Looking ahead to the Golden Knights’ final moves before opening night
What exactly is George McPhee cooking up?
With Vadim Shipachyov, Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore sent down to the AHL, Brandon Pirri picked up from the waiver wire and Luca Sbisa possibly getting an ‘A’ on his jersey (and likely job security as per a tweet from TSN’s Bob McKenzie), there are many things happening for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The roster is nearing completion, but the next 24 hours or so figure to be fascinating and indicative of what general manager George McPhee has in mind for the club moving forward.
While there is no way to know exactly what McPhee plans to do, it is reasonable to expect that he’ll move one or two defensemen in the next few days. Several teams are in need of depth on the blue line and it stands to reason that McPhee has a few options from which to choose.
However, it does appear thus far that McPhee’s strategy of stockpiling blue liners may not have paid off the way he intended, with the market beginning to crater as puck drop is now under 24 hours away, and he still has eight (!) left-handed defensemen alone on the roster. While Brad Hunt and/or Griffin Reinhart may be able to successfully make it through waivers, it would be prudent to at least attempt to maximize some of these assets.
From the aforementioned Bob McKenzie tweet, it appears that Hunt, Reinhart, Clayton Stoner, Jon Merrill and Brayden McNabb would be the only ones in consideration for a move. Of those, McNabb had an especially weak preseason (worst 5v5 Corsi For percentage among Vegas blueliners not named Jake Bischoff) and Merrill was more or less anonymous on the ice. Hunt produced points, Reinhart looked good on the possession front and Stoner, well, his contract will be hard to move.
As far as goaltending is concerned, McPhee’s move to claim Malcolm Subban on waivers, and subsequently put Calvin Pickard on the wire was somewhat of a head-scratcher. This is not to say that Subban is not worthy of NHL consideration, but more so that Pickard’s grasp on the backup role was so flimsy. It gets even tougher when you consider Pickard’s role in early outreach to some of the more remote western states as well as his interaction with Golden Knights fans in helping design his mask.
This just serves as another reminder that big league sports are a business and feelings and sentiment often fall by the wayside in favor of the bottom line.
All that being said, we will know soon enough just how things shake out. Still, where’s the fun in being a sports fan if you can’t play armchair GM on occasion?