With the Vegas Golden Knight’s season at yet another pause due to the strange rescheduling in the month of February, all eyes are on general manager Kelly McCrimmon. On Monday, newly acquired Golden Knights center Jack Eichel shed his no-contact jersey and participated in a full-contact practice for the first time since joining the team.
And speculation how McCrimmon would fix his cap crunch hit a new level.
Eichel, as well as Jake Bischoff and Alec Martinez, are currently on long-term injured reserve. But as soon as Eichel is activated from LTIR and his full salary hits the cap, the Vegas Golden Knights will be in cap hell. With the team off until next Wednesday, it is likely that we see McCrimmon make a move as Eichel nears his Golden Knight’s debut.
According to CapFriendly, the Golden Knights will need to free up around $4.3 million for Eichel to join the team and the Golden Knights to be cap-compliant. There are really only three ways in which the team can go about this. They can 1) put players on waivers 2) trade players 3) place players on LTIR.
This is part one of a two-part series. Part one is all about trades and part two will discuss LTIR.
Vegas currently has 5,738,333 available in LTI Salary. They need at least $10M to activate jack Eichel off LTIR.
There are only a few ways to do that.
1- Trade away +/- $4.3M in cap hit
2- Place another +/- $4.3M in cap hit on LTIR
3- Terminate +/- $4.3M in cap hit (unlikely) pic.twitter.com/b8itOMZDtZ
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) February 7, 2022
Potential Golden Knights Cap-Space Sacrifices
Reilly Smith or Evgenii Dadonov
With $4.3 million needed for Eichel’s return, the easiest place to start is with players that make around $5 million. Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Robin Lehner, and Evgenii Dadonov all make exactly $5 million. It is highly unlikely that the Golden Knights will trade their top goaltender and one of their 2022 All-Stars so scratch both Marchessault and Lehner off the NHL trade-bait list.
Smith is in the final year of a five-year $25 million deal he signed back with the Florida Panthers. As a pending UFA, he is tied for third in team scoring with 13 goals, 19 assists, and 32 points.
An original Misfit, the chemistry Smith has with Marchessault and William Karlsson would be tough to replace. But given his experience and overall consistency in the league, there would be no shortage of interested teams in Smith at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.
Dadonov is an interesting case having been acquired in the offseason almost immediately after the Marc-Andre Fleury trade. He has been streaky with the Golden Knights so far this season, often overshadowed by other wingers on the team. His contract has another additional year on it as well.
At Thanksgiving, we discussed five potential names the Golden Knights could move to free up space for Eichel. A lot has changed since then such as Brayden McNabb signing a three-year extension. That surely changed the outlook of the Golden Knights defense corps.
First, that means McNabb is sticking with Golden Knights, and with fellow recent signee Zach Whitecloud, the team has their defense locked up for the near future.
They also have a surge of young defensemen who have come into the lineup and made a case for a permanent roster spot. Whitecloud, Nicolas Hague, Dylan Coghlan, and even Ben Hutton have performed capably. Combine that with up-and-coming prospects like Daniil Miromanov, Kaedan Korczak, Brayden Pachal, and Lukas Cormier, maybe Martinez is expendable.
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Martinez has only played in 11 games for the Golden Knights this season. He took a skate to the face in mid-November and has remained out ever since.
Less Than $5 Million Players
If the Golden Knights really want to keep their top players intact perhaps the best course of action for them is to shed a handful of players that will add up to $4.3 million. On the Jeff Marek Podcast, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman mentioned Mattias Janmark’s name as a potential NHL trade chip.
Janmark has been dealt on past NHL trade deadlines and carries a $2 million cap hit. In an up and down season, Janmark dealt with early COVID aliments as well as injures. He has 17 points in 43 games.
He is a pending UFA as well.
William Carrier has a cap-hit of $1.3 million which has three years remaining. Despite his good looks on offense, the 27-year old forward has just 14 points over 39 games this season. Nolan Patrick also falls into this category with a $1.2 million contract and six points in 17 games.
Dealing a backup goaltender is a risky move for a contending team, but Laurent Brossoit’s $2 million is another option. Logan Thompson is sitting the minors ready for his chance at becoming an NHL regular.
Those are all of the names that I could see the Golden Knights trading. It is highly unlikely we see someone like Lehner, Marchessault, William Karlsson, or Shea Theodore move.
Which Teams Would Be Willing to Take On Cap?
It’s easy to say “just trade Dadonov or Janmark” and call it a day. But for Kelly McCrimmon, he still needs to find an actual buyer for his players. The Arizona Coyotes, as usual, are already letting teams know that they will be available to take on players’ cap hits as they have around $17 million in cap space.
Looking around at other teams in the league that have space, I find it funny how many “former fits” there are. The Golden Knights could choose the option of “return to sender” for some of their players. For instance with Carrier, the Buffalo Sabres have $34 million in space available. Even Martinez could return to the LA Kings.
Just a thought.
VHN’s Prediction: Evgenii Dadonov
If a guy has to go I am still sticking to my gut in thinking that it will be Dadonov. He’s a player that has already journeyed around the NHL as a veteran and has not blown the Golden Knights away with his performance this season. Unlike Smith, Carrier, or Janmark I personally think Dadonov lacks the “misfit” aspect of being a Golden Knight as well.