The worst has come to pass for the Vegas Golden Knights as they have lost Mark Stone for the indefinite future. The VGK have announced that the captain had successful back surgery on Tuesday and will be out of the lineup indefinitely. Thoughts and prayers to Stone and his family in this recovery process.
With Stone out, the Golden Knights have gone 1-5-2 in their last eight games and are struggling. With the NHL Trade Deadline not far away, Stone is now out indefinitely, and with the potential of $9.5 million in cap space to be freed up if his contract hits LTIR, many are expecting the VGK to make a trade soon.
Here is part two (click here for part one) of an article detailing 15+ players general manager Kelly McCrimmon could go after at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. Spoiler alert: They are all forwards, as the VGK need to shore up their depth up front.
We'll keep the descriptions of some of these players short as we have either written about them before or plan to in the future.
Golden Knights Trade Targets
Jesse Puljujarvi- Edmonton Oilers
The Details: 1 Year Left at $3 million AAV (RFA), 24 years old RW
The soap opera between the Edmonton Oilers and Jesse Puljujarvi has continued this season with the Oil keeping him despite heavy rumors stating he would be a goner last offseason. Puljujarvi, like every Oiler not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, is struggling to score consistently. The former third overall pick has 10 points in 49 games.
VHN's Take: Given the Golden Knight's need for youth and wingers, Puljujarvi to the VGK makes sense. But his inconsistency at the NHL level, the fact that he is on a division rival, and his status as a pending RFA and not UFA could scare the Golden Knights off.
Mike Hoffman- Montreal Canadiens
The Details: 2 Years Left at $4.5 million AAV (UFA), 33 years old LW
Mike Hoffman has been a consistent NHL goal scorer all of his career and wouldn't hypothetically change much to his game if the Golden Knights acquired him. This season he has 18 points in 37 games played. He reminds me a lot of fellow Hab, Evgenii Dadonov in a sense as if he's not scoring, he's not doing much of anything else. But he's one of the more underrated scorers of the modern age with eight 15 or more goal seasons.
VHN's Take: He could be an option for the VGK. But given what we just stated about his consistency, his age, and the fact he has another year left on his contract might be an issue.
Andreas Athanasiou- Chicago Blackhawks
The Details: 1 Year Left at $3 million AAV (UFA), 28 years old, LW, RW
A speedy winger for the Chicago Blackhawks, Athanasiou has struggled this season with just 16 points in 47 games. This will likely decrease his trade value, which might actually be a good thing for the Golden Knights if they acquire him and then he turns things around. He's a 30-40 point player at best, something the VGK could use.
VHN's Take: Even if the price tag is low, Athanasiou's contract is taxing, and if he fails to score when in Vegas, things only get worse.
Noel Acciari- St. Louis Blues
The Details: 1 Year Left at $1.25 million AAV (UFA), 31 years old, C, RW
A rugged depth forward, Noel Acciari could remedy the Golden Knight's issue of physicality and having net-front presences to chip in goals.
VHN's Take: It makes sense for the VGK to add a guy like Acciari. He has a cheap cap hit, produces well, is strong in the playoffs, and he has connections on the team with head coach Bruce Cassidy. We think this is the most likely trade candidate for the VGK and don't expect a big return to the Blues.
Ivan Barbashev- St. Louis Blues
The Details: 1 Year Left at $2.25 million AAV (UFA), 27 years old, C, RW, RW
Similar to Acciari, Buchnevich is a rugged bottom-six forward but has a little more skill. Putting the two together on a line would be wise if they are both acquired. Adding Acciari and Buchnevich to a bottom-six that includes the fourth line of Nicolas Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and Will Carrier will give the VGK a major boost.
VHN's Take: We like the idea of the Golden Knights adding both Acciari and Barbashev to reinforce their third line. It wouldn't take too much to acquire both players both in terms of cap hit and trade return. Perhaps GMKM could add both Blues and even another top scorer if he wants to go all-in.
Max Comtois- Anaheim Ducks
The Details: 1 Year Left at $2.037 million (RFA), 24 years old, LW
Similar to what we talked about yesterday with Timo Meier and Tyler Bertuzzi, we could see Comtois on the block if he and the Anaheim Ducks fail to reach an extension before trade deadline day. That way the Ducks can get back something for their assets.
VHN's Take: Like Puljujarvi, Comotois is a young inconsistent scorer on a pending RFA contract with a division rival. We don't think VGK are a likely fit.
Nick Bonino- San Jose Sharks
The Details: 1 Year Left at $2.05 million AAV (UFA), 34 years old, C, LW
A veteran Stanley Cup-winning forward, Bonino will likely get moved at the deadline if the Sharks can find any takers for him.
VHN's Take: Bonino could be a good addition to a contending team that needs forward help. But given that he mostly plays center, the Golden Knights shouldn't be an expected destination. He does have playoff success with Phil Kessel however.
Nick Bjugstad- Arizona Coyotes
The Details: 1 Year Left at $900K AAV (UFA), 30 years old, C, RW
With the Arizona Coyotes in a position to sell at the deadline once more, veteran center Nick Bjugstad will likely be available.
VHN's Take: Again, the Golden Knights are more in the market for wingers and Bjugstad mostly plays center. But his astonishingly small cap hit could be tempting if the VGK want to add a potential new fourth-line center.