Paul Stastny to the Golden Knights earns a B

With the market set to open Sunday, we sort the players available into four groups: best bets, smart gambles, boom or busts, and bad investments.
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Assuming William Karlsson’s RFA contract gets squared away, there’s no reason to mess with the chemistry on Vegas’ magical first line. That leaves Stastny as a true No. 2 center for the defending Western Conference champions. He was perhaps the best trade-deadline acquisition in 2017-18, fortifying the Patrik Laine line for the Winnipeg Jets, and he is a definite upgrade in Vegas over Erik Haula, who fizzled in the playoffs with three goals and six assists in 20 games.
Overall grade: B
Centers are hard to acquire. Top-six centers available in free agency? That’s like finding a Chanel handbag at TJ Maxx. It doesn’t matter if it’s twice as expensive than everything else on the rack; just grab it if you can. It’s going to take some time for Vegas’ draft picks to work their way up through the system. So while this team is still inexplicably good, management is going to have to supplement its roster through other teams’ Eric Rowe Jersey rejects. And Stastny is an above-average reject. He’s a last-season Chanel handbag — still functional, still showy, but not quite a luxury anymore and probably not worth what you paid for it.

That’s a huge test for rookie GM Kyle Dubas. It means he will have to be unemotional in some decisions — remember, he worked intimately with the AHL Toronto Marlies, ushering the growth of so many young Maple Leafs — and part with familiar names. But it’s worth it for a player of Tavares’ caliber. Since Tavares made his NHL debut in 2009-10, his 272 goals are the fifth most in the NHL. And his value extends well beyond that. It’s unclear whom Tavares will be playing with (we think he’d be a great fit with Patrick Marleau), but the Maple Leafs boast one of the top forward groups in the league. Of course, the defense remains a weakness, and Frederik Andersen, despite flashes, still isn’t considered a consistent top-tier goalie.

Does this deal make sense?
Yes, of course. Yes, yes, yes. This is the No. 1 free agent on the market. Most in the league remained dubious he would become available. Top free agents in the NHL rarely exercise their right for movement in the open market. Now Tavares gets to live out his childhood dream. Babcock, who already reportedly has a strained relationship with Matthews, Jack Doyle Youth Jersey may have to manage some egos. Matthews, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft, was supposed to be the face of this team. But the franchise dangled the captaincy in front of the 20-year-old yet never actually let Matthews claim the carrot. This is now Tavares’ team, and Toronto must manage what happens with Matthews, who will be an RFA next summer. (Mitch Marner will be an RFA next summer, as well, and logically, he might be the one who is used as trade bait if Toronto gets into a cap crunch.)