As the search for top six upgrades continue for the New York Islanders, trade target Nikita Gusev is eyeing a return to the KHL if he can’t be moved.
It’s possible that the New York Islanders start Josh Ho-Sang in their top-six forward group for the 2019-20 season. Looking at the Islanders roster he’s the best option available to the team. That’s assuming the Islanders are willing to trust the 2014 first-round pick.
If they aren’t willing to trust him, the Islanders are going to have to explore the trade market to find that top-six winger they need.
One of the possible targets available on the trade market is
Recently, Gusev’s agent has tried to force Vega’s hand to either sign his client or trade him. Or else he’ll be forced to sign his client with his KHL rights holder SKA St. Petersburgh.
With the KHL season kicking off a full month before the NHL season, you can see why Gusev’s agent is trying to get something done sooner rather than later.
Gusev wants to play in the NHL, but he wants to be paid like most of his Russian compatriots that came over from the KHL to the NHL. Alexander Radulov got a $5.75 million deal from the Montreal Canadiens, Evgenii Dadonov got $4 million from the Florida Panthers, and Vadim Shipachyov got $4.5 million from the same Golden Knights organization that doesn’t want to pay Gusev.
To be fair, Shipachyov famously didn’t work out at all, but Gusev isn’t Shipachyov. He’s much better (subscription required).
Over the last four seasons in the KHL Gusev has scored 250 points in 206 games played. Including an 82 point season last year.
For those that might be gun-shy thanks to Jan Kovar’s failed move from the KHL to the NHL with the New York Islanders remember that his last season in the KHL saw a decrease in scoring. Gusev has only gotten better.
Vegas doesn’t have the cap space to sign Gusev and they’re running out of time before he decides to play in the KHL. A trade might be the only way to get something for him.
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As Vegas and Gusev play chicken, Isles GM Lou Lamoriello should be on the phone to make something work. It might take a good prospect to make the deal go through, but at this point, Lou has prospects to trade away. He doesn’t have top-six right-shooting forwards.
Unless Lou trusts Ho-Sang, or he can work out a trade for a better (maybe an NHL proven top-six talent) Gusev might be the best bet.