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Tag: Erik Gustafsson

Carp: A Little More Work To Do

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The NHL trade deadline is 24 hours away and the first-place Golden Knights have put themselves in position to do something major to upgrade their roster. Whether they do or don’t remains to be seen but if we’ve learned anything from watching George McPhee operate, it’s that he’s not afraid to go big.

Sometimes it works, as it did with Mark Stone. Sometimes, it doesn’t when he was unable to pry Erik Karlsson from the Senators two years ago and wound up overpaying for Tomas Tatar at the last minute.

So far, the Knights have made three deals this season. They acquired Chandler Stephenson from Washington in early December for a fifth-round pick in 2021. Wednesday, they sent two second-rounders to Los Angeles to get defenseman Alec Martinez from the Kings. Friday, they moved Cody Eakin and his $3.85 million salary to Winnipeg for a conditional fourth-round selection in 2021.

Stephenson has been terrific. Martinez had a storybook start in his VGK debut Thursday with a goal and an assist in the win over Tampa Bay and with Eakin gone, it opens the door for another move while at the same time it is giving one of the younger players in the organization a chance to show what he can do. Saturday, that was Gage Quinney (more on him shortly).

Moving Eakin was a no-brainer. He was having a tough season and those who played with him also appeared to struggle if you want to believe the analytics. He was a pending UFA and it was unlikely the Knights were going to re-sign him. So to get something back, potentially a third-rounder, for him, was pretty good on Vegas’ part.

But the big thing was getting that $3.85 million off the books. For a team that was cash-strapped in terms of cap maneuverability, the Knights suddenly found themselves relatively flush. Now if they want to pull off something big, they may be able to do so though they may still have to be a bit creative if they want to land a really big fish, one that makes them a true Stanley Cup contender.

So what should they do?

The Erik Gustafsson rumors have heated up the last 24 hours after Gustafsson was held out of Chicago’s game with Nashville Friday. He makes $1.2 million and is a pending UFA so he would essentially be a rental. And while the Knights’ philosophy is to not engage in rentals, they might be willing to make an exception in Gustafsson’s case. He would likely come cheap and if Vegas wants to retain him long-term, he’s only 27 years old. He could essentially replace Deryk Engelland dollar-for-dollar if the 37-year-old Engelland, also a UFA, is not brought back. He’s a left-handed shot and as Ken pointed out Saturday, the Knights have a glut of those on the blue line.

Another option could be Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, another pending UFA whose price tag is considerably higher — $5.5 million (though half is retained by Colorado in a prior trade) — than Gustafsson’s. Barrie is a right-handed shot and he has proven track record of offensive capabilities. His final two years with Colorado, he had 14 goals each season and 57 and 59 points respectively. He might fit Peter DeBoer’s system nicely.

The question with Barrie is the ask-back from Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. Could the price be too high?

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Setting The Price On Blue Line Trade Chips

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’re still nearly two months from the trade deadline but the ball started rolling yesterday before games got underway for the day.

A pair of trades (which was pretty much a three-way trade) sent defenseman Marco Scandella to the Montreal Canadiens.

Scandella is a 29-year-old left-handed defenseman who has eclipsed the 20 point mark each of the last six seasons. He’s been more of an offensive-minded defenseman over the course of his career but his offensive numbers are down a bit this year with just nine points in 31 games and averaging only about a shot per game while his defensive game has shined posting 1.7 defensive point shares this season.

Scandella is set to become an unrestricted free agent and carries a cap hit of $4 million. The price on the trade market for Scandella was a 4th round pick without any salary being held by the Sabres.

It’s still early, so trade prices will certainly fluctuate a bit as teams fall in and out of contention and the deadline approaches, but a 4th round pick for a mid-range rental gives us a starting point for what it might cost when the Golden Knights are ready to dip their toes into the blue line trade market.

Erik Gustafsson (Chicago)

Gustafsson posted a 60 point season last year while averaging nearly 23 minutes of ice time per night. Also set to become an unrestricted free agent, Gustafsson is currently making just $1.2 million against the cap. He has some defensive shortcomings, but offensively Gustafsson is exactly what the Golden Knights are looking for. He’s a puck-moving blueliner who sees a majority of his starts in the offensive zone and plays on a top power-play unit. Gustafsson is what Scandella was a few years ago with more potential upside and a cheaper cap hit. Projected Price: 2nd Round pick and a prospect

Mike Green (Detroit)

A George McPhee draft pick in 2004, Green used to be one of the NHL’s best offensive-minded defensemen. Father time has caught up to him quite a bit seeing his production dip drastically, but he’s still been around a half-point per game player each of the last four years. This year the numbers are completely in the tank, with Green posting just seven points in 31 games and a 0.2 point share count. Also a pending UFA, Green’s cap hit is enormous at $5.375 million. Projected Price: 6th round pick

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