Golden Knights GM McCrimmon defends use of LTIR space at deadline

There was no team more active in trying to bolster their roster at the trade deadline than the Vegas Golden Knights.

It started with a trade for Anthony Mantha before landing the top defenceman on the market in Noah Hanifin. Then came the big surprise move as the Golden Knights acquired Tomas Hertl in the final hours.

It continues the approach the team has had since it entered the league in 2017, following the example set by owner Bill Foley to go all-in in the pursuit of winning a Stanley Cup.

The issue that has been raised through the Golden Knights’ approach to the deadline was the team’s use of long-term injured reserve to gain the cap space needed to make these moves. With the salary cap not a factor in the playoffs, some of those players could return in time for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vegas currently has three players placed on LTIR including Mark Stone ($9.5 million), Robin Lehner ($5 million) and William Carrier ($1.4 million), which opened up $15.9 million in additional cap space for the Golden Knights to make their additions at the deadline.

However, as general manager Kelly McCrimmon explained to Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek on the Jeff Marek Show on Monday, the Golden Knights aren’t doing anything outside of what the CBA allows them to do, especially with their players dealing with long-term injuries like Stone.

“This year, he has a lacerated spleen … Google last lacerated spleen and see if you can tell when a player is going to be back. It’s ridiculous to suggest that these weren’t significant injuries or aren’t significant injuries and furthermore, the National Hockey League polices all of this so the rules are rules and the NHL watches this very carefully,” McCrimmon said. “Last year we had Mark Stone’s $9.5 million on LTIR, we acquired Ivan Barbashev, Jonathan Quick and Teddy Blueger. I would suggest to you we probably could have acquired all three players without Mark Stone on LTIR.”

Even if the Golden Knights didn’t need to use the space provided by Stone’s absence last year, McCrimmon said he wouldn’t be doing his job if he was sitting on your hands and not making the most of the opportunity.

What has impressed many is the Golden Knights’ ability to swing for blockbuster deals despite giving up significant assets.

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As McCrimmon points out, there is a strategy behind the approach they take.

“We’re aggressive, we’re not reckless, we are very mindful,” McCrimmon explained. “…We drafted in the first round last year as a Stanley Cup champion, which has only been done three times in the last 10 years. So I think that it speaks to decisions being made responsibly.

“We hang on to our draft picks dearly, we don’t just toss them out flippantly. If we’re going to use them, we try to make sure that we get real good value for them.”