On one hand, the Golden Knights could clearly use another piece to help bolster their chances of potentially making another deep playoff run. On the other hand, though, this team has been wildly inconsistent this season, and you could make a good case — given their 10-17-2 record against teams currently in a playoff spot — that they simply aren’t legitimate contenders.
It truly is a situation where how McPhee and company feel about this team will dictate whether or not they are buyers at the deadline.
If McPhee does decide to become a buyer, though, the Golden Knights might not be going after some of the names you might expect, particularly when it comes to the rental market.
During last Saturday’s Saturday Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston had an interesting nugget of info about Vegas when he was asked about Mark Stone.
A team that has been widely linked to Mark Stone — at least if he ends up being traded — is the Vegas Golden Knights. But I can tell you guys after being in Vegas earlier this week, I don't get the sense at all that this is an organization in the rental market at all at the trade deadline.
It might be a different circumstance if Mark Stone becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, but at this time I don’t see them as a potential trade partner, should the Ottawa Senators elect to move this player.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie echoed a similar sentiment on Thursday’s episode of The Bobcast when discussing the latest on Stone with Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger.
“The word I get out of Vegas, though, is that they’re not going after rentals, and that includes Mark Stone.”
McKenzie touched on Vegas again near the end of the podcast and reiterated how it sounds like Vegas is not interested in the rental market.
“The party line out of Vegas right now, and again, you know, sometimes you get to Monday and the prices come down on some of the rentals. But the word I got out of Vegas is they're not in on the big boy rentals. They're not in on paying any significant price for a short-term fix.
They don't like the way they're playing right now. But they want to fix it. They want to fix in from within and if they can't fix it from within then they want to do hockey deals. That means trading for guys that have term. Just things that make sense and not going down the rental market.”
So if Vegas is reportedly out of the rental market — and the Mark Stone sweepstakes — does that mean we can scratch off other big name UFAs to be like Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Micheal Ferland and Wayne Simmonds as potential trade candidates at the deadline? Potentially, yes.
However, you would figure if the Golden Knights were granted a window to talk with the player’s agent before a trade were completed to get a sense of what the likelihood of said player re-signing in Las Vegas is, things could potentially change on the rental front.
In the meantime, though, it sounds like the Golden Knights might not be big name hunting at the deadline, and instead, they’ll turn their attention to players who have term and can help their roster improve for the foreseeable future.
Although, we all know how quickly things can change during this time of the year. Especially with George McPhee, who always seems to have a surprise or two up his sleeve.