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Golden Knights prospect Nikita Gusev signs in KHL

COLOGNE, GERMANY - MAY 21: #97 Nikita Gusev (RUS) in action during the Ice Hockey World Championship Bronze medal game between Russia and Finland at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, on May 21, 2017. (Photo by Robert Hradil/Icon Sportswire)
Robert Hradil/Icon Sportswire

Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nikita Gusev has signed a two-year deal to return to St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL, according to Sonny Sachdeva of Sportsnet.

The Golden Knights acquired Gusev’s rights from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the expansion draft along with two first-round draft picks in exchange for selecting Lighting defenseman Jason Garrison.

The 25-year-old Gusev was selected by Tampa Bay in the seventh round (202nd pick overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but he has remained in Russia ever since.

The forward played the last two years with SKA, and during the 2016-17 campaign, he racked up a career-high 24 goals and a lifetime-best 47 assists to total 71 points in 57 games. He also registered an absurd plus-33 plus-minus stat, and in 18 playoff contests, he scored seven goals and handed out 17 assists.

Gusev originally broke into the KHL with CSKA Moscow in 2010-11.

He spent the first three years of his career with Moscow, playing only sparingly. Gusev played in only 39 games over those three seasons, finding the back of the net three times overall and registering just two assists.

Gusev then played one year with Khabarovsk Amur in 2012-13, tallying four goals and assists in 24 contests.

That was a “breakout year” of sorts for Gusev, as he landed with Khanty-Mansiyk Yugra the following season and resided with the club for two and a half years, including the 2014-15 campaign when he posted 21 goals and 16 assists in 55 games.

He was traded to St. Petersburg SKA midway through the 2015-16 season, and in 33 contests for the club, he found the back of the net 13 times and recorded 22 assists.

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