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Vegas Trade Talk

Without Lundqvist, Could Washington Chase Fleury?

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Washington Capitals Marc-Andre Fleury VGK Golden Knights

Henrik Lundqvist announced today that he won’t be suiting up for the Washington Capitals this season due to a heart condition. While he didn’t completely close the door on playing again he did say that medical tests made it clear that playing hockey is not what he should be doing right now. While Lundqvist spends the next several months figuring out what’s next, the Capitals find themsleves without a goaltender. Is there a fit for Marc-Andre Fleury in Washington?

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Let’s start with the basics. Lundqvist was due just $1.5M on a one-year contract with the Caps this season. That cap hit will go away with him on LTIR. Then there’s Michal Kempny, who had off-season surgery to repair a torn Achilles which puts him out 6-8 months. Kempny carries an AAV of $2.5M and placing him on LTIR frees up more space. So now the Caps are able to maneuver a bit more with $4M of LTIR space. Once they trade a contract back to Vegas, we can make the math work.

It’s no secret the Golden Knights would be spending a lot of money on goalies if Fleury remains on the roster. Fleury has a cap hit of $7M each year for the next two years, and Vegas has to retain half of his salary to make the following numbers really work. With the groundwork in place, let’s take a look at some options for the beloved Marc-Andre Fleury.

Carl Hagelin

To me, the guy who makes the most sense coming back to Vegas is Carl Hagelin. With three years left on his deal at an AAV of $2.75M the math can work for the Golden Knights. Vegas could retain that $3.5M of salary for Fleury and just get under the salary cap.

Hagelin is one of those guys who puts up decent NHL numbers in terms of points (30+ in a good year) during the regular season. Come playoffs, he’s a sought-after piece of the puzzle. He works hard and brings intangibles to a third-line role, plus has the experience of winning a pair of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

The 32-year-old vet had a good regular season in Washington, but like many players struggled in the bubble. It was a rare poor showing for Hagelin, but the Caps also didn’t look very good as a team either. Hagelin has appeared in a whopping 136 playoff games in his career. That’s tied for 19th among active players with Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, and Kris Letang. Pretty heady company.

More than anything, that playoff experience is what the Golden Knights could really use most. There’s no doubt this team is a regular-season monster, deep and talented. But to get over that final hump and hoist the Stanley Cup, Hagelin might be that third-line glue guy.

Michal Kempny

Well, there’s always Kempny. A member of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Capitals, he’s battled injuries since. He missed the 2019 playoffs and part of the 2020 season with a torn hamstring. Then in October, he tore his Achilles training and had surgery on it which will keep him out 6-8 months.

Kempny has one more year after this on his deal for $2.5M and will be 31 in September. If he’s healthy he’s a nice piece on the back end with championship experience for 2021-22. If he’s unable to rehab the injury and come back, then the money stays on LTIR for Vegas.

If Vegas were to trade for his $2.5M to stash on LTIR, it places them just barely under the cap and doesn’t ruffle the current defense. I like the current top six D for the VGK and this makes a lot of sense for me. Washington might have to do some figuring if they trade this cap hit, but they might not be done making moves yet anyway.

Nick Jensen

At this point, I don’t think moving Jensen’s $2.5M makes as much sense for Washington as it does for Vegas unless they’re comfortable with both Trevor van Riemsdyk and Jonas Siegenthaler in the top six D this season. However, if the Caps are comfortable with those two (or any other low-cost option) then the math works out similarly to Hagelin’s.

As far as the Golden Knights’ needs on defense, they’re looking good without Jensen. But if they were to acquire the 30-year-old rearguard it frees up the ability to make another move on the back end. I’m not sure that’s where this will end up going, but it does provide more depth for Vegas at a reasonable price.

Admittedly, this is not as likely a scenario but is still a possibility.

Analysis

There is a fit for Marc-Andre Fleury in Washington. Hagelin is the piece that I think the Golden Knights would most covet and for both teams, makes the most sense. There would be no further juggling required by either side. Plus Vegas gets a solid third-line player with a Stanley Cup pedigree. Combining him with Alex Tuch and Chandler Stephenson could yield a very strong third line for Vegas. If Fleury is ok going to DC, this might provide opportunity for both teams.

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[…] Henrik Lundqvist, the Washington Capitals will be looking for a backup netminder this season. Tom Callahan of Vegas Hockey Now wonders if Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury would be a […]

[…] is the question Tom Callahan of Vegas Hockey Now asked and he answered, “There is a fit for Marc-Andre Fleury in Washington.” With that […]

[…] Henrik Lundqvist, the Washington Capitals will be looking for a backup netminder this season. Tom Callahan of Vegas Hockey Now wonders if Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury would be a […]

[…] Tom Callahan of Vegas Hockey Now: The Washington Capitals now find themselves in a position where they need to find a backup goaltender after Henrik Lundqvist announced that he won’t be playing this season due to a heart condition. […]

[…] Tom Callahan of Vegas Hockey Now: The Washington Capitals now find themselves in a position where they need to find a backup goaltender after Henrik Lundqvist announced that he won’t be playing this season due to a heart condition. […]

NHL

Pacioretty: Trade Rumors “Lightweight Stuff”

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Max Pacioretty trade rumors Vegas Golden Knights training camp

Vegas Golden Knights fans have been through the rumor mill lately so many times it’s old hat. Max Pacioretty says it’s the same for him when it comes to trade rumors.

Recently Pacioretty trade rumors have reached their zenith, so much so that Golden Knights owner Bill Foley had to come out and say they’re not shopping him.

But to the former Montreal Canadien, those trade rumors are no big deal:

Speaking to David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Pacioretty dismissed the trade rumors as “lightweight stuff.”

Of course, Pacioretty ended up on the Golden Knights after months of being in the Montreal rumor mill. To say trade talk and speculation run rampant in Montreal is almost understating things. Canadiens fans and media love a good discussion about trades, and it’s not always kind.

Of course, the VGK have been front and center in NHL trade rumors ever since signing Alex Pietrangelo to his massive seven-year, $61.6M contract. By far the biggest free agent acquisition of the off-season, Pietrangelo’s deal put the Golden Knights over the cap by just under $1M, so something has to give.

Pacioretty has been a popular target for trade rumors among the national and local media, easy to understand when the target is a consistent 30-goal scorer who led the team in goals (32) and points (66) last season. Pacioretty, like Marc-Andre Fleury, carries a $7M AAV on his contract. He has three years left on the deal.

Keep an eye on VHN this week – it looks like the NHL is close to announcing a finalized plan for its return to play in January or February of 2021. Plus the Golden Knights still need to make a move or two to get under the cap.

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Tom's Daily

Tom’s Daily: VGK Trade Rumors, Mighty Ducks to Return

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Tom's Daily Vegas Golden Knights Vegas Hockey Now trade rumors Stanley Cup

Tom’s Daily talks more trade rumors, a Wayne Gretzky rookie card sets a record, Disney is bringing back The Mighty Ducks,

Vegas Golden Knights

More and more names continue to get swept into the Golden Knights trade rumors pool. Let’s be honest, everyone has a price. That said, I think that while there is likely one more trade to be made, don’t get swept away in the rapidly flowing current.

Here’s a look at whether Jonathan Marchessault might not be a better acquisition for another team over Max Pacioretty. (NBC Sports)

It was only a matter of time before the name Alec Martinez ended up in the trade rumors too. Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period lists him among potential Golden Knights on the move. (The Fourth Period)

NHL

You can’t make all of the NHL owners, GMs and coaches happy all of the time. Especially when it comes to figuring out a new divisional alignment for this season. (Sportsnet)

Well of course they are. The NHL is facing backlash over reports it wants to buy COVID-19 vaccines privately. I’m sure every other league does too, but the NHL is getting roasted for it. (CityNews 1130)

Hockeyverse

A Wayne Gretzky rookie card just set a record, marking the first time a hockey card has sold for more than $1M (NHL.com)

A judge has left the door open for the family of the late Steve Montador to pursue legal action against the NHL after his ruling. (TSN)

They’re back! Picking up where the movies left off, Disney has announced the return of Gordon Bombay and The Mighty Ducks in a new series on Disney+.

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NHL

A Pacioretty Trade Is Not The End Of The World

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Max Pacioretty trade rumors Vegas Golden Knights training camp

It’s interesting to see the opinions flying around right now when it comes to a Max Pacioretty trade for the Vegas Golden Knights. It seems several hockey pundits are sporting varied versions of the same take: a Pacioretty trade would be bad for the Golden Knights.

I couldn’t disagree more.

First, allow me to say I’m in no hurry to see a Pacioretty trade happen. I like the player, I think he has massive value and brings a lot to the VGK. Plus there’s something to be said for keeping a core intact so they can continue to grow and mature.

That said, we are not only in the salary cap era, but in the COVID cap era. A lot of teams have run out of room or are gasping for air very close to the cap. There won’t be any real increase to speak of for a few years yet, meaning teams have to look farther down the road than previously thought. It’s not that paying Pacioretty an AAV of $7M is too much or a bad contract. In fact his cash outlay goes down to $7M this year and $5.25M for the last two years after that. But with Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract unable to be moved off the books, Pacioretty becomes the sacrificial lamb.

I think a lot of the fear surrounding a Pacioretty trade is based on production. It’s hard to deny how effective Pacioretty and Mark Stone have been together for the Golden Knights. They make every center who plays with them better. And he’s coming off his best offensive season since 2016-17 with Montreal after scoring 32 goals and 66 points in 71 games.

On the surface that seems like a lot to lose. However, I believe Vegas already has the answer on the roster in Alex Tuch. Tuch was having a breakout year in 2018-19 prior to the arrival of Mark Stone in a trade with the Ottawa Senators. Tuch was rightly bumped down the lineup to make room for Stone, but his production suffered. After motoring along at a .78 points-per-game rate through his first 55 contests (16-27-43) Tuch’s production flagged, notching just 4-5-9 in his final 19 games for a .47 ppg rate.

Last year was also a disappointment for Tuch in the regular season when he managed just 8-9-17 in 42 games while dealing with injuries. He did rebound nicely in the playoffs, leading the team in goals with eight and showing as one of the best Golden Knights in the return.

Previously I asked the question which Alex Tuch will show up for the VGK this year. A Pacioretty trade opens up a spot on the second line for Tuch once again, and I’m willing to bet the 24-year-old forward’s production goes back up. In fact, it might even supercede the expectations his 18-19 season set.

Of course this will tie into who ends up as the 2C this season as well, but Stone is one of the best all-around players in the league. He will elevate the play of Cody Glass, Chandler Stephenson, or whoever might end up in the middle of the second line. A line of Tuch-Glass-Stone could turn out to be a tremendous producer for the Golden Knights and head coach Peter DeBoer.

The other possibility, if the Golden Knights do not wish to elevate Tuch to the second unit, is free agency. I feel like a Pacioretty trade will loosen the purse strings again if the Golden Knights bring back a mix of prospects and picks. And keep in mind after trading away some top prospects the last few years, the VGK may be primed to do just that. With the extra cash on hand, they could pursue Mike Hoffman and his 30+ goal potential as well.

Either way, Vegas is in the driver’s seat once a deal is made. I can see the Golden Knights choosing to promote from within. That was the answer given this off season for how to fill the hole at center. It makes sense they’d take the same approach on the wing for the second line.

Finally, there’s Bill Foley shooting down the Pacioretty trade rumors on local TV. Make what you will of that, but Foley is more outspoken than most owners in a good way.

One thing is for certain, the Pacioretty trade rumor mill will continue to churn until the VGK make a deal. With him or without him.

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