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Exactly What George McPhee Has Said About Nikita Gusev

Over the course of the last week, the Golden Knights signed William Karlsson, traded Erik Haula and Colin Miller, and participated sparingly in the opening of free agency. Following each of those four events, George McPhee took to the podium to meet with the media.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nikita Gusev, the one major piece missing to the Golden Knights puzzle, was a focus throughout each of the four meetings. He remains unsigned and rumors have begun swirling about the eventual outcome of his contract negotiations.

Most of the rumors have stemmed from what McPhee had to say about Gusev during those press conferences. So, instead of trying to read between the lines of every word, I’m simply going to present every word McPhee said, in chronological order, about trades, contracts, and Gusev.

Tuesday, June 25th (Karlsson extension)

Well, we are going to have to make a few moves. We’ve planned for that and we’re going through that exercise right now and when we’re done we’ll talk about it and explain it. -McPhee

The plan was to build the team as best we could, every once in a while you get tight on the cap in this business, we’re there now. We’ll manage it and we will hopefully be in a much better place going forward with lots of cap space if we ever need it. -McPhee

Thursday, June 27th (Haula trade)

Well, I mentioned the other day that we have to make a few moves, but the moves that we’re going to make when we make them are hockey moves. It has to be a good hockey trade for us. Lots of names have been discussed, other teams have called on lots of different players. -McPhee

Did having Gusev here allow you a little more flexibility to move a winger like Haula? -Media

Um, yeah, I guess so. And again we’ll see where things go in the next few days, but we made a move yesterday and there’s probably another one coming and we’ll talk about that when it happens. -McPhee

There is a lot of activity right now. It’s a busy time of the year and there are a lot of teams talking about lots of different things. I would expect that next week we will reveal a lot of signings of free agents and other trades.

Saturday, June 29th (Miller trade)

I don’t anticipate doing a whole lot more. We are in a pretty good place right now. We’ll see what’s out there.

How close are you guys with Nikita Gusev? -Media

I’m not sure yet. We just keep going back and forth and again you keep the dialogue going. We’ve made a couple of moves and there’s no real urgency to the Gusev situation. We’re going to try and strike a deal that makes sense and go from there. -McPhee

How much does signing (Gusev) possibly impact further moves down the road? -Media

Well it depends on what the signing is worth. I don’t typically talk much about signing and contracts so, it would be a real good time to duck the rest of that question. -McPhee

Monday, July 1st (Free agency)

Our contracts are basically done, we have a little work to do. -McPhee

We think (Gusev) is a really good player. We’d like to work something out here, but if that doesn’t work out we’ll look at options. But there’s definitely an interest in him. We’ve had people call us on him. We’ll see what develops. I can’t tell you what will happen, but we’ll work on it. He’s been very, very good on the international stage. He wants to play in the NHL. He worked hard to get over here, and we’re going to accommodate him one way or another, either here or with another club. -McPhee

I don’t think we really have any significant cap issues now, I think we addressed those last week. We did it well. So, no, again we are sort of just working around the edges now. We’ll be involved in everything and we’ll talk to people but I can’t imagine there will be any significant moves with us. -McPhee

Would Gusev be an option for that bottom-six opening? -Media

Well it would add another player and where they go from there is up to the coaching staff, but it would be a heck of a lineup. -McPhee

I don’t think teams typically like to wait that long they’d like to get their business done in the next week or two because things do dry up. There’s a lot of money spent in the first couple days and then things tighten up. There will be a lot of talk now for the next few days, clubs that didn’t get a free agent that want to fill a hole may be looking to do a trade. So I think there’s still a lot to be done around the league. We’ll stay involved to see what happens, but I think other clubs have a lot more things to do than we do. -McPhee

If you can figure out what’s going to happen from all of that, you are better than me.

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24 Comments

  1. Jason

    Gotta somehow move reaves. Even if we retain a bit of it. Get at least 2 million off the books. Completely useless at that number. Barely score or fights anymore. Send him to ottawa with a 5th round pick.

    • Carmine

      If Gusev is an RFA can his contract go to arbitration?

      • It’s unclear at the moment if he’s eligible. We should know soon though when the NHL releases the list of players that filed. Last year the list was released on July 5th.

        • Knightfan

          Trading Gusev to Colorado in a trade like this

          LW Nikita Gusev
          RHD N Holden
          (2)2020 2nd Rounder

          D Bowman Byram
          C Ales Newhook

          Who says no and what needs to be added to make trade realistic. It gives us another high end Center prospect and a elite RHD to replace the loss of Brännström

          • Nedryerson57

            Never happen. Two sure thing 1st rounders vs a very high end probably. Set your sights a little lower.

  2. Scott

    I trust in George and Kelly, that they will do the right thing with Gusev. I just feel that he is uber talented and WILL BE a star in the NHL. Hope they give him a chance first, to see what he can do for the Knights.

  3. Lyn Schrader

    My dream is that his manager will back off and have this kid say, publicly, these exact words:
    “I am a Misfit, and I want to prove myself on this field. I am willing to skate for one year, at one million dollars, with a minimum ice time. If my ice time is cut, then the price is amended. When I prove my worth, I expect a significant 2020 negotiation to occur.”

    Well, it would make him a team member and not a diva, for sure.

  4. Brian

    I wonder if Gusev would sign for $2,775,000 AAV ……. 😉

  5. Pierre Martin

    I see a trade coming up with Montreal. They missed out on Aho. So a Vegas forward going to Montreal and we get back picks. Montreal overpays this time.

    • vgk2019

      no, the Knights get back Suzuki and another pick.

      and if he is traded to Ottawa, the Vgk get Brannstrom back

  6. Josh

    Question: can Gusev “holdout” until the first game of the season, then VGK puts Clarkson on LTIR and frees up more space to sign him? Am I doing that right?

    • vgk2018

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Not ideal from a preparation standpoint but if keeps us from losing another player then would make some sense. I don’t get how GM keeps saying we no longer have a cap issue when on paper it sure appears we do (with Clarkson’s contract). Doesnt add up but he rarely, if ever, speaks the truth to the media so who knows…

      • Josh

        It just seems like the kind of move a smart GM makes…not the couch GMs on social media. It’s akin to a baseball GM holding back a top prospect for the beginning of the season so he can keep their rights an extra year. Gusev misses camp. The team LTIR’s Clarkson game 1. They sign Gusev for $12m/3yrs. Gusev debuts week 3 after 2 weeks practicing with the team. No additional players “lost.”

  7. A Fan

    If we need another $2M off the books, send Holden packing not Reaves. Gusev isn’t going to take a 1 yr, $1M deal. If I was him I wouldn’t either, someone will for sure pay him more than that. If he’s asking for more than a 2-3 yr deal at $3M/yr he will probably ended up gone. I sure hope we end up with him as I feel he will be an elite player in the NHL.

    • vgk2019

      Holden should have been the first guy gone this summer. He was a minus 3 in the first game of the playoffs, a bad loss. The coach then rightfully benched his ass for the remaining 6 games, so he has no confidence in him at all. and his contract is a cap killer at $2.2 M . The young guys from the Wolves are better than him, and he is “holden” back their development.

  8. Joe

    Try to move a 6th or 7th defenseman and an over-payed 4th liner that can’t play on the penalty kill and is a leader in the most useless stat in hockey, or move someone that specializes in the one thing that really matters?
    Welcome to Filip Forsberg Part 2.

  9. Kirk

    Look at the recent posts on the team twitter account. They are all mgmt. puff pieces trying to make the Knights front office look good. That is because they are getting a lot of blowback, and rightfully so, from fans and media about the mishandling of Gusev’s situation.

  10. Kirk

    Remember, Knights front office knew that they were far apart with Gusev on a contract when they traded Haula BEFORE locking up Gusev.

    That is really mismanagement, as they could have kept Haula and waived Holden if they could not sign Gusev.

  11. Josh

    Willing to bet there was no “mismanagement.” GM is too smart.
    I don’t think they wanted Haula last year either as he centered the Neal/Perron line that was terrible defensively in the inaugural season. We saw them both let go too. When they picked up Stats, there was no room for Haula as a center and they worked to convert him to a wing. Now, with Glass pretty much ready to come up, with Bellemare moving on, and with Eakin a great defensive center they can put on the 4th line, there was no room for Haula.
    I still think they get the Gusev deal done. That, or they will get a great windfall of assets in return to continue to build this team.
    The ONLY “mismanagement” you could attribute to GM was that Tatar wasn’t a fit on VGK. He was a good player before VGK and was great this past year after VGK. That is hard to peg on GM though.
    Other then that he has nailed scouting, crushed the expansion draft, nailed the NHL drafts, and locked in a core of young players. I have zero complaints. I have seen bad team management before…this is the opposite of that.

  12. Kirk

    Apparently you missed the Filip Forsberg trade too. Not to mention the Tatar debacle…..and the fact that McPhee is being moved out of the GM job for McCrimmon.

    Oh, and btw, Haula played LW and C in Minn as well

    • Josh

      Sorry…I missed the part about Forsberg having been a part of VGK. When did that happen? That’s ancient history and like criticizing a doctor for a class he failed as an undergrad. Also, I missed the part about GM not being the ultimate decision maker on hockey moves…because he still is. If you can’t see that the “moved out” is cosmetic to keep McCrimmon happy, get him a raise, and build his resume…then you really can’t see anything but what’s placed 6in in front of your face. I addressed the Tatar debacle, and last I checked Haula wasn’t very good in Minn too. He broke out during the inaugural season at center.

  13. Kirk

    The Forsberg trade mirrors the Tatar stupidity, that’s why.

    And tell McCrimmon that he is just a figurehead. I’m sure he will agree with that.– sarc

    If you value Holden more than Gusev, like a certain GM, then there is not much more to be said.

    • A Fan

      I highly doubt McPhee values Holden more than Gusev. He has time yet to do something with Holden. He can be put on waivers if need be, or in a worst case scenario if Gusev is traded, they could make someone take Holden also. I just see zero value in Holden when we have so many young D’s that could come up. If Gusev wants $4M and we offered him $2M, give him $2.8M-$3M for 2 years and if he ends up being the elite player most think he will be, give him his big contract in year 3.

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