The Vegas Golden Knights are gaining interest for restricted free agent forward Nikita Gusev as the club looks to make moves to lock up center William Karlsson to a long-term deal, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Saturday.
Gusev’s reported interest is another line in the list of potential moves the Golden Knights could explore as they attempt to free up cap space. The primary responsibility is to lock up Karlsson, their top-line center who is also set to enter restricted free agency this summer.
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic reported Friday that talks are progressing in favor of Karlsson and the Golden Knights to reach a long-term deal in the coming weeks.
For that to happen, Vegas needs to get under the cap. CapFriendly has Vegas at over $83 million in salary. The official salary cap number for the 2019-20 season will reportedly be announced at some point Saturday, but is expceted to hover between $81.5 million and $82 million. The Golden Knights are one of many teams expected to make trades to become cap compliant before free agency begins July 1.
Gusev was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2017 expansion draft for Vegas selecting defenseman Jason Garrison. The former KHL MVP scored 82 points in 62 games for SKA St. Petersburg this season. He signed a one-year entry-level contract with Vegas during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but did not play.
Considering Gusev doesn’t have a cap hit, any trade would have to include one with a hefty cap hit should Vegas pull the trigger. The top name remains defenseman Colin Miller, who has three years remaining with an average annual value of $3.875 million.