The Vegas Golden Knights acquired Jack Eichel on November 4th, 2021 in perhaps the biggest trade in franchise history, which is saying something. Despite the team only being in existence for five years, the management team of Kelly McCrimmon and George McPhee have made some big moves. Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo, and now Eichel are just some examples.
The Golden Knights are gearing up for a long postseason run and are in win-now mode as they aim for their first-ever Stanley Cup. But all these big acquisitions have come at a price. Some fan-favorite Golden Knights players have been shown the door. Top prospects like Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom, as well as guys like Ryan Reaves, and of course Marc-Andre Fleury have been shipped out of Las Vegas.
With Jack Eichel bringing a $10 million dollar salary cap to the Golden Knight’s already overflowing estimated cap-hit, the team will likely be forced to make another trade. A tough sacrifice to make, but for a remarkable player nonetheless.
That Jack Eichel is back skating is amazing. That he’s actually been back skating for almost 2 weeks in truly remarkable. People around Eichel believe he will actually be a better player when fully healed. I’m told “30 to 40” percent better.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) December 4, 2021
Golden Knights Projected Salary Cap
When both Eichel and William Karlsson return the Golden Knights, the team is projected to be over the NHL’s salary cap by $9.4 million. That number goes down to around $7.2 million assuming guys like Adam Brooks, Michael Amadio, and Ben Hutton get sent down to the Henderson Silver Knights.
Unless the team can get creative and circumvent the NHL salary cap, McCrimmon will be forced to make a trade. Reilly Smith and his $5 million cap hit have been thrown around in some recent NHL trade rumors. But seeing as Smith is an original Golden Knight in the midst of a great season, the Golden Knights will want to keep him around for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Evgenii Dadonov Trade Rumors
The name that makes the most sense to be involved in a cap-dump trade is Evgenii Dadonov. Dadonov owns a $5 million cap hit. He was acquired in the offseason immediately after the Fleury trade. The Golden Knights gave up Nick Holden and third-round pick to acquire him from the Ottawa Senators.
Dadonov has been off and on this season as one of the few Golden Knight forwards that has played in every game. He has six goals and five assists in 23 games played and has played on just about every forward line as well as the top powerplay unit.
At 32-years old and with two years left on what can be argued to be an overpriced contract, the Golden Knights will likely look to ship out Dadonov to free up some cap space in preparation for Eichel.
Like David Perron with the St. Louis Blues, Dadonov is a player that seems to only truly excel with one team. In Dadonov’s case, it is the Florida Panthers where he spent two separate three-year stints and had a career-high 70 points in 2018-19. The Panthers are likely not in the market for Dadonov though, seeing as they are up against the NHL salary cap as well.
Back to the Ottawa Senators?
The only other team that Dadonov has played for in his career is the Ottawa Senators, who could be a fit for Dadonov to rejoin. The team has struggled hard this season and sit at the bottom of the NHL standings with only five wins. Bringing back a veteran leader in Dadonov could go a long way and would allow the team to have an established scorer that can still play top-line minutes in their lineup.
With Matt Murray and his over $6 million contract now in the minors, the Senators are in the exact opposite position as the Golden Knights. The team is barely above the NHL’s salary cap floor, and adding Dadonov’s $5 million could help in that regard. There is also a possibility that he could be flipped at the NHL trade deadline with salary retained making him only a $2.5 million player.
I could see other bottom-feeder teams in the NHL such as the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, or Seattle Kraken as potential fits for Dadonov’s contract. The biggest thing that the Golden Knights will get back in a potential Dadonov trade is simply cap space. Expect something like a measly third or fourth-round pick or maybe a depth forward as a potential return.
Not the End of Golden Knights Trade Speculation
Trading Dadonov doesn’t even get the Golden Knights under the NHL salary cap as they are still projected to be over it by $2.2 million. As a result, Mattias Janmark, Nolan Patrick, or William Carrier might have to be the next sacrifice. But that is a discussion for another day.
Losing Dadonov would also mean a roster spot at forward would become available. Brett Howden, Adam Brooks, and Michael Amadio are available as spares. Nolan Patrick is still a wildcard. The Golden Knights also have a good pool of forwards in the minors such as Jake Leschyshyn, Paul Cotter, and Jonas Rondbjerg.
A trade is likely coming for the Golden Knights, and Evgenii Dadonov looks like the best suitor to be sacrificed all in the name of John Robert Eichel.
Hypothetical Trade: Evgenii Dadonov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a third-round pick.
Projected Vegas Golden Knights Line Combinations
Max Pacioretty- Jack Eichel- Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith
Mattias Janmark- Chandler Stephenson- Nolan Patrick
William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez- Shea Theodore
Brayden McNabb- Zach Whitecloud
Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit
Spares/AHL: Dylan Coghlan, Michael Amadio, Adam Brooks, Brett Howden, Jake Leschyshyn, Paul Cotter, Jonas Rondbjerg, Ben Hutton.