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Panthers sign Gusev; Canadiens trade for Merrill, put Mete on waivers

Panthers sign Gusev, Canadiens' Mete headlines NHL waiver wire list

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 03: Look on Montreal Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete (53) at warm-up before the Ottawa Senators versus the Montreal Canadiens game on April 3, 2021, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2021 NHL Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching, but it’s not the only way teams can add players. It might not even be the most efficient way to do so.

Here’s a quick look at a smaller move involving Nikita Gusev, along with could-be smaller moves on the waiver wire.

After Devils terminate contract, Panthers sign Nikita Gusev

Following the Devils’ decision to terminate Nikita Gusev’s contract, the Florida Panthers scooped him up. The Panthers confirmed that it’s a deal for this season, but didn’t specify the (prorated) cap hit. Pierre LeBrun reports that Gusev’s new contract comes in at (again, a prorated) $1 million.

“Nikita is a highly skilled and creative forward who plays the game with great speed and playmaking ability,” Panthers GM Bill Zito said via the team’s statement. “He has proven himself to be a tremendous offensive talent throughout his career. We are thrilled for Nikita to join the Panthers and look forward to what he can add to our team.”

Naturally, the Panthers are going to pump up signing Gusev, but he’s been a significant disappointment at the NHL level. By just about every metric, he doesn’t seem like a strong addition.

But, indeed, maybe a change of scenery could do the trick? It’s a fairly low-risk gamble by the Panthers, who also traded for Brandon Montour recently. (Montour, like Gusev, generated some buzz with his skill, yet has really struggled to turn that potential into positive production.)

Canadiens’ Mete worth a waiver claim

Sunday’s other interesting periphery news comes via some noteworthy names on the waiver wire. While teams shouldn’t strain a muscle claiming someone like Sami Vatanen, the Canadiens could give up a solid defenseman in Victor Mete.

Mete, 22, is a pending RFA whose current cap hit ($735K) is pretty negligible. Theoretically, a team could make a waiver claim to get Mete, see if his on-ice work matches multiple years of promising underlying numbers, and sign him to what you’d assume would be a cheap extension.

Instead of chasing an older, possibly less reliable defenseman via a trade that might cost futures, Mete would merely gobble up a roster spot and minimal cap space. Seems like a decent bet for a team that could use a stable, young defenseman. (Scrolls through list) that would apply to ... most teams? All of them?

Speaking of the Montreal Canadiens, they also made a trade for Jon Merrill:

In another smaller trade, the Devils acquired Jonas Siegenthaler from the Capitals for a third-round pick:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.