Film Room: Explaining Nikita Gusev's fall from grace, and whether the Florida Panthers can salvage his career
The struggles Gusev has suffered through are hardly novel. European players often have a difficult time finding their footing in North American hockey. What's interesting here is that Gusev appeared to be the exception. He scored 44 points in 66 games last season, good for second on a rebuilding Devils team, and showed that he could thrive in the world's top league.
With a season of experience under his belt, one could comfortably project improvement in his sophomore season. Instead, the opposite's occurred. Gusev only scored a paltry five points in 20 games with the Devils, a number that surely contributed to his departure via mutual contract termination last week.
The ill omens that one augury this sort of fall from grace weren't really there in the 2019-20 season either; the percentages all check out. A cursory glance at Gusev's statistical profile revealed that, if anything, it was his running mates contributing to his productivity rather than luck. He didn't play much but managed to improve his team's offensive fortunes at 5-on-5 and on the power play, establishing himself as one of the better quarterbacks in that state of play league-wide.
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