While many of us on this website were clamoring for the Blue Jackets and GM Jarmo Kekalainen to jump into the Nikita Gusev sweepstakes, it sounds like he was ahead of the curve all along.
Gusev, who hasn't yet played a game in North America and is a relative unknown at the NHL level, has plenty of talent. He's been a star in Russia and internationally, and the Vegas Golden Knights (who owned his rights) were hopeful to bring him into the fold and bolster their team. But then, there was the issue of a contract. Those pesky contracts.
Vegas GM George McPhee was unable to reach an agreement with Gusev's representation, and put the player on the trade market. Gusev was ultimately dealt to the New Jersey Devils on Monday for two draft picks, but a report from The Athletic indicated that the Blue Jackets were in the mix.
“There were two teams that made offers, and we went back and forth for probably a couple weeks. There’s a certain time when it’s time to pull the trigger. If there were 10 or 12 teams coming hard after us then maybe you take a little more time, but it was two and it’s been two for a long time, so it was time.”
A source said they believe the other team to make a bid for Gusev outside of New Jersey was the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that offer fell short of the two-pick package the Devils offered.
Per this report from Jesse Granger, the Golden Knights were also attempting to dump a contract, offering Ryan Reaves and Nick Holden. It's hard to imagine the Blue Jackets being willing to do that, in addition to shelling out two mid-to-high draft picks.