One of the many assets the Golden Knights acquired during the Expansion Draft was 25-year-old Russian prospect Nikita Gusev. Gusev was drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His rights were traded to Vegas with a 2nd and a 4th round pick in exchange for selecting Jason Garrison (and his contract) instead of players like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Cedric Paquette, or J.T. Brown.
Since then he was named to the Olympic All-Star team, scored two goals in the Olympic Gold medal game, won the Olympic Gold medal, led the KHL in assists, was named a KHL All-Star, won the KHL’s Gentleman’s Award, and was named the KHL MVP.
We like him a lot. We’d like to have him over here as soon as we can get him over here. He’s a talented guy and we’ll do what we can to get him here. -George McPhee
The rules are always a bit fuzzy when it comes to Russian players, but the common belief is that the Golden Knights own Gusev’s rights until he decides to come to the NHL.
He’s got another year on his deal, so we’ll see what we can do. We’ve talked to him and we’ll continue to talk to him. -McPhee
There is not a transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL like there are in other European leagues, but there is a common understanding the leagues will not tamper with each others contracts. Gusev signed a two year extension in July 2017 with SKA St. Petersburg so he isn’t eligibile to come to the NHL until next offseason. However, there are no official rules to prohibit him coming sooner if he has a sudden change of heart.
The Golden Knights did acquire two draft picks in the Expansion Draft from Tampa Bay, but the Lightning were in a tough spot much like Anaheim, Minnesota, and Columbus. Having seen what McPhee was able to harvest from those teams, it’s probable that Gusev was the key piece in that deal. Thus, McPhee expects Gusev to come to the U.S. at some point, and he should be a major offensive contributor.
So while it doesn’t look like Gusev will be wearing steel grey and gold next year, hopes should remain high he’s playing at T-Mobile Arena at some point.