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Golden Knights make trade, sending Reilly Smith to Penguins and securing 5-year re-signing of Ivan Barbashev

Vegas Golden Knights trade Reilly Smith, re-sign Ivan Barbashev in preparation for repeat Stanley Cup run.

The Vegas Golden Knights, fresh off their Stanley Cup victory, are wasting no time in preparing for another run at the championship. In a bold move, they traded longtime franchise player Reilly Smith to the Pittsburgh Penguins while simultaneously re-signing forward Ivan Barbashev to a lucrative five-year contract worth $25 million. These transactions were executed just hours before the NHL draft.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon expressed his satisfaction with the team's ability to retain most of their championship-winning roster. "We think this will give us the ability to pretty much return our team in whole, so that was our objective," McCrimmon stated in Nashville, Tennessee. He acknowledged the difficulty in parting ways with players who contributed to their Stanley Cup victory but expressed excitement about the potential impact on the team's makeup.

Barbashev, who played a significant role in the Golden Knights' title run with 18 points in 22 games, was expected to be a highly sought-after free agent. However, the 27-year-old Russian power forward decided to remain with Vegas, signing a contract that will see him count $5 million against the salary cap until 2028. McCrimmon praised Barbashev's contributions and emphasized the team's desire to retain him. "We've been looking for a player like this for some time," McCrimmon said. "He's in the prime of his career. We gave up a good young player to acquire him. He came in. He played extremely well. We won a Stanley Cup. He was a big part of that. We wanted to keep him."

The departure of Reilly Smith, who carried a $5 million cap hit, marks another bold move by McCrimmon. The general manager has consistently shown a willingness to take risks in order to rejuvenate the team and achieve championship success, disregarding sentimentality in the process. Smith, 32, was one of the six original Vegas players remaining from the team's inaugural season, which culminated in a trip to the final. He was the first player to receive the Cup from captain Mark Stone after the Golden Knights' recent victory. McCrimmon expressed pride in Smith's contributions and wished him success in Pittsburgh.

In addition to acquiring Barbashev, Vegas also managed to recoup the third-round pick they had sent to Pittsburgh in exchange for forward Teddy Blueger prior to the trade deadline. This deal represents the first significant roster move for new Penguins president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas, who is tasked with guiding the team back into the playoffs and maintaining their competitiveness alongside stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.

Both Vegas and Pittsburgh may not be finished making moves. The Golden Knights still need to finalize a new contract for their Cup-winning goaltender Adin Hill and could potentially begin negotiations on an extension for playoff MVP Jonathan Marchessault, who has one year remaining on his current deal. McCrimmon confirmed that discussions with Hill's camp are underway, indicating that further changes to the roster may be on the horizon.

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