We started out with the do-overs, moves made by the Golden Knights we wished could be redone. Today, we’re flipping the script and looking at some of the best moves in team history. These are moves that unequivocally advanced the roster and have made the Golden Knights much better.
Note: This is all post-Expansion Draft, otherwise it would have just been an Expansion Draft recap article.
Here we go…
5) Trading Colin Miller for a 2nd and a 5th
Even though the Golden Knights have never truly replaced Miller, especially on the power play, the value they were able to get out of a player who was a healthy scratch in a VGK playoff game is immense. Miller has simply not been the same player in Buffalo, amassing just 23 points in two seasons where he had 41 and 29 in each of his two seasons in Vegas.
Miller’s contract looked decent at the time but it’s now headed towards a pretty significant overpay for his performance. It’s hard to say where he’d be in his career had this trade never happened, which is why it’s not higher on this list, but the return on investment Vegas got for the player who has been in Buffalo is excellent.
4) Trading Cody Eakin for a 4th
Heading into the 2020 Trade Deadline the Golden Knights were pushing up against the cap pretty hard. After they acquired Alec Martinez (the move that would land #6 on this list), they needed to move salary out if they wanted to add anyone else. Eakin was having an abysmal year and his contract was fairly large, nearing $4 million. It was a bit surprising Vegas was even able to find a suitor at all, let alone getting something back in return and not having to retain any salary.
The Winnipeg Jets have been a godsend to the Golden Knights on multiple occasions, but none have been as helpful as this one.
3) Claiming Ryan Carpenter on waivers
When Ryan Carpenter was first claimed from the San Jose Sharks not many thought much of it. A player who was in and out of the lineup and struggled to generate much offense, Carpenter was expected to become a depth piece to a Golden Knights team that was starting to look legitimate.
Carpenter was claimed on December 13th but didn’t see game action in a Golden Knights jersey until January 5th. That’s because the Golden Knights couldn’t stop winning. Finally, when he got in there, it took him almost no time to start making an impact. He scored six goals in his first 14 games and quickly became a reliable penalty killer.
Over time, Carpenter would work his way into the everyday lineup and was one of Gerard Gallant’s most trusted players.
2) Acquiring Chandler Stephenson for a 5th
Less than a year after winning the Stanley Cup, it appeared Stephenson was headed for waivers and was likely to be claimed. Before he got there though, the Golden Knights swooped in and snatched him up for a measly 5th round pick. He instantly fit in, scoring in his very first game. Three games later he was placed on a line with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.
He would bounce around the lineup for the next few months but when the playoffs came around in the bubble, it became clear he’d risen to the second-best center on the team.
Imagine the Golden Knights without Stephenson now… and they got him for just a 5th round pick.
1) Acquiring Mark Stone for Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindberg, and a 2nd
Every once in a while there’s a player on the market that due to circumstance is grossly underpriced in trade value. That was the case with Stone as he was seemingly unlikely to re-sign in Ottawa and the Senators knew it. Thus, not only did they engage in trade talks with Vegas, they also allowed for contract negotiations as well.
When the deal was done, the Golden Knights got Stone and they had already worked out a mega-contract to keep him in Vegas through 2027.
Brannstrom can’t seem to stick in the NHL and Lindberg isn’t even in the league at all anymore. The deal looked incredible at the time and it’s aged like a wheel of parmesan cheese. It’s likely that if we make this same list 20 years from now, this trade will still be #1.