The Las Vegas Golden Knights came tantalizingly close to capturing a Stanley Cup Championship in their inaugural season in the National Hockey League and although many pundits expect that the team will regress considerably the Golden Knights' themselves appear to have no intention of slow down.
On Sunday night Las Vegas Golden Knights insider Gary Lawless made a rather bold statement but given his ties to the organization, Lawless is employed directly by the Golden Knights, we have to take his statements seriously. During the broadcast of the Golden Knights final game of the preseason Lawless indicated quite strongly that Godlen Knights general manager George McPhee was preparing to make a very significant move, or series of significant moves, during the 2019 free agency period.
"George McPhee has primed himself to go after Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Matt Duchene at free agency," said Lawless.
Now that is a rather insane list of players and clearly McPhee would never be able to acquire all of them but this does seem to be some indication that McPhee intends to go all-in next summer in order to improve his team. Given the rumors that the Golden Knights were linked to this summer some of the names on this list make sense, but others don't really seem to fit.
First and foremost I genuinely do not believe that either of the men currently on the Blue Jackets roster are truly realistic options for the Golden Knights. First in the case of Artemi Panarin there have been rampant rumors that suggested the extremely talented forward has one destination in mind and only intends to go there, New York city. The talk would lead you to believe that the Rangers are the only team Panarin is willing to sign a long term deal with but the Islanders also happen to play in that city.
Sergei Bobrovsky doesn't really seem to make a great deal of sense either given the fact that the Golden Knights signed current goaltender Marc Andre Fleury to a multi year deal after another strong performance in the 2017 - 2018 NHL regular season and the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fleury has been the franchise in many ways and I think you would be hard pressed to sell the fan base on bringing in Bobrovsky to replace him. Additionally there would be no way to keep both goalies given the kind of money that Bobrovsky is seeking so that would create an entirely new problem for Vegas.
Karlsson, Stone and Duchene however are much more believable options. The Golden Knights were reportedly one of the front runners during a long stretch of the Karlsson trade talks, and although they didn't get him I wouldn't be surprised at all if they intend to take another run at him in the summer of 2019. While discussing the Karlsson trade with the Senators McPhee likely did his due diligence on all the Senators players, players that include Duchene and Stone.
Both men are in the same frustrating situation that Karlsson was in just a few short weeks ago and McPhee could look to charm one, or perhaps even both forwards, into leaving a crappy situation in Ottawa to come to the bright lights of Las Vegas.