Despite signing their best player in franchise history, Reid Duke, Vegas will be lacking for serious offensive threats. All kidding aside, the Golden Knights biggest issue will be their top 6 forwards. They should have solid goaltending and defense through the expansion draft. There are enough goalies out there and many NHL teams have more than 3 quality D-men. Where Vegas will struggle is offense. Expansion rules allow teams to protect 7 forwards. Teams will easily be able to protect all of their quality forwards leaving just 4th and middling 3rd liners exposed for Vegas. Offense won’t come through expansion and it won’t come via the draft. Even though the Golden Knights will have a high pick, unfortunately this is a pretty weak draft year and whoever they snag likely won’t be ready to contribute this year.
The solution is free agency. Although there aren’t monster names available, there are a few intriguing ones. The two biggest offensive forces available are T.J. Oshie and Alex Radulov. I’ll start by saying Vegas should pass on Radulov. He wants long term, big money and he’s older than Oshie. Also, although he seems to have put the past behind him, I’m not sure Vegas is the right place for someone who once got into handfuls of trouble with partying and off-ice issues.
With that being said Vegas should make a strong push for T.J. Oshie. He makes sense for a lot of reasons. He would instantly be the team’s best forward, someone the fans could get behind, someone who would sell jerseys and excite the crowd. He’s American, he was an Olympic hero for the US and he’s fun to watch. He’s someone that can connect with the fans and be a bright spot on a team that won’t top the league in the excitement factor. Oshie scores goals and has nifty hands, he will get the crowd going.
What would Vegas have to do to get him though? It looks like anyone who wants Oshie will have to buy high. He’s always been a good player but he’s having a career year, especially lately. He’s second in goal scoring on the Caps trailing Alex Ovechkin by only one. If Washington makes noise in the playoffs his price will only go up. Vegas is at a disadvantage. Any free agent knows if they sign with Vegas they are not going to a competitive team. There’s no way around it, if the Golden Knights wants to land a player like Oshie they have to overpay. It still might not be enough but worth a shot. They won’t be near the cap ceiling anyways so they will have room to offer him more than other teams. They shouldn’t have any players on massive contracts and as they’re brand new it will be years until young players need salary boosts.
With all that being said they could take a crack at offering shorter years but much more annually than other teams. Perhaps shoot for something like 5 years at 7.75 million per year. Yes, it’s overpaying but he’s off your books before it really hurts you and in that time you get someone exciting, someone who can make you a bit more competitive and the face of your franchise. Every team needs to at least hit the cap floor and I’d rather overpay for a top liner like Oshie than get to the floor with overpaid bottom 6 players. Oshie would be the guy on billboards, the guy whose jersey is front and centre at the team store and the guy whose name becomes synonymous with the Golden Knights.
At the end of the day maybe no amount of money gets Oshie to Vegas, but if I’m the Golden Knights I definitely would at least try stepping up to the plate.