Vadim Shipachyov

Golden Knights could get playoff boost from KHL scoring leader Gusev


The Vegas Golden Knights looked a little overwhelmed by the sheer talent of the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If only they had, say, the leading scorer from the KHL this season …

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Nikita Gusev’s agent J.P. Barry confirmed that the 26-year-old forward has been released from his contract from St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL. Dreger reports that this opens up Gusev to sign a one-year entry-level contract with the Golden Knights for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Gusev is expected to join the Golden Knights by this weekend.

Barring a change-up that would put Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann rushing to join the Penguins to shame, one would think that this weekend would exclude Game 2 on Friday night (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream), but who knows about Game 3 on Sunday (10 p.m. ET on NBCSN; Live stream)?

Overall, it’s difficult to tell if Gusev can get into the mix by Round 1 in general … but we’ll see.


On one hand, it’s easy to see why people would be excited about this development.

Gusev topped all KHL regular-season scorers with 82 points in 62 games; in fact, second place point producer and former NHL forward Nigel Dawes was pretty far behind with 69. Gusev also generated 19 points in 18 playoff games, the second best total. Gusev also won a gold medal with Russia during the 2018 Winter Olympics, scoring 12 points in six games.

Yes, KHL successes don’t always directly translate to NHL success, yet we’ve also seen Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov go from strong work overseas to dominant play in the NHL. One could picture Gusev combining with, say, Alex Tuch to form a pretty frightening third line — or at least one that might keep up with Joe Thornton‘s also-frightening third line for San Jose. For all we know, Gusev could be a difference-maker during Round 1, and maybe beyond.

On the other hand, for all of the successes the Golden Knights have had in their first two years, there are a few reminders that not every player integrates well into this mix.

Vadim Shipachyov and Gerard Gallant mixed like oil and water, as Slepyshev went from being a KHL scorer with fascinating potential to a disaster (and ultimately, a footnote). There isn’t just the worry of a bumpy ride from the KHL to the NHL. Gallant didn’t have much success with a newcomer in Tomas Tatar, who became a healthy scratch during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and then returned to being effective during the 2018-19 regular season with the Montreal Canadiens.

Gallant certainly wasn’t making any promises when asked about Gusev — in fact, he admitted that he doesn’t know much about the forward (or at least that’s what he said).

“I don’t know much about him, and George (McPhee) mentioned it today there’s some reports out there,” Gallant said on April 11, via David Schoen and Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If he joins us, then we’ll see what’s going to happen. But I don’t know the player well enough.”

Schoen confirmed Dreger’s report, and Barry’s additional comments make this sound like a work in progress:

It’s all a bit of a mystery, but hey, mysteries are fun, right?

For more on Friday’s Game 2 matchups, read The Wraparound.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

After leaving Las Vegas, Vadim Shipachyov signs contract in KHL

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian forward Vadim Shipachyov signed Saturday with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League after quitting a deal with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Shipachyov returns to the team where he won two KHL championships. He is on a one-year contract which leaves him free to play at the Winter Olympics.

Vegas said Thursday that Shipachyov’s contract was ended after he refused to play for its AHL affiliate. He is officially considered “voluntarily retired” from the NHL.

Shipachyov appeared unhappy with his former team in a statement issued by SKA on Saturday.

“They say one thing to your face and when it comes to hockey, something else,” he said, adding that his NHL experience had been “two months of misunderstandings, smiles and conversations which had nothing to do with reality.”

The center was Vegas’ second-ever signing and he arrived amid hype from his performances in the KHL and for the Russian national team.

Shipachyov scored in his first game for Vegas but that was the only goal of his three-game NHL career.

Vadim Shipachyov saga finally ends for Vegas Golden Knights

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The Vadim Shipachyov era in Vegas has officially come to a close and the 30-year-old Russian will forever be known as the first player to retire as a Golden Knight.

As part of an agreement between the Knights, NHL and NHLPA, Shipachyov has voluntarily retired from the NHL. General manager George McPhee said he had a trade in place but the player wanted to go home. In order for the move to be completed, the center needed to pay back all but $86,000 of his $2 million signing bonus.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” McPhee said. “Sometimes the player you see in Europe isn’t the player you see here, and that’s the risk you take when you sign them and you’re hoping that it works out and it doesn’t always work out.”

His salary is now completely off their books and Vegas now has an open spot on their roster.

All signs points to Shipachyov returning to SKA, a powerhouse in the KHL, despite an attempt by his hometown club Severstal to lure him back.


Shipachyov signed a two-year, $9 million deal with Vegas in May, but spent his first month of this season shipped back and forth between Sin City and their AHL affiliate in Chicago. He would play only three games with the Golden Knights before seeking a way to return home.

The Shipachyov drama clearly didn’t affect the Golden Knights as they started their inaugural campaign with a 7-3-1 record in October.

“He needed to play,” McPhee said. “Everyone here was playing better than he was. He needed to play and we were willing to have him play in Chicago.”

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

Report: Vadim Shipachyov opts to return to Russia


The day after being suspended by the Vegas Golden Knights for leaving their minor league team in Chicago, a report surfaced Monday afternoon that Vadim Shipachyov is going back to Russia.

The Golden Knights made a splash in the spring by signing Shipachyov to a two-year, $9 million contract with an annual $4.5 million cap hit, bringing the productive — and certainly intriguing — KHL forward from Russia to the North American game at the age of 30.

Shipachyov appeared in three games for the Golden Knights and scored his first NHL goal in his debut against the Bruins.

But this working relationship has gone through an extended difficult stretch over the past few weeks, with the team granting Shipachyov and his representatives the opportunity to seek out a trade within the league.

Among the motivating factors for returning to Russia is likely the possibility of participating in the 2018 Olympics, in a year when NHL players will not take part. He has plenty of international experience for Russia, impressing once again at the 2017 World Championships.


Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

Golden Knights allow Vadim Shipachyov to seek trade out of Vegas

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The Vegas Golden Knights made a splash in May when they signed KHL star Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year, $9 million contract before the franchise even drafted a roster.

Five months later, that relationship looks to be coming to an end. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports on Wednesday that the Golden Knights have given Shipachyov and his agent permission to seek a trade out of Sin City.

The 30-year-old Shipachyov, who went 26-50—76 in 50 KHL games last season, has played in only three of Vegas’ eight games this season and has been demoted to their AHL affiliate in Chicago twice, including just before opening night. That first demotion led to rumors he was seeking to return to Russia, something that general manager George McPhee and the player’s agent denied.

Plenty of team could use center help, but the term of Shipachyov’s contract will prove to make the job tougher in finding a suitable trade partner. On a one-year deal, it could be worth the gamble for a team. That second year, however? Tough to swallow when you have a 30-year-old who’s new to the North American game carrying a $4.5 million cap hit next season.

The good thing for the Golden Knights is while the move appears to have failed, it hasn’t and won’t be a distraction to the 7-1-0 expansion side. However and whenever this plays out, it hasn’t affected the play on the ice and it’s clear, in the eyes of McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant that his place on the depth chart is that of a player not worthy of regular time in an NHL lineup.

Shipachyov was sent down again on Tuesday, but he may not end up in Chicago depending on how this situation plays out. He could be dealt, fail to report and be suspended or work out a deal to go back to Russia. It will be curious to see how this plays out.


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