Speculation about the fate of Nikita Gusev and how the Vegas Golden Knights could sign him given their current salary cap issues ended abruptly on Monday.
The Devils acquired left-wing Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for New Jersey’s third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and the club’s second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) July 29, 2019
The price tag is hefty for the New Jersey Devils. Nine million over two years for a 27-year-old winger without any professional experience on North American ice. On the other hand, his offensive statistics from the KHL have been tremendous. Gusev averaged more than a point per game since joining SKA St. Petersburg four years ago. In an ideal world, he’s an assist machine and the Devils currently have a lineup that can take advantage of that.
Looks like Connor Carrick might be the big winner after all in the trade that brought Ben Lovejoy to the Dallas Stars this February.
For Vegas, it should temporarily end speculation about trading either Cody Eakin or Ryan Reaves to clear cap space in an effort to sign Gusev. However, it does mean that the Golden Knights weren’t willing to take a $4.5 million gamble to bring in an unproven asset. Understandably, they’re pretty happy with the lineup that they ice each night.
The move leaves Vegas just one million under the salary cap, with one roster spot left for a defender. Having banked a plethora of draft picks over the next few years, that could make the Golden Knights a useful trading partner for the Stars in their ongoing search to get some value out of Julius Honka. The Stars could certainly use a second, or in the worst case, third-round pick next summer, and Vegas has picks in spades.
Honka certainly would fit under the cap for Vegas, which would be a primary consideration for them. In addition, the Golden Knights have an beefy stay-at-home defender, Deryk Engelland, lined up on the left side of their third pair. In an ideal setup, Honka’s and Engelland’s deficiencies could be covered up by their partner.
NHL lineups are slowly being finalized, and keeping an unsigned Julius Honka around through the summer is not adding to his value.
It’s almost August and the Dallas front office has taken care of all of the major business at hand. What happens to Julius Honka will not drastically effect what happens to the 2019-20 version of the Stars. At this point, having Honka on the roster merely raises questions (and eyebrows) about what possible purpose is served.