The Golden Knights top six has returned to normalcy for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, with Gerard Gallant’s decision to put Reilly Smith back on the line with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.
There’s no debating it, a top six of Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, Alex Tuch, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny is as good as the Golden Knights can do. And, if you compare it against other top sixes in the NHL, it’s right there with the best of them.
The return of William Carrier appears to have re-stabilized the fourth line as well. Again, one of the best in the NHL.
But, this lineup leaves a void. It leaves a line with Cody Eakin as the center and a revolving door of Tomas Nosek, Valentin Zykov, Ryan Carpenter, Oscar Lindberg, and Brandon Pirri on his wings. Let’s just be frank for a second, there’s not a combination of three guys that make a legitimately dangerous line.
So with the trade deadline a mere 14 days away, it begs the question, how much should George McPhee be willing to give up to fix it?
However, I’m here to pose a different question. Can it actually be fixed without breaking up the top six?
Just play along with me for a second here. Let’s say the Golden Knights acquire the best player available, Artemi Panarin. You liking a line of Eakin, Panarin, and Zykov? Does Eakin, Panarin, and Carpenter float your boat? What about Eakin, Panarin, and Pirri, that giving you the tickle?
Now, if they do something like…
Now you’re talking!
What if they get Mark Stone? Wayne Simmonds? Matt Duchene? Jimmy Hayes? Michael Ferland?