NEWARK, NJ - On Monday, the Devils announced they had traded for winger Nikita Gusev. The club moved a third-round pick in 2020 and the club's second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft to Vegas, in exchange for the promising young Russian. Here are three things to know about the newest Devil.
Video: ANALYSIS | Nikita Gusev Trade
1. SCORING MACHINE
For the past three seasons, Gusev has been a consistent scoring threat over in Russia.
In 2016-17, he was fourth in the KHL in scoring with 71 (24-47-71).
He followed that up by placing second in league scoring in 2017-18, recording 62 points (22-40-62) in 54 outings. His 22 goals were the third-most in the league. He won the Regular Season MVP Award and the KHL Gentleman Award.
2018-19 was the same story, with another great season for Gusev. He finished with 82 total points (17-65-82) in 62 games. That was good for the top spot in KHL scoring by a 13-point margin. His 65 assists were the most in the league.
82 points is the second-highest point total in KHL history.
2. INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN
Gusev was one of the top scorers at the World Championships earlier this summer, recording 16 points (4-12-16) in 10 games. He helped Russia take home bronze.
It was not the first time that Gusev starred on the international stage. He led the 2018 Winter Olympics in scoring with 12 points (4-8-12) in six games for the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
In addition to winning a gold medal, he was named the Best Forward of the tournament.
Even in junior action, Gusev has performed at a high level internationally. He was top 10 in World Juniors scoring in 2012, finishing the tournament with nine points (3-6-9) in seven games.
3. THE SITUATION
So why would the Golden Knights be willing to move such a promising young piece? Fortunately for the Devils, Gusev was a cap casualty.
Gusev had signed a one-year, entry-level deal with Vegas on April 14 but he did not appear in the playoffs. The contract expired after the season, making Gusev a restricted free agent [without arbitration rights].
His asking price on a new deal, coupled with Vegas' lack of cap space made it tough for the team to sign him. The Devils, on the other hand, had cap space to work with and signed the winger to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million AAV. The breakdown has Gusev making $5 million in year one and $4 million in 2020-21.