We’re nearing the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and that means we will begin to see trades happening more often. For the Vegas Golden Knights, some big trades may need to happen in order to keep them under the salary cap. Yesterday we discussed where the Knights are with cap space and how much more they need to find in order to sign key players (read that article here). Today we’re going to discuss possible ways to get there.
Before we get into that, let’s remember that the Knights “need” to sign (*should sign) William Karlsson ($6-7M), Nikita Gusev (maybe $2-4M/1 yr?), a fourth line forward like Nosek or maybe Bellemare ($1M), and one more defender (Engelland??). These signings put us between $5-8M over cap. Some of you will be very upset by the names you see below, but the reality is that we have to get rid of some of the big names in order to be under Cap. In the end, we trust our GM to make the best decision for the team, but since we don’t know what GM knows or thinks, we can only speculate to prepare ourselves for the upcoming trades.
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A Note on Gusev:
Now, there is some serious wiggle room with Gusev. As the points and assists leader in the KHL, it would be foolish to let him go without giving him a chance on the team first. Personally, I’m excited to see what he can do. A forward like him can expect a high priced contract, but Gusev may be willing to take significantly less to stay with the VGK as a thank you for giving him a chance. In a recent interview translated by SinBin he said, ” In principle, there could be other offers, but I think it would be wrong to accept one of them because Vegas helped me. I want to reciprocate”… “In the first year of the NHL, I just want to play as much as possible, no matter what team. I would like to go Vegas at the moment, see what he will offer, and start from there.”…”I’m supposed to get a one-way contract. I want and expect to play in the NHL. If they offer me to go to AHL, I will go, if I am not seen in the first team.” We don’t know what Gusev’s bottom line is, but it seems like he’s willing to negotiate, which would make things easier for GM.
With several million to make up in salaries, here are some players that could be on the chopping block:
- Miller- You’ve all heard it, other teams have heard it, it’s no secret. At $3.875M, Miller could be replaced by a younger player like Nic Hague (who is a great offensive defencemen) and we would instantly retrieve at least $2M. I love Miller and would be sad to see him go, but Gallant has been disappointed with his performance lately and possibly expects more for that price.
- Merrill– Merrill’s game definitely improved throughout the season, but he’s second only to Reaves in the amount of time he spends in the penalty box. That might be okay if he makes up for it in points, hits, blocked shots, or takeaways, but he doesn’t. The Knights wouldn’t gain much cap space from a Merrill trade, but they could probably find a better replacement for a similar amount. Side note: Merrill moved out of his house recently. Neighbors were told he wanted to be closer to T-Mobile, but it’s possible that he’s planning on the trade. We’ll see.
- Holden- Do I need to explain this? Holden is similar to Merrill in stats (far less PIM though) but is paid more ($2.2M) has less chemistry with the other defensemen. He’s FINE, but we can do better for that price.
- Zykov- Not for cap space, he’s crazy cheap, but just like Tatar, he’s not working out. Just doesn’t seem to “click” with the team and is therefore unproductive. I’d give one of our prospects a chance over him.
- Eakin- This is where it gets hard. I would personally like to keep him. I’d put Haula on line 3 and Eakin on line 4. Eakin is a 2-way forward that is trusted on special teams and was 6th best in points this season. He dramatically improved from last season causing me to change my use of “Freakin’ Eakin” from a negative term to a positive one. But at $3.85M for a fourth line center, he may be worth trading for someone needing only $1-2M (assuming Haula stays and Eakin can be replaced by another 2 way forward).
- Reaves- Reaves is a fan favorite. Though he had a rough start with the VGK last year, he’s turned our frowns upside down this season. He had the most points on the fourth line, the most hits in the NHL, and was second only to Stone in takeaways vs giveaways. He’s also a great enforcer and knows how to play mind games with the other team. However, he also has the most penalty minutes on the team and a salary of $2.775M as a fourth liner. I would hate to see him go, but Gusev, Karlsson are more important.
- Carrier- Again, not for cap purposes, he’s cheap, but I think we might see a trade involving Carrier this off-season. He’s arguably the best hitter in the league, but the rest of his game leaves something to be desired. His departure would depend on whether or not we keep Reaves. Cause if we do, there’s no point in keeping Carrier besides his small price tag.
UNPOPULAR OPINION COMING:
Pacioretty- No one is talking about Patches. In fact, in a previous article I said he was safe with the rest of the second line because that line is productive now and it seemed that Patches and Stone had chemistry together. Plus, Patches has a modified no-trade clause prohibiting him from being traded to 10 of the 30 other teams without his consent. HOWEVER, since then I’ve watched Stone perform amazingly well in the IIHF World Championship and have come to the conclusion that Stone would be great no matter who was his LW. So that leaves me to evaluate Pacioretty on his own.
Don’t get me wrong, I like him, he puts up points. But one day I had the privilege to watch the game from the overhead view in Hyde Lounge; from there you can see player movement much better than on TV or regular seats. That night I focused on him and was able to witness why he has a +/- of -13. Patches is not a 2-way forward. He almost seems lost on defense. He also takes a lot of penalties. Lately he’s been valuable on the power play but, just as easily as I noticed, the other teams are going to quickly catch on that a shot from Patches is the goal for that PP unit, and they will inevitably guard him better next season.
So, at 7th best in points per game, worst +/- on the team (with no short handed time), and high PIM, is Max Pacioretty worth keeping for $7M? I’m not saying I want to trade him, but if we can’t figure out a way to keep Karlsson (who has better stats in almost every way and is one of our best 2-way forwards) without sacrificing the performance of the bottom 2 lines, maybe we should look into getting another left wing for a smaller price tag. After all, the VGK succeed because we use all 4 lines. We’re not a team that survives on “stars”. I don’t want to lose him, but I would sacrifice him to keep a well rounded team.
Stastny vs Pacioretty: Stastny doesn’t put up as many points but he’s a more versatile player. He’s also a center and good centers usually cost more. Don’t know that we could get a better player for less than $6.5M.
What do you all think? As a last resort, would you trade Patches? Let us know in the comments.