With the calendar turning over from May to June it means the Golden Knights can officially begin negotiations with Nikita Gusev and Jimmy Schuldt who signed entry-level contracts late in the 2018-19 season.
This contract will expire June 1 and then we get working on the second deal. You can’t work on that deal now, it’s a circumvention of the salary cap. So to get him in here it burns the entry-level part of his contract so he can get into a different level of contract in the summer. -McPhee speaking about Gusev on 4/14/19
Gusev and Schuldt are both restricted free agents. Gusev has arbitration rights while Schuldt does not.
The first step in the process for restricted free agents is for the team to extend a qualifying offer. By doing this, they retain control on the player. The player then can either sign that offer or the two sides can negotiate a different deal.
Both Gusev and Schuldt received the largest entry-level salary possible which means they will each be extended equal qualifying offers. According to CapFriendly.com, that offer will be a two-way contract with an NHL salary of $874,125.
It’s unlikely either player signs the qualifying offer. Gusev can, and probably will, file for arbitration. Not because he and his agent expect to go to arbitration, but because it will set a deadline on their negotiation (sometime between the last two weeks of July and the first week of August).
Schuldt will likely take the Shea Theodore path of not signing the qualifying offer and negotiating a longer-term deal. However, due to a relative lack of bargaining power, Schuldt’s shouldn’t last into training camp like Theodore’s did a year ago.
Where might both of those contracts land? Well, let’s go to the history books.
Schuldt’s deal is much easier to look at because we have a few recent situations similar to his.
“The only thing I know for myself – I want to play there” -Gusev
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?
The Golden Knights are currently in the midst of a hard-fought playoff series with the budding rival San Jose Sharks. The series shifts to Vegas tonight for a pivotal Game 3, yet the story of the day isn’t about penalties, forechecking, goaltending, or anything else on the ice. Instead, it’s about a brand new player being added to a team that won the Western Conference Championship a year ago and are on the path to potentially doing so again.
Nikita Gusev’s season ended in the KHL a few days ago, he quickly terminated the final few days of his contract with SKA St. Petersburg so he could board a plane to the United States and join his new team, the Golden Knights. The 26-year-old forward is the reigning MVP of the KHL and racked up 82 points in 62 games before tacking on another 19 in 18 playoff games.
There’s no question, eventually, Gusev could be a high-end NHL player and a true difference maker for the Golden Knights, but from the outside looking in, the timing of his arrival can be viewed as a major distraction.
Whether it’s simply having another face in the room, a new body on the practice rink, or the locker-room dynamic of him pushing a player who has worked all season long to get to this point out of the lineup, there’s no shortage of reasons why this could blow up in the face of the Golden Knights.
However, Vegas is confident they are able to pull something like this off for one main reason.
I believe in my organization fully, they’ve done great things since the beginning, so let’s see how it goes. -Jonathan Marchessault
The Golden Knights have only been a team since June of 2016. They’ve only had players since June of the following year, and they haven’t yet completed their second season as an NHL franchise. Yet, from a player’s perspective, there’s no reason not to have complete confidence that whatever the management of this team does, it will help them achieve the ultimate goal.
I’ve yet to find out that I wasn’t happy with anything they’ve done so far. Obviously, we are a young organization but every decision that they’ve made (has been good). There’s a lot of brainpower up there. With the way we’ve been doing so far in the short life that we have as an organization, I think they’ve done an unbelievable job so I’m not going to start questioning anything. -Pierre-Edoard Bellemare
From Expansion Draft laughingstock to #1 in the league by January, to winning the Pacific Division, to raising a Western Conference Champions banner, to backing it up by cruising to a playoff berth a year later, it’s literally been about as perfect a franchise as one could be.
We always make the right decisions. -Gerard Gallant
This belief means everything.
The trust in the organization runs from the man at the top, The Creator, down through the GM, the front office, the coaching staff, and all the way to the players.
That trust is why Nikita Gusev can be plopped down into a locker room of a team two games into a playoff series. Everyone truly believes that anything and everything this team does will work. Rather than question it, they accept it, believe it, and in many cases embrace it.
Gusev may not play, but if he does, it’ll be because the organizational dynamic allows it. Not every franchise could pull something like this off, because not every franchise can point to a fairy tale and call it the reality.
We trust in our organization and in each other. Everyone from top to bottom will handle it the right way, and know how to be professional about it. -Jon Merrill
This should be risky, but for this team, it’s not, and who knows, it’ll probably end up working out perfectly.
The Golden Knights have signed 26-year old forward Nikita Gusev to a one-year entry-level contract. Gusev was the MVP of the KHL last season and will likely win the award for this season when it is handed out.
Gusev is eligible to play in the playoffs for the Golden Knights because he was on Vegas’ “Reserve List” at the Trade Deadline.
He’ll join our group tomorrow and we’ll see where it goes. I’m not going to make any promises either way right now. I like our team, we’ve played with our team all year. If we think we need him to put in the lineup we’ll see where it goes, but we are a ways from that right now. -Gerard Gallant
I’m not going to use his play in the KHL but I know he’s a very high-end player, he’s a good hockey player and we’ll see what he does in practice and we’ll see how things go. But I’m very comfortable with my lineup right now and we’ll do the job the way we are going to do the job. He’s another player to our team and that’s what really makes it good. We don’t need him right now but we’ll see where it goes. -Gallant
Like with many Russian players, the Nikita Gusev contract situation is a difficult one. From how I understand it (and I could be wrong, but I will show my work with all CBA excerpts cited at the end of this article), the Golden Knights have two options with Gusev.
But before we get to those options, let’s explain a few things first. First off, Nikita Gusev was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lighting in 2012 but never signed a contract. He was then traded to Vegas as part of the Expansion Draft. Because he never signed that first NHL contract, he remains property of the Golden Knights indefinitely. (Kelly McCrimmon recently confirmed this on the VGK Insider Show) In other words, when Gusev comes to the NHL, he’ll come as a Golden Knight, no matter when it happens.
Next, Gusev was born on July 8th, 1992, making him 26-years-old. Per the CBA Article 9.1 (c), Gusev is required to adhere to the NHL’s “entry-level system” if he signs a contract prior to turning 28. Therefore, if Gusev signs an NHL contract this year (2018-19) or next year (2019-20) he would be forced to sign a one-year contract with a max value of $925,000. (CBA 9.3 a)
There are some performance and signing bonuses possible, which do count against the salary cap, that could allow Gusev to earn an extra $825,000. The signing bonus is probable, which can be up to 10% or $92,500 (CBA 9.3 b). However, most of the performance bonuses are unlikely as Gusev would have to be an extraordinary player to receive them. Such options are 20+ goals, 35+ assists, and .73+ points per game. (CBA Exhibit 5-Performance Bonuses)
So, it’s reasonable to believe Gusev’s entry-level contract will be about $1,000,000 against the Golden Knights cap. Incredibly cheap for a player of his caliber.
Which brings us back to the two options on when the Golden Knights can/will sign him.
Option 1: If Gusev were to sign prior to the Golden Knights season ending this year, he would earn a pro-rated portion of the one-year entry-level contract for as long as he’s with the NHL club. The contract would end when the Golden Knights 2018-19 season concludes, thus it would “burn” his entry-level contract requirement. Gusev would not qualify as an unrestricted free agent (CBA 10.2 a, i). Instead, he would become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights and need to sign a new contract with VGK to remain in the NHL. (See CBA 12.1 A)
Option 2: If Gusev waits until after the Golden Knights season ends, he would have to sign the one-year entry-level contract worth a maximum of $925,000. However, when the year is up, he would be 27-years-old and thus qualify as an unrestricted free agent. (See CBA 10.2 a) He could not sign an extension with Vegas until January 1st, 2020, and could choose to reach UFA on July 1st, 2020.
This is where it gets incredibly tricky for the Golden Knights as both options have major benefits but also massive potential drawbacks. I’ll break it down the way I was taught by my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Pope, using a pros and cons list.
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.
Just because Shippy didn’t work doesn’t mean the Golden Knights should stop trying. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
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.
On the night of the Expansion Draft, the Golden Knights agreed to select Jason Garrison from the Tampa Bay Lightning. In exchange, Vegas was to be sent a 2nd round pick in 2017, which the Golden Knights eventually traded for Keegan Kolesar, a 4th round pick in next year’s draft, and a 24-year-old forward from Russia, Nikita Gusev.
Gusev has been playing in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg since 2015, and has played on the same line as Vadim Shipachyov for a majority of the time. Gusev also played in the IIHF World Championships, again on the same line as Shipachyov, where he scored seven goals and had seven assists in 10 games in route to winning a bronze medal.
But since the trade that sent his rights to Vegas, we haven’t heard much about the Golden Knights’ future plans of the left winger.
Gusev was a seventh-round pick in 2012. He is a playmaking wing who has one year left on his KHL contract with SKA St. Petersburg in Russia. Gusev has no immediate plans to return to North America, his agent, Dan Milstein, said. Yzerman said he didn’t know if Gusev ever would return. –Joe Smith, Tampa Bay Times
He has one year left on his contract in the KHL, and his agent has made it clear he would like to play in the Olympics.
That’s at least a year away, we knew they when we traded for him it might be a year away. But he came for a little bit and we think he liked what he saw, but we’ll have to revisit that next spring. -McPhee