If you’ve listened to a SinBin.vegas Periscope or Podcast over the last month or so you’ve probably heard me reference VGK’s need to improve their bottom-six.
To this point, the Golden Knights have iced seven variations of 3rd and 4th lines and to this point the success has been limited, despite playing mostly poor competition.
|Line||TOI||G||GA||Corsi For||Chance %|
As you can see in the numbers, the 3rd line has had much more success than the 4th, but still not enough to feel like they can help carry Vegas to a Cup. Of the three different 4th line combos, the Golden Knights have allowed four goals while scoring just one. They’ve been out-shot and out-chanced significantly as well.
This is why rather than the Golden Knights attacking a high-priced superstar player at the deadline like they have in the past, I believe it would be in their best interest to add down the lineup and essentially rebuild the bottom-six.
We’re still a ways off from the deadline, which means more teams could find themselves as sellers come April 12th. However, I’ve started to compile a list of some of the players that may be good targets for Vegas to round out a roster that belongs in the Stanley Cup conversation.
New York Rangers
Cap Hit: $3.25M (RFA at season’s end)
The Rangers are in a bit of a weird place. On one hand, they have declared they are rebuilding and even sent their fan base a letter stating such, while on the other they are going out and signing mega free agents like Artemi Panarin and extending guys like Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba. Buchnevich has been a major part of the team for quite a while and is under RFA control at season’s end, but one has to wonder if they’d be willing to part ways for the right price.
In Panarin’s absence, Buchnevich has found himself shuffled around the lineup, even at one point playing on the Rangers’ 3rd line. The price would be significant, probably upwards of a 1st round pick, but the idea of placing him on the 3rd line next to Tuch and Glass is exciting. This would begin the process of moving players like Roy and Kolesar down the VGK lineup, bolstering both the 3rd and 4th lines.
Cap Hit: $2.25M (UFA at season’s end)
You may remember Janmark from being a pain in the Golden Knights’ rear with the Stars during last postseason. While he didn’t have any points in that series, he can put them up. He registered three points including a goal in the Stanley Cup Final and has plenty of playoff experience (45 games to be exact). He signed a one-year deal with Chicago and they may look to move him for cheap at the deadline, assuming their early-season success tails off.
Janmark is a much more reliable player than anyone currently on the Vegas 4th line and would likely fit in well offensively if matched up with other offensive options. He’s a former 3rd round pick and put up 15 goals in his rookie year and 19 the following, that’s substantially more than Vegas is used to seeing down their lineup.
Cap Hit: $2 million (2 years left on contract)
The Predators stink, like, really stink. They are going to have to start a major rebuild and anyone with any semblance of value is going to be available. Jarnkrok has double-digit goals each of the last five seasons and failed to reach 15 just once. He’s a much more skilled player than Kolesar, Reaves, or Carrier and would instantly change the makeup of the 4th line. He’s played much higher up the Predators lineup, including recently slotting in on the 2nd line with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund. He’s not a true rental but the price shouldn’t be too high considering the Predators positioning in the standings.
Los Angeles Kings
Cap Hit: $2.425M (UFA at season’s end)
If the Kings are smart, Iafallo should be in their future plans. But, when teams are struggling, they’ll listen on any pending UFA, which Iafallo is after four seasons in Los Angeles. Iafallo can score, he plays with pace, has the ability to play in the center or on the wing and he knows the division well. If Vegas were to go get him, they’d probably want to stick him on the left side of Glass and Tuch, but if they couple this move with another, maybe he could take Glass’s role as the 3rd line center. Imagine a group of Tuch, Iafallo, and Buchnevich leaving Glass, Roy, and Nosek as the 4th line. That’s a roster as deep as any in the league and certainly in the West Division.
Cap Hit: $2M (2 years left on contract)
Grimaldi is not exactly the sexiest name the Golden Knights could add, but the upgrade he would represent over Reaves or Carrier is immense. Vegas would have to admit they no longer have a checking 4th line as Grimaldi’s 5’6″ stature doesn’t exactly fit the mold of what Vegas’ 4th line has been. However, he’s a gritty player who has proven he can produce at the NHL level. His 58 career points in 166 games are just 14 short of what Carrier and Reaves have produced since they have been Golden Knights (combined 362 games). He’s a little guy, a feisty guy, he gets shots on net, and is reliable enough in his own end. Matched with bigger bodies like Nosek, Roy, and Kolesar, he could change the look and feel of the Vegas 4th line.
Of course, to make any of this happen the Golden Knights would need to open up some cap space. If they choose to move a goalie, they’d be able to add any two players off this list without asking the trade partner to hold any salary. Otherwise, names like Reaves, Martinez, Holden, and Nosek would have to be considered to be moved in order to open up space for even one.
It will take a lot of maneuvering, and it will likely dip into the future asset pool that the Golden Knights have been pretty protective of, but if the Golden Knights want to win the Stanley Cup, this lineup has a much better chance than the one they’ve got.
The NHL is a copycat league. This is what the Lightning did last year adding Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Pat Maroon. No reason for Vegas not to give it a go themselves.