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Former New Jersey Devils Forward Named KHL MVP

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New Jersey Devils

On Monday, for the second time in his decorated playing career, former New Jersey Devils forward Nikita Gusev won the KHL Golden Stick Award, granted to the league’s most valuable player. The 31-year-old produced a whopping 23 goals, 66 assists, and 89 points in only 68 regular season games.

Gusev’s 66 assists and 89 points paced the KHL this season; both marks also set KHL records in those categories. The former Devils forward is now fourth all-time in scoring in KHL history with 505 points, trailing only Alexander Radulov (589), Sergei Mozyakin (756), and Vadim Shipachyov (793).

Radulov spent nine mostly productive years in the NHL, while Shipachyov is best known in North America for his failed three-game stint with the Vegas Golden Knights back in the 2017-18 season.

Gusev first won the KHL Golden Stick Award in 2017-18, his penultimate season in the KHL, before leaving home base to try his hand at the NHL with the Devils.

Although Gusev’s arrival in New Jersey in 2019 was meant to provide a spark of hope for a franchise long mired in a brutal rebuild, the Russian’s time with the Devils was short-lived. The silky winger enjoyed a productive first season donning the Red and Black, scoring 13 goals, 31 assists, and 44 points in 66 games.

Gusev finished second in scoring on the Devils that year, trailing Kyle Palmieri by one point, while current Devils stars Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt combined for just 30 goals and 68 points.

Oh, and that was Jack Hughes’s rookie year. The one where he scored seven goals and 14 assists in 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the NHL down for a few months.

Gusev played one more season with the Devils in 2020-21 under the newly hired (and now fired) Lindy Ruff but struggled to fit in, scoring just two goals and three assists in 20 games. The Devils and Gusev mutually agreed to a contract termination on April 9, 2021, and two days later, Gusev joined the Florida Panthers on a one-year contract.

Gusev scored 5 points in 11 games for the Panthers and subsequently returned home to Russia in the offseason and signed with SKA St. Petersburg.

Having just completed his first season with Dynamo Moscow, the former Devils forward is now the KHL’s MVP for the second time.

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