The New York Islanders missed out on Nikita Gusev in the offseason, looking at his start with the New Jersey Devils, did the Islanders miss out?
On Thursday night, Nikita Gusev scored his second goal of the season for the New Jersey Devils. The New York Islanders inquired about the Russian forward in the offseason but decided to pass. Was that a mistake?
You’re probably like me when I saw that Gusev scored yet again for the Devils I immediately thought the New York Islanders could have used him on their roster.
The Islanders top six isn’t exactly their strength. On Friday, against the Carolina Hurricanes, Tom Kuhnhackl is likely to feature next to Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. But I was guilty of simply letting a GIF inform my opinion. I didn’t look into what Gusev has done outside of those two goals.
So I took a look and well…it’s not good.
With the cap crunch that the Vegas Golden Knights were feeling they didn’t have room to re-sign RFA Nikita Gusev this offseason. So the talented Russian forward was placed on the trade market. The New Jersey Devils bit and sent a third-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2021 for his rights.
GM Ray Shero was quick to sign Gusev to a two-year $9 million deal ($4.5 million AAV). The Islanders were said to have kicked the tired on Gusev but didn’t like the price they’d have to pay him, should they have ponied up the two picks and $4.5 million AAV for his services?
So, we know Gusev has scored two goals so far. What else has he done? Looking at some of his underlying numbers doesn’t paint a flattering picture. (All stats from NaturalStatTrick.com)
His -18.47 relative CF% is the worst amongst Devils forwards (to be fair the Devils hold the 23rd ranked Corsi in the league). He holds the worst relative scoring chances for with a -23.34 and the worst relative high-danger chances for with a -38.03 amongst all Devils forwards. Again, all at 5on5.
Gusev isn’t generating much in terms of puck possession. He isn’t creating scoring chances and he isn’t creating high-danger chances. Oh, and his 44:37 minutes of 5on5 time ranks tenth amongst Devils forwards. That’s what happens when you play fourth-line minutes. That’s right, Gusev is on the Devils fourth line.
The Islanders pride themselves as being a strong defensive team, one that creates more opportunities than it gives up. Gusev, as it stands right now, does not fit what the Islanders need.
Of course, it’s still early in the season. Gusev can certainly turn that around over the next 78 games left on the Devils schedule. His 332 points in 391 KHL games prove he’s a talented player. But we haven’t always seen KHL talent translate in the NHL. Vadim Shipachyov anyone?
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For now, it looks like the New York Islanders may have dodged something. I’ve set a reminder to check back in at the All-Star break, let’s see if things have changed by then.