Ramblings: Digging deep on Gusev, Bowey’s blunder, Iron Yan, and fading Phil (Nov 25)




Ramblings: Digging deep on Gusev, Bowey’s blunder, Iron Yan, and fading Phil (Nov 25)


I was asked on Twitter if it’s time to drop Nikita Gusev, after I had advised him two weeks ago that he should “give it two weeks”. I liked the question and I wanted to delve deeper and I will do it here.

First, the bad. In his first 19 NHL games, Gusev has just eight points. He’s only getting secondary PP time and his linemates are Tommy Stonehands and Jimmy Lunchpail (alright fine – Travis Zajac and Blake Coleman). His ice time is modest (maybe third line-ish) and Coach Hynes seems to be using him as a PP specialist, reminding me a little of John Tortorella and Sam Gagner back when he was with Columbus. I don’t think the coach is a big fan because his possession numbers are quite weak, albeit with limited sample size.

Now, the good. Ice time seems to be creeping upwards (averaging over 15 minutes in his last four games) and last game he was bumped up to the top unit. When the team scores while he is on the ice, Gusev is a big part of it (88.9% IPP), more so than with most players. His points per 60 minutes of ice time is fourth on the team. The talent is definitely there.

I feel like at this point Gusev is a linemates change away from posting three points every four games. My sense is that his talent was evaluated properly in training camp (all offense, little defense) and now he is just being eased into a new league. Is the game plan to continue easing him in until the 20-game mark? Forty? Your decision on this comes down to your comfort level. Myself? I would do everything I can to make room for him on my bench. But if that’s just not possible, then I’d drop him – but I’d keep my finger on the trigger ready to quickly claim him back if I hear of any changes to his linemates. That could happen next game…or next season. I wish I could get in the head of Coach Hynes and find out for sure, but I haven’t developed that power yet. I’m close though, just a few more experiments in my labr…oh but I’ve said too much.