Devils acquire Nikita Gusev from Golden Knights for pair of draft picks

While he has yet to play a game in the NHL, Nikita Gusev has been a consistent star in the KHL for the last half-decade. (Photo by RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images)
While he has yet to play a game in the NHL, Nikita Gusev has been a consistent star in the KHL for the last half-decade. (Photo by RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils continue to add firepower to an offence that finished 25th in the NHL last season.

The club announced Monday afternoon that they have acquired Russian superstar Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights for a couple of draft picks.

Additionally, the Devils announced that they have also signed the 27-year-old to a two-year, $9 million contract.

Gusev has proven to be one of the best hockey players outside of the NHL for the past few years. He led the KHL last season with 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists) in 62 regular season games. However, most people in North America were introduced to the skilled forward at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Playing for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, he led the squad to gold with a tournament-best 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in six games.

Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, Gusev was traded to the Golden Knights in 2017. He signed a one-year, entry-level deal with Vegas in April but didn’t play any games with the team.

Due to cap constraints, the Golden Knights were unable to sign him to a satisfactory contract for the upcoming campaign.

“We did our best to accommodate Nikita and his salary request but were unable to do so," Vega general manager George McPhee said, according to NHL.com. “When you have a roster comprised of players who are deserving of a certain salary range you are not always able to make room for everyone. This is the reality of having a good team in the salary cap world.”

Gusev joins a Devils squad that has already bolstered its roster this summer by drafting Jack Hughes first overall and trading for defenceman P.K. Subban. On top of that, Taylor Hall — the 2018 Hart Trophy winner — will be back after being reduced to just 33 regular season games last season.

New Jersey wrapped up the 2018-19 campaign in 29th-place with a record of 31-41-10 for 72 points.

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