The Vegas Golden Knights still have a lot of work left for them as the offseason continues. The team was heavily commended for focusing on drafting defense in the expansion draft several weeks ago and from there flipping those players for picks as Golden Knights general manager George McPhee has stated numerous times that they are building for the next five years. The team has stockpiled a large number of draft picks since then and still have a number of players to trade, whether that will be now or at the trade deadline next season.
However, they seem to have one issue that they must address before the season starts. Despite trading a bunch of defenseman for picks, the team still has a surplus of defensemen on its roster and the market is beginning to dry up. The team has already traded Trevor van Riemsdyk to Carolina, David Schlemko to Montreal and Marc Methot to Dallas for picks. Just last week, the team moved Alexei Emelin to Nashville, but they had to retain $1.1MM of his salary in order to make the deal work.
The team currently has 11 defensemen with NHL experience on its roster, which is about four or five defensemen too many. The team has made it clear that it doesn’t want to trade its young defensemen, so it’s the veterans they want to trade. The last thing the Golden Knights want to do is be forced to play veterans like Jason Garrison, Clayton Stoner and Luca Sbisa over their younger, but more than ready defensemen. The problem is that Garrison, Stoner and Sbisi are struggling players on expensive contracts. While all three players have only one year on their contracts remaining, Garrison will get $4.6MM, Stoner receives $3.25MM and Sbisi will make $3.6MM next season.
Garrison, 32, has lost a step and found himself being demoted to the bottom of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s depth chart. His salary forced Tampa Bay to offer Vegas two draft picks and Russian prospect Nikita Gusev to take him in the expansion draft. Stoner has dealt with numerous injuries in the last few years and Anaheim had to offer Shea Theodore to make Vegas take Stoner, but after playing just 14 games for the Ducks last year and a declining game, who would want him and that salary? Sbisi is just 27, but he struggled with Vancouver and with his salary may not have much trade value either, but he might be their best hope to make a deal.
The point, of course, is that Vegas will want to play their young defensemen like Theodore, Nate Schmidt, Colin Miller, Brayden McNabb, Jonathon Merrill and maybe even Griffin Reinhart. So, the team must do something to avoid the logjam. There are other options as well. Like Emelin, they could retain some of these players’ salaries in hopes a team would take some of them off their hands. They could wait till training camp and watch for teams that still have holes or suffer injuries that need filling. Another option would be to buy them out or even just sit them in favor of their younger players. However, one would hope Vegas has a plan in place.
Sbisi should have some value if they retain salary but I don’t see how they can move the other two guys.
One of the 11 is Brad Hunt- he will end up in Chicago (AHL)
Theodore is able to be sent down to AHL if need be without waivers
So really they need to deal 2 before the season. a few teams will need at least a depth dman. And the only dman signed for more than this season right now is technically Hunt, so everyone else is on expiring contracts, making it a little easier.
But Theodore shouldn’t be playing in the AHL which is part of the problem.
I agree he shouldn’t, but he can. So even if they can’t get value on some of those deals, they can send him down until moves are made.
The reality is, Vegas probably still needs a forward or two, so a 1-1 swap could happen.
how many times are you gonna misspell Sbisa? lol