The Vegas Golden Knights are pressed up against the cap. How does an expansion team become the most capped out team before their third season ever? Acquiring a trio of veteran forwards paid UFA value, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and Mark Stone, as well as missing out on cheap players on entry-level contracts. Their first pick ever, Cody Glass sixth-overall in 2017, and defenceman Nic Hague in the second round, should change that soon, but trading away their two other first-round picks in 2017 (Nick Suzuki, Erik Branstrom) in packages for Pacioretty and Stone forced them to shed Erik Haula and Colin Miller for almost nothing.
Now they have restricted free agent Nikita Gusev to sign, reportedly asking for $4 million a season for two years. Gusev is the reigning KHL leading scorer and joined Vegas for the playoffs, but didn’t play a game. The Edmonton Oilers need scoring wingers.
Gusev has been a premier KHL scorer. Gusev’s at the top of the list of KHL scorers in the past five seasons who came over from the NHL or recently played NHL games. He’s right there with Alex Radulov, Evgeni Dadonov, and Artemi Panarin, all 70-point players in the league currently.
Gusev was older than Panarin for his elite KHL seasons, but younger than both Radulov and Dadonov.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Vadim Shipachyov also appear near Gusev. Kovalchuk hasn’t been the same force since returning to the NHL and Shipachyov never really got a chance with Vegas.
Gusev’s NHLe, which projects a player’s production based on league strength, is about 80 points. Maybe that’s a bit optimistic, but even a 60 or 70-point winger would be a godsend for the Oilers. The Oilers have a huge hole on either wing, depending on which wing Gusev is most comfortable at. Gusev is a worthwhile gamble, especially considering what’s leftover in free agency.
The problem? Vegas hasn’t shown a willingness to make transactions within the division since they’ve started playing actual hockey games. The only trades with Pacific Division opponents include Shea Theodore from Anaheim for the expansion draft, Brendan Leipsic to Vancouver for Philip Holm, and a draft-day trade where Vegas added a third-round draft pick to their second-round pick to move up eight spots. The Leipsic trade to Vancouver is the only in-division trade involving an NHL player since Vegas started their first season.
The Golden Knights also retained $2 million of Derick Brassard’s contract in 2017 so Winnipeg wouldn’t acquire him, acquiring Ryan Reaves and a fourth-round pick in the process.
Haula and Miller were sent over East to Carolina and Buffalo for middling returns.
Maybe Vegas is less strict on where they send a more unproven player like Gusev. The Golden Knights need cheap assets, prospects and or draft picks, and the Oilers could afford the rumoured price of a second-round pick plus a lower-tier prospect.
Would Kelly McCrimmon have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi? Puljujarvi won’t make much next season, or they could stash the disgruntled fourth-overall pick overseas for a year as they’re loaded at right wing. Puljujarvi isn’t playing above Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, or Alex Tuch.
The Oilers should be very interested in Gusev. but most likely Vegas continues trading out of the division and sends him somewhere like New Jersey, Columbus, or Philadelphia. Ken Holland should still inquire. Gusev could pay off big time.
After having such a blast over the past two years, we absolutely knew that we were going to organize another golf tourney for the summer and, after a few months of planning, we’re psyched to finally be able to launch our third annual golf tournament.
- When – August 29th, 2019 (Thursday)
- Where – Cougar Creek Golf Resort
- How much – $1000/team or get in on the $900 Early Bird price until July 10th
- Teams – Groups of Four (4)
- How – Book your team here
As always, a portion of all proceeds from your ticket purchase will be donated directly to a local charity. This time we’ve partnered up with the Gregor Foundation to make sure that our kids are at their most handsome.