And away we go. Nikita Kucherov is drinking from the Stanley Cup and anything else within reach while that guy in Vegas, who won the Vezina trophy, awaits his fate. The Vegas Golden Knights are on the precipice of greatness, but taking that last step is the hardest, so will they hit the NHL trade market?
As the franchise honeymoon phase concludes, the maturing team has salary cap issues, too.
Welcome to the frustrations of being a hockey fan, I suppose.
The Golden Knights are kicking the tires of the Ferrari on the NHL trade lot and are not only rumored to be interested in Buffalo Sabres Jack Eichel. They are reportedly so.
The Golden Knights are also on the market to improve their power play, which is often easier accomplished than many other goals. Sometimes, a bit more sandpaper and focus are all it takes.
Projecting the Odds of Vegas Golden Knights Offseason Moves
1. Alec Martinez re-signs: 50%
I can’t stress enough, don’t hold your breath on Martinez taking a hometown discount. 33-year-old players signing their last contract have the next 60 years to worry about.
Martinez will likely see a raise north of $4.5 million, probably over $5 million. Chris Tanev was well paid, as were some lesser D-men last fall. His price tag surely isn’t coming down.
Martinez earned the right to see who will pay him the most money. The Golden Knights and GM Kelly McCrimmon also know they will not beat the Colorado Avalanche without a stout defense.
Per our report on Sunday, Jamie Oleksiak is a name gathering steam as a top-four LHD.
2. Golden Knights get a No. 1 Center (this offseason): 33%
Believe it or not, those odds are pretty good. I’ve watched too many teams beg, borrow and steal to get a top centerman via the NHL trade front.
Nashville went bonkers when Ryan Johansen was made available for a price they could afford (Hello, Seth Jones). Columbus tried and tried for years; they drafted, they threw money at anything passable, and still no dice until Johansen stuck around for a while, then Pierre Luc-Dubois–but he, too, bolted town.
The moral of the story is No. 1 centers aren’t yet legal to be cloned, and those that have ’em don’t give them up easily. Buffalo wants a ransom for Eichel, who isn’t yet 100% healthy.
Does it make sense for the Vegas Golden Knights to gut themselves for a top center? Well, maybe. How badly do you want a Cup?
3. Salary Dump: 75%
Reilly Smith. Jonathan Marchessault. Even Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights need to shed poundage from their payroll, and last fall we saw more than a few GMs swallow their pride and cast off good players for pennies on the dollar.
Now and then, everyone has to carry a cherished collectible into the Gold and Silver to make ends meet.
4. Vegas Makes its 1st Round Pick: 90%
Buffalo wants a better pick than 30th for Eichel, and McCrimmon doesn’t need to include that pick to dump salary. The Golden Knights stand to get one if not two solid prospects in the top 36 picks in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Unfortunately, it is a wonderfully pedestrian draft.
5. Marc-Andre Fleury is traded: 40%
It’s logical. It solves a few problems. And it would tear the heart out of the franchise, not to mention owner Bill Foley.
And the last two sentences are why it’s not a given. Fleury’s former buddies make too much sense. They need a goalie with playoff experience, but one who plays well with others because Tristan Jarry is still their goalie.
Fleury checks all of the boxes, except his $7 million salary, eh? And no other locker room, aside from the Golden Knights, would appreciate “Flower.”
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