Nikita Gusev is a 26-year-old Russian forward, right-handed, 5’10”, 181 pounds. He currently leads the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in scoring with 59 points in 48 games. Last year, he was the runner-up in points in the KHL, just one behind now LA King Ilya Kovalchuk. He also won the KHL’s Golden Stick last year, which is awarded to the MVP of the league and has a great chance of winning it again.
Nikita Gusev is also NHL property of the Vegas Golden Knights. The rules are a bit fuzzy, but from our understanding, because Gusev was drafted (by Tampa Bay in 2012) and has never signed an entry-level contract he remains Vegas property indefinitely.
Gusev’s contract in the KHL expires at the end of this season, which could mean it is time for him to make the leap to the NHL. Last week, on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, George McPhee was asked how confident he was that Gusev will end up playing for the Golden Knights.
Well, we’re not sure about that. It’s never really clear, it’s never that easy when you have players over in Russia. It’s just never easy. Sometimes you get them to come over, it isn’t very often that they never come over, but sometimes it takes a while. I can’t give you a straight answer on that because I don’t know, there’s always a little bit of a mystery to dealing with Russian players. -McPhee
Gusev is an elite offensive talent with incredible vision on the ice. He dominated the Olympics helping Russia win the gold medal, he’s torn up the KHL over the past four seasons, and he became just the fourth player to win the Golden Stick, joining current Dallas Star Alexander Radulov who won it four times, and KHL legends Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov.
If Gusev decides to come to the NHL next season, he instantly projects among the Golden Knights top six forwards and could be a massive offensive boost.
In August, McPhee traveled to Russia where he took in an SKA St. Petersburg preseason game. He also reportedly visited with another Russian prospect, Vladimir Tkachyov. When he returned, I asked about Gusev again.
We’re hoping he will (come to the NHL). We’ve had some conversations and it sounds like it’s something that he would like to do but we will see what next year brings. -McPhee on 9/6/18
Nothing will happen on the Gusev front until at least May, but while you keep your fingers crossed, enjoy a highlight reel and try to keep from drooling too much.