A lot is happening in the NHL right now, but none of it regards the Vegas Golden Knights.
Outside of rookie camps, the draft, and qualifying restricted free agents the Golden Knights have been silent this offseason. So with today being the day before free agency, let’s go over some of our picks here at VHN for what the VGK could do this offseason. Keep in mind these are all hypothetical.
Smith Stays, But it Takes Longer Than Expected
The only peep from the Golden Knights on the free agency market is that of re-signing Reilly Smith. On June 23, Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff reported that the Golden Knights had reached a verbal agreement with Smith on a three-year extension in the $5 million range. The Golden Knights currently have $5.2 million in cap space opened up from the Evgenii Dadonov/Shea Weber trade, but the deal has not been announced.
Similar to Patrice Bergeron in Boston, all signs point towards the Golden Knights resigning Smith. But with the deal currently being verbal, a chance of it either falling through or taking a good period of time to negotiate could happen. The only reason this deal has not been officialized is that general manager Kelly McCrimmon is looking to clear a tad bit more cap space, which leads us to our next prediction.
William Karlsson is Traded
The Golden Knights are up against the salary cap once again. With limited options on how to maneuver past McCrimmon will be forced to make some hard decisions and potentially move on from guys like Alec Martinez, Laurent Brossoit, and the player I am predicting to get moved, William Karlsson.
The offensive output is simply not there for a player that makes $5.9 million against the cap and has five years left on his deal. It will be tough to find a suitor for Karlsson’s contract. I could see someone like Nicolas Hague being thrown in as a sweetener.
With Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson, Nicolas Roy, and Brett Howden, the VGK can afford to get rid of Karlsson and his cap hit.
Brossoit and Patrick are Shed
If McCrimmon wants to continue shedding player salaries he can turn his attention towards Laurent Brossoit and Nolan Patrick. Both players currently sit on LTIR and have already arguably lost their jobs on the Golden Knights roster.
Patrick, who carries a $1.2 million cap hit only played in 25 games last season and scored seven points. He continues to struggle to stay consistent through injuries in the NHL ever since he was drafted second overall in 2017.
The emergence of Logan Thompson as a solid NHL goaltender has given both Brossoit and Robin Lehner a run for their money. I don’t think the Golden Knights will pull the trigger, moving on from Lehner, which we will get to later, so I think Brossoit and his $2.35 million cap hit get moved to a team that needs a backup goaltender.
Paul Stastny Returns
In this hypothetical offseason, Karlsson is traded for salary cap purposes. I know I mentioned earlier how the VGK could replace him from within with guys like Stephenson and Roy. But adding another center that is cheaper through free agency can’t hurt. I think the Golden Knights will go after Paul Stastny, especially if Karlsson does end up getting traded.
Even at 36 years of age, Statsny is scoring as he put up 45 points with the Winnipeg Jets last season. Signing him to a deal in the $2-3 million range for 1-2 years would be a solid add.
Robin Lehner Remains Starter
The NHL spreads will be affected.
As much as the fans have suggested it, I haven’t heard anything this summer that has led me to believe the Golden Knights are trying to move Robin Lehner. As far as McCrimmon and new head coach Bruce Cassidy are concerned, Lehner is this team’s starter heading into 2022-23
2021-22 was a rough season for Lehner as he battled through injuries and struggled to remain consistent in his first season as the team’s unquestioned starter. I think with a new coach behind the bench and after a full offseason to recover we will see a much better version of Lehner, and he will win some of the fanbase back as a result.