2012 NHL Entry Draft

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Devils acquire Gusev from Golden Knights, ink him to two-year deal

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The New Jersey Devils continued to bulk up their roster by acquiring Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday and signing him to a two-year, $9 million contract.

Vegas receives a 2020 third-round draft pick and a 2021 second-round pick.

The 27-year-old Gusev was originally a seventh-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012. He never came over, so the Lightning dealt his rights to Vegas ahead of the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft for Jason Garrison. The forward stayed in the KHL with SKA Saint Petersburg and scored 39 goals and recording 144 points over the last two seasons. Finally, he signed a one-year, entry-level contract in April with the Golden Knights and was with the team during the Stanley Cup Playoffs but did not appear in a game.

The Golden Knights had tried to re-sign Gusev, who was a restricted free agent ineligible for an offer sheet and without arbitration rights, but the two sides were far apart — reportedly $2 million  in negotiations as he sought a multi-year deal. Vegas is so tight up against the cap ceiling that they would have had to move out a few contracts in order to fit his deal. That clearly couldn’t get done.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

“We did our best to accommodate Nikita and his salary request but were unable to do so. He is a good person, a good player and we wish him well in New Jersey,” said Golden Knights general manager George McPhee. “When you have a roster comprised of players who are deserving of a certain salary range you are not always able to make room for everyone. This is the reality of having a good team in the salary cap world. After this trade, we now own nine picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts. These picks will help boost our organizational depth and add to our pool of prospects. Although we were not able to make this work I am really happy with where we are at with our roster.”

Gusev could have returned to the KHL this summer if he did not sign a contract with an NHL team.

Considering what Devils GM Ray Shero gave up here, this is a worthy gamble to take on a player who is coming off an MVP season and averaged 0.85 points per game in 391 career KHL games. Shero has used this offseason to capitalize on the team’s biggest weapon entering the summer: cap space. After this signing, he still has a little over $12 million, per Cap Friendly, in room to continuing strengthening his roster.

From adding up front with Jack Hughes as the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft to bolstering the backend by trading for P.K. Subban to counting on a bounce-back year from Wayne Simmonds after signing him in free agency, the Devils’ aggressive approach to the offseason is hoping to pay off in two ways: get them back in the playoffs in 2020 and entice Taylor Hall to sign a long-term extension.

The on-ice product has certainly been improved this summer and keeping Hall in the fold would only continue moving the franchise a positive direction.

MORE: Devils eager for offseason splashes to help deliver wins

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT’s 2012 NHL Entry Draft Tracker

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Here’s a comprehensive rundown of all the picks and trades from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The first round broadcast live by NBC Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

(Round 2-7 will take place on Saturday, broadcast live by NHL Network beginning at 10 a.m., ET.)

Round 1

1. Edmonton — Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia Sting (see video below)
2. Columbus — Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips
3. Montreal — Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia Sting
4. NY Islanders — Griffin Reinhart, D, Edmonton Oil Kings
5. Toronto — Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw Warriors
6. Anaheim — Hampus Lindholm, D, Rogle Jr. (Sweden)
7. Minnesota — Matthew Dumba, D, Red Deer Rebels
8. Pittsburgh (from Carolina) — Derrick Pouliot, D, Portland Winterhawks
9. Winnipeg — Jacob Trouba, D, US National  Team Development Program
10. Tampa Bay — Slater Koekkoek, D, Peterborough Petes
11. Washington (from COL) — Filip Forsberg, C/LW, Leksands IF (Sweden)
12. Buffalo — Mikhail Grigorenko, C, Quebec Remparts
13. Dallas — Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener Rangers
14. Buffalo (from Calgary) — Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints
15. Ottawa — Cody Ceci, D, Ottawa 67’s
16. Washington — Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers
17. San Jose — Tomas Hertl, C, Slavia Praha (Czech Republic)
18. Chicago — Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Jokerit (Finland)
19. Tampa Bay (from DET) — Andrey Vasilevskiy, G, Ufa (Russia)
20. Philadelphia — Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa Generals
21. Calgary (from Buffalo, via NSH) — Mark Jankowski, C, Stanstead College (Quebec)
22. Pittsburgh — Olli Maatta, D, London Knights
23. Florida — Mike Matheson, D, Dubuque Fighting Saints
24. Boston — Malcolm Subban, G, Belleville Bulls
25. St. Louis — Jordan Schmaltz, D, Green Bay Gamblers
26. Vancouver — Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville Bulls
27. Phoenix — Henrik Samuelsson, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings
28. NY Rangers — Brady Skjei, D, US National Team Development Program
29. New Jersey — Stefan Matteau, C, US National Team Development Program
30. Los Angeles — Tanner Pearson, LW, Barrie Colts

Trades

— Pittsburgh sends C Jordan Staal to Carolina in exchange for the eighth pick, Brandon Sutter and Brian Dumolin. (link)

— Anaheim sends D Lubomir Visnovsky to New York Islanders in exchange for 2013 second-round pick. (link)

— Dallas sends C Mike Ribeiro to Washington for F Cody Eakin and 54th overall pick. (link)

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Get to know a draft pick — Morgan Rielly

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All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Morgan Rielly (D)

Height: 6’0 Weight: 190 Shoots: Left

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 5 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

Put it this way — nobody is going to question the kid’s heart or desire. After rolling through the first 18 games of the WHL season at a point-a-game clip (3G-15A), the highly-touted rearguard tore his ACL, an injury many figured would be the end to his season.

Rielly had other plans.

Months of rigorous rehab and some major lobbying saw him return for Moose Jaw’s Eastern Conference final series against Edmonton. Though the Warriors lost in five games, Rielly managed to put up six points and confirmed to scouts everything what they thought prior to the injury — that he’s one of the best blueliners in this draft class.

Rielly ended up the second-ranked North American defenseman by Central Scouting, behind Everett’s Ryan Murray.

Quotable:

“His speed is good with a dangerous top gear and Rielly can be especially impressive from a standstill with his acceleration, four-way mobility, and his elusive quickness. He can also really make things happen on a power play with his footwork and ability to maneuver in tight spaces. Rielly is a very skilled offensive player with plus puck skills and passing ability who can dangle an opponent out of his skates or thread a bullet pass through a tight lane.” — Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus.

More draft profiles:

Nail Yakupov

Filip Forsberg

Malcolm Subban

Ryan Murray

Pontus Aberg

Oscar Dansk

Griffin Reinhart

Alex Galchenyuk

Cristoval ‘Boo’ Nieves

Jacob Trouba

Olli Maatta

Derrick Pouliot

Slater Koekkoek

Get to know a draft pick — Griffin Reinhart

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All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Griffin Reinhart (D)

Height: 6’4 Weight: 207 Shoots: Left

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 10 among North American skaters

What kind of player is he?

Another draftee with strong hockey bloodlines — father Paul played with Vancouver and Calgary, older brother Max was drafted by the Flames in 2010 — Reinhart’s often described as a two-way blueliner praised for his balance of offensive and defensive attributes.

Case in point: Scouts like his puck-moving skills and he’s clearly got an offensive flair, having led all Oil Kings defensemen in goals last year (12). But Reinhart’s also lauded for his frame — at 6’4 and over 200 pounds, he’s got NHL-calibre size — defensive awareness, and high hockey IQ.

Of note, Reinhart had 21 interviews at the recent NHL scouting combine and received follow-ups from Edmonton, Dallas, Buffalo, Montreal and Columbus.

Quotable:

“Very few 6-4 blueliners can skate and handle the puck like Reinhart, and those attributes alone will intrigue lots of scouts. Has a hard point shot that often finds its mark, good passing skills.

“Has been compared by some scouts to [Boston Bruins prospect] Dougie Hamilton. Has the size, skill and skating ability to be a top two NHL defenceman.” — Grant McCagg, TSN.

More draft profiles:

Nail Yakupov

Filip Forsberg

Malcolm Subban

Ryan Murray

Pontus Aberg

Get to know a draft pick — Malcolm Subban

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All week leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, we’ll be profiling top prospects who may hear their names called Friday in the first round. Nothing too in-depth. Just enough so you know who they are and what they’re about.

Malcolm Subban (G)

Height: 6’1 Weight: 188 Catches: Left

Team: Belleville Bulls (OHL)

Country: Canada

NHL Central Scouting ranking: No. 1 among North American goalies

What kind of player is he?

One of three hockey-playing brothers — older brother P.K. is with the Montreal Canadiens, younger brother Jordan just finished his rookie year in Belleville — Subban has strong hockey bloodlines and comes from an athletic family. His dad and older sister were Canadian university basketball stars; his mom ran track in high school.

That said, Subban doesn’t rely solely on athleticism. Scouts like his poise, positioning and competitive fire, but do acknowledge he’s got terrific lateral ability, which makes his butterfly style all the more effective.

Subban’s biggest asset, though, is a word beloved by draft gurus: Upside.

He only started tending goal at age 12 and is still learning the position. That’s tantalizing for his long term projection because, during his time in Belleville, Subban has gotten better with each passing year. He went from being a low pick at the OHL Priority Draft to representing Canada at the World U-18s to becoming one of the best goalies in the league last season.

Because of his size and playing style, Subban has drawn comparisons to Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Quotable:

“It’s in his blood. He’s a natural goaltender. He’s big but he doesn’t just stand and get hit by the puck. He’s so athletic, he uses a lot of his reflexes.” — Sebastien Farrese, Belleville goalie coach

More draft profiles:

Nail Yakupov

Filip Forsberg