New Jersey Devils: Does Gusev trade signal the end for Zacha?

Nikita Gusev, Russia. New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Nikita Gusev, Russia. New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Nikita Gusev, Russia. New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Monday, the New Jersey Devils traded for KHL’s the leading scorer last year. Does Nikita Gusev’s arrival squeeze out Pavel Zacha?

How about the New Jersey Devils? We’ve been hearing that plenty since the draft. They did it again on Monday by acquiring left wing Nikita Gusev from the cap-strapped Vegas Golden Knights. In exchange, New Jersey sent a 2020 third-round draft pick, as well as their 2021 second-rounder out west.

Vegas didn’t have the cap space available to bring Gusev aboard, but shortly after the trade, he signed a two-year, $9M contract with New Jersey. The move was just the latest in a series of good ones during a sensational offseason for general manager Ray Shero.

It started with the Devils winning the draft lottery and selecting American Jack Hughes with the first overall pick in the draft. The following day Shero shocked the hockey world by trading for All-NHL defenseman, P.K. Subban from Nashville. In that one, the New Jersey Devils parted with defensemen Steve Santini and Jeremy Davies, as well as their 2019, and 2020 second-round picks.

At the start of free agency, Shero signed last season’s Mark Messier Award Winner (leadership), Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $5M contract. The 30-year-old right wing, has a rare combination of scoring ability and physicality. He should fit in well with the Devils. Finally, there was Gusev’s acquisition on Monday.

All totaled, aside from drafting the dynamic Hughes, the New Jersey Devils have brought in possibly the best defenseman in the NHL, one of the top grinders around, and the KHL’s leading points scorer last year. All it cost was a couple of spare parts defensemen, three second-round picks, and a third-round pick. Shero didn’t even trade a top prospect or first-round pick. He’s the early leader for G.M. of the Year.

Lost in the shuffle is Pavel Zacha. The 2015 sixth overall draft selection by New Jersey appears to have lost his place among the top nine.