Last week the Devils formally welcomed offseason acquisition P.K. Subban to New Jersey, and at one of the pressers both coach John Hynes and owner Joshua Harris alluded to more moves still to come. While adding Subban in trade, Wayne Simmonds in free agency, Jack Hughes in the draft and likely promoting Ty Smith to a starting role on D are all positive things, clearly the Devils needed to add even another big piece or two to really cement this offseason’s work.
Enter highly regarded KHL winger Nikita Gusev, after word came down the pike via the rumor mill this afternoon that the Devils were close to acquiring his rights from Vegas and had already asked permission to work out a contract over the weekend. Eventually the trade was confirmed as official – Gusev to the Devils for a 2nd round pick (2021) and 3rd round pick (2020), along with the terms of the contract – two years at $4.5 million AAV. And he’ll be wearing #97, if you care about that. Credit to The Hockey Writers’ Dan Rice who broke the story first on Twitter and had the details of the trade exactly correct, as it turned out.
While I’ve been paying attention to the Gusev rumors I didn’t really want to look at what this guy was doing unless we actually did wind up trading for him. Clearly his numbers in the KHL suggest he should be an impact top six forward at the NHL level but it’s always impossible to tell how one league translates to another. At least the trade and contract cost makes the risk ridiculously low.
Notably absent from Subban welcome weekend a few days ago was GM Ray Shero. Not that anyone really cared at the time, but guess now we know why – since he was finalizing the Gusev deal, as it turned out. After years of frustratingly unused cap space and missed opportunities, Shero’s hitting this offseason out of the park making multiple difference-making adds to the team at less than prohibitive cost, adding an entire line and d-pairing to last year’s team with Gusev, Hughes, Simmonds, Subban and including Ty Smith.
What pray tell, does this mean for franchise keystone Taylor Hall? Understandably he wanted to see what was in store for the franchise in a key offseason after last year’s dissapointing slide. While clearly Shero subscribes to the Lou school of ‘when you have time, use it’, it would be far more ideal to have the Hall situation resolved before camp in a few weeks. Extending Hall and recent #1 overall Nico Hischier would make this the ideal offseason for Shero.