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Familiar Alternatives To Free Agent Big Game Hunting

The Golden Knights offseason plans are underway and time for the front office to try and improve the club for next season.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is the big fish in free agency and as we’ve seen before, the Golden Knights aren’t afraid to hand out a massive contract. At 30-years-old, management might be cautious before handing out an expensive seven-year contract. The right-handed Pietrangelo will come at a premium, so Vegas will have to be creative matching the asking price or find other alternatives.

Another notable UFA is Boston defenseman, Torey Krug. The expected price on Krug is around $7.5-$8M per season. He’s a year younger but unlike Pietrangelo, he’s a left-handed shot, and we’ve seen Vegas target right-handed defenseman in the past. Krug’s offensive production is worth the expense, but Vegas may lean to the much taller and right-handed Pietrangelo.

There are plenty of alternative defenseman in the market this offseason, some are less-skilled but cheaper and younger. If Vegas can find the defenseman that fixes their exact deficiency they won’t need to break the bank. However, that takes great awareness and pro scouting finding that right fit. That’s when the familiarity factor comes in handy.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Two defensemen available this offseason are highly respected by Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer. Former Sharks Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun are set to hit the open market. Both played well for DeBoer and are comfortable playing his style of hockey. Either could help the transition their former coach would like to make in Vegas before next season. Dillon is a big, demanding 29-year-old d-man, while Braun is a little older but conveniently shoots right-handed. Of course, they’re less desirable free agents but they can do the job that DeBoer asks. Oh, and they cost a heck of a lot less.

It’s no secret the Golden Knights organization has six degrees of separation with the province of Manitoba, and specifically Brandon. Mark Stone, Ryan Reaves, Zach Whitecloud, Cody Glass and Keegan Kolesar all grew up in Manitoba. There’s also an obvious comfort level scouting former players from “one of the Cadillac organizations of the Western Hockey League” the Brandon Wheat Kings. There are a handful of Wheat King graduates in the organization, including assistant coach Ryan Craig. So keeping with the Kevin Bacon trend, there are two defensemen linked to GM Kelly McCrimmon who potentially could be attainable.

Travis Hamonic played for the Brandon Wheat Kings for ten games in the 2009-2010 season. The 30-year-old Manitoban doesn’t produce offensively like Pietrangelo but he’s a solid top-four defenseman. TSN’s Ray Ferraro speculated it’s unlikely Hamonic will return to Calgary, and would cost half as much as it would take to lure in St. Louis’ captain.

Lastly is Damon Severson. We examined Severson during the trade deadline period. The righty is from Brandon, Manitoba, and also played for DeBoer in NJ before the coach was relieved of his duties. A player from Manitoba and played for the current coach, now that’s like winning a roulette double zero for the front office.

Are any of these alternatives better than Pietrangelo? We all know they aren’t, but sometimes building a legitimate contender isn’t always about the big purchase. Finding a defenseman that fits DeBoer’s system, and is affordable might be the best way to improve an already competitive club.


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  1. Douglas MacLeod

    Believe you meant Justin Braun

    • Well better not losd up with PDB people like was posted vegas kicked their butt when he coached the sharks. Actually l have a difficult time believing PDB system is the solution for Vegss it sure didn’t appear that way during the playoff under his direction..

  2. Why not focus on offense or are we just going to forget the awful performance in play offs. So far are large salaries investments are marginal at best.

  3. I really like Severson, I believe he would be an excellent fit here

  4. Bob

    How much do you think it would take to sign Tyson Barrie? How do you think he would fit in DeBoer’s system?

    • I think he’d be a nice fit, but I have to believe the Golden Knights are not interested as he was available at the deadline and they went a different direction.

  5. Tim

    Now Jason that was an interesting article. I’ve been against signing Pietrangelo only because of cost and length of contract. The problem is it’s going to be hard for the Splash Brothers to pass on Pietrangelo if for no other reason then their ego. They like to show everyone their the smartest guys in the room. They’ve made some good moves and to many bad moves in the last two years. I hope this time they think things out. Please let’s not load the team up with Sharks DeBoer is enough. What I don’t get is for three years we beat San Jose like a drum and now were going to load up with there players because they know DeBoers system which couldn’t beat the Knights. What am I missing Jason.

  6. Bent Hermit

    I would rather the team not go for anyone in free agency. I would like to see them move a few guys out for picks and/or prospects. This season’s trade deadline is going to have some good deals due to Seattle expansion. This will allow some of the young guys to step up and they will be able to see what they are going to need at the deadline. This also gives them a lot of cap room to take advantage of some of the deals that are going to be available.

  7. Daryl

    Os there a chance we can get a defenseman that knows how to actually play defense? How about one that doesn’t get knocked off the puck when someone blows on him. I would also love to see a few Forwards who aren’t afraid of playing dirty in front of the net….maybe one of Theo’s 40 shots can make it in the net

  8. Daryl – why would we want forwards to screen the opposition goalie – just kidding of course. I am not a fan of 16 or 10 for Dallas but Vegas forwards could certainly learn from them. Your asking a lot of the defense – they experienced a difficult time getting out of their own way let alone actually playing defense – Whitecloud wasn’t as bad as others- you had to feel bad for him on the penalty in OT.

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