George McPhee's acquisition of Mark Stone has had the most immediate impact of any player swap from this season's NHL trade deadline day. And it's not even close.
Since the arrival of Stone, the Vegas Golden Knights have compiled a plus 23 goal differential and built a record of 10-1-1. Stone has played a major role in Vegas establishing itself as a Stanley Cup contender.
It takes years to judge a trade in its entirety and there are lots of variables. If Vegas wins a Stanley Cup at some point with Stone in the lineup and making a considerable impact - McPhee will be able to claim mission accomplished.
If Erik Brannstrom becomes an NHL regular in Ottawa and helps Senators GM Pierrie Dorion's rebuild - the deal will be viewed as beneficial. Often, both sides can claim victory in the wake of a transaction.
As stated, trades require time for a wholesome measurement. But in the here and now - McPhee got a transformative player without altering his NHL lineup and the results can't be argued. Since Stone's arrival, Vegas has been among the best in the NHL and they've been a statistical monster both in modern and traditional metrics.
- Best record since the deadline by pts % (10-1-1, .875%)
- Best goal differential (+23, 48/25)
- #4 in fewest penalties (75 PIM)
- #5 in faceoffs (52.5%)
- #4 in 5v5 CF % (55.55%)
- #4 in 5v5 shot on goal % (55.29%)
- #1 in 5v5 GF % (69.39%, 34/15)
Stone, who has scored four goals and eight points in his 12 VGK games, has made the Golden Knights deeper, provided consistent scoring and allowed head coach Gerard Gallant to spread ice time in a more even fashion. The player has immediately fit into the dressing room and become a leader with his play on the ice and his demeanor among teammates.
GMs will say it's difficult to really know a player until he's on your roster. How he practices, trains, interacts with others and carries himself can't always be judged from afar. Stone's longterm relationship with Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon removed this obstacle. The player has been better than advertised in every category.
McPhee's team needed a boost and the GM was bold, daring and judicious in the NHL transaction of the season.
A fistful of twenties: Just like that, the Vegas Golden Knights have five 20-goal scorers for the season with the potential of adding two more.
Newly acquired Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Cody Eakin have all hit the 20-goal mark. Alex Tuch is just one goal off at 19 and Reilly Smith has now potted 18.
Both Washington and Columbus currently have six players with 20 goals or more on the season and six other teams (CGY, FLA, SJS, TBL, TOR, VGK) have five.
Crushing Carrier: Will Carrier returned to action for the Golden Knights on Saturday after missing 14 games with an upper body injury. During that time, Carrier lost his lead as the NHL's most prolific hitter.
Teammate Ryan Reaves surpassed him as did Landon Crouse of Arizona and Brandon Tanev of Winnipeg.
"Yeah, it took Reavo about 30 games to pass me," laughed Carrier, prior to Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
Carrier added he'd be focusing on scoring goals and not collecting hits in his return. Maybe. Maybe not. Carrier collected 11 hits against the Wings and quickly closed the gap on those who had passed him during his absence.
Reaves still leads with 285, Crouse is next at 263 and Tanev comes in at third at 259. Carrier now has 258 and still leads the league in hits per game with an average of 5.3.