The Golden Knights got better without drastically altering their roster.
The Golden Knights traded their second-round pick in this summer’s NHL Draft, along with a 2022 fifth-round pick, to the Blackhawks to acquire the 28-year-old Janmark in Vegas’ lone deal of an otherwise lackluster trade deadline.
Vegas also sent a 2022 fifth-round pick — originally owned by Buffalo — to the San Jose Sharks to help broker the deal.
“We weren’t going to take away from our team,” said general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “That was a decision we made quite some time ago. We really our comfortable with the makeup of our roster, the personnel that we have. We need those players so we weren’t going to take away from that.”
The Golden Knights entered the day of the deadline with roughly $800,000 in newly-found cap space. A myriad of corresponding moves, including placing Patrick Brown on long-term injured reserve, allowed the Golden Knights to be players at the deadline for the fourth straight season.
Suddenly, the options grew.
The Golden Knights, from my understanding, kicked the tires on a potential move for Taylor Hall before he was shipped to Boston late Sunday night. The problem: Vegas didn’t have the money to make it happen. Given the price the Bruins paid for Hall, Vegas could’ve made it work. They just ran out of time.
Same goes for Mike Hoffman. Vegas’ sights turned to the St. Louis Blues’ goal scorer once the money became available. While the money could’ve worked, and a third team was in place, St. Louis’ asking price was too rich for the Golden Knights’ blood, according to sources.
So they went for Janmark. Chicago retained 50 percent of Janmark’s salary. He was then sent to San Jose, who retained 25 percent. That allowed the Golden Knights to absorb Janmark ($562,500) into the books without sending anyone out.
Janmark’s 19 points in 41 games don’t jump off the page, but Pete DeBoer plans to place him at third-line left wing with Tomas Nosek and Alex Tuch. The speed at the wings, combined with Nosek’s recent surge of 11 points in 14 games, has the makings of an enticing third line.
He’s not a player not quite the level of a Hall or Hoffman, but someone that fits what the Golden Knights needed: one who could play on the power play and penalty kill, as well as be a difference maker at 5-on-5 with his speed alone.
McCrimmon said not making a deal was a high possibility. Take a look at what the Colorado Avalanche did in recent days, as well as Monday, he felt making the move for Janmark was worth the cost.
“That’s where adding the player in a futures type deal where we felt we had the draft capital to be able to afford it,” he said. “Now you’re only improving your team.”
But unlike the potential deals for Hall and Hoffman, the Golden Knights didn’t take away from a roster that’s propelled them to second place in the West Division. While Vegas is four points behind the Colorado Avalanche with a game in hand, 10 of its final 16 games are against teams outside the current Stanley Cup Playoff picture.
McCrimmon and president of hockey ops George McPhee are set with this roster as, mostly, currently constructed.
“It’s a great message. It’s a message consistent with before I got here, when I interviewed for the job, and obviously my short time here. It’s a single-minded one goal, which is to win the Stanley Cup,” DeBoer said. “What they did today wasn’t easy; they had to move some mountains in order to do it with the cap space we had, but they found a way. And I think that’s a critical message to our group.”
Draft picks aren’t high on the pecking order when competing for the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Lightning have given away first-round picks the last two seasons to add depth they felt necessary; this season included with adding David Savard from Columbus. The same goes for the Toronto Maple Leafs, also sending a first-round pick to Columbus, for Nick Foligno.
The Golden Knights have 14 picks in their next two drafts, including a second-round pick from New Jersey that is likely a top-five selection this summer. The cupboard isn’t bare, and they’ve made an impact move for the fourth straight deadline for their troubles.
“One of the things you need from your team, with a move or without a move, is you need people to continue to improve,” McCrimmon said. “I think that’s the case with this trade.”