NHL Free Agency opened on the morning of October 9 and the Vegas Golden Knights promptly started it out with a cap-clearing trade. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon sent center Paul Stastny back to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and a 2022 4th round draft pick. Stastny had one year remaining on the three year contract he signed with the Golden Knights, carrying a cap hit of $6.5 million.
Stastny played in 121 regular season games through his two seasons in Vegas. He scored 30 goals to go with 50 assists for 80 points (.66 pt/game). Stastny spent most of his time centering Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, but swapped places with William Karlsson in bunches. He wasn't as effective while flanked by Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith, but the line was passable. Stastny will provide much-needed depth to the Jets' forward corps.
In return for the former Olympian, the Golden Knights snagged a stay-at-home defenseman in Dahlstrom. Chicago's 2013 second round pick has appeared in 65 NHL games, 15 of those with the Jets in 2019-20. The 6'4, 231 lb. defenseman has 10 assists in his young career. He's a left-hand shot and could be paired with Zach Whitecloud, allowing Whitecloud the ability to play the two-way game he prides himself on. Dahlstrom could be a defensive-zone upgrade over Nick Holden, who received a contract extension this past year.
Dahlstrom comes in as a low-risk addition. He has one year left on his contract, at a miniscule cap hit of $850k. He could very well start the season with the Henderson Silver Knights (AHL), but his path to NHL playing time isn't a particularly difficult one to navigate. He will join a solid feeder system of young defenseman. Nic Hague, Jimmy Schuldt, Dylan Coghlan, and Jake Bischoff remain in the system, hungry for a shot (or another shot) at making the NHL roster.
With Stastny off the books, the Golden Knights have some, but not a ton of, flexibility to make additional moves. Expect McCrimmon and Co. to be busy in the immediate future, clearing more cap, as the Golden Knights have not been shy about their pursuit of top Free Agency and Trade Deadline targets. If they need to clear cap, they will. Players such as Jonathan Marchessault ($5 million AAV), Nate Schmidt ($5.95 million), and Marc-Andre Fleury ($7 million) could present themselves as viable cap casualties if McCrimmon is looking to slash salary and make a big splash in Free Agency.
Stay tuned throughout the day for more moves. This is the best day of the NHL offseason! Buckle up!
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