There was a pretty important hockey game Saturday night (technically Sunday morning) in Pyeongchang as the Olympic Athletes from Russia took on Germany for the gold medal in men’s ice hockey.
On paper, it appeared Germany had no chance against the Russian team. But to the surprise of just about everyone, the contest turned out to be one of the very best hockey games in recent memory.
The Olympic Athletes from Russia ended up winning the thriller in overtime by a score of 4-3. While Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winner for the Russians, it was Nikita Gusev, property of the Vegas Golden Knights, who was the true rockstar of the contest, scoring two goals (including the game-tying tally) and also assisting on another to lift his team over the Germans.
Gusev, 25, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. After finding a home in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, however, it became clear it would be a while before the Moscow native made the jump to the NHL.
Back in June, Tampa Bay shipped Gusev’s rights and a pair of draft picks to Vegas in exchange for the selection of Jason Garrison in the expansion draft. Since then, though, Gusev has signed a two-year extension with the KHL’s SKA Saint Petersburg, which will allow him to join the NHL (if he so desires) as an unrestricted free agent.
Golden Knights GM George McPhee was well aware that it might take a while for Gusev to come to North America even prior to the Russian’s contract extension, though. In July, McPhee admitted it would be “at least a year” before Gusev joined the Golden Knights.
As it turns out, it may take longer than that, if it even happens at all.
If Gusev does end up joining the Golden Knights at some point, though, it’s clear that Vegas will be getting an offensive dynamo. Last season, Gusev registered 24 goals and 71 points in just 57 games for SKA Saint Petersburg. He is once again blowing away the competition this season, with 22 goals and 62 points through 53 games.