Gusev goes to New Jersey in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2020 third-round pick, a relatively cheap price for a player of Gusev's caliber. Shortly after the deal went official, it was announced that Gusev was signing a two-year, $9 million deal with the Devils.
The 27-year-old Russian winger joined the Golden Knights prior to the playoffs last spring but never appeared in a game. He was a restricted free agent this summer and Vegas, currently in a cap crunch, couldn't manage to sign him to a new deal.
It was reported earlier this month that Gusev was looking for an annual $4 million salary on a two-year contract, while the Golden Knights countered with a two-year offer for $2 million AAV. Vegas granted permission to Gusev's agents to meet with the Devils this past weekend, and they were able to come to terms on a trade and new contract.
"We did our best to accommodate Nikita and his salary request but were unable to do so. He is a good person, a good player and we wish him well in New Jersey," Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said on Monday.
McPhee noted that losing Gusev is a product of the salary cup.
"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," he said. "This is the reality of having a good team in the salary cap world. After this trade, we now own nine picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts. These picks will help boost our organizational depth and add to our pool of prospects. Although we were not able to make this work I am really happy with where we are at with our roster."
Gusev has spent the past nine seasons in the KHL, where he emerged as a standout talent on the wing. He led the league with 17 goals and 82 points in 62 games for SKA St. Petersburg last season. He was also a member of the gold medal winning Russian team at the 2018 Olympics.
He'll join a list of offseason additions in New Jersey that already includes top overall pick Jack Hughes and former Norris winner P.K. Subban.