The Vegas Golden Knights added some reinforcements to their playoff roster by signing forward Nikita Gusev to a one-year contract Sunday morning.
Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee said his scouting staff has had its eyes on Gusev since acquiring his rights from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
"Our scouts have watched this player for a couple of years now," McPhee said. "They've corresponded with him regularly. I went over and met with him last year and he indicated he was ready to come over and play in the NHL."
Gusev, 26, led the KHL in scoring with 82 points (17G, 65A) in 62 games in 2018-19 during his ninth season in the league. He will join the Golden Knights on Monday for practice and is eligible to play in the playoffs. His offensive skill is well-known, and McPhee is eager to see how that translates to the NHL.
"He's had some really exceptional seasons recently with his club team and he certainly performed well at the Olympics," he said. "We're delighted to have him join us."
Gusev's one-year contract will expire at the end of the playoffs and McPhee said getting him signed to another contract will be on his summer to-do list. Extensive work was put in by both sides to bring Gusev to Vegas and McPhee made note of the forward's commitment to join the Golden Knights.
"He's at the right age to try this, and I was delighted that he worked hard to get over here. It wasn't an easy thing," McPhee said. "He had to give up a lot of bonuses in his contract that he had already earned. He gave them back and got his release to start a new chapter in his life."
The signing was the second important roster addition McPhee has made in the last 12 days as he brought in college free agent defenseman Jimmy Schuldt from St. Cloud State on April 3. McPhee said that adding to the already deep pool of young players in the organization is exciting for the hockey club.
"It's been a good two weeks for us to have Schuldt and Gusev sign," McPhee said. "We're happy with the progress we're making with our prospects and young players."
Now that Gusev is under contract with the Golden Knights, he and his new team will take the next steps toward getting him on the ice during the 2019 playoffs. McPhee said that is dependent on a few variables.
"We'll see what kind of shape he's in, we'll have him practice with the guys and we'll see what develops," McPhee said. "Coach Gallant makes the decisions, but it's important to us to get the deal done, get him here and get things rolling on his NHL career."