of Erik Haula, Colin Miller and David Clarkson to get under the ceiling, making it tough to sign Gusev to a deal even approaching the $4.5MM average annual value he got from the Devils.
In New Jersey though, the Devils are be more than able to take a chance on a player that has shown an incredible offensive ceiling in the KHL. Gusev has routinely been among the league leaders in Russia, including a record breaking 82-point performance in 62 games last year. There’s no certainty to his game translating to the NHL, but the Devils have plenty of cap space and have built a nice core through the draft and trade market. Already this summer they have added first overall pick Jack Hughes, Norris-winning defenseman P.K. Subban and former powerplay specialist Wayne Simmonds to go along with names like Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. Bringing Gusev in gives them another weapon to ice against the tough Metropolitan Division as they try to make it back to the playoffs.
For Vegas, recouping some draft picks is at least a way of keeping their franchise at a high level moving forward. The team has spent a ton of prospect capital to acquire players like Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty through trade, leaving their cupboard a little more empty than George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon probably want. The team is already a Stanley Cup contender without Gusev on the roster, making this a little draft bonus to what they had built.
Still, losing out on a chance to add him to the lineup may turn out to be a mistake down the line. If Gusev is able to bring the same level of offense to the NHL he may immediately become one of the most productive players in the league, something the Golden Knights (or anyone) could obviously use. The Devils though will only have a short time to find out, as Gusev will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this two-year deal.
Jesse Granger of The Athletic reported earlier that Vegas gave Gusev permission to work out a deal with New Jersey.
Devils out here making moves
As a Pens fan, I hope Schneider is a sieve again next year or else NJ could be trouble.
Devils building an nhl super team?
Blackwood will be the starter.
Knew the Devil’s would sign him , with the money they had space to spend against Salary Cap, since most teams are over or right at cap , thing Schneider /Blackwood will be 50-50 unless one struggles or gets hot with players as you said a creating a tough team to beat in Metropolitan Division, so Rangers need to get of their fat butts and make some moves , Pittsburgh and Columbus will fall in standings Washington , Islanders, Devils , and Rangers top 4 in division. I see Devils will go after defenseman before camps open , or make some moves to get one they have a deep team up front.
Huge move for NJ. Lots of question marks in 2019. Can Hughes compete at his current size? Does Hischier take the next step? Does Gusev translate immediately to the NHL as a point per game type of threat?
But one question that should be answered is, does Taylor Hall want to stay in New Jersey. The Devils have officially now in my eyes accomplished everything he could ask and more. Is it enough for him to sign on the dotted line? Some nice extensions going out for players lately.
If the Devils get another defenseman to provide some depth on the blue line, I think they have to be the team to beat in the Metro as it stands. Its hard to find flaws if Schneider / Blackwood can represent anything around a top 10-15 goaltender.
Schneider sure looked like he was washed up last year.
Blackwood showed potential, but if he’s your top dog, your likely still looking for an upgrade.
Hall is coming off a serious injury.
Hughes is a rookie. Let’s see what he can do against NHL competition.
Gusev hasn’t touched the NHL ice yet. (And got paid too much).
Hischier has yet to live up to his draft status.
Subban is an overrated goon.
Maybe we ought to pump the brakes a bit on this ‘superteam’ or ‘team to beat’ talk.
It would be a nice story to see them come out and set the world on fire, but the amount of question marks here means they are just as likely to be picking #1 again as they are to even qualify for postseason play.
That being said, there’s no question that they made some decisions and did their best to improve their group and take advantage of the situation they found themselves in. Kudos.
Schneider rounded into form the 2nd half of the year.
February: .935 sv% and 2.11 GAA in 8 games including a SO
March .913 sv% and 2.72 GAA in 8 games
He faced over 30 shots a game with a defense that left him stranded quite often.
Blackwood finished the whole season with a .918 2.61 and 2 shutouts in 21 starts and 23 games.
There’s little reason they can’t be expected to be a solid tandem.
Vegas has upgraded their odds putting them 3rd in the division behind Washington and Pittsburgh. When the oddsmakers are buyers, I’m a buyer as well. It will be hard for them to be a bottom team qualifying for a top draft pick. Its also going to be a challenge to live up to now sky-high expectations.
subban goon? have heard him called many things first time heard him called a goon.
I expect the Caps and Pens to fight for the division like always. The next tier will be determined entirely by their goaltending.
Carolina is the best of the bunch, followed by a tie between NJ and NYR. Phi a bit behind. But, if Mrazek falters and Carter Hart is great, that could flip. If the NYR goalies hold up, I like their roster more than NJ (take a look at their non-PK D men, they are not good).
The Isles could make some noise, but I don’t see it. Varlamov is junk. Columbus will be bad.
Agree Subban a goon , no way , he is a physical specimen , who uses the body to set up the offense for himself and his teammates, he is well versed defensively as he is offensively. and with Simmonds and Wood , they will be hard to play against in all facets of the game. something Devils have been lacking since the days with Daneyko.
Devils still need some help on the blue line. Gardiner would be a great way to round out the off-season but would also push the Devils closer to the cap making it harder to make deadline adjustments. I suspect they are mostly done this off-season and will see what they have in net as well as what happens with Butcher & Smith.
Carolina made some good moves as well and Vegas has them in a dead tie with the Devils for 3rd in the cup odds among Metro teams. But I have a hard time believing Mzarek & Reimer present them with much better options then Schneider / Blackwood.
Schneider was better in the 2nd half coming off major hip injuries then Mzarek was all season. Reimer barely snuck by with a .900 in his 36 appearances. I don’t think that represents much better options then the Devils.
I’m not saying I think Carolina will be bad, but these are both teams with huge questions marks.
I’m not personally a believer in the Rangers. I think the overpay for Panarin is going to hurt them long-term. You see similar players looking at 9.5-10M extensions and as always, you overpay in free agency. I think the rest of the core is young, inexperienced and mostly unproven. Trouba is a big add and Georgiev represents a true quality #1 goalie in my opinion. I’m not sure Hank makes it to the All-Star game. But that offense and rest of the blue line is a major concern which is why Vegas still has them at +3000 while NJ and Carolina are +2000. That’s a major odds difference.
IMO people that believe in the Rangers are getting great cup odds. I’ve considered putting a few bucks on ’em just in case I’m wrong. But I think its going to be a 4 team race this year with Washington, Pitt, Carolina and NJ in no particular order.
Its a lot closer then people are imagining and Gusev hitting a KHL-like stride in the NHL will move that line quickly if it happens. Vegas is always tentative towards unproven talent in NHL odds.
McPhee strikes again!!!
Devils are gonna be good this year
Nice move from the Devils, but not surprising as a number of teams were vying for him. Everybody looking for the next Panarin. A lot of money, but not much term in case he’s the next Nail Yakupov.
The comments about the CBJ and their chances in the metro are pretty funny. Not surprising, but pretty funny. Of course the national media (same one’s who predicted TB would sweep Jackets in playoffs)–you know them, the Brian Burke’s, the former Puck Daddy, they have been going on about this narrative and everybody is drinking the Kool–Aid. Mark my words, the CBJ will be very competitive this year even in a much improved Metro.
If you believe the experts, the CBJ has lost their entire team. If you take out playoff rentals and players they made no attempt to re sign, they lost two players. Were they integral parts of the CBJ–absolutely, but they were not the only reason CBJ made the playoffs in last 3 seasons (the first which didn’t include on of the players). The strength of the team is actually their defense which lost no players. None. Zero. Their offense did lose their top point scorer, but their top goal scorer (41) is still on the team as is their complete forward team. In fact the CBJ had 5 of the Top 80 scorers in the league last year and none were named Panarin. This is not counting that they have added Nyquist to already replace Panarin. I’m not suggesting Nyquist is as good as Panarin, but a 60 point scorer is not much of a dropoff from an 80 point scorer. The CBJ also boasts quite a few high level prospects–3 of which might play this year. While the NY media can’t stop talking about Kaako and Hughes–remember the names Bemstrom, Foudy and Texier.
Lastly, we come to the goaltending. Anybody who followed CBJ will tell you Bob while pretty amazing in the playoffs had only a so so year last year. The CBJ does boast 3 top prospects and the likely starter Korpisalo and as someone once said you can only play one guy in net. Outside of a few elite prospects such as Bemstrom, Texier and Foudy, the Jackets 3 top prospects are all in net. If memory serves, the Blues won the Cup with a rookid.
Time will tell of course, but I look forward to the CBJ proving everybody wrong (and maybe Panarin burning out under the bright lights of the big city!). But of course talk is cheap and will have to be done on the ice.