On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed one of their key unrestricted free agents to a bargain deal. Forward Bryan Rust re-signed for six years at $5.125 million per season. Since the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this has been the first major player to re-sign with an eliminated team.
There is always the idea of “setting the market” and with this Rust extension, I am sure some agents in the NHL aren’t too happy. With the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is always the discussion of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin elevating their linemates. But no matter which way you slice it, the Penguins have just signed a player who put up 58 points in 60 games to a contract under $5.5 million.
I bring this up because the Vegas Golden Knights have a key player, also in his early 30s that is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer in Reilly Smith. Rust and Smith are similar players in the aspect that they are complementary top-six wingers who play a huge part on their teams as consistent scorers.
The Golden Knights are in cap hell with Jack Eichel and his $10 million salary cap now on the team. But this Rust pricetag may have cut Smith’s asking price down. Rust is clearly taking a hometown discount to stay with the Penguins and Smith could do the same if he feels like they are close to Cup territory.
After all, Smith led the Golden Knights in playoff scoring in their 2018 run to the Finals.
Just something to think about to start your Monday. Now onto some daily links.
NHL News, Stanley Cup Playoffs, and National Hockey Now
Vegas: The Golden Knights have tons of questions facing them this offseason after they missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
Last Wednesday Mark Stone had back surgery and joined Robin Lehner as Golden Knights on the mend from offseason surgery. Both are expected to be ready by training camp.
Finland: Zach Whitecloud, Nicolas Roy, and Logan Thompson are representing Team Canada at the 2022 World Championships. Whitecloud took a nasty hit from Sharks/Switzerland forward Timo Meier.
ECHL: The Savannah Ghost Pirates have been unveiled as the Golden Knight’s new ECHL affiliate.
One week ago today, the Golden Knights fired Peter DeBoer as their head coach. General manager Kelly McCrimmon stated that the VGK would take a “lengthier” approach to find a replacement coach.
But that won’t stop us from hypothesizing on who will be the Golden Knight’s head coach. Barry Trotz is the best name available. But will he choose the Golden Knights? Could John Tortorella fix this team? What about the newest member of the NHL coaching free agency pool– Rick Bowness?
Stanley Cup Playoffs
This series is pure chaos and I’m here for it.
St. Louis/Colorado: Speaking of running goaltenders, Nazem Kadri and Jordan Binnington had an exchange in Game 3 of their series. Kadri ran into the Blues goaltender, and he left the game. Binnington will miss the remainder of the series against the Avs and Kadri will not receive any additional discipline.
Florida/Tampa: The Flordia Panthers are on the brink. Despite being the most dominant team in the regular season, the Panthers can get swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.
This is not what Claude Giroux, and Joe Thornton for that matter, signed up for.
Carolina/NY Rangers: The Rangers defeated the Hurricanes at home on Saturday and have made this series interesting. Max Domi took an unnecessary shot at Ryan Lindgren as the game was ending. Former Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant also had some choice words for Tony DeAngelo.
Gerard Gallant telling DeAngelo "you're the fuckup" made my afternoon pic.twitter.com/lMUdmjByQD
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) May 22, 2022