NHL teams have submitted their protected lists and the Vegas Knights have been busy mocking up their roster and making side deals with clubs desperate to keep their prized players (or get rid of their worst ones).
Calgary may have already traded for their number one goalie, but the club has two more obvious needs: top six winger and top four defender. With the Knights getting to pick one player from every team it’s possible they will be willing to flip newly acquired pieces to teams like the Flames for picks or prospects.
So who might be available come Thursday?
Keep in mind the Knights are rumoured to have as many as six or seven side deals already in the works. Depending on how those deals work out, Vegas may or may not end up with some of the assets listed here. For now, we can only speculate.
Jonathan Marchessault, RW
A great Cinderella story, the 25-year-old C/RW broke out with the Panthers on a “prove it” contract last year, scoring 30 goals and 51 points. His deal extends for one more season at just $750k, making his a low risk, high reward contract.
The Panthers are one of the rumored clubs to have a deal in place with Vegas, but if Marchessault is jarred lose, he’d make for an attractive trade option for Calgary, a team sorely lacking in scoring depth on RW.
Jason Demers, D
The other guy of interest in Florida is defender Jason Demers. The 29-year-old, right-shooting blueliner has quietly flown under the radar for years but is actually a solid all-around defender. He’d make for a pretty canny partner for T.J. Brodie on the Flames’ second pairing if he was snagged by Vegas and then put on the trade market. His cap hit stands at $4.5M on a deal that extends until 2021.
Colin Miller, D
The Boston Bruins currently have two Millers on the backend: Colin and Kevin. Kevin is the guy they protected, but Colin is the one with really impressive underlying numbers:
Miller has mostly played in a support, third pairing role, but it seems clear he’s ready for more responsibility. The 24-year-old is right handed and also scored 19 goals, 52 points in his sophomore season in the AHL, suggesting there’s legit offensive talent there as well as the shot suppression. The best part is he currently only makes $1.1M.
If Vegas ends up grabbing Miller, Calgary should make a strong push to snag him.
David Schlemko, D
Remember him? He’s still a very capable possession player. Nevertheless, the Sharks chose to expose him, potentially giving the Flames the opportunity to acquire him for the second time. Schlemko is 30 and signed for two more years at $2.1M, so he’d be more of a stopgap than anything else.
David Perron LW, Dmitrij Jaskin LW, Magnus Paajarvi RW
The Blues are no doubt in talks with Vegas because they had to expose more than a number of useful middle rotation forwards.
David Perron has bounced around a lot the last few years, but he remains a Swiss army knife winger who has fit in pretty well on just about any forward line. Paajarvi, the former Oiler top 10 pick, probably suffers from the curse of raised expectations due to his draft pedigree. He isn’t really much of an offensive guy at this point, he’s surprisingly solid in terms of driving play:
As for Jaskin, he’s more of a pure defensive forward. His shot suppression rates are off the charts, but everything else is average or worse.
James Neal, LW
Owing to their embarrassment of riches on the blueline, the Predators were forced to expose sniper James Neal. The 29-year-old has had a bit of down season last scoring “just” 21 goals and 41 points, but he has been an above average point-getter since he broke into the league. In fact, Neal has scored 20+ goals in nine straight seasons.
Neal has an expensive ticket at $5M per season, but it only lasts for one more season. That said, it would likely cost a lot to pry him out of Knights’ hands if they end up picking him. Think Calgary’s first round pick to start.
Obviously, not all of these players will be chosen by Vegas or be made available for trade if they are. However, it’s a useful list of guys to keep an eye on depending on how things go.
So which of these options would you like to see Calgary pursue if Vegas puts them up for auction?