After spending his team's first off-season as a franchise stockpiling draft picks, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is using them for the Knights' unexpected playoff push.
The Knights acquired forward Tomas Tatar from the Detroit Red Wings for three draft picks on Monday. The Red Wings will receive Vegas' 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick that originally belonged to the New York Islanders and Vegas' 2021 third-round pick.
It was a steep price for the 27-year-old, but one that McPhee was willing to pay considering Las Vegas' stunning debut season. The Knights are at the top of the Western Conference in their first season.
"It was easy because when we acquired all of those picks we said we're either going to use those picks to draft players or to acquire players and this is an example of acquiring a player," McPhee said.
"The picks that we gave up are spread out over four drafts so we have lots of picks and to spread them out over four drafts was not a problem for us. It was the way we were hoping to do a deal today."
Tatar adds both scoring and depth to Vegas' lineup. Tatar has 16 goals and 12 assists this season and is under contract through the 2020-21 season. He's topped the 20-goal mark in each of the past three seasons and had 19 goals in his first full season in the league in 2013-14.
"We went into the deadline with one thing circled on our board, or at least this part of the deadline, and that was adding one more top-nine forward and we accomplished that," McPhee said.
"He's only 27. He's quick, he's competitive and he can score. He's scored 20 goals a season over the last three years and he's on pace to do it again. We didn't want to trade draft picks for someone that isn't going to be here after the summer and he has three years left on his contract, we're happy about that."
With the Red Wings five points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, turning to the future was the way to go according to general manager Ken Holland.
"We really made the deal because we're looking toward the future," Holland said. "Obviously we missed the playoffs last year and we're five points out this year and we've got a tough road to hoe here ahead."