On Sunday here on SinBin.vegas, Steve Carp suggested the Golden Knights make a run at Mark Stone. Other big names like Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Wayne Simmonds, Mats Zuccarello and many others have also been linked to the Golden Knights.
While Jason and I are certainly not opposed to a splash move, we both have the same concern (which you know is rare if you listen to our podcast).
Is this team good enough to risk selling multiple high-end assets to make a run this year? Or, phrased differently, will adding a star player be the difference between the Golden Knights regaining their dominance?
Carp was offering Colin Miller, a 1st, and a prospect like Ivan Morozov for Stone. The package to get Panarin would be even higher. Heck, even guys like Kevin Hayes appear to be primed to fetch significant returns.
The return for (Hayes) should be far more substantial, though we have argued for months that the typical 24-31 draft pick plus a B-level prospect or two doesn’t move the needle dramatically enough. –Larry Brooks, NY Post
I believe the Golden Knights are a very good hockey team stuck in a rough patch. However, I also understand the consistency issues and seriously question if they can flip the switch and keep it turned on for an entire playoff run.
This Golden Knights team is good enough to win the Western Conference. They can beat San Jose, Calgary, Winnipeg, and/or Nashville in a seven-game series. But, they’ve got to play much better than they have, and it has to come from the guys currently on the roster. It’s in there, we know it is because we’ve seen it, they just have to bring it back out.
That’s why adding a major piece scares both Jason and I. If the current roster doesn’t figure out their issues, adding Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby wouldn’t even be enough to fuel a run to the Cup. But, if they do get it together, they may not even need to add much of anything. So, is it really wise to throw caution to the wind and swing for the fences?
Instead, there’s a much smaller move we’d like to advocate for. A move that if it were to happen could certainly make them better while not breaking the bank along the way.
That move is acquiring New Jersey Devils winger Marcus Johansson. With New Jersey, the 28-year-old Swede has totaled 39 points in 75 games, which has been considered underperforming. He has 118 career goals, 29 power play goals, and averages 0.57 points per game. Johansson racked up 58 points and 24 goals in 2016-17 before being traded to New Jersey. He also posted four straight years of 40+ points and received Lady Byng and Selke votes along the way. He’s a power play threat with a strong career shooting percentage (13.8%).
Oh, and we didn’t even mention his previous team was the Washington Capitals. He was drafted 24th overall in the 2009 Draft by George McPhee and signed two different contracts with McPhee.
Johansson was traded in the Summer of 2017 for a 2nd and a 3rd round pick and is now a pending unrestricted free agent making him a deadline rental.
What would he cost? A 2nd round pick? A 3rd and a 4th? Maybe even less. Certainly much less than Stone, Panarin, Duchene, or any of the other bigger named players likely on the move.
Interest has picked up last few days on Johansson. And judging by Ray Shero’s history, he’s not a guy that likes to wait until deadline day. Dealt Boyle already. https://t.co/nkvuWhjb8v
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 16, 2019
Johansson is a low-risk, high-reward option. If the Golden Knights can’t figure it out, only a pick or two would have been wasted (and that’s if he decides not to re-sign in Vegas), while if he does work, he could easily be the 3rd line scorer this team has been looking for since its inception.
He fits the mold of what the Golden Knights are looking for, there’s familiarity with the general manager and likely many of his scouts, he’s cheap (both in trade value and against the cap), and he can flat out put the puck in the net when in the right situation.
It’s not the splash many might be looking for, but it’s the type of move good teams make to get better. It won’t significantly damage the future of the franchise, while it could be just what’s needed in the present.