Nikita Gusev is having a historic season in the KHL

And he may be in a Golden Knights uniform next season!

Oh, how the expansion draft just keeps on giving. Nikita Gusev landed in the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who graciously traded over his rights along with a 2017 secnd-round pick and 2018 fourth-round pick just to select Jason Garrison from them.

Gusev, a seventh-round pick by the Lightning in 2012, hasn't left the KHL since joining it in 2010. However, his contract is set to expire at the end of this season, and Golden Knights fans should be hopeful that the 26-year-old will make the trip over to the NHL. Because, well, he’s been on fire for the last few years.

Statistical Outlook

As of Feb. 21, Gusev leads the KHL in points, and it’s not even close. He currently has 79 points, which is ten ahead of second place and 12 ahead the man in third place, who just so happens to be Golden Knights legend Vadim Shipachyov. He clearly enjoys dishing the puck as he has 63 assists and 16 goals. His assist total is a KHL record, which was originally set at 60 by Alexander Radulov. His 79 points is the third-most points scored in a single season in KHL history. Over his past four seasons, he’s appeared in 205 games and has amassed 75 goals and 172 assists. Not too shabby, Nikita.

He was also a member of the 2018 OAR Olympic team, which captured the gold medal. Gusev may have played a little role in their gold medal success, as he led the tournament in points with 12, scoring four goals and adding eight assists. He was awarded the best forward award at the Olympic Games.

Gusev has been playing with SKA St. Petersburg for the last four seasons, and has skated there alongside current and ex-NHL players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Nail Yakupov, Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeny Dadonov. He helped lead them to a championship during the 2016-17 season.

How does he fit in?

Gusev plays as a left winger, and it just so happens that there may be an opening on the left side next year. Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty are presumably here to stay, but with expiring contracts to potential left wingers Oscar Lindberg, Tomas Nosek, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Brandon Pirri, it probably won’t be too difficult to find a way to fit Gusev in.

Some fans may be worried that bringing in Gusev will just turn into another Shipachyov saga, but the risk is often worth the reward when it comes to bringing in high-end talent from the KHL. Plus, despite him enjoying a record-breaking season in the Russian league, it seems legitimately possible that he could join the Golden Knights next season.

At this point, Gusev has done enough that if he decides to cross the pond and play in North America, the Golden Knights will find a way to get him in the lineup. It’s hard to predict exactly what kind of contract he will demand, but we can take a guess.

When Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the NHL this season, he signed a three-year $18.75 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings. Alexander Radulov signed a one-year, $5.75 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens when he returned three years ago. Dadonov inked a three-year, $12 million contract with the Florida Panthers. Artemi Panarin banked a two-year, $7 million deal with the Chicago Blackhawks.

A short, lucrative deal will be in store for Gusev if he does end up deciding to come and play for the Golden Knights. Now, all we can do is wait and see what he ultimately decides to do.