We’ve speculated for weeks that the Golden Knights might be in the market for a defenseman at some point this season. At first, we assumed management would go for an offensively minded defenseman, but some analysts are speculating just the opposite.
I think they’re looking at defense. They’re a rock offensively and have enough scoring. Pacioretty is shredding it up right now. Marchessault is starting to heat up… I would say that Vegas is a team that’s probably looking at defense. Stopping power rather than scoring power. They have more than enough .-Pierre McGuire, on TSN Montreal
Another insider, Elliotte Friedman wrote in his latest 31 thoughts blog, that there are a handful of defensive defensemen possibly available by trade deadline.
Here are some of the players mentioned: Jake Muzzin, Justin Braun, Joel Edmundson, Radko Gudas, Justin Schultz, Brendan Dillon, Andy Greene.
Justin Braun is the name that pops off the page for me, especially considering his familiarity with the division. Friend of the site, and reporter for Fear of the Fin and The Point, Sheng Peng watched enough of Braun to appreciate his defensive skill set.
There aren’t many bottom pairings capable of limiting Patrick Kane, as Dillon and Braun helped do in San Jose’s 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The tandem played more against Kane at 5-on-5 than any other pairing.
Not many teams have that confidence to match their third pairing, last change at home, against a superstar.
In Karlsson’s absence, Dillon, Braun and Burns have taken the bulk of the shifts at 5-on-5 against the likes of Kane and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. This with Vlasic, still considered to be one of the better defensive defensemen in the world, under relative wraps.-Sheng Peng, March 4th, 2019
Here’s an example Sheng singled out, highlighting Braun’s defensive positioning and patience on a 2-on-1.
If Vegas is looking for more stopping power, Braun could fill that role. Like Peng mentioned about his ability to cover high level forwards 5-on-5, he would allow the coaching staff multiple options. Having the ability to deploy the defensive unit top to bottom in all situations. Keep in mind, the Flyers traded for the defenseman this summer, so maybe they’re content holding on to him.
Muzzin ($4M-UFA) and Schultz ($5.5M-UFA) are other defensemen mentioned by Friedman, but Vegas would need to be creative in order to take on those salaries.
A more affordable blueliner like Edmundson ($3.1M-UFA) is an interesting case as well. Carolina is in a playoff position but Friedman referenced several players (Erik Haula being one of them) the Hurricanes would consider trading. Since Edmundson was born in Brandon, Manitoba, we’d have to assume the Golden Knights have interest. This organization consistently targets guys they’ve known from juniors, scouted or drafted in the past. Edmundson could be a key addition in Manitoba South’s chase for the Cup.