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Golden Knights Analysis

Why It’s Challenging for Golden Knights to Keep Marchessault

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Jonathan Marchessault has lived in Vegas for seven years. In that time, he has become a proven Golden Knights goal scorer.

Now, he’s hoping that the talent developed in Vegas can stay in Vegas.

He is hoping the Golden Knights figure out how to re-sign him, even though their salary cap situation makes it challenging.

“I’ve done everything I can to stay here,” Marchessault said. “I know I’m a big part of that organization. I’ve proved it along the years. I would love to stay. It’s my home. I’ve been part of the guys that we started this with. It’s the most proud thing I’ve done in my life, professionally for sure. I’m happy to be a Golden Knight. I would like to be the rest of my life, but it’s not necessarily in my control.”

According to Capfriendly.com, the Vegas Golden Knights have 20 players under contract and only have roughly $900,000 to spend for three more players. However, presumably Robin Lehner ($5 million salary) will be on Long-Term Injured Reserve again next season to push the Vegas available cap space to close to $6 million.

The problem is Marchessault  could receive offers of more than $6 million per season on the open market.

Marchessault said he spoke with general manager Kelly McCrimmon and the Golden Knights want to bring him back. It’s difficult to see how that deal gets done unless McCrimmon is willing to move other key players to open up salary cap space.

“It depends if this is important to them or not,” Marchessault said. “I want to be in an organization that wants me. I have a couple of years left. Don’t play it for fun. I play it because I want to win. I want to be in a place that’s going to help me win.”

McCrimmon knows what it will take to get him signed, and also knows it will require a creative solution.

“He had a career year, so he’s done everything possible to put himself in a good position,” McCrimmon said. “We really like the player, and his value extends beyond what you see on the ice. He’s an important guy in our dressing room, so there’s certainly a real strong willingness from both sides to have real good discussions.”

It seems more likely that Marchessault leaves than stays. Finding more salary cap space could further erode the team’s depth. It would cause some pain, but it probably can be done if the Golden Knights are willing to endure some pain.

Here are some examples of what could be done:

Sign Marchessault, say ‘goodbye’ to Chandler Stephenson

The Golden Knights need them both, but it probably makes more sense to keep Chandler Stephenson because he’s a center and three years younger than Marchessault.  But Stephenson will also be a free agent. His projected cap hit projects to be about $1 million less than Marchessault’s. But if they let Stephenson go to free agency, they can probably make a deal to keep Marchessault.

Trade defenseman Shea Theodore

If you move Shea Theodore‘s $5.2 million salary, you probably have enough cap space, with some tinkering, to re-sign both Marchessault and Stephenson. You can try to justify this by telling yourself that Hanifin’s arrival will more than make up for Theodore’s loss. Also, trading Theodore could fetch a decent return. The team could certainly use some young prospects and draft picks. Another reason to consider it is Theodore will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer 2025.  It’s going to be difficult to re-sign him as well.

The problem with this is that you are moving one seven-year Golden Knights to save another seven-year Golden Knight. Are you making the team better? You can certainly make the case that Tomas Hertl will make up some of the lost Marchessault goals if he leaves.

If you keep Theodore, with Hanifin now playing all season, the Vegas Golden Knights will certainly have one of the NHL’s most talented defensive corps.

The other potential problem: Theodore has a modified no-trade, which will increase the degree of difficulty in moving him.

Go With Logan Thompson in Net

That allows the Golden Knights to move Adin Hill. Several teams are looking for goalies . McCrimmon probably can move his $4.9 million salary rather easily. Again, the Golden Knights could bring in much-needed young assets.

But there’s plenty of risk here, probably too much risk for the Golden Knights. Bruce Cassidy showed in the playoffs he still trusts Hill more than Thompson.

McCrimmon would have to extend Thompson’s deal. (The new cap hit wouldn’t start until 2025-26). Plus, the Golden Knights would have to search through the recycle bin for a veteran to play with Thompson.

How scary does that sound for a team that expects to be a contender? Probably too scary.

What these scenarios show is how challenging it is for McCrimmon to keep Marchessault.