7th Round, 202nd Overall: LW Nikita Gusev
LW Nikita Gusev, 5'9" 163 lbs, CSKA Jr. (RUS Jr.), Shoots: Right
CSS #20 European Skater, RLR #218 Overall
2011-2012 Statistics: 34 GP, 30-46-76, +23, 26 PIM
Tampa Bay finishes its draft by selecting the prolific linemate of Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Gusev. Also, the Lightning take their third overage eligible of the draft.
Pros: Flat out lights it up statistically. He has all the puck skills and offensive hockey sense you would expect out of a Russian forward, and winds up all over the stat sheet because of it. Great in space, and a magician with the puck who dangles and buys time for his linemates as a playmaker. Also has a good sense for finding holes without the puck and jumping into them to set up a good one-timer.
Cons: Tiny. You won't see many highlights of Gusev working his way in and out of traffic, because not much footage exists. More of a perimeter player to this point of his career. Skating lacks the high end gear you'd want from a player his size. Turns 20 in July and has yet to taste much success on the KHL level. A flight risk back to the KHL if he ever comes over to North America. The "Russian factor" strikes again.
This is a classic late round flyer on a very talented young man who may never make it to North America, but may be lured by the chance to come with Kucherov. He's got the puck skills to be a second line scorer, but lack of a top gear in skating may keep him out of the NHL.