As the old saying goes, you need defense to win championships. That has been the Achilles Heel for the Vegas Golden Knights this season. The team does not have a ton of depth on their blue line and have blown multiple leads this season. They’ve tried switching up their defensive system and fired their coaching staff to bring in Peter DeBoer.
Three-quarters into the season, things have not changed in terms of defending and it’s coming down to crunch time. The Golden Knights need to make a move and there are two familiar faces on the market that would instantly fit in with the DeBoer system: Brenden Dillon and Dylan DeMelo.
Dillon is a monster of a defenseman, standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 225 pounds. The 29-year-old will be a free agent at the end of the season so the Golden Knights would not have any future contract commitments. Dillon has some history with the Vegas bench boss as he played four and a half seasons with DeBoer with the San Jose Sharks and he helped his game reach another level.
He is top-10 in the league for hits, punishing his opponents anytime they have the puck. Besides Brayden McNabb, and some nights, Deryk Engelland, the Golden Knights are missing another physical presence on the blue line to intimidate opposing forwards. Dillon won’t be afraid to protect his teammates and instill fear in the opposition, a big factor in a heated seven-game series.
DeMelo is another option on the backend that should not cost the Golden Knights too much and has familiarity with DeBoer. As is the case with Dillon, DeMelo is a free agent this offseason and will be looking for a big pay raise. A trade to Vegas would give him the opportunity to showcase his talents as he looks to increase his value before he signs his next contract.
DeMelo also played under DeBoer while he was with the Sharks. He spent three seasons under the coach before he was dealt to the Ottawa Senators right before the start of the 2018-19 season. The right-shot defenseman is a puck mover with good skating ability and is reliable in all three zones. He provides a strong first pass and is not afraid of paying the price by blocking a shot.
The only right-handers the Golden Knights have are Engelland and Zach Whitecloud, who could be dealt for a rental at the trade deadline. Adding another defenseman to the right side would help synchronize the pairings and add some much-needed depth.
What’s the Price?
Injuries to Pittsburgh Penguins’ John Marino and Columbus Blue Jackets’ Seth Jones have made defensemen more valuable on the market which should increase the price on the open market.
The Golden Knights have their first, second, and third-round picks in this summer’s draft, along with the Penguins’ second and New Jersey Devils’ third-round selections. They also have their own first and second-rounders, along with the Devils and St. Louis Blues second for the 2021 Draft.
If we take a look at last season’s deadline and what the price was for a rental defenseman, here is what teams paid:
- The Calgary Flames acquired Oscar Fantenberg for a fourth-round pick.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Adam McQuaid for Julius Bergman and a fourth and seventh-round selection.
- The Blues acquired Michael Del Zotto for a sixth-round pick.
- The Dallas Stars acquired Ben Lovejoy for Connor Carrick and a third-round selection.
So while the price may not cost management a draft pick in one of the first two rounds, if history is any indication, it will most likely be a prospect and a mid-round draft choice. The Golden Knights have three defensemen signed after this season so they may look for a player with term, but they have a number of defensive prospects to move.
The wait won’t be long as the trade deadline is less than two weeks away. Make sure to stay up to date with all the latest news and rumors, here.