How the Vegas Golden Knights won the Paul Cotter trade

The Vegas Golden Knights sent Paul Cotter to New Jersey for Alexander Holtz and Akira Schmid. Here's how it helps the Golden Knights.
Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils / Elsa/GettyImages

The Vegas Golden Knights shocked the NHL world on Saturday. They acquired Swedish forward Alexander Holtz and Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid from the New Jersey Devils. The outgoing package? Paul Cotter and a 2025 third-round pick. It was a notable trade that sent Cotter to New Jersey for a sizable return.

The overall reaction from the Golden Knights perspective is good, with fans on board with the trade. Vegas gets a younger duo in return, with both players potentially helping the team in more ways than one. Kelly McCrimmon is known for going younger at specific positions, whether it's Marc-Andre Fleury or Reilly Smith heading out.

While Paul Cotter might be 24 years old, he's older than Holtz and Schmid. Technically, this is another example of such a trade, where Vegas acquires another younger player. In fact, they got two in this deal, making them even more youthful.

Believe it or not, the Golden Knights made another trade on Saturday, sending Logan Thompson to the Washington Capitals for two NHL Draft picks. This deal doesn't look as appealing because it doesn't have a former first-round pick. It also involves a beloved goaltender going to the nation's capital, where he sought a trade for a better opportunity.

But let's look at why the Golden Knights won this trade. It looks better from many perspectives, starting with the haul. It also looks better compared to the Logan Thompson trade, which didn't have any NHL-ready players ready to help with their Stanley Cup ambitions. Here's how Vegas won Saturday's trade with the New Jersey Devils.

The Vegas Golden Knights get better contracts

One thing about Saturday's trade involves Alexander Holtz's current deal. The Swedish forward is currently in an entry-level contract. He'll become a restricted free agent after the 2024-25 season and is currently exempt from waivers. He should be fairly cheap for the Vegas Golden Knights for years to come, helping with different contract situations. That includes players like Jack Eichel, who should be in the team's future plans for years.

Yes, Vegas would've also gotten a young player if they didn't keep their third-round pick from the New Jersey Devils. However, Holtz did score 16 goals and 28 points in 2023-24 with the Devils, an impressive mark for the 22-year-old. Hockey fans in Las Vegas are imagining what the forward could bring to the table scoring-wise. Plus, there's no guarantee that pick would've made the NHL. Vegas is in win-now mode, meaning they need solid NHL-ready players.

As for Akira Schmid, he's another restricted free agent for Vegas, only he has arbitration rights. With Logan Thompson expected to fetch a bigger contract, the Swiss goaltender won't be as much of a cap hit down the road (if he isn't traded in the future). It should add more security at their respective positions, with the Vegas Golden Knights being able to secure their future.

Alexander Holtz has plenty of upside

While Akira Schmid was also another piece for the Golden Knights, he isn't the main focus of the trade. It's mainly about Paul Cotter and Alexander Holtz, two players who are the complete opposite of each other. How could this be, you might ask?

For one, Cotter is a physical player who doesn't have the offensive acumen Holtz does. The Swedish forward can effortlessly move around the ice, using his quickness and lateral movements. Plus, he can help on the power play, especially from the wing. As for the newest New Jersey Devils player, his role is on the lower lines, where he checks people and provides scoring on the grind. The former Golden Knight is known for the occasional lapse, which can hurt Vegas in different aspects.

It makes fans wonder how a fourth-line player was traded for a 2020 first-round pick that scored 16 goals in 2023-24. Could there be something wrong with Holtz that Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald knows about? Or was this a trade where New Jersey was simply top-heavy in their top six? Whatever the case, trading a lower-line player for a budding offensive star is a head-scratching move, especially with that star being younger than Paul Cotter.