The Vegas Golden Knights are closed for business. But they shouldn’t be.
It has been a wild off-season for the Vegas Golden Knights who made the biggest splash of Free Agency by signing elite defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year, $61.6 million contract.
Veteran center Paul Stastny was traded to the Winnipeg Jets to clear the cap space needed to bring one of the NHL’s best blueliners to Sin City, as was the hugely popular Nate Schmidt who was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for a Third Round pick in 2022.
Outside of that the Golden Knights made a few depth moves, but they achieved what they set out to do by automatically upgrading their roster with the blockbuster addition of Pietrangelo.
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The Knights now have a deadly one-two punch on the backend with both Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore, while the decision to not trade face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury also gives Vegas an elite goalie tandem after Robin Lehner signed a five-year, $25 million extension.
With those moves the Golden Knights are likely done tweaking their roster this off-season, a sentiment echoed by Owner Bill Foley in multiple interviews.
However, they shouldn’t be.
While the Golden Knights should be a formidable force in 2020-21 with an absolute horse in Pietrangelo patrolling the blueline, this roster still has a few flaws and there’s a couple of holes that need to be plugged.
First and foremost, the lack of depth at center is a concern and it could be a weakness that really comes back to bite the Knights later on in the year.
Behind William Karlsson, who is a very good two-way pivot but not elite from an offensive standpoint, the Golden Knights lack a real proven game-changer following the trade of Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets.
Chandler Stephenson was a real nice piece after being acquired from the Washington Capitals during the early stages of the 2019-20 season, recording 22 points (8 G, 14 A) in 41 regular season games while averaging 15:47 minutes of ice time.
However, while Stephenson did elevate his game when playing on the second line with Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, that was a small sample size and there are question marks over whether Stephenson can really flourish as a top-six forward in a full 82-game schedule.
The door is open for Cody Glass to carve out a breakthrough year in 2020-21 and really establish himself as a top-six forward in the NHL, something we explored here, but the prospect already has the reputation of being injury-prone which is less than ideal this early in his career.
Outside of that the Golden Knights have Nicolas Roy and Tomas Nosek who are both more suited for bottom-six roles, while Peyton Krebs could be a wildcard option if he can put together an impressive Training Camp.
However, if Glass, Stephenson or Karlsson were to get hurt at any point, then the Golden Knights would be in real trouble, so investing in another center could be wise.
Yes, the Golden Knights are currently capped out and would need to make another move or two in order to free up the cap space needed to bring in another body, although teams can go over the cap by 10 percent during the off-season.
Veteran defensemen Alec Martinez and Nick Holden, who have cap hits of $4 million and $1,700,000 respectively, are obvious candidates to be moved due to the glut of young blueliners Vegas has on the depth chart.
There are also question marks over secondary scoring with this team, as has been the case for the last couple of years, and there are some intriguing options still out on the open market that could be signed to team-friendly deals.
After all, the Golden Knights are an attractive option for most players given that they are a loaded team that’s built to win right now, so that can certainly be used as a bargaining chip when trying to bring impact players in on cost-effective deals.
Overall, while it does seem clear that the Vegas Golden Knights are done retooling their roster for the 2020-21 season, they would be wise to dip back into Free Agency or the trade market to address some obvious flaws.
If they can do that and fill the last couple of holes on this roster, then the Golden Knights really will be an absolute juggernaut to contend with.