Vegas Golden Knights 2020 Free Agency: Stastny traded as Pietrangelo hunt begins

Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26). Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26). Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

And it has started for the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Vegas Golden Knights have traded veteran center Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a 2022 Fourth-Round pick.

According to Craig Custance of The Athletic, the Fourth-Round pick going back to Vegas is conditional and Stastny has to play five games for it to kick in.

It comes on the opening day of Free Agency and it could be a hugely significant move for the Golden Knights in terms of what they do on the open market.

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By trading Stastny the Knights have now moved the forward’s $6.5 million cap hit in 2020-21, clearing significant space with Vegas $2.8 million over the flat cap of $81.5 million heading into the day.

There could be more moves on the way with Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt and Jonathan Marchessault all potentially being shopped, but this now clears the way for the Golden Knights to make a clear run at Alex Pietrangelo in Free Agency.

Teams are allowed to go over the cap by 10 percent during the off-season, so the Knights could sign Pietrangelo to a long-term deal today and worry about getting cap compliant later now Stastny is out of town.

Pietrangelo failed to come to terms on an eight-year deal with St. Louis and, although he could still return to the Blues, the elite defenseman is now free to test the waters of the open market and see what is out there.

We explained here why the Norris Trophy-caliber blueliner would be a game-changer for the Knights, and it would give them a lethal one-two punch on the backend with Shea Theodore morphing into an elite defenseman in his own right.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Pietrangelo now becomes the main focus of the day for the Golden Knights, and there are sure to be some more moves as this crazy day evolves.

Back to Stastny, though, and the trade does rob Vegas of some crucial center depth with William Karlsson now the only real top-six pivot on the roster.

Chandler Stephenson did sign a four-year, $11 million contract this week but he’s more effective in a depth role than as a second-line center.

Paul Stastny #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Paul Stastny #26 of the Vegas Golden Knights tries to tip the puck during a training camp practice. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

There will be some offensive options out there in Free Agency for the Golden Knights, but it will depend on who else they can move out given their cap constraints coupled with their aggressive pursuit of Pietrangelo.

Stastny’s departure could of course open the door for Cody Glass to take on a much bigger role in 2020-21.

The No.6 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft endured a disappointing rookie year that was plagued by injuries, finishing 2019-20 with 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in 39 games with a -7 rating.

However, the front office is incredibly high on Glass and he boasts a lot of upside, so it is feasible to think that he could step up and thrive as a second-line center with potent weapons in Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith alongside him.

Vegas also loses a veteran presence in Stastny who they signed as a free agent on July. 1, 2018, with the forward signing a three-year, $19,500,000 deal with an AAV of $6,500,000.

Stastny was a solid performer for the Golden Knights with 30 goals and 50 assists for 80 points in 121 regular season games, while he had a further 17 points (5 G, 12 A) in 25 postseason appearances.

Despite being banged up a handful of times, Stastny brought a high hockey IQ to the table for the Knights, as demonstrated by his ability to pull off sublime, game-changing passes at key moments in the game.

Carl Dahlstrom #23 of the Winnipeg Jets.
Carl Dahlstrom #23 of the Winnipeg Jets scales the puck into the New York Islanders end. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

In terms of what the Golden Knights are getting back in Carl Dahlstrom, the defenseman has 10 points (0 G, 10 A) in 64 career NHL games, while he had one assist in 15 games for the Jets in 2019-20.

Drafted 51st overall by the Chicago Blackhawks at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Dahlstrom made his NHL debut against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 10, 2018 and was also named to the 2017-18 AHL All-Star Game while a member of the Rockford IceHogs.

Dahlstrom has one-year remaining on his current contract with an AAV of $850,000 and will become a Restricted Free Agent in 2021, while he’s likely to begin the year in the AHL with the Henderson Silver Knights unless he can put together an impressive Training Camp and win an NHL roster spot.

Next. Ryan might be an interesting option. dark

But, as far as the main facets of this deal is concerned, the Golden Knights clear some much-needed cap space to allow them to make a serious run at Alex Pietrangelo, arguably the biggest prize of this year’s Free Agency class.

We’ll have much more on this and other deals throughout the day on Vegas Hockey Knight.