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Cross-examining myself for that time I said let’s trade for Gusev

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Last week I proposed a trade for Golden Knights RFA Nikita Gusev. I read your comments and attempt (probably not) to address your concerns. Kind of. I really just back up my claims.

Vegas Golden Knights v San Jose Sharks - Game Seven Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

Last week was trade week at The Cannon where we submitted our trade proposals. Remember that time I offered up Markus Nutivaara for Nikita Gusev? As well as taking on David Clarkson while tossing Sonny Milano into the fray?

Well let’s get to the facts.

  • Nutivaara is not getting traded, and I would rather keep him, anyway (More later).
  • Clarkson can be put on LTIR by the Golden Knights, thus not really affecting their cap situation. Imagine if he was included in a deal, then Columbus is doing the favor for Vegas this time around.
  • Milano’s value, whatever that amount was prior to the arrest for alleged assault, only shrank as a result. And he had little to begin with.
  • Gusev is still a prospect with plenty of potential that any team would like to have, given financial availability and assets.

Now that that’s out of the way, why did I even think about Nutivaara in my trade proposal?

It was actually Ryan Murray who I would trade — but he’s re-signed since trade rumors early this summer — who I like but he comes with an injury label. But since he’s signed, forget the notion of trading him. As many of our commenters have pointed out, Nutivaara, a second-pair defenseman, is on a team-friendly deal for the next three seasons. Nutivaara was simply a pawn in my scheme; a defenseman, for the sake of the trade, on par with Murray in terms of age and (somewhat anyway) the contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Nashville Predators Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Plus the Knights are still trying to bolster their blue line. Of course, Nutivaara or the like are more expensive than a player like Deryk Engelland would cost.

And while still attempting a hint of realism, arrest or damaged value aside, Milano is an add-on. Columbus doesn’t really need him and for the sake of it, he’s Vegas’s. Hey, everyone else is doing it! On Monday Milano accepted the Blue Jackets qualifying offer for one year, $874,125, so he’s a cheap asset for Vegas trying to get under the cap.

I mentioned at the bottom of the last article, perhaps the Golden Knights move Cody Eakin or Ryan Reaves? Vegas still needs to move contract(s) no matter what they do this summer.

Oh yeah, why did I include Clarkson in the trade scenario when they can move him to LTIR? Well, CapFriendly’s Armchair GM, as great as it is, for whatever reason does not accurately reflect contracts against the Cap with the player on LTIR. So, I could have just not used Clarkson, and thus facilitated the trade any other way — after all, it’s my world and you’re all living in it — but I went with it because A) the tool was already not accurately reflecting Clarkson, and B) let’s just wipe him from Vegas’s payroll altogether!

For the sake of this argument, same difference since he’s off the payroll.

In that proposed trade, the aftermath left the Knights $975,000 over the cap. (It would be slightly more than that, now that Milano agreed to a new deal). Vegas still needs to move someone else, aforementioned Eakin, Reaves, etc. I even mentioned it at the time, but in my original trade proposal, the contract is likely too rich for either side, technically.

Another point in the comments, from CaseyFlyman, that I thought was astute:

“We also have to consider what other teams are offering Vegas, because the market for Gusev isn’t small. Sure Kukan [plus a third round draft pick] might be enough for Vegas, but it’s definitely not going to beat every other offer out there. Sure, whoever ends up trading for Gusev will end up bailing Vegas out, but they’re not dealing from a position of weakness because they have a prospect that everyone wants. We’re not going to get away with a lowball offer.”

The Knights would undoubtedly receive — or are currently receiving — deals that will benefit them for the price of a high-potential prospect. Danny Webster’s latest Knights on Ice article (Golden Knights offseason will be a failure if they don’t sign Nikita Gusev), only speaks to the kind of ceiling they really see with this kid. The title alone tells you that.

Maybe he's better than many draft picks in the upcoming draft, something PaleDragon mentioned in the latest podcast. PD suggested the possibility of Columbus seeing if their first-round pick in 2020 alone can get a deal done. Maybe the potential of that draft pick is roughly the same value as Gusev. So, Vegas has to weigh the best offer.

Knights on Ice writer Ryan Quigley mentioned the possibility of a trade taking a second and third-round pick. He also assumed the Knights would probably want a prospect. Perhaps a bit of an either/or, such as pick, plus a prospect. That potential trade compensation jives with Jesse Granger’s article from The Athletic. (This article is a really good piece to check out. Inside, Dom Luszczyszyn’s graphics and charts help illustrate how good Gusev has been during his time in the KHL and attempt to project how he could be in the NHL).

Which leads me back to the top. Another reason I offered Nutivaara in my trade? Because you have to give to get. And I know that’s where the buck stops for many of you, if that was the price. And maybe the trade gets done with a very good prospect leaving from Columbus instead, along with a draft pick. For the record, I would rather not move him. No one else on the back end could likely be moved. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are obvious no’s, Adam Clendening, Dean Kukan, and Scott Harrington likely won’t do it. You’re not trading David Savard or Vladislav Gavrikov.

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six

I know what some of you are thinking (based on last week’s comments) but again, Vegas is not taking Clendening or Kukan.

Gusev might prove to be more potential than anything else as far as his eventual NHL career plays out, but the proof is in the pudding regarding his track record internationally. The Knights, who have been stifled at trying to offer the winger a contract of $2 million in AAV, as Gusev reportedly wants double that amount, are obviously high on the kid. George McPhee is dealing from the strength he has in a prospect of Gusev’s ilk. His potential alone is worth more than the likes of Clendening ($700,000 AAV), and Kukan ($725,000). Those two defenseman, and others like them, would only be a throw-in; not the main players headlining a trade.

Maybe rather than removing from the glut on defense, the Jackets can instead work from their organizational forward glut. A Kevin Stenlund type?

Surely not Liam Foudy, Alexandre Texier, or Emil Bemstrom.

Sure, the Blue Jackets have already traded quite a few draft picks, which may make them understandably leery to move more, whether Gusev doesn’t pan out, or decides to move on after two seasons. Going off topic for a second, the Blue Jackets might move four first round draft picks for a Mitchell Marner type, if they could get the player to agree to a 7-year term. Nothing short of that. The trade might be too rich for some. It might prove that Gusev is a steal, especially at say, $4 million AAV. No matter what, the trade, like all trades, has a discernible amount of risk. But if there’s one thing, Jarmo Kekalainen has proven to be bold, making his fair share of trades. Jarmo seems to laugh at risk head-on; he’d be a good Wolf on Wall Street.