On the 13th of January, in the year 2021, Mark Stone was named the captain of the Vegas Golden Knights, hockey’s most exciting team. You may be wondering why I started this story like a fairytale, but if I were to tell you that the Golden Knights would be able to acquire one of, if not the, best two-way forwards in the game for next to nothing, then you would think it is just that: a fairytale.
This is, however, no fairytale by any means. Did Stone come to the Golden Knights? Yes. Has he performed? Oh, quite well. How did he get here? Well, that is an excellent question, one that deserves a short article to explain it. So, without further ado, let’s revisit the trade that brought our very own captain to Sin City.
Divorce from the Ottawa Seantors
A year and a half removed from almost reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, the Senators were looking to rebuild and offload some of their star players, which included Ottawa stalwart Stone. The Manitoba native was beloved in the Canadian capital, as he quickly made a name for himself as the offensive leader for the club.
When it was made clear that the Senators were rebuilding, many alluded to the fact that Stone would stick around and usher in this new era of youth into Ottawa, which he wanted to be a part of. Many thought he would be given the captaincy because of this. Alas, this wouldn’t be the case, as owner Eugene Melnyk figured he could get a decent return for his star-forward, and build his team for the future.
At the 2019 trade deadline, the Golden Knights management pulled off a major deal, signaling that they were serious about competing, and acquired Stone to help legitimize the Golden Knights lineup heading forward. He is one of the best two-way forwards in the league, so his acquisition at the time was a massive one.
In the trade, the Senators sent Stone, as well as Tobias Lindberg to the Golden Knights, in exchange for Oscar Lindberg, Erik Brannstrom and a 2020 2nd round draft pick. When viewing it at the time it was clear the Golden Knights has come out on top. After landing in Vegas, the team immediately locked him up to a lucrative eight-year contract, adding more salt to the wound. He was now in Vegas, and he was here to stay.
Golden Knights’ Return on Investment
If we had to personify the Golden Knights as an investor, they would be Warren Buffet (or Ray Dalio at the very least). The return on investment from this trade was outstanding. Stone has not only become the captain of this team, but he has also delivered two 60-plus point regular seasons, as well as 37 points in 46 playoff games.
Just as he was in Ottawa, he has become beloved in Vegas, mainly due to his gritty style of play and his intensity. It also helps that he is one of the most dynamic and skilled players in the entire Western Conference, which lends a helping hand to Vegas in their quest for a President’s Trophy. Overall, Stone has been nothing short of spectacular during his years in Sin City.
Senators’ Return on Investment
Brannstrom was the biggest name coming to the Senators in the trade. The Swedish native was drafted by Vegas in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and was slated to become a defensive anchor of the future for the Golden Knights organization.
Instead, general manager Pierre Dorion figured that Brannstrom was the exact piece he needed for his rebuilding Senators, and so far Brannstrom has proven to be quite a decent pickup. In two seasons with the team, he has recorded 17 points in 63 games and is mostly known for his sound offensive play. Last season was arguably his best so far in his short NHL career, as he put up 13 points in 30 games and has a plus-3 plus/minus rating, which is great considering the Senators weren’t all that great.
As for Lindberg, he would go on to play parts of one season with the Senators, and then heading to the Swiss league in the offseason. With their second-round pick for the 2020 draft now in tow, the Senators decided to select Egor Sokolov. The burly Russian winger has enjoyed success with the Belleville Senators in the AHL, as he has put up 25 points in 35 career games.
Overall, the haul wasn’t that bad for the Senators, as two of their pieces will surely be key contributors heading into the future.
Who Won the Trade?
I think it would be hard to argue against the fact that the Golden Knights definitely came out on top in this trade. As I said earlier, it is still too early to judge what Brannstrom and Sokolov will do in their NHL careers, but for now, the jury has voted and Stone has out-delivered them by a mile (which is to be expected).
Only time will tell if this trade ends up working out for the Senators as well, but one thing I know for sure is that Vegas fans are happy to have such an amazing player such as Stone on the roster.
Who do you think won the trade? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael Vidakis is a Montreal native who writes for the Vegas Golden Knights team here at The Hockey Writers. In his spare time, he enjoys the finer things in life such as Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, staring aimlessly outside windows and tangerines.