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Golden Knights Offseason

Golden Knights Cannot Afford To Lose Reilly Smith This Offseason

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Reilly Smith Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

Welcome to Vegas Hockey Now’s season in review series where we look at every player on the Vegas Golden Knights and their 2021-22 season from Michael Amadio to Zach Whitecloud. We’re going in random order now to not be too predictable. Today’s player is Reilly Smith. Let’s jump right into things.

Reilly Smith

Reilly Smith Vegas Golden Knights official 2021-22 headshot

Stats: 56 GP, 16 G, 22 A, 38 PTS
Contract: Free Agent
Games Missed: 26
Status: Injured (Knee)
VHN’s Grade: B-

Overall Thoughts

The conversation around Reilly Smith right now revolves around his free agency status with the Vegas Golden Knights. Smith has come to the end of his five-year $5 million AAV deal that he signed with the Florida Panthers. We will get to that, but first, let’s look at what he accomplished in his contract year.

Smith put up 38 points in 56 games as a mostly consistent offensive provider for the Golden Knights. But on the team’s eastern road trip in March, he left the team with a knee injury and never returned.

As most of you know, Smith is an integral part of the Golden Knights roster as an original VGK and one of the three musketeers on the Misfit Line. His play alongside Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson played a huge role in the Golden Knight’s early success as an expansion franchise. Smith is third all-time in franchise points fittingly behind only Karlsson and Marchessault.

He provides the Golden Knights with a solid top-six forward who can kill penalties, score shorthanded goals, and play on the second and even first powerplay units. Keeping him on the roster should be at the top of general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s to-do list this offseason.

Highlights

As mentioned before, the chemistry shared between Smith, Karlsson, and Marchessault is hard to replicate. These three have been playing with each other for five seasons now and have seemingly merged together as one cog for the Golden Knights. Unfortunately, injuries caused the trio to disassemble frequently throughout the 2021-22 season. But when they were together… well…

Karlsson and Smith took their chemistry to the penalty kill where the duo combined to score four shorthanded goals. Smith had two early in the season, including a nifty game-tying goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

These goals were nice, but perhaps the coolest goal(s) Smith scored this past season was his new tradition of shooting the victory flamingo into the net after every win.

What’s Next?

Smith is a free agent this summer, and a lot of work has to be done if the VGK want to keep him.

The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline saw Smith’s name rumored as a potential player the Golden Knights could trade to free up cap space for Jack Eichel. Instead, McCrimmon attempted to trade Evgenii Dadonov.

With the voided trade, the Golden Knights had (and still have) a tight cap crunch. Down the stretch, the team used LTIR to remain cap-compliant and Smith was one of the players placed on LTIR. However, Peter DeBoer said if the Golden Knights made the playoffs, Smith would be ready for Round One.

This hints toward the possibility of Smith being ready sooner than expected and the Golden Knights having to keep a healthy player on LTIR to remain cap-complaint. Something I am sure Smith did not enjoy. If this is the case, why would Smith want to remain with a team that won’t even play him healthy?

Well, the argument for Smith to stay is a strong one. He has been here since the beginning, rejuvenated his career in Las Vegas, and meshes perfectly with Karlsson and Marchessault. But Smith’s won’t be taking a massive pay cut and a $1 million deal to stay with the VGK.

At 31 years old Smith is likely looking at a big veteran contract somewhere in the vicinity of 4-6 years. We just saw the Pittsburgh Penguins set the market for wingers this offseason by re-signing Bryan Rust to a six-year $5.125 million deal. The Golden Knights only have around $200k in projected cap space.

McCrimmon and co. need to free up cap space, or Smith is gone.

Welcome to your new home for Vegas Golden Knights breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to VHN+ for all of our members-only content the entire Vegas Hockey Now crew plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Owen Krepps covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now and writes for the Boulder City Review-Journal. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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