Welcome to GM For A Day, the first in a pair of articles in which the founders of SinBin.vegas will 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 later in the week).
Today, I (Ken) am on the hot seat. I’ve been given the keys to the car and I’m ready to start wheeling and dealing. For me, the team isn’t in need of a lot of changes, especially at the top of the roster, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be active in this unique offseason.
Here we go…
*TRADE: Ryan Reaves + 5th Round Pick to New York Rangers for 3rd Round Pick*
First up on my list of moves would be trading Ryan Reaves to free up some cap space and eliminate any possibility my head coach would ever put him in the lineup. My thoughts have been well documented on the player and I believe we could find a team willing to take him off our hands for almost nothing. The Rangers’ season ended with continuous line brawls against the Washington Capitals after Tom Wilson injured Artemi Panarin. Their new coach, Gerard Gallant, is familiar with Reaves and actually was able to pull a bit of offense out of him. We move up two rounds in the draft and relieve ourselves of $1.75 million against the cap.
Next, we’re making the big move of the offseason.
*TRADE: Robin Lehner to Carolina Hurricanes for Warren Foegele + 3rd Round Pick*
Simply put, if I were in charge of the Golden Knights, there’s absolutely no way we’d head into another season with $12 million tied up in goalies. I believe Lehner is a valuable piece and will continue to be one of the better goalies in the NHL, but there’s no way I’m moving on from the guy who is the face of the franchise, was just awarded the Vezina, and carried this team through a couple of playoff rounds. So Lehner must go.
Carolina seems like the perfect fit. They are a team that has been on the cusp of breaking through, but they just haven’t ever had reliable enough goaltending to get there. On the other side, Foegele is a perfect bottom-six option for the Golden Knights and there’s a chance he could be lost to Seattle in the Expansion Draft. Everyone wins in this deal and it’ll make for one heck of a storyline when these two teams face off in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
Now it’s time to have some fun with the expansion team.
*TRADE: Cody Glass to Seattle Kraken for Chris Tierney*
Under the current rules, it’s very difficult for the league’s newest team to acquire players between the age of 20-24. They’ll have a bunch of younger guys through the Entry Draft and the Expansion Draft will stock their team with middle-six players over the age of 25. So, Cody Glass will look like a steal as a former 1st Round pick who still hasn’t gotten a full season in the NHL. Plus, he played his Junior hockey in the Pacific Northwest which will give him an instant connection to the area. Tierney will be the kingpin of our rebuilt 4th line as a shutdown defense option who can add some offense if needed. (Read more about him here.)
That’s it for trades, now we just need to round the roster out with a pair of under-the-radar free-agent signings.
*SIGN: Alexander Wennberg for 4 years at $3.8 million AAV*
We’ve already added Tierney to help with center depth, but this one really takes the Golden Knights from a bottom-10 team at the position to somewhere in the middle of the pack. A group of Karlsson, Stephenson, Tierney, and Wennberg, supplemented by Roy, gives us adequate center depth to go along with our dominant wingers and blue line which we have not touched. The hope would be for Wennberg to take over Stephenson’s role on the 1st line, but there’d be plenty of time for him to fit in either in Karlsson’s spot, or down the lineup with Tuch.
*SIGN: Michael Bunting for 2 years at $1 million AAV*
Bunting is a player who has a chance to really thrive on a better team. He’s shown flashes, especially in a few games against Vegas, and there’s certainly enough talent there for him to become the next “misfit” who just fits here better than where he was before.
And that’s it. Here’s how the Opening Night roster looks.
This is a 22-man roster with a salary cap a number pretty much right on the $81.5 million limit.
The new-look Golden Knights are a team with very few holes and plenty of options up and down the lineup. The additions are flexible pieces that have all shown the ability to score in the NHL.
This team can win the Cup as is, but with one more upgrade at the deadline, the Stanley Cup will finally be ours.