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Gallant: “I Say Do What You Have To Do” At Deadline

Tied for first place in the Western Conference, first place in the Pacific Division, and 46 points in 33 games have the Golden Knights securely entrenched in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff race.

This was not the plan.

VGK might be able to name their price on James Neal, but is it worth the risk of never knowing what could have been? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the Golden Knights front office built this team their minds were on the future. They had a mandate from the most powerful man in the organization to reach the playoffs by year three and win the Cup by year six. To do it, they accumulated picks, made moves to bring in young unestablished talent, and thought the host of pending free agents would be able to bring a haul similar to the post Expansion Draft trade returns.

But now what?

Now the Golden Knights are winners, and their general manager has been on record time and time again saying he won’t “derail” the team’s success. But Vegas hasn’t exactly been in the business of giving away pieces for nothing. (Except for Shippy, but that’s a whole different story)

James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron, and Luca Sbisa are all set to become unrestricted free agents when the season is over. The plan was to move at least a few of them to bring back even more future assets to the bushel of them Vegas has already compiled. However, this whole winning thing might just get in the way.

We like our team, we like the chemistry that they have, we like the lines and the pairings that have been put together. Are we going to make radical changes? I doubt that. We’ll just see where this goes. The focus is on trying to win and all the stuff we go through up here in the front office basically stays in the front office and people are going to show up to games and see our team and I hope they enjoy it. –George McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline

Here are the facts. Vegas has to figure out something to do with all of these players. Unless the team wins the Stanley Cup (and even then there’s still debate on this), letting high talent free agents walk for nothing is not good business for an NHL team. So, McPhee has one of two choices.

  1. Re-sign the players and add them to the future core of the team
  2. Trade them away (before the deadline on February 26th or after the season but prior to July 1st)

Where things have really changed is what Vegas might want back for the Neal’s, Perron’s, Marchessault’s, and Sbisa’s of the world. No longer do those 2020 picks look so valuable. Neither even at this point does a 2018 first. McPhee now has to shift his focus to the near future as he’s got a team much closer to winning than anyone expected. He’s really looking for the next Alex Tuch, but the next William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt, or Colin Miller would suffice. The belief now has to be that this team should be ready to become a dominant force by 2020.

Trading away a player like the guys mentioned above would put a damper on this season, but only if the return is not tangible. If James Neal is traded for the second coming of Alex Tuch or Shea Theodore, that’s not derailing the season at all. But if he’s moved for draft picks and/or future assets that aren’t yet ready to contribute at the NHL level, is it really worth the risk?

I say do what you have to do. That’s what we talked about when I got the job. We want to be in it for the long haul. Whatever decision they want to do, they are going to do and that’s fine with me. –Gerard Gallant on Hockey Central

Opinions vary from “they are definitely to selling,” to “they might they might not,” to TSN’s Insider Bob McKenzie saying “they certainly aren’t breaking up what’s a winning lineup.”

My opinion is somewhere in between. If a trade is there that can serve both makers, meaning they can bring in a young talented player who is ready to play now, they’ll do it, but if no one is willing to part with top NHL ready prospects, McPhee and Co. will hold on and make their moves after they see how far they can go.

What say you?

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10 Comments

  1. Christopher Boyd

    First of all, I think it’s important to remember it’s not a matter of money. With Grabovski, Stoner, Garrison, and Emelin contracts coming off next year, VGK has at least $12 million that can be reallocated to those players, plus the $8 million in cap space we currently have if Foley wants to spend it. That’s just this year’s numbers, but the team has $34 million in cap space per Cap Friendly next year. We also have 5 RFAs to look at but the amounts for them may depend on if they have arbitration rights.

    The real issue is term. I would sign Marchessault to a 6-7 year deal right now, no problem. It could include a NTC/NMC if it helps keep the AAV down. If we could sign him for 6-years $36 million with a last 3 year NMC that would be a steal in my book.

    Neal and Perron I want to keep but I’d be concerned about a term longer than 4 years and definitely don’t want any NTC unless they can include waivers for trades to current playoff teams.

    I’d sign these three at any time before the trade deadline if you can, but keep them unless good NHL players come back. If you cant sign them, it will suck to trade them for 5th-7th round picks before the draft but it’s what you have to do at this point.

    Sbisa has been great but I’d like to see him back and more games before signing him. We also have won well without him overall. He’s tradeable if you can get a player and a prospect/pick back in my mind.

    Foley said playoffs in 3, Cup in 6. In my mind, we’re surprised but we’re at Year 3. At least 3 out of these 4 have to be considered core.

    • Scott

      Would have to say I agree with all the above. Well put. Wouldn’t mind signing Sbisa but not at the amount he was getting. More like what McNabb is getting.

    • Heffay702

      Completely agree with everything you just posted. My thoughts exactly.

    • Bent Hermit

      There’s also the option of trading Neal, Perron and Sbisa at the deadline then resigning them at the end of the year. Even if they would trade them they should be able to make the playoffs. This would also allow the opportunity to evaluate the guys down in Chicago. I would resign Marchy no matter what they do. That line is definitely the future of the team.

  2. Trevor

    A lot will come down to term and trade protection. Most teams can survive bad deals that are short. Few can survive bad deals that are long. Marchessault is a great player, and we shouldn’t really be concerned about him, but I do worry that the organization will resign Neal and Perron for too much term in order to justify keeping them for a playoff run. And I think that would be an unwise thing to do if their deals take you past their 35th birthday.

    Vegas is very well positioned to not only be competitive but add marquee free agents and solid young players through the draft. The only thing that can screw that up entirely is cap-sinking deals.

  3. PhiSig150

    In McPhee I trust but we kind of have to go for it at this point don’t we? I also don’t see why a team would trade us a Tuch or Theodore caliber type player for an older player that’s about to be an UFA. Wouldn’t they just want to keep them from themselves? But maybe our great scouting department can find another diamond in a rough. March we have to re-sign. Neal I really really want back for the right deal. Sbisa too. Perron I think we can replace. Love to see McPhee use some our draft capital and pick up Evander Kane at the deadline for our playoff run.

  4. Brian

    Keep em all. Chemistry right now is excellent. Results aren’t too bad either. BIG raise for Marshy, and rightfully so. Why not float Engo another $1M for another year. Gotta re-sign Miller. Why not float X,y, or z to Neil, Perron for another “x” years? The Creator will spend to the cap, right?? I swear I heard him say that once…….!! 4th in merchandise sales, probably gotta be in the top 5 in gate $$, too. Schmidt is signed for 1 more. Smitty is for 4 more. Seems to me GMGM has done a great job of acquiring future picks so why not use them on the future. And the talent already waiting in CHI isn’t too bad either, not to mention Branstrom in the top Swede league, Glass ripping it up, same for Hauge. All up and comers in the next few years. Plus Hyka, Pulkinnen, Koelsar from CHI. Again, the current Team is 2 years ahead of schedule. Why mess with a good thing, IMHO, when it’s working and working REALLY well. GO KNIGHTS GO !!

  5. Richard Evans

    I think Neal is highest on the trade list. He is the oldest and has the highest and longest goal scoring resume – there are a bunch of playoff wannabes that could use more scoring depth. He’d probably gain the best combo of prospects and picks from a desperate team. AND Vegas doesn’t want to get tied up in an extended contract for a guy over 30.

    Likewise if he is healthy then Sbisa would be a hot commodity. He can be a shutdown D but there are others in the pipeline and an excess of blue liners.

    To me Perron, Marshy, and the others should be kept just so long as they don’t break the bank.

    • Jim

      A market for Sbisa just hasn’t developed. I’m sure they tried to move him before the start of the season, but couldn’t find a deal to their liking. Gotta imagine they would’ve settled for a 5th rounder at that point.

      Then the season started and Sbisa started playing really well. This no doubt drove up their asking price. Then just as the consistency started kicking in, he gets hurt.

      He’ll need to prove he can get back to that level to create a real market. Teams aren’t looking to trade for 3rd pair d-men who make over $4 million, even on a rental.

      Still gotta assume he’s the player they’d most like to flip for assets though.

      Flipping Neal or Perron would hurt on an emotional level (especially after reading the piece Perron wrote earlier in the week), but rationally you need to flip them if you don’t think you’re Cup ready yet.

      I think it’s a question of whether GMGM truly believes the miracle start can result in a miracle finish.

      I say stay the course and trade every expiring deal on the wrong side of 30. Then hope Vegas and the organization made enough of an impression to bring them back as FA’s this off-season.

  6. Cody

    Enough is enough. Teams go a decade without playoffs, never sniff a Stanley Cup, Vegas is first in the west and people are actually talking “sell”?! You have a lot of guys in their prime you go for it. I say add a piece rather than subtract. You’ve got enough for the future. Let’s go for it.

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