Golden Knights Add Upside with Bjornfot Waiver Claim

Florida Panthers v Los Angeles Kings
Florida Panthers v Los Angeles Kings / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

A low-risk, high-upside addition is never a bad thing, particularly when it comes at the expense of a division rival. On Thursday, the Vegas Golden Knights added to their blue line ranks by claiming Tobias Bjornfot on waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

Bjornfot, the 22nd overall pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, was made available thanks to the Kings' call up of top defensive prospect Brandt Clarke. While the 22-year-old Swede hadn't yet cemented his place as a full-time NHLer, the organization was surely hoping to sneak him through waivers.

Now, LA's loss is Vegas' gain. Bjornfot will first arrive in the AHL with the Henderson Silver Knights and projects as more of a long-term asset than someone who will contribute immediately to the NHL club. While that may not be ideal news to frustrated Golden Knights fans who are anxious to see the team put an end to their current slide, having a young, defensive defenseman in the fold to bolster an already-strong blue line can only be a good thing.

Tobias Bjornfot
Tobias Bjornfot, formerly of the LA Kings / Darrian Traynor/GettyImages

For the time being, Bjornfot will have to work his way back. He played 70 games with the Kings in 2021-22, but struggled to adapt to the North American game. While his no goals and eight assists weren't a concern (he projects to be more of a stay-at-home rearguard), his defensive woes and minus-12 plus/minus rating were worrisome. Since then, he's only seen action in 11 NHL contests across two seasons.

The Golden Knights are hoping that their organizational development system continues its track record for success with Bjornfot. For as much as the club has been anchored by high-paid marquee stars, it has benefited greatly from the internal development of players like Hill, Chandler Stephenson, Michael Amadio, Brett Howden and Logan Thompson.

There's plenty of hand-wringing to be done with the Golden Knights mired in a 1-6 slump and Hill still being without a set return date (he is practicing, though!). With the addition of Bjornfot, though, fans can enjoy the addition of a young asset with little downside.