Golden Knights Round Table: Discussing Vegas’ trade deadline moves

We have some words.

The trade deadline has passed and now everyone can finally relax. Get yourself a drink, talk to your family, take your dog for a walk and then gear up for the remaining 19 games in the Vegas Golden Knights’ season.

This is true for no one more than General Manager George McPhee who, beyond the three trades he was part of this week, was reported as one of the most active GM’s in the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes.

It is not however true for the Knights On Ice writers who are now tasked with the business of performing the postmortem on deadline day (and week) and evaluating how the leader of the Golden Knights fared in the organizations first ever trade deadline period.

Welcome to the Round Table.

From the Derick Brassard trade which saw millions of dollars in cap hits coming the Golden Knights so they could pick up a fourth-round pick and Ryan Reaves (yes, on purpose), to today’s Brendan Leipsic/Philip Holm and Tomas Tatar trades, the Knights GM has been busy sculpting the roster into one he believes can compete for a Stanley Cup.

What do our writers think of GMGM’s deadline moves?

Shepard Price

The Reaves trade is never going to sit well with me. George McPhee helps out a team the Knights might see at the end of the road in the playoffs. Then, he takes objectively their worst forward. Now he want that forward to play on a team where he doesn’t fit. Not a great move.

Leipsic isn’t great either. A talented middle six forward who is still relatively young for a 26-year-old defenseman. The Wolves already have some talent in Jake Bischoff and Zac Leslie, both of whom are younger than Holm. That doesn’t make a ton of sense either.

Finally, three picks is a lot to pay for any player, but Tatar adds a lot of potential to the middle six. He is a definite upgrade over Leipsic, and if the deal were Leipsic and a pick for Tatar, it might make a lot more sense. Tatar is a great finisher, and with Tuch’s budding playmaking abilities, that line could be dangerous no matter who centers it.

It still hurts that the Knights didn’t acquire Karlsson despite perhaps being the closest team to him. If that was because McPhee was unwilling to part with Shea Theodore, then it makes sense. Acquire Karlsson at the draft when he costs less. But if it was over something smaller, that’s a deal that should have gotten done.

Mike Hannah

I applaud the ballsy nature of going after Erik Karlsson. I wish they’d found a way to get it done, though I’m not sure I can blame GMGM for not being able to. That said, the team needed a top four defenseman and help on the penalty kill. They are ranked in the bottom half in the league in the PK. Despite this the team left the deadline with the same hole it went in with but added an AHL enforcer, AHL defenseman, and a scoring winger. Nothing they’ve added helps the defense or the penalty kill.

Ryan Reaves is not the kind of player Vegas needs nor does he fit the teams philosophy. The nicest thing I’ve read about him is that he adds body checks. Translation: he might not even be an NHL player in a league that favours speed and skill. The Leipsic/Holm deal makes little sense to me. Sold low on Leipsic’s 2.9 shooting percentage and all they got was a 26-year old defender who might, though likely won’t, be a 3rd pairing guy.

Tatar is a fine player. I’m not sure he’s necessary to the team right now, but he’s good. They overpaid. And not getting Mike Green with him to bolster the blue line bothers me. It’s a lot to trade for one guy not named Karlsson, especially for a team that doesn’t have a prospect pool. And, before I get tweets, one draft is not a prospect pool. You can list all the players they drafted last year and say “look at all them” but teams have years of drafting and developing players, VGK has one. It’s not enough. It’s a shallow pool.

The part that bothers me the most is that the picks sent for Tomas Tatar likely were in the Karlsson deal. Does this mean they are out of the off-season sweepstake’s?

Overall, I’m underwhelmed. C- grade.

Jillian Wagner

The effort exhibited by Knights management to land a franchise player of Erik Karlsson’s caliber is admirable, even if details of the rumored proposal are quite concerning. Similarly, though it was an exorbitant and somewhat unreasonable price to pay, bringing a 20-goal scorer like Tomas Tatar on board without sacrificing the current roster is an encouraging sign of George McPhee’s overall willingness to be aggressive in his pursuit of the Stanley Cup both now and in the future. There are some underlying concerns regarding Tatar’s game, cap hit and supposed attitude issues, but hopefully the culture created and upheld by Gerard Gallant and the Knights players will be infectious, and the term on his deal is favorable for the Knights’ future plans.

The trades that brought Ryan Reaves to Vegas and sent Brendan Leipsic to Vancouver may be relatively minor in the scheme of things, but they are still puzzling. It’s difficult to overlook the fact that Reaves is taking ice time away from the more skilled, speedy and dynamic forwards in Vegas’ pipeline. It’s understandable that McPhee believes in the “intangibles” Reaves brings to the table, especially since playoff hockey is a different sport entirely. But it still doesn’t add up considering Reaves doesn’t really fit in Gallant’s system, and there are plenty of hard-working and skilled forwards that should play over Reaves. One such forward is Leipsic. McPhee’s decision to ship Leipsic to the Canucks is, in a word, disappointing. Leipsic’s production may have been limited, but he did enough and contributed enough on the ice to at least warrant more time to prove himself. It’s disappointing to see him go.

At the end of the day, even if Karlsson wasn’t a possibility, the Knights could have used an upgrade on the back end. But all in all, Vegas is still in good shape for the upcoming playoff run and beyond, and it’s a relief that McPhee did not end up trading fundamental pieces of this franchise. Hopefully the rumors of McPhee’s offer for Karlsson are inaccurate, especially given some of the short-sighted and desperate decisions he made as general manager of the Capitals. But overall, it’s hard to be too critical of Vegas’ recent transactions.

Ryan Quigley

I will never understand what behooved the Golden Knights to trade for Ryan Reaves. I get that he was basically given (along with a fourth-round pick) to the Golden Knights for a low-end prospect and a small portion of Derick Brassard’s contract, but he just doesn’t seem like a player who can help the Golden Knights win games, whether it’s preseason, regular season, postseason or offseason exhibitions. He’s a great person and an awesome teammate, but his on-ice skills are clearly lacking and it’s obvious that he’ll be a glaring weak spot in the Golden Knights’ lineup.

It also really stinks that Brendan Leipsic was shipped off so suddenly. He’s obviously had a hard time scoring goals all season. I get that. But at just 23 years old, I feel like Leipsic has a ton of talent and just needed a little more time to get acclimated. After all, he averaged over a point per game in the AHL last year. He clearly isn’t a waste. I think he has the potential to be a really exciting bottom-six winger one day and it’s just disappointing that Vegas gave up on him so soon.

In regards to Tatar, I like the move. I know he’s not exactly cheap and hasn’t been playing all that well recently, but he’s a perfect fit for the Golden Knights’ style and is basically a lock to score 20-plus goals every year. Did the Golden Knights overpay to get him? Yeah, probably. But will that doom Vegas from building a prospect pool? No, probably not. For the first time in a few years, Tatar will get to play on a team that’s, you know, not trash, which I think will make a big difference.

Also, he has endless nickname possibilities, which is fun and good.

Dalton Mack

Out with the old, in with the new? I guess? I cannot say that I’m in love with any of the moves. But let’s break it down in total: Brendan Leipsic, a 2018 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, 2021 third-round pick, $2MM this year (pro-rated) and next (full) for Philip Holm, Tomas Tatar, Ryan Reaves and Vancouver’s 2018 fourth-round pick.


Giving up on Leipsic this early is a bummer, as I have felt — and I know Quigs shares a similar sentiment — that the 23-year-old winger has a lot to offer a team, especially in the vein of speed and playmaking. I’m even more bullish on the new Canuck, as I think “bottom-six” undersells him, with perhaps “middle-six” being a better appraisal of his talent and potential. Holm is an intriguing prospect, but despite my blind love of Swedish defensemen, he does not move the needle for me all that much. He’s likely a bottom-pairing guy who could handle PP2 duties.

The Tatar trade, I felt, was a reactionary move to the San Jose Sharks getting Evander Kane, the Winnipeg Jets getting Paul Statsny and the Nashville Predators getting Ryan Hartman. What I do like is that Tatar has been an excellent possession player his whole career, is on the right side of 30, and still has significant term left. It just did not seem like the right move for a team whose prospect pool is thin (albeit highlighted by some exciting picks from this past draft). Don’t look now, but the Golden Knights have just one pick in the first 95 slots in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Ryan Reaves:

The fourth-rounder is a lottery ticket and the money given to the Pittsburgh Penguins this year and next is not a big deal. The Reaves aspect boggles my mind. Reaves playing seven minutes a night is bad for two reasons: one, he’s playing, and two, his limited ice time increases the risk of tiring out some of the more high-end players. Hits are fun, fights are fun, but 13.3 penalty minutes per point is not.