The Vegas Golden Knights reeled in the biggest available fish before the 2019 trade deadline as the team brought in Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators.
Stone, 26, is new to the Golden Knights but is quite familiar with Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon. He played for McCrimmon for four seasons as a member of the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings and left an impression that made the decision to bring him to Vegas an exciting one. General Manager George McPhee chalked the trade up as one that adds "one of the best all-around players in the NHL" to Vegas' mix.
"If you take a good look at this player, he plays in every situation," McPhee said. "He plays in overtime, plays in your power play, kills penalties, blocks shots, he's big, he can protect a lead, he can help you tie a game up if necessary, he scores goals, he's a play-makers and analytically as I said our analytics department has him as one of their favorites."
It will be up to head coach Gerard Gallant where Stone fits into the Golden Knights' lineup, but his ability to play in all situations immediately bolsters Vegas' forward corps. Stone will join Vegas for morning skate Tuesday ahead of the team's 7 p.m. game against the Dallas Stars.
Whether Stone suits up Tuesday or not, McPhee is excited to see No. 61 in a Golden Knights sweater as the team gears up for the playoffs and beyond. Stone and Vegas are close to inking an eight-year extension keeping Stone in Vegas through 2026-27, but no extension can be signed until March 1.
"Stone is the here and now and he's the future," McPhee said. "I talked to him after the trade and it's always comforting to get on the phone with a guy and see the character is there. Those kinds of people always seem to say and do the right thing. It oozes out of them and we've got another high character person and a real good player."
The pieces flipped to the Senators in the trade are forward Oscar Lindberg, prospect defenseman Erik Brannstrom and a 2020 second round draft pick. Lindberg, 27, had 12 points (4G, 8A) in 35 games for the Golden Knights this season while Brannstrom, 19, recorded 28 points (7G, 21A) in 41 games for the Chicago Wolves. A 2017 first round pick (15th overall), Brannstrom was a key piece in the deal and McPhee commented on the bright future that lies ahead of him.
"He's a really good young player," McPhee said. "We've drafted well enough to do a deal like this. We drafted a good young player, we drafted other good young players and if we keep doing that we'll be in good shape."
Despite what Brannstrom has in his future, the presence of Nic Hague in the prospect pool allowed the Golden Knights to move Brannstrom and not sacrifice the future of the team's blueline.
"Hague is a highly rated player for us, and we're thrilled with the way he has played this year and how much he has improved," said McPhee. "So, it certainly makes doing something like this a lot of easier when you know you have other good young players coming."
The Golden Knights are fighting for position in the Pacific Division with 19 games left on their regular-season schedule. Despite Vegas' recent struggles on the ice, McPhee said this deal would likely have happened no matter the team's recent play.
"If we lost every game or won every game, it wouldn't have affected this," McPhee said. "You don't get players like this very often. Players this good aren't available through trade very often. We knew that he was out there, and he was going to be available and, the issue became: 'what's it going to cost?' The price was right for us."