Welcome to another edition of our Monday Morning Mailbag! You sent us your Golden Knights questions, and now it’s time to answer them.
What price do you see as acceptable for EK now that we know he wants a trade? How bad will Ottawa be this year?— Bottle Rocket Hockey ⛳ (@B_R_Hockey) June 17, 2018
We all know how close the Golden Knights came to acquiring Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline. With Karlsson being one of the best hockey players on the planet, the Senators were naturally seeking a massive return for the all-world defenseman, but Vegas simply could not meet the asking price.
However, following the bizarre turn of events between Karlsson, his family and (soon-to-be former?) teammate Mike Hoffman’s long-time partner, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it would take for Vegas to land Karlsson. It’s possible that Ottawa may be forced to lower the asking price in order to defuse the situation as quickly as possible, but that is certainly no guarantee. Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos even believes Karlsson may be “untradable” until clubs gain clarity on what is taking place.
It’s expected that Vegas will seek to revisit negotiations with Ottawa, but until this mess is cleaned up, it’s hard to tell exactly what is in store for Karlsson.
As for how bad Ottawa will be next year, let’s just say it probably won’t be pretty.
Which players are most likely to be moved for a pick or prospect?— Jack Manning (@NHLJackManning) June 17, 2018
This is a bit of a refreshing question. With so much focus on a potential Karlsson trade, it’s almost as if the idea of trading for something other than the Ottawa blueliner has become a complete afterthought.
One player I could see Vegas moving is Oscar Lindberg. Granted, the return wouldn’t be huge, but in a year where the Golden Knights only have one selection in the first three rounds of the NHL Entry Draft, moving a depth forward for an additional draft pick or a prospect wouldn’t be unheard of. For a team in need of a scoring bottom-six forward, Lindberg could be a solid pickup. Though Lindberg was in and out of the press box for a decent portion of the regular season, the 26-year-old forward did finish the year with nine goals in 63 games while averaging 11:47 of ice time per game.
In a far less likely scenario, the rights to Colin Miller could garner a fair amount of interest on draft day. The right-shot defenseman, set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, is a terrific offensive weapon and play-driver who could command a nice return for Vegas. There’s been no indication that Vegas is exploring options to move the 25-year-old, but if the right offer comes around, you just never know.
If VGK is not going after top free agents, what depth players do you think he should pursue?— Christopher Boyd (@CJBear71) June 17, 2018
Make no mistake, the Golden Knights are very likely to be players for some of the top free agents this summer, including John Carlson and John Tavares (if either of them even choose to leave their respective teams). If the Knights fall short of signing any of the big-name free agents, though, there are still some solid options.
One player who makes a lot of sense is Michael Grabner. Though he is on the wrong side of 30, Grabner is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, which obviously fits the Vegas mold. He has scored 27 goals in each of the last two seasons and serves as a dangerous presence on the penalty kill. The Austrian speedster likely won’t be all that expensive and would give Vegas yet another burner for opposing teams to account for.
Another player that could be of interest is Thomas Vanek. Like Grabner, Vanek is in the back end of his career, but remains a consistent point producer even at 34 years old. The veteran journeyman typically hovers around the 20-goal mark annually and would give the Knights’ second power play unit a massive boost on a team-friendly deal.
Defenseman Ian Cole could also be an option. Cole was linked to Vegas back in November and could make for a solid addition to the Knights’ blue line.
Do you foresee a sophomore slump for the knights? What factors do you think weigh for or against one?— Steven Canfield (@canfieldsp) June 17, 2018
It’s far too early to be predicting how the Knights will fare in their second campaign, but considering the amount of cap room George McPhee has to play with, along with the amount of quality players already on the roster, it’s hard to imagine Vegas being markedly worse in Year 2. Yes, it’s entirely possible (maybe even likely) that Vegas could suffer somewhat of a drop-off next season, but there’s no reason to assume the Knights will suddenly become a bad team, so long as the offseason goes according to plan.
If the Knights continue trading early draft picks for underperforming bottom-six wingers, though, that could certainly make the future a little less bright.