** Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s return to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-2020 season. Its weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is offered by the Jimmerson Law Firm. **
The NHL commercial deadline is 24 hours and the Golden Knights placed first in position to do something important to improve their list. Whether they do it or not show it, but if we have learned something by watching George McPhee operate, it is that he is not afraid to go big.
Sometimes it works, as it did with Mark Stone. Sometimes, it wasn’t when he wasn’t able to snatch Erik Karlsson from the senators two years ago and ended up paying excessively for Tomas Tatar at the last minute.
So far, the Knights have done three deals this season. They purchased Chandler Stephenson from Washington in early December for a fifth-round pick in 2021. On Wednesday, they sent two secondaries to Los Angeles to get defender Alec Martinez from the kings. On Friday, they moved Cody Eakin and his $ 3.85 million salary to Winnipeg for a conditional round four selection in 2021.
Stephenson has been exceptional. Martinez started a storybook on his VGK debut Thursday with a goal and an assist in winning over Tampa Bay and with Eakin gone, opens the door to another move while at the same time giving one of the youngest players in the organization an opportunity to show what it can do. Saturday, that was Gage Quinney (more on him shortly).
Moving Eakin was a breeze. He was going through a difficult season and even those who played with him seemed to have difficulty if you want to believe the analysis. It was an outstanding UFA and it was unlikely that the Knights would sign it again. So to get something in return, potentially a third round was good enough for Vegas for him.
But the important thing was to get $ 3.85 million from the books. For a team that ran out of money in terms of hat maneuverability, the Knights suddenly found themselves relatively flush. Now, if they want to come up with something big, they may be able to do it even if they may still be a little creative if they want to land a really big fish, one that makes them a true Stanley Cup competitor.
So what should they do?
Erik Gustafsson’s rumors warmed up the last 24 hours after Gustafsson was held back from the Chicago game with Nashville on Friday. Earn $ 1.2 million and it’s an outstanding UFA, so it would essentially be a rental. And while the Knights’ philosophy is not to engage in rents, they may be willing to make an exception in Gustafsson’s case. It would probably be cheap and if Vegas wants to keep him long, he is only 27 years old. It could essentially replace Deryk Engelland dollar by dollar if 37-year-old Engelland, also UFA, was not reported. It’s a left-handed shot and, as Ken pointed out, on Saturday, the Knights have an excess of those on the blue line.
Another option would be Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, another outstanding UFA whose price is considerably higher – $ 5.5 million (although half is held by Colorado in a previous trade) – than Gustafsson. Barrie is a right-handed shot and has a proven track record of offensive skills. In his past two years with Colorado, he has scored 14 goals each season and 57 and 59 points respectively. It could perfectly fit into Peter DeBoer’s system.
The question with Barrie is the question from Maple Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas. Could the price be too high?
Buffalo Rasmus Ristolainen is a better option? He is practically the same price – $ 5.4 million for – but he is also a legitimate shooter and has two years left for his contract and is only 25 years old. But still, what will the Sabers want?
I think the Knights can use a slightly lower score on six, although I could give up that thought given what I saw of the revised third-line game Saturday in the 5-3 victory over Florida which ended a formidable 5- 0 at home and catapulted the Knights to the top of the Pacific Division. I loved the speed shown by William Carrier, Stephenson and Nic Roy and they were fantastic against the Panthers. If they can stick together and generate a consistent offense, there is no need to update forwards.
Remember, at some point, Alex Tuch and Cody Glass will likely recover, so there is some depth there. And even if they don’t make a move for an attacker on Monday, there is this joker – Jack Dugan. He’ll likely sign with Vegas once the Providence season ends next month and while skipping him from college to the NCAA isn’t a move McPhee likes to do, Dugan might be worth throwing the dice. It is certainly a more reasonable financial option.
Of course, the Knights can keep Quinney in the NHL and it was good to see the son of ex Las Vegas Thunder star Ken Quinney finally get his shot. I thought he was fine and that he was fine with Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves. He did not appear to be overwhelmed by the NHL’s pace of play and physicality. He competed well, drew a couple of penalties in his 9:09 TOI against the Panthers and being the first Nevada-born player to play in the NHL and doing it for his hometown gave the phrase “Vegas Born” a new meaning.
The fact that it happened on a night when the 40th anniversary of the Miracle On ice was celebrated at the T-Mobile Arena only increased his irony.
What Team USA did in Lake Placid in 1980 did wonders for the sport in this country. The number of children playing hockey has increased and now, a couple of generations later, cities like Las Vegas have an NHL team and children playing youth hockey in our city have a new model in Quinney. He is one of them, a child who grew up here, had to travel to find competition and make his way through the ranks to ultimately fulfill his dream of playing in the NHL.
So while it seemed a little strange to see Mike Eruption, Jim Craig and the rest of the 1980 gold medal team celebrate their successes in a hockey market that didn’t exist when they shocked the world on February 22, 1980, due to them and the legacy they left behind, we are a hockey city.
It was the perfect way to end an incredible last couple of weeks. The five-game family was a defining moment for the season for this team and the Knights arrived, finding different ways to win each game. You can see that they are buying DeBoer and his coaching and DeBoer is much more comfortable in teaching this group. Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be having fun again. Confidence continues to grow within the room and the best players on the team are playing as they should.
They are blocking the blows. They are coming into the other team’s network and creating offense. Kids like Paul Stastny and Nick Holden are improving. It’s a fun team to watch.
There are 19 games left, starting tonight in Anaheim against the Ducks. Let’s see if they can get it running and if we’ll see if there are new faces to follow on Wednesday against the Oilers.
** Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born – The Extraordinary Story of the Golden Knights”. Follow him on Twitter @ stevecarp56. All Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented by the Jimmerson law firm. For over twenty five years, the Jimmerson law firm has been widely recognized as one of the leading full service law firms in Las Vegas. Specializing in high-end business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson law firm has an unprecedented history of wins when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and inform that SinBin.vegas has sent you.**