Offseason possibilities with the Golden Knights
June 12, 2018 3:05 AM
by Alan Berg
Congrats to the Washington Capitals for knocking off our hometown Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Final. While the end result was disappointing, the future looks very bright for the Knights as we give an early look to the 2018-2019 season.
Players Under Contract
Players with two or more seasons under contract: LW/RW Tomas Tatar, RW David Clarkson, RW/LW Reilly Smith, RW/LW Jonathan Marchessault, C Cody Eakin, D Jon Merrill.
Players with one season remaining: G Marc-Andre Fleury, G Malcolm Subban, Oscar Lindberg, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter.
It’s very likely Fleury and Tuch reach contract extensions during the summer. Fleury went as far to say he would like to finish his career in Vegas.
Regardless of what anyone says, NO ONE saw William Karlsson tallying 43 goals and 35 assists in his first year with Vegas. Playing in one less game per season with Columbus the previous two years Karlsson had 15 goals and 30 assists COMBINED. It’s a remarkable leap that is difficult to comprehend and one that is hard to put a price on.
The good news is Karlsson is a restricted free agent. For the newbies to hockey that means the Knights will present a qualifying offer to Karlsson and due to that massive leap it’s rejected. That’s actually fine, because Karlsson can test the market and see what everyone in the league is willing to pay him. The Knights can match any offer sheet Karlsson signs with another team. It’s likely this will be the case and Wild Bill will continue on as a Golden Misfit.
James Neal, at 30 years of age with a resume full of playoff experience, will likely be looking for his last big NHL contract. When Knights GM George McPhee selected Neal in the expansion draft, McPhee assumed two things: Neal helps get Vegas to the playoffs or he’s a fantastic midseason trade chip that will help us in the long run. Fast forward, Vegas made the Stanley Cup Final. The problem with Neal is his age, long seasons and Vegas’ future plans make his contract length an issue. Neal is a tough decision for the Knights; they will likely want a two- or three-year deal. It’s probably the right move. If Neal wants long term security of a five- or six-year contract it’s likely he moves on. Neal’s return – a 50/50 coin flip.
Shea Theodore at 22 years of age is a talented, but raw defenseman with a lot of work in front of him to become a solid to elite D-man. The good news is he, like Karlsson, is a restricted free agent that will get to the market and Vegas will likely match. Theodore’s ceiling is too high for the Knights to toss in the towel based on a rough Stanley Cup Final. There’s a high probability he’s back.
James Nosek and Colin Miller should return with matched offer sheets. It’s possible Nosek and/or Miller could get something worked out in arbitration but the offer sheet seems more likely.
William Carrier is a tough one to figure and feels more like another 50/50 like Neal, much of it will depend on where McPhee and Head Coach Gerard Gallant feel he fits in the future makeup of the team.
Guys that will likely not be back with the Knights for various reasons: David Perron, Ryan Reaves, Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner.
Free Agent Starts/Ends at Tavares
What about the players out on the market? Well, there is one name that should be seared into everyone’s brain – Islanders superstar John Tavares. Easily among the Top 10 players in the NHL, he is a franchise piece the Isles will be doing everything in their power to keep but Vegas would likely be an intriguing possibly for Tavares with the roster already in place plus the loaded minors system already underway. Keep your fingers crossed, Vegas.
That’s truly the only monster fish that would really fit in with Vegas in my opinion but I am sure McPhee will find a few more diamonds in the rough during free agency to fill the holes left by departing players.
The first pick in Vegas history was No. 6 overall now 19-year-old Cody Glass. The center recorded 37 goals, 65 assists in 64 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. He added four goals and nine assists in the playoffs. No. 13 overall pick, Nick Suzuki, still 18, had 42 goals and 58 assists in 64 games for the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL. The center hit the ice one time for the AHL Chicago Wolves in the playoffs. No. 15 pick, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, played in the Sweden Pro League SweHL for HV71 Jonkoping and reviews were high with two goals and 13 assists in 44 games.
Possibly the biggest standout of the minor league season for the Knights was second-rounder Nicolas Hague who took home a high honor winning the Canadian Hockey League’s defenseman of the year award. In his third season for the Mississauga Steelheads he had 35 goals and 43 assists; the 78 points was a team record. He also got some ice time with the Wolves appearing in five regular season games and three playoff games.