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Las Vegas–As the NHL Free Agent period is slowly approaching, offseason decisions lurk for George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights as they look to make roster changes for the 2018-19 campaign.
When teams get eliminated by the better club in the Stanley Cup Finals, this gives them opportunity to see what they can do to make some roster improvements for the next season.
Vegas in this case were defeated by the Capitals in a quick 5 game series in the finals, that a lot had predicted would go to the distance.
Yesterday we did a comparison between the two teams to find out where both clubs finished in terms of the both top 6 and depth scoring, the verdict was out that Washington was the clear winner.
So that being said, we take a look at some of the options that could help the Golden Knights shore up their bottom 6 group that could potential make Vegas a deeper team for the 2018-19 season.
Below are just a few available forwards out there in this years 2018 NHL Free Agent Class.
Grabner this past season with both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils had himself a very good year as he scored 27 goals for the second straight campaign thru 80 games. He also had 9 assists which put him at 36 points on the year and was +11 during his split time with the Blueshirts and Devils.
This is the fourth time in his NHL career where he was able to produce at least 20 goals in a single season.
The benefit with Grabner is that he plays on the right wing. With that, he could potentially play on the Golden Knights third line with Cody Eakin acting as his centerman.
After being acquired at the deadline, Tomas Tatar spent some time playing on the Golden Knights third line with Eakin and David Perron as mentioned on the Dailyfaceoff.com.
For McPhee, signing Grabner would be a low cost move as his most current cap hit with the Rangers/Devils was rated at $1.65 mil per season with a total of $3.3 million over the last 2-years.
At 30-years of age he is still one of the fastest skaters in the league and would fit in quite nicely to the Golden Knights speed game. He also plays the current NHL style with his quickness as well.
In addition, Grabner knows how to hold is own in the scoring department with his 6’1” frame at 188 pounds.
Getting Grabner in this years NHL Free Agent Frenzy would be smart move for McPhee to make as the cost of signing him will be low.
Kunitz would be another player that the Golden Knights should consider looking at for the 2018-19. With Kunitz he played in the Western Conference before many years ago as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.
In the 2006-07 season he won his first Stanley Cup Championship when Anaheim defeated Ottawa in the finals in a quick 5 game series.
He spent nearly 5 seasons with the Ducks so the benefits of McPhee potentially signing Kunitz could be an easy one nonetheless.
The thing that could help a Kunitz signing to Vegas is that he played with current Golden Knights goaltender Marc-André Fleury from 2008 thru 2017. During their time as teammates in Pittsburgh, they went on to win 3 Stanley Cup Championships (2009, 2016, and 2017).
So having Fleury with the Golden Knights could be used as a sales pitch for McPhee when looking at Kunitz.
Kunitz use to play alongside Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh before he left for Tampa Bay. Playing with “Sid The Kid” should tell you a great deal about Kunitz as a player.
In addition, his veteran presence would be best served in most likely on the Golden Knights fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on the left wing.
Bellemare’s work ethic this past season was a contagious one as his line was known the Vegas fans as the “International Line” with William Carrier and Tomas Nosek. His leadership helped both young Vegas forwards.
Like Bellemare, he could also help mentor some of the younger forwards for the Golden Knights.
In his first season with the Bolts, Kunitz scored 13 goals, recorded 19 assists for 29 points and was +8. Kunitz also had the opportunity with skating on a line that featured Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette as indicated per at Dailyfaceoff.com.
With Kunitz his 2017-18 salary with Tampa Bay last season at $3 million and should be a low risk signing for McPhee if he is indeed one of his UFA targets.
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