The Vegas Golden Knight’s biggest enemy in their first five years of existence has not been the San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals, or Minnesota Wild. Instead, it is the NHL’s salary cap that general manager Kelly McCrimmon has had to find new ways to manage as he and the Golden Knight’s upper management chase their first-ever Stanley Cup.
With the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline less than a month away, McCrimmon has obstacles before adding any finishing touches. That problem is, of course, the salary cap which is only being managed with Mark Stone and Alec Martinez on long-term-injured-reserve.
The Golden Knights have already acquired their big name in Jack Eichel this season. But could McCrimmon pull another rabbit out of his magic hat and squeeze in another player at the deadline? Today we will look at some of the names the Golden Knights may have their eyes on as the trade deadline approaches.
With Nolan Patrick now sidelined, the Golden Knights are without one of their offensive bottom-six forwards. Combine this with the fact that the line of Evgenii Dadonov, Nicolas Roy, and Mattias Janmark are struggling to score, it makes sense that the Golden Knights could be interested in adding a forward.
Zach Parise is a frontrunner for me if the New York Islanders decided to make him available. After being bought out by the Wild, Parise’s cap-hit is now at league minimum and he is a pending UFA. At 37-years old he is still contributing to a struggling Islanders team with 19 points in 46 games.
Parise would be a good swiss-army-knife and veteran player for the Golden Knights. He also has a history with head coach Peter DeBoer as they worked together with the New Jersey Devils and reached the 2012 Cup Finals.
Similarly, Tyler Ennis in Ottawa is another name that could be a bargain-bin add for the Golden Knights. At just $900k Ennis has 19 points in 45 games including a hat-trick against the Sabres. First-ever goal scorer in Seattle Kraken history Ryan Donato also makes the league minimum and has 18 points in 46 games.
The Arizona Coyotes will be looking to sell as they have 18 expiring contracts this offseason. Names of which that could interest the Golden Knights could be pending RFA’s Lawson Crouse and Christian Fisher if the Coyotes decide to deal them and Travis Boyd who has 23 points in 43 games this season is also making the league minimum.
We saw the Golden Knights last season make a three-way trade just to squeeze Mattias Janmark under the salary cap. Perhaps McCrimmon could go that route again with Calle Jarnkrok or Vladislav Namestnikov who both make $2 million.
With the status of Alec Martinez still uncertain perhaps McCrimmon could look to add a depth defenseman at the deadline. A lot of speculation has been on 44-year old Zdeno Chara getting moved but the Golden Knights ate likely out on this one.
The Sabres have two names the Golden Knights could be interested in. Robert Hagg ($1.6M) and Mark Pysyk ($900k) are both pending unrestricted free agents. Hagg was acquired in the Rasmus Ristolainen deal and has six points in 39 games for the Sabres this season. Pysyk has been in the league for a decade now and the Golden Knights would be his fourth team.
Brett Kulak who makes $1.85M could also be of interest to McCrimmon. In his eight-year NHL career, Kulak has shown some flashes of greatness and has 300 games of NHL experience to his name.
No, Marc-Andre Fleury is not on this list, as McCrimmon himself confirmed that a reunion would not be happening. But with Robin Lehner still sidelined the Golden Knights could look for some goaltending help at the trade deadline.
In his post about Fleury, Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff also reported the Golden Knight’s interest in Alexander Georgiev. The Bulgarian-born, Tony DeAngelo-punching, 26-year-old goaltender is looking for a bigger opportunity after living in the shadow of Igor Shesterkin for the past few years.
Though it might be strange given that the Golden Knights couldn’t score on him in the 2018 Cup Finals, Brayden Holtby is also available. A Stanley Cup-winning goaltender who makes only $2 million against the cap is a rare sight, and maybe the Golden Knights will seize the opportunity.