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Gawlik: Acquire Pettersson If Marchessault and Stephenson Don’t Get Extensions

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Vegas Golden Knights, Chandler Stephenson
Chandler Stephenson - Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Sammi Silber- Washington Hockey Now)

Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson are unrestricted free agents after the 2023-24 season. It is not a certainty extensions will be successfully negotiated to retain one or both.

Marchessault and Stephenson combine for a salary cap hit of $8.75 million in 2023-24. Extensions for Marchessault and Stephenson will be tricky to negotiate. Both are Stanley Cup Champions. Marchessault is a Conn Smyth winner. Stephenson has outperformed his contract since the day he signed an extension in Vegas.

Market value for Marchessault and Stephenson: Marchessault is in the final year of his six-year, $30 million contract. The Conn Smythe winner can expect offers in the three years, $20 million range should he hit the open market.

Stephenson is in the final year of his four-year, $11 million contract. A reasonable offer that Stephenson could expect would be a four-year deal worth $20 million should he hit the open market.

Marchessault will be 33 years old when his current contract expires. Stephenson will be 30 years old when his contract expires.

The combined AAV for Stephenson and Marchessault would be $11.5 million if the Golden Knights extended both for fair market value. Of course, Marchessault and Stephenson could consider giving the Golden Knights a home-team discount.

Is it a good idea to have nearly $27 million of salary cap space tied up to four forwards age 30 or greater?

Elias PetterssonPettersson is not in a rush to sign a contract extension in Vancouver. The Canucks have been to the playoffs just once in Pettersson’s five seasons in Vancouver. The restricted-free agent might want to be traded out of Vancouver to sign a long-term contract with another team. One can not blame Pettersson for wanting to play for a potential contender.

Pettersson broke out in dramatic fashion last season with 102 points in 80 games. The 24-year-old had 68 points in 80 games in the previous season.

Pettersson’s next contract will not be cheap. Another 100-point season could push his AAV north of $10 million.

The pitch: The salary cap is projected to go up by $4.2 million in the 2024-25 season and $4.5 million the following season.

Stephenson and Marchessault combine for a salary cap hit of $8.75 million in 2023-24. Their market value in 2024-25 elevates to $11.5 million. That eats up $2.75 million of the $4.2 million cap increase.

The Golden Knights have their first three round’s worth of draft picks for 2024, 2025, and 2026. A package of draft picks and prospects could possibly get a deal done for Pettersson.

The Canucks are stuck in the murky waters of rebuilding or competing for a low playoff seed in the Western Conference. There is a chance that the Canucks decide to start from scratch.

The Golden Knights once gave up a first, second, and third-round pick for Tomas Tatar. If the Canucks are willing to trade Pettersson, it is a safe bet the Golden Knights will pursue the shiny-new toy.

Acknowledge reality: Is it worth giving raises to players who are close to the point of diminishing returns? How much better can Marchessault and Stephenson possibly perform on ice? They are at their ceilings. Pettersson is just starting his prime.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon felt that the younger Ivan Barbashev was the better long-term investment than the older Reilly Smith.

Just imagine for a moment a team with Jack Eichel and Pettersson as their top-two centers.

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