The Vegas Golden Knights are already over the cap, and they need to sign RFA Nikita Gusev. The New York Islanders should trade for him.
As it stands right now, the New York Islanders didn’t get better from last year. You could argue that they moved laterally or potentially even got slightly worse with the Semyon Varlamov/Robin Lehner swap.
Since most of the top free agents are already signed, the Isles would be wise to look at trade options to improve their team. Looking at a team like Vegas, who is in major cap hell right now, would make a lot of sense.
George McPhee is already over the cap and is going to have to clear up some space to get under it. Perhaps, moving on from Nikita Gusev would help.
Gusev is an RFA coming off a $925,000 one-year deal. He’s 26-years-old and has been a star in the KHL for the last three years. Last year, in 62 games with SKA St. Petersburg, he had a whopping 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists).
Gusev is a right-handed shot that plays on the left-wing and that had a playmaker like tendencies that make him an interesting candidate for a top-six role.
The Trade Package
After trading Colin Miller to free up $3.88 million against the cap, the Golden Knights have a big hole defensively. Sebastian Aho is a prospect who has some NHL experience and has been very solid (46 points in 67 AHL games last year) in the minors.
With the Islanders defensive prospect system, the Isles may never have room for Aho to get a permanent role.
The pick would just be an additional asset to give for Gusev who has top-six potential as a point producer. The next question becomes what do the Islanders sign him for.
This is where it gets a little tricky. His situation is kind of unique so there’s not really a good contract comparison. All we know is that they are supposedly close to $2 million apart on the AAV of the deal. You can pull the Vadim Shipachyov contract that Vegas gave him in 2017 (two-years $4.5 million AAV).
He played on the same team as Gusev and put up 76 points that year at age 30. Gusev is four-years younger than Shipachyov so you would assume the term would be longer. Would it be like an Alexander Radulov deal?
At age 31, Radulov signed a five-year $31.25 million ($6.25 million AAV) deal. The only difference there is that he had some NHL experience under his belt while Gusev is a little more of an unknown.
It’s probably somewhere in the middle of these two, no? If the Islanders gave him four-years and $20 million per ($5 million AAV ) I think it could be beneficial. Yes, there’s a lot of risk involved but there’s not a ton of better options out there with the Gusev potential.
Update: According to Igor Eronko, Gusev is looking for a two-year deal with a $4 million AAV while Vegas is looking for a one-year $2 million deal. Even better for Lou Lamoriello
It would be a major swing, but that’s exactly what the Islanders need right now.