The NHL trade winds stir. According to TSN’s Insider Trading segment, Frank Seravalli says the Vegas Golden Knights have “doubled down” on its efforts to deal Max Pacioretty. The Golden Knights forward has three years remaining on his contract with an AAV of $7M per season. Cash out is $7M this season and falls to $5.25M for the remaining two years.
My first reaction to hearing the news was that this is crazy. I know Vegas is currently just under $1M above the salary cap for this season. Pacioretty is the second-highest earning forward behind Mark Stone so from that standpoint it makes sense. From a purely cap viewpoint I get it.
But didn’t Pacioretty just drop a 32-goal, 66-point season in 71 games? Yes he did, and those are his highest totals since 2016-17 with the Montreal Canadiens. He also just turned 32 in November. Three more years puts him into his mid-30s and it’s possible this last season could be his final 30-goal campaign. Skills deteriorate and Father Time is undefeated.
Selling high isn’t the worst thing to do.
It certainly means the Golden Knights have to replace him if they deal him. Or split the money on two or more players if you decide to spend it. Mike Hoffman is still looking for a home. Whispers have former Golden Knight Erik Haula potentially returning to the fold as well. There are other names available, or Vegas could choose from some in-house options here. For the purpose of this article I’m going to proceed as if the return is some mix of draft picks and prospects. If a blockbuster trade happens all bets are off.
The most obvious immediate scenario here is to put Alex Tuch back in the top six. It’s funny how just yesterday I wrote about Tuch’s performance dropping after Mark Stone came aboard because he ended up on the third line. I could see him moving back up on the left side for that second unit and resuming his previous production. If anyone should be excited about a potential deal, it’s Alex Tuch. It makes a lot of sense when you have a 24-year-old winger who has already shown himself capable of playing the role.
If that’s the case, it also makes more sense to bring back a known commodity like Haula as opposed to Hoffman. I know Hoffman is a 30-goal scorer and at 30 years old is a bit younger than Pacioretty. But he’d also chew up almost all of that cap space created by moving Pacioretty. Hoffman’s agent, Robert Hooper, has indicated his willingness to take a one-year deal at this point so perhaps there’s that. But if he scores 30+ again the price isn’t going down. Is Hoffman worth it as a single season rental? Maybe. Don’t get me wrong, if they bring in Hoffman that’s a huge add. It might also give them flexibility to make another deal if they wanted.
Getting back to Haula, his best year far and away came with the Golden Knights in 2017-18 when he posted 29-26-55 and established some chemistry with the aforementioned Tuch. Unfortunately for Haula, a knee injury stole most of the next campaign from him and he was subsequently traded to Carolina. The question is whether or not he is able to recapture some of his pre-injury form. It’s tempting to want to bring him back and see if the magic reappears. There were times last season he showed flashes of brilliance. It would be a risk but perhaps one the VGK are willing to take at the right price.
Don’t forget that the Golden Knights also signed Tomas Jurco to a one-year deal and traded for Dylan Sikura. Both players have NHL experience. And there are many players within the organization who look to make the jump to the NHL this year. One other player I haven’t mentioned is Jack Dugan, who looks to turn pro this year after leading the NCAA in scoring last season with the Providence Friars. While the jump to the NHL from college is a big one, Dugan looks to have the potential to make it happen.
If the Golden Knights are going to trade Max Pacioretty, I think they’ll be fine in the long run. After getting over the initial “you can’t do that” reaction, the more I look up and down the roster the more confident I feel they would be just fine. My real concern is chemistry. The Golden Knights have shown the ability to continue to evolve and keep winning despite some pretty massive roster churn from three years ago. However at some point, you have to stop making moves and cement that core. Let players grow together over the long term. If Vegas is one move (potentially two with Marc-Andre Fleury TBD) away from that, let’s get it done and put it in gear for another Stanley Cup run.
Golden Knights Training Camp Day 2 In The Books
Yesterday was a very exciting day as the Vegas Golden Knights took to the ice for the first time in training camp. Day Two wasn’t nearly as exciting, but necessary as things moved forward. Here are a few key takeaways from today’s action.
As of now, Nick Holden remains on what I’ll pencil in as the 7/8 pair with Dylan Coghlan. As I said yesterday don’t read too far into things because the Golden Knights are going to need eight solid D to make this season work. For the time being, it looks like Zach Whitecloud and Nicolas Hague are going to get a chance to show what they can do as a unit. Alex Pietrangelo remained with Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore with Alec Martinez.
Today was more of a jumble of lines as some guys get a look playing up. Among them was Tomas Jurco who took the place of Max Pacioretty with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone. Jurco is a guy I love for the VGK because this season because he’s a vet who can slide into the lineup on a moment’s notice and play a variety of roles. Definitely a taxi squad guy who makes you feel better about your depth.
Also, Stephenson is still centering this line. I know many of you wonder if Cody Glass is going to get his shot at the 2C but not yet. Stephenson did look good today, generating a scoring chance off a stretch pass up the middle and showing some speed. He’s skating with confidence early in camp, and I would not be surprised to see him exactly where he is now come opening night.
Finally, it was nice to see Jonathan Marchessault score for the second straight day. If he warms those goal-scoring hands up early, it could be a tremendous campaign for him.
Keep your browser pointed here for more camp coverage!
Tom’s Daily: Handicapping the West Division; Stepan to Sens
Tom’s Daily: Looking at the West Division; Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruseand his unusual senior season; Stepan sent to the Sens; VGK fans have a new streaming option this season.
The West Division should be a fun, competitive division this year. At least in the top half. Here’s NHL.com’s look at how things might shake out. (NHL.com)
Brandon Kruse is working his way through an unusual senior season at Bowling Green. The Golden Knights prospect is projeting better than a point-per-game so far on the ice. (NHL.com)
Derek Stepan was shipped to the Ottawa Senators from the Arizona Coyotes, giving the Sens more center depth and eating up a chunk of that free cap space they had. (Sportsnet)
Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be playing in the NHL this year. Or next year. (NHL.com)
Michael Del Zotto signs a pro tryout contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Expect a lot of fringe NHL guys who don’t have deals to be competing for jobs this year. (Sportsnet)
Five questions facing the Florida Panthers heading into training camp. This team could be really good. It could also not. (FloridaHockeyNow)
According to Larry Brooks from the New York Post, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only major league sports team to receive a paycheck protection loan totaling $4.82M. (New York Post)
Longtime NHL player and executive Dave Poulin is writing for the Toronto Star. Here’s his debut piece. (Toronto Star)
Tom’s Daily: New VGK Schedule; Pacioretty, Lehner Busts?; NHL Breaking News
Tom’s Daily: Breaking NHL news! Plus the Vegas Golden Knights have a schedule and we break it down for you; Bolts find cap relief but it’s not good; more
Vegas Golden Knights
Just in case you missed it, the NHL schedule dropped yesterday and we broke it down for you here. (VHN)
Here’s the team/league release on the schedule as well. (NHL.com)
Breaking News: It looks like the NHL has permission to move forward in Canadian cities. That’s a major sigh of relief. (Sportsnet)
Whew! Gritty has been cleared to return to NHL games this season. (The Hill)
Nikita Kucherov is going to miss the regular season due to hip surgery. While the Lightning certainly don’t want to be without one of the best players in today’s game, it certainly helps their situation with his $9.5M cap hit moved to LTIR. (Tampa Bay Times)
Ryan Miller is back with the Anaheim Ducks on a one-year deal and I love it. I hope Miller, one of the nicest guys in the game, gets to his milestone of 400 wins. It won’t happen this season unless something goes crazy sideways, but he needs 13 more to do it. (ESPN)
The Arizona State University men’s hockey team decided to start the season with a monster 36-day road trip. My personal longest road trip was 18 days and that was a nightmare. I can’t imagine double that. As it turns out, the team wanted it this way. (ESPN)
Are you all fans of fantasy hockey content? I can post more of that type of stuff if you are, let me know in the comments. For now, I’m putting this in here because of Max Pacioretty’s featured status as a fantasy “bust” for this season. Oh, and add Robin Lehner too. Not sure I agree, but here you go. (CBS)