NHL Free Agency is right around the corner and the Vegas Golden Knights are looking hard to find a player name ‘Cap Space.’ The mid-June Evgenii Dadonov for Shea Weber’s contract deal has given the VGK roughly $5.2 million in space, which is solid, but not ideal.
When you consider the fact that the team has yet to resign unrestricted free agents like Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark, plus restricted free agents like Nicolas Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and Nicolas Hague, and have money to go free-agent shopping, GM Kelly McCrimmon simply does not have enough room.
So for our free agency preview, things are hard to predict as the VGK could re-sign just Smith and call it a day. We will have to wait and see if McCrimmon will be willing to pull the trigger on yet another salary-cap-freeing trade. So far, William Karlson, Laurent Brossoit, and Nicolas Hague have been in rumors.
With a tight budget, here are some names the VGK could go after in free agency.
Reilly Smith- W
Let’s start with what we know about Reilly Smith. On June 23, Frank Seravalli first reported that the Golden Knights and Smith had a verbal deal in place that would keep Smith in Las Vegas for three years at around $5 million. This makes sense and is likely true. But it has yet to be officially announced.
In all likelihood, McCrimmon is waiting until he can clear up just a smidge more salary cap space to not risk going over the cap Smith’s extension. This would also give him some more space to sign his RFAs.
But with this deal not being official, it means either party could back out at any time, which leads us to…
David Perron- W
Potentially losing Smith would hurt the Golden Knights in more ways than I think we could even expect. But there is another former Golden Knights out there on the free-agent market who is a consistent goal scorer. David Perron is coming off a strong season with 57 points as a 34-year-old veteran and the St. Louis Blues, who want to keep him badly.
If a deal falls apart with the Blues and Perron, similar to how this could potentially happen with the Golden Knights and Smith, McCrimmon needs to jump on this player as a backup option.
But if Smith does get signed at the rumored $5 million price tag, then you can kiss this idea goodbye.
Paul Stastny- C
Hey would you look at that, it’s another former Golden Knight! Paul Stastny is coming to the end of his phenomenal NHL career, but still has some juice left in the tank at 36 years old. He played for the Winnipeg Jets in 2021-22 and scored 21 goals, 24 assists, and 45 points (in his 16th season).
With Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, William Karlsson, Nicolas Roy, and Brett Howden, the Golden Knights are not in need of center depth. But, if Karlsson and his $5.9 million in cap space were to be shed in a cap-clearing move, the VGK could use a second/third-line center.
Stastny fits that bill and would be much cheaper than Karlsson. Just an idea.
A Bottom-Six Forward
I really couldn’t think of a specific player to singlehandedly write about here so I’m grouping a bunch of guys together. With Dadonov, Krebs, and Tuch all out of the Golden Knights system and injuries constantly haunting the team, the VGK’s bottom-six depth is weaker than normal.
We saw last season that the Golden Knights do not have NHL-ready players in the AHL with both Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg coming up from the Henderson Silver Knights and failing to make an impact. And with Keegan Kolesar, Brett Howden, and Nicolas Roy as RFA’s the VGK could use a boost.
Zach Aston-Reese, Nicolas Deslauriers, Adam Gaudette, or Cedric Paquette could all be added.