Nikita Gusev

New Jersey Devils
Photo courtesy of SKA.ru

Fantasy Summary

A great offensive player with high offensive upside. Has great skating ability, high hockey IQ, great vision and a very good shot. The only question is if he wants to make the jump to North America or not.


Attributes
Fantasy Upside 8.5
NHL Certainty 10.0
Country RUS
Position LW
Roster Type System
Shoot/Glove Right
Date of Birth July 8, 1992
Height 5‘11”
Weight 181 lbs
Drafted 2012 Round 7; Overall: 202

Observations

July 2019 – Due to cap constraints, the Golden Knights were unable to resign the restricted free agent. They traded him to the Devils in exchange for a second and third-round pick in subsequent drafts. New Jersey immediately signed the talent Russian to a two-year contract worth 4.5 million each season. The Devils now have the ability to make two offensive pairings out of Taylor Hall, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Gusev. That will be something to marvel. Expect Gusev to step right into prime offensive deployment and produce the numbers to coincide with it. He should be considered a potentially premier asset from day one. Cam Robinson

April 2019 – The time has finally arrived. Nikita Gusev is coming to North America. Long considered one of the premier players outside of the NHL, the 26-year-old recently signed a one-year agreement with Vegas and will immediately join the team during post-season play. Gusev has been downright magical in the KHL for the past three seasons. He crosses the pond carrying a KHL regular-season MVP award (and likely another one on the way), an Olympic gold medal and tournament MVP, and led the league in points this season with 82 in 62 contests. Gusev has long teased the fantasy community and we’re finally going to get a glimpse at what he can do in the NHL. He’ll be a very interesting player heading into the drafts next fall. Cam Robinson

January 2019 – It’s hard to imagine that Gusev is on pace for breaking his single-season points-per-game mark of just under 1.25 in the KHL, but his current rate could allow him to do just that before the culmination of the season.  What’s even more remarkable is that he has outscored his nearest teammate by 28 points – nearly doubling them in points and sits alone atop the KHL’s top scorers. In a league that has seen its points leaderboard dominated by SKA St. Petersburg over the past decade, Gusev is the only player on his team sitting on the top-30 list. Gusev will have some interesting choices to make at the end of the 2018-19 season as his KHL contract comes to an end. He could be a very sneaky pick-up in shallower formats if he winds up in a Vegas jersey. Mason Black

November 2018 – As the reigning KHL MVP, Gusev has carried over his dominant play from last season and is off to another great start. He’s posted 30 points in only 25 games for SKA St. Petersburg to start the KHL season and looks to be putting together another MVP season.  However, his NHL situation is a bit murky because of the transfer agreement – or lack thereof – between the NHL and KHL. This is the final year on Gusev’s KHL contract and Vegas can negotiate and sign him at the culmination of the KHL playoff season, which typically occurs in the middle of April. Vegas will retain Gusev’s rights indefinitely even if he decides not to sign with them, unless they trade his rights. It’s unclear if Gusev wants to come to the NHL at this point, but he’s arguably the top player currently playing outside of the NHL and could be a huge boost for a fast and skilled Golden Knights roster providing them with immediate help. There may not be a better fit for Gusev assuming he wants to come to a franchise that has the potential for another long playoff run despite their slow start to begin this season. Mason Black

April 2018 – Gusev finished his sixth full season in the KHL second in scoring next to teammate Ilya Kovalchuk. He posted an excellent 62 points, including 22 goals, in only 54 games played. On top of that he played another 24 games in various tournaments, including the Olympics, and never finished below a point-per-game pace. He is also expected to be one of Russia’s top-line players in the upcoming World Championship hosted in Copenhagen, after getting beat out in the KHL playoffs where he’s posted 12 points in 15 games. He’s still under contract for one more year, but it should be expected that Vegas will push hard to convince him to come over to North America after next season.  Mason Black

February 2018 – Nikita Gusev took home some serious hardware as he helped the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) to a gold medal victory, scoring two goals in the decisive final game. Gusev finished atop the Olympic leaderboard scoring four goals, eight assists and 12 points in only six games. Not only is he heading back to Russia with a gold medal, he was also named the top forward by the IIHF directorate as his skill was in full display while on the world’s biggest stage. Mason Black

January 2018 – Nikita Gusev continues to dominate the KHL and sits second, only one point behind Ilya Kovalchuk, in league and team scoring on the powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg. One has to wonder if he’ll ever decide to cross the pond and come to North America, especially after the way the Golden Knights handled current teammate Vadim Shipachyov’s situation this past fall. There is no question that Gusev has all of the tools to be a dominant force in today’s NHL, and he is arguably the top player currently playing outside of the NHL. However, time is running out on whether or not he’ll make the decision to play in the NHL and he still has one year remaining, after this season, on his current contract with SKA. Mason Black

June 2017 – The Vegas Golden Knights acquired Gusev in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning.It still remains doubtful he will come to North America in the near future, or at all, but if he does he could be a major asset for the franchise. Peter Harling

May 2017 – On May 13th Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Nikita Gusev “has no immediate plans to return to North America.” The Lightning’s seventh-round-pick in 2012 has been a dangerous offensive weapon for St. Petersburg of the KHL, he’s also a good friend of countryman, Nikita Kucherov. If Gusev re-up’s on his contract in the KHL, we likely won’t see him in a Lightning jersey for some time, if ever. It’s a significant blow to the Lightning’s prospect depth on the wing, however will open doors for other intriguing and eager prospects to come. Brayden Olafson

March 2017 – Gusev completed another enormously successful season with SKA where he exceeded his scoring pace from 2015-16 by a healthy portion. His passing ability and social chemistry with Lightning star, Nikita Kucherov should almost certainly lock him in as a full time Lightning upon expiration of his KHL contract. Pending any hiccups in the transition, expect immediate fantasy impact from him upon his expected 2018 arrival in North America. Surrounded by other highly talented players in St. Petersburg, he is an elite puck handler with a pass-first mentality. Brayden Olafson

May 2016 – After having another successful season in the KHL, Nikita Gusev has the option of joining noted friend Nikita Kucherov in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Gusev showcased his playmaking abilities and his smarts throughout SKA St. Petersburgh’s season. He was a threat in the playoffs before elimination, but managed to rack up 14 points in 15 games. If Gusev does make the move to North America, he could make the Lightning even better on the powerplay with his perimeter passing and quarterback-like skills; however, it does not seem likely that Gusev will be leaving the KHL soon.

Febuary 2015 – Gusev is an offensive-minded forward that prefers to play the perimeter of the ice to take advantage of his high skill set and playmaking ability with impressive vision. He displays great speed (yet lacks that top-end gear) and shows exceptional hands. With those gifts, he reminds scouts of former Finnish phenom and current NHL center Mikael Granlund. Like Granlund, his size could make a transition difficult. Gusev simply cannot work inside and use his body, which could pose problems in the North American game. Further, he lacks tenacity in his defensive zone, which may limit his minutes. Still, the offensive skill is there. In January, his KHL Skills Competition goal went viral almost immediately and was better than anything witnessed in the NHL All-Star competition. He also has shown progression in KHL. Only eight goals and six assists last year, but he turned it into 18 goals and 12 assists this year. He is ready for further development in the AHL, yet some say he may not be interested in leaving Russia. It’s exciting to think what Gusev could do in the NHL, especially if paired with his former Russia junior’s linemate Nikita Kucherov.


Stats

 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2009-2010 Krasnaya Armiya Moskva MHL 48 17 40 57 14 | Playoffs 5 1 2 3
  Russia U18 |WJAC-19| WJAC-19 4 0 2 2 2 |          
 2010-2011 CSKA Moskva KHL 18 1 0 1 2 |          
  Krasnaya Armiya Moskva MHL 38 22 37 59 14 | Playoffs 16 17 10 27
 2011-2012 CSKA Moskva KHL 15 2 1 3 0 | Playoffs 1 0 0 0
  Krasnaya Armiya Moskva MHL 34 30 46 76 26 | Playoffs 19 16 17 33
  Russia U20 WJC-20 7 3 6 9 0 |          
  Russian Selects U20 Jr Super Series 6 3 4 7 0 |          
 2012-2013 CSKA Moskva KHL 6 0 1 1 0 |          
  THK Tver VHL 15 7 6 13 2 |          
  Amur Khabarovsk KHL 24 4 8 12 6 |          
  Amur Khabarovsk Nadezhda Cup 12 1 4 5 6 |          
 2013-2014 Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk KHL 44 8 6 14 10 |          
  Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk Nadezhda Cup 6 3 3 6 0 |          
 2014-2015 Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk KHL 55 21 16 37 12 |          
 2015-2016 Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk KHL 23 7 7 14 4 |          
  SKA St. Petersburg KHL 33 13 22 35 10 | Playoffs 15 5 9 14
  Russia EHT 9 1 3 4 0 |          
  Russia (all) International 10 1 3 4 0 |          
 2016-2017 SKA St. Petersburg KHL 57 24 47 71 8 | Playoffs 18 7 16 23
  Russia EHT 6 3 2 5 6 |          
  Russia WC 10 7 7 14 4 |          
  Russia (all) International 16 10 9 19 10 |          
 2017-2018 SKA St. Petersburg KHL 54 22 40 62 2 | Playoffs 15 7 5 12
  Russia EHT 8 2 7 9 0 |          
  Russia OG 6 4 8 12 4 |          
  Russia WC 4 1 3 4 0 |          
  Russia (all) International 19 9 18 27 4 |          
 2018-2019 SKA St. Petersburg KHL 62 17 65 82 10 | Playoffs 18 9 10 19
  Russia EHT 6 0 6 6 0 |          
  Russia WC 10 4 12 16 0 |          
  Russia (all) International 16 4 18 22 0 |          
 2019-2020 New Jersey Devils NHL 8 3 1 4 2 |          

Highlights