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Monday Mailbag: Could the Golden Knights be in play for John Tavares?

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Some easy reading for your Monday evening.

NHL: New York Islanders at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the first installment of our Monday Mailbag series! With the Golden Knights entering their first full offseason, there are plenty of things to get into, so let’s jump right in.

This is a question fans of just about every NHL team will be asking themselves this summer. John Tavares and Erik Karlsson will be the talk of the offseason, and if either of the All-Stars end up playing for different teams next season, those clubs will become immediate playoff contenders. Maybe even Stanley Cup contenders.

Let’s start with Karlsson. The Knights came very close to acquiring the 28-year-old defenseman from the Senators at the trade deadline this past February. However, the Senators reportedly wanted Vegas’ top prospect Cody Glass as part of the return for Karlsson, who the Knights refused to give up.

It’s now June and the Knights are still very much in need of a defenseman. According to Elliotte Friedman, Vegas is expected to revisit negotiations with Ottawa, which will likely happen a little closer to the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. That said, thanks to their decision to acquire Tomas Tatar at the trade deadline, the Knights may no longer have the ammunition necessary to complete a trade for Karlsson. The Knights have just one pick in the first three rounds of this year’s draft, meaning they may need to use prospects as trade chips. And based on Vegas’ refusal to move Glass, that doesn’t appear to be a likely scenario.

Tavares, on the other hand, assuming he leaves the Islanders, is a definite possibility for Vegas. The 27-year-old centerman is one of the very best forwards in hockey and won’t come cheap, but the Knights are projected to have a ton of cap space this offseason and could realistically afford to not only sign a player like Tavares, but also re-sign some of their in-house assets such is William Karlsson and David Perron.

If Vegas misses out on Erik Karlsson and/or Tavares, that certainly won’t ruin what could still be a very productive offseason. But adding either one of them immediately makes the Knights a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup (again).

It would be quite a surprise if the Knights don’t add a defenseman this offseason, especially after being shredded by the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final. Many are hoping for Vegas to land Karlsson, and for good reason, but there are a number of solid blueliners who could make an impact with the Knights.

One of those blueliners would be John Carlson, who Knights fans are now all too familiar with. Carlson is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the clock strikes noon eastern time on July 1, and while the 28-year-old defenseman won’t come cheap after a career year, it wouldn’t be a shock if Vegas at least kicked the tires. If you can’t beat ‘em, sign ‘em.

Also available are cheaper options such as Mike Green or Ian Cole. The Knights reportedly showed interest in Cole back in November, but the 29-year-old defender ended up being moved to Columbus at the trade deadline instead.

The Golden Knights’ pending unrestricted free agents are as follows:

  • James Neal
  • Mikhail Grabovski
  • David Perron
  • Ryan Reaves
  • Luca Sbisa
  • Clayton Stoner

Of those six unrestricted free agents, the player with the likeliest chance to return would have to be Perron, who said himself last week that he and the Knights had been discussing a contract extension throughout the season.

While Neal would be a welcome return at the right price, it doesn’t appear the 30-year-old will come cheap. And considering his age and streaky nature, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Vegas let Neal walk in free agency.

As for Grabovski, Reaves, Sbisa and Stoner, there’s nothing that leads me to believe any of them will return for the 2018-19 season.

Now onto the restricted free agents:

  • William Karlsson
  • Tomas Nosek
  • William Carrier
  • Colin Miller
  • Shea Theodore

I have a hard time seeing Vegas letting Miller and Theodore walk (particularly the latter). Karlsson is in a bit of a unique situation, though. After a ridiculous 43-goal campaign, the 25-year-old will certainly be looking for a behemoth of a pay raise. So long as his asking price isn’t totally astronomical, I’d be surprised to see Wild Bill playing for another team next season.

Neither Nosek nor Carrier will command a ton of money this offseason, but if the Knights let one of the two walk, which isn’t necessarily guaranteed, I’d believe Carrier would be the odd man out.

I, for one, think the Golden Knights should just go off the wall and make their mascot a starfish, but that’s just me.