As of this moment, Nikita Gusev is a restricted free agent under Golden Knights control. He’s also currently shredding the IIHF World Championships with his linemate, and best friend (more on that later), Nikita Kucherov.
From his next contract, to how he liked Vegas, to his connection to Vadim Shipachyov, the list of questions surrounding the newest Golden Knight are endless. Luckily, a pair of Russian reporters had an extended sit down with Gusev where they pretty much ran the gamut.
(The article was written by Igor Eronko and Alexey Shevchenko for Sports-Express.ru. It can be found in its entirety here. We have used all of our resources to translate it as accurately as possible, but be aware that nuance is often lost in translation.)
ES.ru: You have burnt a year of your contract, do you already have any offers from Vegas for next season?
Gusev: I’m waiting and expecting an offer from them. I liked it there: good guys, good team. And the city. I don’t know who would not like it, the city is really good. And the atmosphere at the stadium, I think, is one of the best, as everyone says.
ES.ru: Vadim Shipachyov did not like the smoky hotels, casinos, and lobbies.
Gusev: In fact, there are many places like this. But if you play in Vegas, you’ll be renting a house or an apartment instead of living in the casinos. Yes, sometimes you have to pass by, but I don’t think very often. I didn’t sit where it was smoky.
ES.ru: Vadim never gambled in the casino, did you?
Gusev: Yes, I played one time.
ES.ru: Did you win?
Gusev: No, I do not like roulette.
Gusev: Yes. I will not say that I played for big money though. I went there with roughly 100 dollars with me. I won a bit and enjoyed it but I never planned to continue.
ES.ru: A lot of people were concerned when head coach Gerard Gallant said, “I don’t know any Gusev. Let him come, but nobody guarantees him anything.” Didn’t that bother you?
Gusev: No, of course not. I went there and knew what was waiting for me. That’s why I didn’t see any problems. I understood. I was going to the NHL and had to prove my place on the ice. It so happened that I did not play. So, next season.
ES.ru: Did you talk to Gallant himself?
Gusev: No. He never spoke to me. I only talked to the general manager, George McPhee. I didn’t talk to my coach before I got there. He had a lot of work to do, with the playoffs and such.
ES.ru: Shipachyov was given freedom during training (practice), but as soon as the games began they said that some things were prohibited to do. Are you afraid of the same?
Gusev: When I signed the contract and could play for Vegas the coach showed me the tactics during a class. And I realized that I would feel good about it. Everything was explained to me in a similar way. There will be no problems.
ES.ru: Vegas is a team with almost the largest amount of movement (other possible translation: speed or quickness) in the NHL. Do you like running without a puck?
Gusev: I’m not going to tell you all the secrets of Vegas. Maybe I’m not the fastest player, but there are other guys out there too that aren’t that quick. What I saw is that many hockey players act very cleverly.
ES.ru: Like Mark Stone and Reilly Smith?
Gusev: That’s right.
ES.ru: But nevertheless, Shipachyov’s situation could repeat with you.
Gusev: Everyone has their own lives. I do not know what and how it will work, but I think that I am able to perform what the coaches want. If they tell me something definite to do, I’ll do it. At the same time, I’m going to continue to play the way I play.
ES.ru: What do you think of Stone, Smith, and the other NHL players? Nothing special, right?
Gusev: This is the wrong question. Those guys are very good, but I understand that it is easy to play with them, everything will be well in this regard.
ES.ru: Can Vegas trade you?
Gusev: I’m expecting an offer from them first. And then we will see what happens. In principle, there could be other offers, but I think it would be wrong to accept one of them because Vegas helped me. I want to reciprocate. In the NHL the rules say that first I have to get an offer from the club which has the rights to me, which is Vegas. I am a rule follower so I will wait for it. I perfectly understand what I want and what I need.
ES.ru: If Vegas offers $4 million, will you accept?