Oilers should be in on Nikita Gusev

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

  • RJ

    A second and a lower level prospect? Seems like that trade would be made already if it could already be made.

    Let’s take the high end projection. Does LV want to help the Oilers be more competitive? Oilers need a goal? Send out stacked line of Drai, McD and Gusev? Oilers finally give Nuge a decent scoring winger? All for the price of a player that doesn’t want to be in Edmonton anymore, or spends a year in Europe.

    This seems like an area where the Oilers would need to really overpay or take back an ugly contract.

    This could really help the Oil if he meets the higher end of projection, but it would take an overpay

      • OilerForLife

        I say go for it, a 2 year deal at 4M is not an overpay in $ or term. They have to take the chance, nad Gusev has an impressive resume, Pool Party doesn’t. I don’t like the other free agents left, and this will be a low risk/ high reward situation. Can you see him on the left with, McDavid and Draisaitl. Unstoppable, I think he would be an awesome fit, even on the second line with Nuge would work as well. Pretty hard to stop two scoring lines and should be boost in offence moving forward.

        • RJ

          I’m all for seeing what Gusev could do beside Nuge or McD, but I don’t see LV just taking JP or JP and a second to trade Gusev within the division.

          That’s my biggest concern; and what if he doesn’t pan out? What if they give a big return and he’s Shipachyov?

          This would be a high-risk and possibly high-reward move.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Only was Holland could do this in a trade for assets is if he moves a couple bodies, Oilers wont go into the season tight to the cap or up against the ceiling of allowable contracts, Vegas has needs but they are not looking to take on a lot money. Oilers would need to trade some bodies to free up the 5 mil that Gusev reportedly wants. Anything could happen but Holland would need to make some moves of players out the door to pull anything like that off. I dont believe Gusev is going anywhere till other GM’s pare down their players list to get cap and contract compliant, there are going to be players that will be a victim of the numbers around the league, most GM’s look to be waiting to see who’s released

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Whether Gusev will get the 5mil he wants is very much up in the air, I believe if teams thought he was a bargain they’d have done a deal, but Vegas isnt going to give him away for free, my guess is they are looking for prospects and picks since they are trying to avoid salary or a player they need for the team. Anyone who takes on Gusev has to know its a bit of a gamble but I dont see anything happening for Gusev till teams start to release guys to get cap and contract compliant, GM’s know good players are going to get sacrificed by teams, so everyone is waiting to see who becomes available

      • Ty Guy

        while using this list for comparison purposes, it is important to note that Anton Lander and Nail Yakapov put up good KHL numbers also and we know how that story went….risky at best

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          it’s been reported in various sports circles he is looking for btwn 4 and 5 mil a season, the longer he is out there though he may be lucky to even hit 4 , it’s the same with Dzingel and what he seeks, these guys may have to take less in a deal

          • Dallas Eakins Hair

            Well so far his ask keeps dropping good for GM’s not so good for Gusev, the longer he stays unsigned, you have to wonder when he will give in and sign unless he wants to go back to the KHL which media reports say Gusev has indicated he’d like to play in the NHL this season , he may have to take way less then he was seeking

    • OilTastic

      Jones is likely NHL ready this year and will be given a long look so I don’t want to see him traded, we waited long enough for the guy to develop so let’s see what he can do!

    • jesse says yep

      no doubt. UNtil Holland can sort it all they will need to get lucky with a few gambles. Most of Chia’s flopped, hopefully Holland will make bets on the rights players.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Right now Vallue Village is having their own cap issue, scared that they will lose Turtlechuk to an offer sheet, still have other players to sign, so unless they pull a Toronto and dump some bodies for cheap guys or picks or try and hide enough salary in the AHL they have their own little cap hell to deal with.

      It’s like everyone in Toronto thinking Dubas is a genius, burying salary in the minors bring in Barrie in a trade etc. Has Dubas made some good moves sure, but right now his hocus pocus hide salary in the AHL and yet he still needs to sign players, but how long into the season do you think his tricks to stay under the cap are not going to come back and bit the leafs?

      The Toronto media seems to think if Dubas cuts a fart that it’s the greatest move ever. Next season the Leafs will be right back to where they were this year, desperate to shed salary while not gutting the team, which they will have to do again because all the hocus pocus with salary isnt going to work

  • TKB2677

    There is a big difference between the KHL and NHL. I’d have interest but not if it costs 4 mill like is reported. I am not giving a guy 4 mill with ZERO NHL experience. When Panarin came over, he was lighting it up in the KHL and signed for 2 yrs for under 1 mill per season.

    • OilTastic

      That’s 4 mil/per for the privilege of having him come over and if he doesn’t get it he’ll just stay. He’s an interesting player, I think a good gamble with him having some damn good years in a row in the KHL.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Panarin’s contract was a 3-year ELC and he got the max allowable ECL – full signing and performance bonuses – a contract reserved for a top 3-5 pick.

      Gusev signed his one-year ELC (no performance bonuses) this past April and burned it off by getting activated for the playoffs for Vegas.

      Big difference in how these two players have been brought over.

    • The future never comes

      You have mentioned a couple of times now about people with degrees not being smart. You seem bitter, kind of like you wish you got a degree. Then maybe your name would not be beer and you would not be so bitter.

  • QuitForRealThisTime

    The likely show stopper is they would not like tot trade him to a divisional rival. Meaning the Oil would have to make a much better offer then other teams to get him. I am sure the ask is someone Tyler Benson. JP seems like the obvious candidate but LV would still need to sign him as well and don’t currently have the cap for even that. I also doubt Gusev wants to play hear. My money is on the NYR rangers or Florida panther where he joins former teammate Dadanov

    • jesse says yep

      If JP went to Europe to play, LV could save that cap space for a year or two and still have an golden egg in their pocket. Let JP mature a bit before bringing him back. (Exactly what the Oilers should do if they don’t move him) That might have enough value to Vegas with a late draft pick thrown in.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    One thing that makes me wonder is how Gaeten Haas deal is being worked. His agent has stated that Haas is coming over to play in the NHL but will not play in the AHL unless it is a short stint to get used to the NHL rink, if he doesnt make the team he can go back to Europe and play.

    Kind of surprised Holland made a deal like this with the whole Jesse thing going on, but my guess is this is show us deal the Oilers might be able to walk from

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Well Holland must have a pretty good scouting reprot on Haas to think he will be making the team. As long as we dont have a Jesse 2.0 situation, guess we will see when camp hits

        • DonEnrico

          I was very impressed by Haas in the World championships this spring (I know it´s a short tournament and all…). Against sweden he looked really good on the skates, where aggresive and scored a goal. So I´m really looking forward to seeing him in an Oiler-uniform.

          • In any international hockey I’ve watched lately I’ve actually remarked at how good some of these Swiss and Finnish hockey players looked… I feel there are a few keepers that are not in the nhl when you compare starting 14 year old yammamotos too early… Holland made a couple solid coin tosses on Haas and Nygard, whom I think have a shot of being an effective and inexpensive roster player..

  • Foximus

    JP wants out of Edmonton in a bad way. If they can send him over for Gusev’s rights it seems like a good gamble. Panarin and Dadonov have both panned out well. Maybe Holland can get him signed for less than the rumored $4 million/yr. I’m saying it’s worth the gamble – go for it Edmonton.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      But his Agent has stated that Gaeten wont stay in the AHL past a couple weeks to get used to the ice surface. Hopefully we wont see a Jesse 2.0 situation.

      • NickL89

        “His agent says” and a contract are two different things. Obviously we don’t get to read the contract but if it’s a two way contract and he plays like a turd he won’t be with the big club for long no matter what his agent says.. I wouldn’t read into that too much!

  • Abagofpucks

    Petey would have us in pure hell by now, Dzingle would be signed Connelly would have signed here, the farm would have been emptied, draft picks thrown in and players like nuge would have been moved.

    I’ll put up with holland.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      LOL Jenny couldnt get it done in the playoffs and who could blame him for wanting out of there, if he ever wants a chance to go past a first round wont be there!

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      You Value Village fans sure seem very very concerned about what Holland is doing, I guess when your GM is afraid to make a move in case an offer sheet comes in you have to pass the time somehow

    • jesse says yep

      this would only cost a 2nd and the Oil could still send JP to Europe for a year. Worst case scenario, a division rival with cap issues is forced to do something they don’t want to.

  • hagar

    How does and expansion team cap out In three years after going to the finals the first year, then a full on second year playoff?

    How did the Oilers burn through like 10 top ten picks in ten years Including 4 first overall pics, maintain a firm grip on one of the last four spots in the league year after year?

    Why wouldnt vegas be fighting the cap? At least they have an excuse… being awesome and such!

    • Sawch

      Yes. Gusev is a stud and the Oilers need to be in on this guy. I’d move Puljujarvi and a second for him in a heartbeat. The Oilers are the perfect fit for him.

  • jesse says yep

    I would trade JP for Gusev. The odds of success are pretty even, maybe leaning towards Gusev. Two year experiment and hope it pays off. If not trade him in year two and hope one of the prospects are ready to step in.