Welcome to GM For A Day, the second in a pair of articles in which the founders of SinBin.vegas take control of the Vegas Golden Knights and reshape the team in a way we each believe will bring the Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.
These articles are NOT meant to be taken as a prediction as to what we believe is going to happen this offseason. This is what we would do, not what we think the Golden Knights will do (that article is coming tomorrow).
Today, I (Jason) am on the hot seat. Let’s go.
Here we go…
*TRADE: Marc-Andre Fleury + 2022 3rd round pick to Toronto Maple Leafs for center Alex Kerfoot + 2022 2nd round pick and 2023 2nd round pick*
In a flat cap world, there’s no way I can continue to allocate $12M in goaltending. As general manager, I would entertain every inquiry coming in from opposing front offices. In the long run, the NHL is a cold, hard business and it wouldn’t be a secret that I’m looking to move a goaltender. I understand that it could hurt my negotiations but in the end I’m trying to move money and build some depth.
There are contending teams with issues in net and one that could use a steady tender like Fleury is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are loaded with talent but consistently underachieve in the playoffs. Adding a leader that just so happens to be the Vezina winner would be a big confidence boost for a franchise that hasn’t been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967.
To make it work I asked for center Alex Kerfoot ($3.5M x 2) to help my club down the middle. I considered asking for defenseman Morgan Reilly but he’s on an expiring contract with an AAV of $5M. At that rate, I would find a way to re-sign Alec Martinez. At a $3.5M AAV Kerfoot isn’t exactly cheap, but he’s only locked in for two more seasons. Personally, I don’t love the trade, but it was necessary. It gave me agita dealing Fleury over last season’s mismanagement. Finally fixing the roster to pay just one one starting goaltender allows for much-needed cap relief, a solid third line center and a future draft asset we can use as capital at the deadline.
*TRADE Reilly Smith + William Carrier to NY Rangers for Pavel Buchnevich + 2023 3rd round pick*
There’s plenty of interest around the league for Reilly Smith which is why it pains me to deal him away. Under new management, the Rangers aren’t willing to commit long-term to Buchnevich leaving him as a viable trade option. TSN’s Frank Seravalli expects the winger’s arbitration value to be around $4.5M. In my plan, the 26-year-old will never hit arbitration and the organization will sign the 6’3″ left-winger to a multi-year deal. My club gets younger and more threatening at the same cost.
Sure, it would be difficult to package away two original Misfits in one deal but new Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant would gladly look after them.
*TRADE: Cody Glass to New Jersey Devils for a 2021 3rd round pick*
I’m expecting to make some noise during draft weekend but nothing major. The Devils traded their 2021 2nd round pick for Nikita Gusev in 2019, now New Jersey agreed to send a 2021 3rd round pick for Glass. It’s unfortunate but the franchise’s first draft pick will have a chance to resurface with another organization. On the bright side, I was able to replace a 2021 3rd round pick that was lost in a botched trade for Thomas Tatar in 2018. Overall, I think it’s a win-win for both organizations.
We are technically not part of the 2021 Expansion Draft but don’t worry we’ll make an appearance. Somehow, I will find a way to trade former Seattle Thunderbird star Keegan Kolesar to the Kraken for an asset to be announced later. Ignore the details for now.
Let’s take a break from trading until the February deadline. Too much wheeling and dealing could lead to mistakes. However, I need to round out my lineup and roster so let’s spend some cash.
*SIGN: Alec Martinez for two years at $4.75M AAV*
We watched how valuable Martinez can be in the regular season and in the playoffs. He battled through serious injuries blocking shot after shot and yet found a way to skate 22 minutes per night. Martinez has brought awareness, leadership, and high hockey-IQ to Vegas. He’s a warrior that I want on my championship team. I was able to sell the 33-year-old rehabbing defenseman with a short-term above-market price offer.
*SIGN: Sean Kuraly for three years at $1.3M AAV*
I’m taking a chance on a player after a down season to help strengthen my bottom six. At 6’2″, the 26-year-old can play that fourth line pressure style that coach Pete DeBoer likes to deploy. Plus he’s an above-average center in faceoff percentage, winning 57.4% of his FO in 2021. Kuraly can be featured on the bottom line and on the penalty kill. Another reason the former Bruin interests me is his postseason experience. In four career seasons, Kuraly has participated in 57 playoff games, including a 20 game Stanley Cup chase in 2019.
Here’s the revamped/tweaked lineup for the 2021-22 season:
So there you have it. A 21 man roster that costs just under $75M. The team needed to get younger and the players acquired are in their mid-20’s. Continuing the youth movement it’s time to give Krebs a chance to crack the lineup. We’ve seen other teams’ prospects quickly blossom into bonafide NHL players, let’s see if the 20-year-old can be the next league sensation. Between him and Buchnevich, Vegas’ third line would be difficult to defend. It could be the difference between going to the Semifinals or to the Stanley Cup finals.
The roster turnover left me with roughly $6M as ammo for the trade deadline or even before. It’s possible Evgeni Malkin, Tomas Hertl or other impact players are available for a playoff run and beyond. We’ll unload at the deadline and turn this great team into the Cup-winner at the deadline.