2009-10: Nikita Gusev played for the CSKA-Red Army junior team in Russia. He scored 17 goals with 40 goals and had 14 penalty minutes in 48 games. In five playoff games he scored 1 goal with 2 assists.
2010-11: Gusev made his KHL debut, skating in 18 games for CSKA-Red Army, and was the leading scorer for CSKA-Red Army’s junior team. Gusev scored 1 goal and was minus-one with 8 penalty minutes in limited ice time with the KHL club. In 38 junior games he scored 22 goals and was plus-35 with 37 assists and 14 penalty minutes. CSKA-Red Army captured the MHL championship and in 16 playoff games Gusev scored 17 goals with 10 assists and was plus-15 with 6 penalty minutes. Gusev was ranked 52nd by Central Scouting in their final rankings prior to the 2011 NHL Draft but was not selected.
2011-12: Gusev appeared in 15 KHL games for CSKA-Red Army and was the MHL junior league’s second-leading scorer. He represented Russia at the 2012 U20 World Junior Championship. Gusev scored 2 goals with 1 assist and was minus-two in KHL play. In 34 games for CSKA-Red Army’s junior team he scored 30 goals with 46 assists and was plus-23 with 26 penalty minutes. Gusev scored 3 goals with 6 assists and was plus-6in seven games for Russia at the WJC. Russia won a silver medal at the tournament. Gusev was ranked 20th amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.
2012-13: Gusev saw limited ice time in six games with KHL club CSKA Moscow — spending time with the THK Tver in Russia’s second league — but had a larger role after a mid-season move to Amur Khabarovsk. He had 1 assist and was -2 with CSKA, which finished first in the Tarasov Division. Gusev scored 4 goals with 8 assists, finishing with an even plus/minus and 6 penalty minutes in 24 games with Khabarovsk, which had the KHL’s second-worst record and finished last in the Chernyshev Division. Gusev scored 7 goals with 6 assists in 15 VHL games with THK Tver and was -2 with 2 penalty minutes.
2013-14: Gusev was traded from CSKA Moscow to Khanty-Mansiysk Ugra in September 2013 and skated in 44 games for Ugra in his first full season in the KHL. He scored 8 goals with 6 assists and was -6 with 10 penalty minutes. Khanty-Mansiysk did not make the KHL playoffs, finishing sixth in the Kharlamov Division.
2014-15: Gusev led last-place Khanty-Mansiysk in scoring and impressed with his offensive skills at the KHL All-Star Game in his second KHL season. Playing for an Ugra team that missed the playoffs for the third straight season, he scored 21 goals with 16 assists and was +1 with 12 penalty minutes in 55 regular season games.
Gusev is a highly-skilled but undersized scoring forward who scored consistently on a team that was frequently overmatched. Still developing in terms of his overall game and positional play, Gusev's skill set suggests he could fit in well with the other young forwards currently skating in Tampa Bay. As with many skilled forwards coming out of Russia, Gusev's willingness to play in North America has cast some uncertainty over his status as an NHL prospect.
Gusev saw a full-time role for the first time in his KHL career in 2014-15 and made the most of his opportunity, leading Ugra in scoring. He has yet to sign an entry-level deal with the Lightning and has one season remaining on his KHL deal with Khanty-Mansiysk so he may not be in North America until the 2016-17 season at the earliest. His technical skills suggest Gusev has the potential to be a dangerous offensive forward at the NHL level. His overall game is far from complete at this point and he must continue to develop his positional play to one day fulfill that potential.