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NHL Trade Deadline: Why did Vegas help the Penguins trade for Derick Brassard?

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Major key: don’t ever play yourself. The Vegas Golden Knights did just that

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Pittsburgh Penguins at Ottawa Senators Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

“Don’t ever play yourself” - DJ Khaled

Now that the dust is starting to settle on yesterday’s wild three team trade that saw the Pittsburgh Penguins acquire Derick Brassard, one hanging question is just what in the world were the Vegas Golden Knights thinking?

Vegas took on Ryan Reaves and the prorated remainder of his $1.1 million salary for the rest of the season. They are also retaining 40% of Brassard’s contract. By doing this, they ensured the Pens could get Brassard, because you know the cheap err frugal Ottawa Senators weren’t going to keep money. For this good deed to turn the back-to-back champions biggest weakness (only having 3 NHL caliber centers) into a great strength (of having Crosby-Malkin-Brassard-Sheahan down the middle) Vegas was rewarded with the princely sum of....a 4th round pick?

That’s basically nothing. Sure, it’s better than doing nothing and getting nothing, but Vegas used some of their cap to allow the Pens the room to add an impact player. That’s ponderous. Doesn’t quite add up.

Did Vegas have more motivation to see Brassard in Pittsburgh and not a rival Western Conference team? That theory has been floated

First of all, if this is true, gotta love the hubris of Vegas on this. Not only are they an expansion team and they’re trying to go above and beyond and influence the course of the playoffs- they’re taking on salary in an effort to think ahead to BEING IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL!! That’s just crazy talk to layout how an unpredictable four rounds of the NHL playoffs will go.

Second, if Vegas really was concerned about the Winnipeg Jets acquiring Brassard, THEY GOT IT WRONG! Look at the standings, the Jets are solidly in second place with 81 points in the Central Division. Vegas is in 1st place in the Pacific division by 12 points and will be winning it. With the current divisional playoff format, the EARLIEST that Winnipeg and Vegas would play in the playoffs would be the Conference Finals (Round 3)! With the standings like they are and likely will end up, there’s NO POSSIBLE WAY these two teams could meet in the 1st or 2nd round this year!

Did they just not know this? Or didn’t care and made an almost certainly unnecessary move for their team which, oh yeah, just happens to make the Pittsburgh Penguins way better and arguably the favorite on paper to win the Stanley Cup again?

If Shannon’s report above is accurate, this is absolute bonkers. He’s not the only one mentioning it, Craig Custance from The Athletic did as well. Since the return is only a 4th round pick, it does make some sense that Vegas may have been motivated by more than a return and really did want to steer Brassard to Pittsburgh in order to make sure that he didn’t end up in the West. But if they’re attempting to predict the impossible which is order and the future of the NHL playoffs, they just made a futile effort that served no purpose except to strengthen a contending rival.

And, oh yeah, this trade will have ramifications for next season as well:

Pittsburgh will only have to use $3.0 million against the salary cap in 2018-19 to account for Brassard. Vegas is on the hook for $2.0 million on the books for next year, giving the Penguins more space to add player(s) for next season. In essence, Vegas has granted significant help to Pittsburgh’s championship hopes not only in 2018, but 2019 as well.

Congrats Golden Knights, you just played yourself.