The Vegas Golden Knights still have some unfinished business before training camp begins Sept. 22 at City National Arena.
Center Nolan Patrick and defenseman Dylan Coghlan remain unsigned and the two restricted free agents need to get in the fold so they can get on the ice and compete for a roster spot.
Patrick, the former No. 2 overall draft pick from 2017 who was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers, is expected to be in the mix to center one of the lines, perhaps even the top line which has Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone on the wings. He earned $874,125 last year with the Flyers and is probably seeking a slight bump up.
The problem is the Knights are right up against the salary cap and at some point they’re going to have to free up money to pay Patrick whatever they settle on.
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon has said there shouldn’t be a problem getting Patrick signed. But here we are, 11 days out and Patrick remains an unsigned RFA.
Coghlan’s salary cap hit is $715,000. The Knights don’t have room to pay him either. But in the pecking order, it’s Patrick 1, Coghlan 2.
Perhaps bridge deals are in the offing for Patrick and Coghlan? Both are eligible for such a transaction and while it may be early to look long-term, the fact is the Golden Knights need to get these deals done and get Patrick and Coghlan into camp on time.
Patrick had four goals and nine points in 52 games last season. He has had a history of injury issues going back to his junior days with the Brandon Wheat Kings, when McCrimmon was the team’s owner.
There is going to be competition for any center save for William Karlsson, who is set pivoting between Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. Chandler Stephenson has proved he can be effective playing with Stone and Pacioretty. Nic Roy played well in the postseason. Mattias Janmark can play center as well as wing and Brett Howden, who was acquired from the New York Rangers, is also going to be in the mix. So Patrick will have to prove himself to make sure he’s in the lineup opening night vs. Seattle on Oct.12.
McCrimmon said RFA deals are always the last to get done and he doesn’t anticipate any issues with either player. He also said Alex Tuch’s being on LTIR doesn’t factor into Patrick’s or Coghlan’s situations. Tuch had shoulder surgery and is expected to be back mid-season. He earns $4.75 million.
For McCrimmon, the heavy lifting is done. Everything is in place save for getting a couple of boxes unpacked and set up for the House of Vegas to be completely in order.