Almost immediately following the trade that sent Mark Stone to the Vegas Golden Knights for prospect Erik Brannstrom, Oscar Lindbergh and second-round pick, details of an extension for Stone were announced and the player himself appeared on TSN and said he and the team were finalizing a deal that would keep him in Vegas for the next eight seasons.
Most of the reaction on social media and from the media was, simply, ‘Wow’.
Stone’s AAV on an eight-year deal with VGK is $9.5M.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 25, 2019
Just 24 hours earlier it was rumored that trade talks were slowing because the asking price by the Ottawa Senators for Stone was so high. Teams were apparently battling over each other but others felt the price was simply too much to spend on a rental for a playoff run. Obviously, this wasn’t an issue for Vegas who knew they weren’t getting a rental.
Stone ended up going for a good prospect, no first-round pick and seemingly with the knowledge that he would be extending. At that point, he no longer became a risky contract and it made sense for the Golden Knights to throw in Brannstrom as a prospect.
Did Ottawa Just Get Burned?
The reason the deal went down to the final hour was probably the extension, but looking at the return for an extended Stone, it seems like the Senators didn’t do nearly as well as they should have. The return on a rental would have been fair — perhaps even a win for the Senators — but as a sign-and-trade, something feels off.
It was speculated the original ask by Ottawa was at least two first-rounders (if you believe Brian Burke) and a “Grade A” prospect. The other delay, as we’re learning now, is that the Golden Knights were likely not prepared to pay what they paid if Stone wasn’t willing to stick around. They had to ensure that was the case before finalizing the deal.
What Could Have Happened
The Golden Knights were holding down the final Wild-Card spot in the Western Conference with 69 points and while a Stone rental would have a been a solid pickup, not a guarantee of playoff success. There could have been a chance the Golden Knights didn’t advance very far and then lost Stone as a free agent during the summer. He would have been one of the big-ticket UFA’s on the market.
Instead, Vegas now has a player, not just for this season, but next. They also have one of the NHL’s most well-rounded players for a number of additional seasons after that. One of the most unique talents in the NHL, the Golden Knights just improved dramatically and they didn’t have to overpay to do so. Meanwhile, Stone gets a sense of security, knows what’s coming over the next eight seasons and avoids paying any state tax on his next contract.
Related: Flyers Trade Simmonds to Predators
What Now for Ottawa?
Stone’s teammates Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel were moved to the Columbus Blue Jackets in separate deals over the past week and now the Senators have finalized the dismantling of their once competitive team by moving these three stars and Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, and Derick Brassard in the past calendar year.
Not only will it be disappointing for Sens fans that everyone is gone, but now the Senators have to look back at this year’s deadline and wonder, how did a player like Kevin Hayes get a first-rounder in return as a rental, yet, at only 26 years old, Stone and his 28 goals and 62 points through 59 games didn’t?
Are the Sens good enough with the young prospects they have? Can Brady Thachuk lead this team already?
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”