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Carp: Priority Number One At Deadline For Golden Knights Should Be Mark Stone

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

The NHL trade deadline is eight days away. So now is as good a time as any to look at what the Golden Knights might do. Or should do.

Don’t be fooled by Saturday’s offensive outburst in their 5-1 win over Nashville which snapped the five-game home losing streak. They need more scoring.

So who should they go after?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s Artemi Panarin of Columbus who might be available. Philadelphia may be willing to part with Wayne Simmonds. The Rangers could be talked into trading Mats Zuccarello. Ditto for the Devils moving Marcus Johansson, a move Ken endorses (more on this by him tomorrow).

To me, the Knights should have one target at the top of their list — Ottawa’s Mark Stone — assuming, of course, that he’s still on the market. The Senators reportedly are trying to get him to agree to a contract extension and remain in Ottawa.

But let’s play along and go on the basis he is available.

Why identify Stone as Vegas’ primary trade target?

Let’s start with the fact the guy is really good on a really bad team. Ottawa is the NHL’s worst team and is a hot mess, both on, but especially off the ice. A change of scene going to a winning organization would no doubt help Stone.

He’s only 26 years old. He’s on his way to having the best season of his career with 27 goals, 32 assists and 59 points through 58 games. His previous best was in 2015 when he had 26 goals, 38 assists and 64 points with the Senators. He would fit in nicely with Vegas’ up-tempo style of play and skating with better players would likely bolster his productivity.

The downside? Stone is making $7.35 million and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If you’re GMGM, are you positive you can sign Stone to an extension? McPhee is not a big rental guy so you would have to think that if he’s going to deal for Stone, it’s with the understanding he can sign him long-term. Stone is represented by Craig Oster of Newport Sports.

Of course, Vegas isn’t the only team interested in acquiring Stone’s services. Winnipeg, which played and lost to Ottawa in overtime Saturday, is said to be interested. Calgary may also be in the mix to make a run at him.

Assuming Stone was paid the same money to remain in Vegas, he would become the team’s highest paid player. Most likely, he would command a bump up in salary. But no matter what he would make as a Golden Knight, it would be substantially more than what he’s currently putting in the bank in Ottawa.

Remember, there’s no state income tax in Nevada while Stone is paying high national and provincial taxes playing in Canada. That money saved goes into his pocket, not the government’s.

And the quality of life here in Southern Nevada should appeal to him. A chat with any of the Knights’ players will convince him of that.

And then there’s the Kelly McCrimmon connection. McCrimmon coached Stone in juniors with the Brandon Wheat Kings and whether or not McCrimmon remains as Vegas’ assistant GM long-term shouldn’t impact Stone’s comfort level.

I also think Stone would enjoy playing for Gerard Gallant, who is a players’ coach.

Could the Knights afford Stone long-term?

As things stand for next year, Fleury and Max Pacioretty will command the highest salary at $7 million each. Paul Stastny will make $6.5 million. So that’s $20.5 million tied up in three players for 2019-20.

The Knights also have William Karlsson to deal with. Wild Bill is making $5.25 million this season and will be a Restricted Free Agent at season’s end. He’s not putting up the record numbers of a year ago but he is having a solid season. It will be interesting to see how McPhee plays this one.

But there’s room with the team’s salary cap — approximately $16 million — to take on someone with Stone’s salary structure. So money isn’t going to be a major issue.

What would it take to get him?

My guess is a package of a defenseman, a forward, a prospect and/or a pick. McPhee and Pierre Dorion, the Sens’ GM, know each other well. Remember, the two teams nearly pulled off a blockbuster trade at the deadline a year ago for the Knights to acquire Erik Karlsson.

So what could a Golden Knights package look like?

Start with Colin Miller, who is signed through 2022 and has an AAV of $3.875. That’s roughly half of what Stone makes so Ottawa would be cutting salary on that alone. Miller is only 26, can move the puck and would be a boost to the Senators’ power play. He is currently a third-pairing D in Vegas. In Ottawa, he likely becomes a top-pair defenseman.

Plus, McPhee trades him out of the Western Conference which means the Knights would only see Miller twice a year.

And don’t forget, Erik Brannstrom is waiting in the wings to make this team out of training camp next year. He is projected to be a big-time player, so losing Miller short-term shouldn’t be a big issue.

In addition, Jon Merrill has been playing his best hockey the last month or so and they’ll get Nick Holden back at some point. Somehow, I can see the Knights surviving the loss of Miller via trade.

As for the rest of the puzzle, perhaps Ottawa is willing to take back Brandon Pirri or Oscar Lindberg to get some of the scoring it’ll be missing from parting with Stone. Yes, Pirri had been in deep freeze offensively prior to scoring Tuesday against Arizona and getting his 10th of the season Saturday. But he’s making only $650,000.

Even Ottawa can afford that. There’s no term to worry about with him either as Pirri will be a UFA at season’s end.

Ditto for Lindberg, who is a pending UFA and is making $1.7 million. Maybe a change of scene would get Lindberg going again. He’s only 27 years old and I think he still has some shelf life even though his offensive numbers with the Knights have been subpar. Lindberg has scored in his last two games, including the team’s fourth goal Saturday.

Now, what about the rest of the potential trade from Ottawa’s standpoint? The Knights aren’t likely to move Brannstrom, Cody Glass or Nic Hague. But maybe they offer the Senators Ivan Morozov, their second-round pick of 2018 from Russia who is playing in the KHL. Or perhaps they can convince Ottawa to take Reid Duke or Zach Whitecloud or Daniel Carr, all of whom are playing in the AHL with Chicago.

As for draft picks, the Knights have nine picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, including three in the third round and three in the fifth. I don’t see GMGM dealing the No. 1 or No. 2 pick. But a third-rounder or a fifth-round selection? Absolutely.

Dorion is going to want a lot back. And he should demand a lot. And with other teams shopping for Stone, the price of poker could be steep when it’s all said and done. The reality is the Knights are going to have to give up something to get something.

The question will be, how much will be enough to get Mark Stone to come to the desert? I wouldn’t bankrupt the franchise to get him, but I would certainly take a serious run at trying to get him out of Kanata before falling back to Plan B or C.

**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them sent you.**




Added Offense Comes From Mixed Up Defense


  1. Mike St G

    I’d love to get Stone. I also like Ken’s suggestion on Johansson, who seems to fit the profile of a VGK player. Besides he spent 7yrs with Caps so he’s a known quantity to McPhee. That said, it seems to me that if Vegas can get consistency out of the top 9 from last nights game, it might make sense to add a player more in the 2nd tier (Johanssonn, Nyqvist, Zuccarello, Dzingel, etc) that wouldn’t have the roster impact (this season) of a Stone deal. On the other hand, I’d much rather we get Stone than Calgary, Nashville or Winnipeg. I guess we have 3 games to find out whether the current line changes should stay in place. Excellent piece as usual from the Vegas HOF Carp!

  2. Joe

    Steve, congrats on the long overdue induction into the SNSHF.
    Honestly, I don’t think there is much they can add that would get them back into the WCF without some luck, let alone out of the West. Anything can happen. I don’t trust the goalies in SJ or Calgary not to start the correct goalie in Rittich. There is no Kings to walk over this year. Winnipeg is likely waiting and better than last year. The trade i’d like to see them go after is basically the same package, but Dougie Hamilton or Justin Faulk in Carolina. That is a massive upgrade in whichever defenseman you send the other way, Miller or McNabb, and they are signed for a year or two at an extremely reasonable cap hit.

  3. Richard

    I am glad you brought up Stone.
    He is the only one worth going after, I also like what you think we should offer.
    I do think that Stone unlike Panarin is more than willing to sign an extension and not hit free agency.
    He is looking for 9m for 8 yrs. I hate 8 yr deals, maybe offer 5. He ok’s it. And Ottawa likes what you are offering (which I doubt they will get more). Pull the trigger GMGM

  4. Richard

    Stone was held from practice today with no report of injury.
    That often means a trade is in the works

  5. Mike St G

    We would have a formidable team with Stone, but given all the management and scout activity between WPG and OTT the last few games and the fact he’s from Manitoba it seems to me he’s likely to go there. Although I guess it’s possible that VGK switching Shea Theodore to RD last game may have been an ‘audition’ for OTT. Theo paired with Chabot could be a terrific top D pairing for them. I find it hard to imagine McPhee trading Theo though.

  6. the HOCKEY GOD

    What would it take to get him? — too much, pass.

  7. Mike St G

    Theodore and 2nd 2019 (or 2020 1st)

  8. Dry

    I think we need defense and back up goalie more than another forward! I would not give up Theodore at all. He has a good contract and is young.

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