One of the worst feelings of being a sports fan is watching a fan-favorite player leave your team. High school Owen Krepps cried when Phil Kessel was traded away from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
What hurts, even more, is having memorabilia attached to that specific player that you can no longer appreciate without being reminded that the player is gone, and nothing is worse than player jerseys.
I learned the hard way growing up as a bought Brandon Sutter, Jarome Iginla, Brooks Orpik, Matt Cooke, Matt Murray, and Marc-Andre Fleury t-shirts instead of going for the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or Kris Letang ones.
Never buying a habs jersey again 👍 pic.twitter.com/4Z3a97A6Gg
— Dallas (@KingAngus4) March 21, 2022
But Golden Knights fans I am here to be your shopping guide this offseason so you can avoid the mistakes that I have made in the past! The Golden Knights have slick jerseys (I like them more than most), but they must not be ruined by having a former player’s name attached to the back of it!
If the rumors are true of the Golden Knights making the gold jerseys their permanent homes and the team adding new alternate third jerseys then this assignment is more relevant than ever.
Here’s a mini-guide to which Golden Knights jerseys you should get this offseason.
Let’s start off with names that Golden Knights fans can feel safe picking. Just based on contract lengths both Alex Pietrangelo and Mark Stone are here to stay. They both have no-movement clauses and five years left on their contracts. They are integral parts of the Golden Knight’s core and not going anywhere.
Jack Eichel also just got here as the team’s new first-line center and has four years left on his contract. Jonathan Marchessault has just two years left, but as an original Golden Knight, and the leader of every major offensive statistical category in team history, I can see Marchy retiring as a Golden Knight.
Speaking of original Golden Knights, Shea Theodore is another safe bet. He has three years left on his deal that does not have any clauses on it. However, it would take a serious shakeup for Kelly McCrimmon to get rid of what can be considered his best defenseman.
Buying any one of these players’ jerseys is a safe bet as it could last you up to a decade. If you already have one of these players’ jerseys, then you know what I mean.
A bit less of an obvious name is Chandler Stephenson, who has two years left on his bargain $2,750,000 million deal. The only reason I have him out of the ‘safe bet category is that he is dramatically underpaid. In two years he will want one heck of a raise and lord knows what the Golden Knight’s cap situation will look like then.
I have Alec Martinez here as well. He has two years left on his deal too. But unlike Stephenson, he has a modified no-trade clause. With the Golden Knight’s logjam on defense, Martinez could be moved to free up cap space before his deal ends in 2024-25.
I don’t see either of these players moving as soon as next season. But if you are buying a jersey, you want it to last, and these two might not with the Golden Knights in the long run.
I am not saying all of these players will be gone soon. But with the Golden Knight’s current cap crunch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these names leave. Max Pacioretty is a free agent next summer and at 33 years old and in the state he is in with his health, the VGK could move on for added cap relief.
Reilly Smith is up this offseason and the Golden Knights will have to do some salary-cap gymnastics to prevent Smith from leaving. We already saw the Golden Knights try and trade Evgenii Dadonov at the trade deadline which might hint at McCrimmon trying again in the offseason.
I feel as if William Karlsson could go either way. He is far from the player he was in the Golden Knight’s inaugural season and his decline may cause his departure from the organization. But with a modified no-trade clause and five years left on his deal, it will be hard to trade Karlsson’s contract.
Lastly, the Golden Knights have another goalie controversy on their hands and Robin Lehner’s job might be on the line with Logan Thompson emerging. Laurent Brossoit and every other name I did not mention all fall in this category too.
If I am going out and spending north of $200 bucks on a jersey I’m not picking any of these players if I am a Golden Knights fan.
I understand the desire to not be yet another fan wearing the traditional Stone or Theodore jerseys. You want to differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd. So this next batch of names features underrated players that are still safe bets for jersey shopping.
This season we saw defensemen Brayden McNabb, Ben Hutton, and Zach Whitecloud all ink extensions with the Golden Knights. McNabb is a heart-and-soul original misfit, Whitecloud an up-and-coming two-way D, and Hutton a stable veteran defenseman.
Nicolas Roy’s entry-level contract ends this summer with the Golden Knights. But the team cannot afford to lose one of their most reliable secondary scorers and will most certainly ink him to an extension.
Lastly, the stars are aligning for Logan Thompson to emerge at the bare minimum as the Golden Knight’s backup goaltender and possibly take over as the starter for the VGK.
Former Golden Knights/Memes
I wanted to include one last category for the miscellaneous jerseys. In truth, there are no jersey police at hockey games waiting to say “Hey Alex Tuch doesn’t play for the Golden Knights anymore.”
The Golden Knights are a young franchise and don’t have the luxury of safe bets that Edmonton Oilers fans have when they show up to a game with a Wayne Gretzky jersey on.
My own personal rule is that once a player retires, I think it is safe to wear their jersey if they were traded away from your favorite team. I waited until Chris Kunitz’s stint with the Lightning and Blackhawks was over before I busted out my old no. 14 jersey.
So for the Golden Knights, Marc-Andre Fleury might have to wait. Again, I am not telling you what you can and cannot wear. I just think it is a little taboo when fans wear former players’ jerseys, especially when they are still active in the NHL.
If you want to really stand out from the crowd might I offer an Evgenii Dadonov Anaheim Ducks jersey, Deryk Engelland jersey, or a Vadim Shipachyov jersey to really spice things up?