Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 | 2:56 p.m.
One looming question after the Alec Martinez trade this week was how the Golden Knights were going to make the move work with their salary cap crunch. They placed Alex Tuch on long-term injured reserve, but that was a stopgap until he came back.
Vegas got its answer Friday.
The Golden Knights traded center Cody Eakin and his $3.85 million cap hit to the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional fourth-round draft pick, the Golden Knights announced.
It’s been a tough season for Eakin, who is originally from Winnipeg and was an expansion pick by the Golden Knights.
In 41 games, Eakin has just four goals and 10 points, one season after setting career-highs with 22 goals and 41 points. According to Evolving Hockey’s model, Eakin has been worth 2.2 goals below replacement this season, fourth-worst on the Golden Knights.
The move allows Vegas the payroll flexibility to make another move before Monday’s noon trade deadline, if it wishes.
Tuch is on long-term injured reserve, keeping him out until the March at the earliest. But the Golden Knights were due for a cap issue once he and his $4.75 million cap hit returned. With new acquisition Martinez making $4 million against the cap, there was little room to move.
On the ice, Vegas has a glut of bottom-six centers that can fill Eakin’s role.
Thursday night against the Lightning, fellow centers Chandler Stephenson and Nicolas Roy played on the wings around Eakin, and either can slide to the middle. Vegas also has Tomas Nosek on its roster and Cody Glass at AHL Chicago.
In the 2021 draft, Vegas had an additional second-round pick, but no third- or fifth-round selection. The pick from Winnipeg will help restore the middle rounds for the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights play Saturday at home against the Florida Panthers and on Sunday on the road against the Anaheim Ducks, their final games before the trade deadline.
The Jets won’t return to Vegas this season, but the Golden Knights head to Winnipeg on March 6 and 29.
Eakin finished his Golden Knights career having played 199 games across three seasons with 37 goals, 41 assists and 78 points.