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One Potential VGK Trade Target From Each Of The NHL’s Worst 12 Teams (Part 1)

The trade deadline is just three weeks away and the Golden Knights are already gearing up to be active. Looking at the roster, it seems clear the target for this year’s deadline in Vegas will be a forward. With every team still with 8-12 games on their schedule before March 8th, I thought it would be easier to go through every bad team to cover every potential seller.

Here’s one player from each of the worst 12 teams in the league that could make sense for the Golden Knights. (Today is teams 32-27, tomorrow is 26-21.)

Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Johnson
$5 million – Expiring Contract
2023-24: 38gp, 10g, 14p, 1.0 point shares

Johnson has been fairly productive this year on a terrible Chicago team, when healthy. The numbers are nowhere near what they were when he was in Tampa, but there’s a strong case he could have a resurgence back on a good team. This is a guy who scored 72 points in a season back in 2014-15 and posted 45+ points for three straight years between 2016-19. He’s a decent power play weapon and can play center or wing. Chicago would have no problem eating half of the salary and it’s not crazy to think they could find a third party to eat another $1.25 if necessary as well. He has the Stanley Cup pedigree the VGK front office loves and even posted a 23-point postseason once upon a time. The perfect fit, no, but could be quite cost-effective based on the situation in Chicago.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

San Jose Sharks
Anthony Duclair
$3 million – Expiring Contract
2023-24: 47gp, 9g, 17a, 1.1 point shares

You might remember Duclair from the Stanley Cup Final where he scored in Game 1 against the Golden Knights. Or, maybe you’ll remember him from the 31-goal season he posted in Florida in 2021-22. Duclair’s numbers have been down in San Jose and he battled through injury all of last year which hurt his totals, but he has shown the ability to score when played with excellent players. He’s a bit one-dimensional though, which would mean he’d likely have to play in an offensive role and can only play on the wing. But, he’s definitely a power play option and has a season under his belt where he scored nine PP goals. The salary is manageable (especially when you consider San Jose could hold some of it) and he kind of fits the Phil Kessel role that has been missing since VGK let the Ironman walk away.

Anaheim Ducks
Frank Vatrano
$3.65 million – Through next season
2023-24: 53gp, 23g, 41p, 3.8 point shares

What the Golden Knights really need is a scoring winger who can be an upgrade on the power play and eat up some penalty kill minutes. Vatrano is all of it. He’s scored eight power play goals this season, is on pace for a 60 point season, and is set to shatter his career high in goals. There’s a familiarity with Cassidy as he played for the Bruins for three seasons, and he’s had a bit of a down year on the PDO which means he could even be in for bigger numbers on a better team. The cost won’t be cheap, especially considering he has an extra year on the contract, but Vatrano looks good on the roster now and will in the future too.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Sean Kuraly
$2.5 million – Through next season
2023-24: 44gp, 7g, 13p, 0.8 point shares

This one is more along the lines of the Teddy Blueger move than it is the Ivan Barbashev deal. Kuraly is a solid defensive center who can be relied upon to penalty kill with consistency. He also has a history with Cassidy, and the now Stanley Cup-winning coach trusted Kuraly with nearly 70% defensive zone starts when they were together in Boston. He has a ton of playoff experience and even posted 10 points in 20 games once, but he’s not going to wow anyone along the way.

Ottawa Senators
Dominik Kubalik
$2.5 million – Expiring Contract
2023-24: 46gp, 9g, 12p, 0.1 point shares

When Kubalik first came into the league he was trending towards becoming a superstar. He finished 3rd in Calder voting while posting 30 goals in his rookie year. His production has consistently declined since then which has left him looking like a fairly unexciting player. However, he has been pretty good on the power play, he posted eight points in nine playoff games in the bubble, and he’s scored three goals in nine games against the Golden Knights. He’d have to come for a very reasonable trade price, but Vegas has succeeded with reclamation projects before, and if they were to get it right with Kubalik he would be a massive one.

Buffalo Sabres
Victor Olofsson
$4.75 million – Expiring Contract
2023-24: 35gp, 4g, 12p, 1.0 point shares

The main reason to look at Olofsson is his proficiency on the power play. He’s still looking for his first power play goal this season, but he posted seven each of the previous three years and 11 the year before. Part of the reason for his rough numbers this season is a shooting percentage of 8.7%, by far the lowest of his career. If that number can get back up near his average 13%, he could once again become a dangerous scoring threat. He does need to be used in a top-six role but there’s certainly an argument that there’s enough of a goal-scoring history to believe he can do it again with great linemates in Vegas.

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NHL Network Sweet On Two VGK Forwards

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One Potential VGK Trade Target From Each Of The NHL’s Worst 12 Teams (Part 2)

12 Comments

  1. Pierre S Martin

    I think any trade would have to factor in the Future. With Stephenson, Marchessault, Amadio and Martinez being UFAs this Summer we could lose some to Free Agency. So having someone who could stick around and fill one of the above roles would be ideal.

    • Emmanuel

      Resign ONLY Marchessault.

      • knights fan in minny

        chandler is very valuable

      • knights fan in minny

        chandler needs to be on this team plays the pp and pk good chemistry with stoner my guess is money is not the biggest thing to him i could be wrong i think he really enjoys playing in vegas i woulg guess he would not want a big raise but who knows

  2. Frank

    Of that group, I’d be in favor of Vatrano coming aboard. Seems like he’s the one that can add most where we are deficient and is realtively inexpesive based on current performance……

    • knights fan in minny

      vatrano would be nice

    • Pistol Pete

      Vatrano is havinv a career year. At a career high matching 41 pts (23 G) in just 51 games. I know Pavel Buchnevich does not make Ken’s list because the Blues are not among the bottom twelve teams but he remains my top choice. With Martinez’s $5.2m gone and the cap going up $4.2m there will be plenty of space to take on Buchnevich’s $5.8m salary through next season and re-sign Marchessault and Stephenson. Not sure why his name pops up as a trade target because his three seasons with the Blues after being traded from the Rangers have been stellar. Only 2 pts under a point a game and excellent on both sides of the puck including each special team. His salary is fair. Hard to understand why the trade talk. Turns 29 in April. Perfect power winger for Eichel.

      • Frank

        Buchnevich not a bad add either. Vatrano is having a career year, on a sub par team. I think he’d probably be doing even better here in Vegas. Plus he is a cheap rental for a couple of years if he does not work out. I would be shocked if we don’t add a winger by the trade deadline to boster our scoring depth.

  3. JB

    My adds to the team would be: Jack, Theo and Will!

  4. Mike StG

    I think Vatrano is their prime target. There were 2 scouts + AGM from Vegas at recent Habs-Ducks game. He’s the winger they need, plays both sides, solid veteran. Plus with salary retention will be helpful in navigating UFA situation later this year.

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