The Golden Knights signed Gusev last April to a one-year, entry-level deal. Despite Gusev’s not playing a single minute of hockey for the team, he’s now a restricted free agent, as signing the deal in-season burned that single year. It was a smart play by the Golden Knights, enticing one of the KHL’s best players to finally come to North America by allowing him to get out from under the NHL’s entry-level system with little resistance. It freed him up to sign a much larger contract this summer.
While the Knights succeeded in bringing Gusev over, the team had bigger offseason priorities, such as re-signing William Karlsson, that left them with little to no room for a higher-priced prospect such as Gusev. Now, according to a report from The Athletic, the team is exploring trade options for Gusev. Vegas could still find ways to make room for him, but it would take some serious maneuvering.
Suddenly, teams that need top-six skill in their lineup can at least explore trading for him. Vegas doesn’t have much leverage, and it can’t take on any salary, so this is likely an opportunity to collect some draft picks or some prospects who won’t need to be on the books yet.