Nikita Gusev’s contract resolution is the great mystery of the 2019 offseason. Reportedly, both sides would like a two-year deal with Gusev looking for $4 million per year and the Golden Knights wanting $2 million.
He’s arguably the best hockey player in the world to have never stepped foot on NHL ice. He might be Vadim Shipachyov. He might be Nikita Kucherov. He’s probably somewhere in between.
His situation is unique though as he’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. However, his ability (willingness) to return to the KHL leaves the Golden Knights in danger of walking away with nothing if a deal is not reached.
The eventual outcome of the negotiation will likely determine where Gusev ends up playing next season. If it’s closer to $2 million, he’s probably a Golden Knight, but if it’s pushing $4 million, he might end up being sent away via trade.
Since June 1st, 18 players have signed NHL contracts between $2-4 million AAV. They range from ages 22 to 35 including RFAs, RFAs with arbitration rights, and UFAs.
|Alex Chiasson||$2.15 M||22||38||16:58||4.0|
|Mattias Janmark||$2.3 M||6||25||15:13||1.3|
|Artturi Lehkonen||$2.4 M||11||31||15:33||2.3|
|Alex Iafallo||$2.425 M||15||33||16:50||2.3|
|Joel Armia||$2.6 M||13||23||15:48||2.0|
|Colin Wilson||$2.6 M||12||27||13:34||2.2|
|Carl Hagelin||$2.75 M||5||19||14:44||1.2|
|Richard Panik||$2.75 M||14||33||16:37||3.2|
|Danton Heinen||$2.8 M||11||34||13:58||3.3|
|Valtteri Filppula||$3.0 M||17||31||14:16||3.9|
|Kasperi Kapanen||$3.2 M||20||44||16:35||4.4|
|Ryan Dzingel||$3.375 M||26||56||16:49||5.7|
|Andreas Johnsson||$3.4 M||20||43||13:40||4.9|
|Micheal Ferland||$3.5 M||17||40||14:06||4.7|
|Alexander Kerfoot||$3.5 M||15||42||14:53||3.4|
|Brett Connolly||$3.5 M||22||46||13:20||5.2|
|Brandon Tanev||$3.5 M||14||29||14:07||2.7|
|Joonas Donskoi||$3.9 M||14||37||13:25||3.4|
Again, Gusev’s is unique, so the numbers don’t necessarily translate to his negotiation, but you can get a sense of what type of player you are getting between $2-4 million. By average, that’s 15 goals, 35 points, and 3.3 point shares for a player making $2.98 million.
Gusev could be better than that, but his inexperience at the NHL level, and on North American sized ice plays in the Golden Knights’ favor.
Understanding the type of player that falls into the range makes it even more imperative that George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon find a way to keep him though. On the high side, he needs to outperform Joonas Donskoi, who was a healthy scratch for the majority of the Sharks/Golden Knights series in the 1st round. In reality, to put up the numbers necessary to earn his contract he just needs to be adequate.
$4 million sounds like a lot, even $3 million can seem extreme for a guy with no track record, but bargain players help win Stanley Cups. If his game translates at all, he’ll blow these numbers out of the water, and he’ll be a steal. But even if they don’t, we’re talking about creating cap space by moving fairly insignificant pieces.
In a city that thrives on value bets, Gusev appears to be a can’t miss.
Based on this, I don’t think his trade value is as high as some suggest.
Exactly why trading him would be foolish.
The salary cap is what it is. I want him, but to lose him and not get something would be foolish, McPhee knows this. We shall see !!
Eakin is the 3rd or 4th best 200 foot player on the team and they should not trade him. Reaves and Holden add very little to the team so trade them to clear up the cap space.
I think Dzingel signing at 3.3 aav for two in Carolina, helps out cause. Dzingel is relatively proven, had a career year, and is a center. If we can get Gusev to meet in the middle at 3 aav, I think it’ll get done.
Trade Eakin and sign him to a 2yr/6.9MM deal… Trading Eakin gives the Knights the space for Gusev and allows a tiny bit more room after the Clarkson contract is off the books.
Really? Hope you’re talking about 6.9 over two years. The guy has yet to play an NHL game
Just don’t know why the gap of the $2 mill can’t just be incentive laden. Hell, give him a potential of more than he is asking by making it a $3 million dollar incentive laden option on top of the $2 million offer for that matter. A thing to keep in mind is that although he may very well be, “The Best in the World” (Gag me with a fork), he has not proven his worth on an NHL level by any means. In the end it’s a gamble. The knights would be stupid to cave in to the demands of another possible over rated player at the next level. Not to mention the uneducated fan base will be all over the Knights either way.
Dam’ed if you do and Dam’ed if you don’t, I suppose.
NHL contracts can’t contain performance incentives other than ELC and 35+ contracts. Even then, the bonuses are counted against the cap as if the player achieved all of the benchmarks.
Hi Chris…. While I value your thoughts in giving me a different perspective about handling Gusev’s contract, I do NOT agree with the comment about “uneducated fan base”.. I would supplement the word “uneducated” to committed, loyal, or the phrase “early in the learning process”. As an educated fan seeking credible sources of information, I read, listen, and have conversations with educated people to gain knowledge. With that being said, coffee and a conversation? Please share your superior knowledge with me! When we leave, I’m confident you won’t use the term “uneducated”. My comments come with all due respect and serious about coffee.
Sounds like Chris isn’t as educated as “he thinks” he is. Throwing out incentives as if he can solve everything. I guess he falls into the “uneducated “ fan base. Hopefully he buys you coffee.
They had to know what he wanted when they brought him over so the whole thing makes zero sense if he’s not on team
Good thing we spent such a princely sum on Shea Theodore.
Shea’s contract is going to look like a pretty good value in a few years imo.