With their season wrapping up much more quietly than the Washington Capitals, the Vegas Golden Knights will now look to continue their success next season. Due to the failed trade deadline move to acquire Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson many months ago, many people believe that Vegas general manager George McPhee will try to rekindle those trade talks.
The move would make quite a bit of sense since Vegas’ defense struggled against Washington during their Stanley Cup run as the Capitals dominated the neutral zone throughout the finals. And while the Golden Knights have many quality top-four defensemen, what the team is truly lacking is a No. 1 defenseman, which showed against Washington. However, Elliotte Friedman suggests a deal for Karlsson might be unlikely this offseason in his 31 Thoughts segment.
Friedman writes the main reason the original Karlsson trade collapsed was Ottawa’s insistence on Vegas including 2017 first-round pick Cody Glass, the team’s top prospect. The 19-year-old center, who was the sixth-overall pick in last year’s draft, potted 37 goals and 102 points for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. Vegas didn’t want to include him, despite the fact that 13th overall pick Nick Suzuki, also a center, tallied 42 goals and 100 points for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
The team isn’t ready to deplete it’s prospect pool. They would rather move picks such as when they traded their 2018 first-rounder, a 2019 second rounder and a 2021 third-rounder to get a player like Tomas Tatar. They already know what they have in Glass and Suzuki even if it takes another year for them to step into their lineup. However, despite having six picks in the first three rounds last year (three first-rounders), the team is still building its prospect pool for the future and with just one pick in the first three rounds this year (not in the first round), the team isn’t going to build it up a whole lot this year.
Friedman suggests that a better move for the Golden Knights would be to steal away John Carlson from Washington (McPhee drafted him back in 2008). Considering the amount of cap space Vegas has, that would be the best way to bring in veteran talent.
While many people believe that bringing in Karlsson, who has been unhappy with Ottawa’s ownership, is the better course of action, trading one (or more) of their top prospects and likely taking on the bloated contract of winger Bobby Ryan for another four years at $7.25MM will quickly destroy both their cap flexibility and cut into their small, but solid prospect pool. Vegas will have at least $28MM in cap room, so why not just spend some of it on Carlson and keep their prospects?