The Vegas Golden Knights basically only have one name left to re-sign in restricted free agency: Nicolas. Unfortunately for general manager Kelly McCrimmon that means two players, Nicolas Roy and Nicolas Hague. Minor league forward Jake Leschyshyn as well.
With Keegan Kolesar being the latest signing, the Golden Knights have roughly $5 million in available cap space left to work with this offseason. This number is reliant on both Laurent Brossoit and Nolan Patrick coming off LTIR and Shea Weber’s contract remaining there to start the season.
Today, let’s delve into the Golden Knight’s remaining RFA talk and predict the next contracts for the Nics.
Real quick, we should mention Jake Leschyshyn, the third RFA McCrimmon has left to sign. Leschyshyn rejected a $787,000 qualifying offer earlier in the offseason. A bold move for a player that had just six points last season. He will likely sign somewhere in the range of $800k and be sent down to the AHL.
Things aren’t looking great for Nicolas Hague as his contract talks with the Golden Knights have been reportedly complicated. At 23 years of age, Hague is not eligible for arbitration, and the deadline for him to sign his qualifying offer passed on July 22nd.
Hague is a sizy young defenseman that is just now emerging into the NHL with the Golden Knights. In 52 games played last season, he scored four goals and ten assists for 14 points and was a +6. He is the only Golden Knights draft pick on the team’s active roster. There is a lot of potential for Hague to grow into a top-four defenseman with the VGK.
A bridge deal is the most reasonable option for both the Golden Knights and Hague regarding his next contract. Looking around the league, we just saw Mario Ferraro sign a four-year deal with the Sharks worth $3.25 million per season. Ethan Bear signed one year at $2.2 million with the Hurricanes, and Niko Mikkola signed one year at $1.9 million with the Blues.
Using these contracts as a guide, we can reasonably project Hague’s next contract to be in the $2-3 million dollar range.
VHN’s Prediction: Three Years at $2.25 million AAV.
Unlike Hague, Nicolas Roy is eligible for arbitration, but has not elected to play this card. The Golden Knights are also reportedly closer to coming to terms with Roy on a deal than they are with Hague.
Roy took the next step in his NHL career with the Golden Knights in 2021-22. Although overshadowed by the VGK’s newest center in Jack Eichel, Roy scored 15 goals and 24 assists for 39 points. He went through multiple scoring slumps and was even forced to play wing when injuries arose.
However, the potential for Roy to be a solid third-line center for the VGK is there as he is just 25 years old. He could go as far as to push out William Karlsson in the VGK’s organization center depth.
Using other recently signed contracts in the NHL as a basis once more, we can look at Mathieu Joseph. He signed a four-year extension with the Ottawa Senators worth $2.95 million a season. Joseph is the same age as Roy, and scored around the same amount of points in 2021-22.
With this in mind, a bridge deal for Roy in the $2.5-3 million dollar range should get it done.
VHN’s Prediction: Four Years at $3 million AAV.
Updated Cap Space and Depth Chart
Assuming these deals get made with the projected money we made in our predictions, this leaves the Golden Knights with zero salary cap space. They would have to send someone like Ben Hutton or Michael Amadio to the minors or even place someone on LTIR to become cap compliant.
These contracts would get the job done for the VGK in terms of re-signing everybody. But on paper, the team has some glaring holes. At the wing, Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault are the team’s only reliable scorers, with a huge drop-off to the next players on the depth chart in William Carrier, Keegan Kolesar, and Michael Amadio.
Roy is a natural center, and I am confident that part of his contract negotiations involves his level of willingness to play wing on the Golden Knights.
Hague’s addition on defense also kicks out Ben Hutton, who last season earned a roster spot. The potential of the Golden Knights shedding one of their defenseman for cap relief is still a high possibility in my books.
In short, these contracts would get the Golden Knight’s to-do list for RFA’s done but would also put them up against the cap once more with a team that is arguably, on paper, worse than last season’s team that missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs.