Over the past two and a half seasons since Ryan Reaves was acquired via trade he’s become one of the most popular, recognizable, and marketable members on the Golden Knights.
From the water commercials to the beer company to his unmistakable style on and off the ice, Reaves is one-of-a-kind in today’s NHL.
He’s become a real valuable player to our team, he’s well-respected across the league by both teammates and opponents. He’s not cheap, he’s honest, he’s tough, he’s hard, and he’s a really intelligent player. The coaching staff really appreciates what he does for our team. We’re excited to have him remain in our organization. -Kelly McCrimmon
It’s been clear for some time that both sides wanted to get a deal done and Monday it became official as Reaves signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.75 million.
The number is perfectly fair for a player with his offensive production, taking into account the intangibles he brings and his consistent availability having missed just two games since joining the Golden Knights. But the question that must be asked about this contract is one of leverage in negotiations, which was clearly on the side of the team yet didn’t appear to be taken advantage of.
I don’t think it’s a secret that I love it here and that I wanted to stay. I’ve heard people say they could have gotten me cheaper because I have the business thing but at the end of the day hockey comes first for me. The hockey business decision had to be before the beer business or whatever else I do in the community. The hockey had to come first but it had to make sense for me and my family. -Reaves
The “people he’s heard” are me. And they should be anyone else who is concerned with the Golden Knights salary cap too.
As he mentioned in his media availability on Tuesday, it was no secret that he wanted to remain in Vegas. He has multiple endorsements, started a budding beer company that has grown immensely in the past 12 months, built a house in Summerlin, and has never done anything but profess his love for the Las Vegas valley.
It’s still way too early to really start worrying about what the Golden Knights will look like next season, considering there’s still a Cup to be won this season. Plus, the salary cap for the 2020-21 season remains a mystery.
But with plenty of time to go before the Golden Knights hit the ice and a few contracts hitting the books over the past few weeks, we thought it’s a good time to take a look at the Golden Knights salary cap snapshot to give you an idea of what kind of wiggle room they have to operate with whenever the offseason does get underway.
The current salary cap is $81.5 million, a number the Golden Knights flirted with all season. Heading into next year, they currently have 19 players under contract that are likely to be a part of the 23 man roster. Plus, there’s still that pesky $500,000 cap hit that remains from the Tomas Tatar trade.
Mark Stone – $9,500,000 Max Pacioretty – $7,000,000 Paul Stastny – $6,500,000 William Karlsson – $5,900,000 Reilly Smith – $5,000,000 Jonathan Marchessault – $5,000,000 Alex Tuch – $4,750,000 Ryan Reaves – $1,750,000 William Carrier – $1,400,000 Cody Glass – $863,333 Nicolas Roy – $750,000
"It's a real good signing for our organization. He's widely respected around the league by teammates and opponents. He's not cheap, he's honest, he plays hard. The coaching staff really appreciate what he does for our team." -McCrimmon on Reaves
When hockey gets back underway, the Golden Knights will hit the ice with one of the best goalie tandems in the league. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner are fully capable of carrying a team through the playoffs leading most to view goaltender as an advantage Vegas has on every other team.
While I’m not here to argue against the benefits of having more than one tremendous goaltender, I would like to illustrate the challenge it will present to the man standing behind the bench.
Peter DeBoer has been the Golden Knights head coach for 22 games and has led his team to victory in 15 of them. His early success earned the Golden Knights a Pacific Division title and placed them in the round-robin in the modified playoffs. But the only memory that will last regarding his first season in Vegas will be of the outcome of the upcoming postseason. And with goalie coach Dave Prior no longer calling the shots between the pipes, DeBoer’s decision on goaltenders will, fairly or not, ultimately be the only thing to define his inaugural campaign in Vegas.
Usually, working in hypotheticals is a tiresome, useless activity, but today I’d like to throw some out to show just how impossible the job of selecting a goalie in the postseason can and will be for DeBoer come August when hockey starts back up.
Instead of creating situations, let’s use ones from the past, ones that we know the eventual outcome. Imagine a world in which each of these games was played with the Golden Knights having both Fleury and Lehner on the roster.
We start with the worst moment in franchise history.
2019 Round 1 – Game 7 – at San Jose
After six games of strong goaltending by Fleury, followed by 50 minutes of perfection, the walls started to cave in on the Golden Knights following the phantom major penalty on Cody Eakin. Before the call, Vegas led by three and were getting a strong effort in net.
The first goal happened almost instantly as a shot from the point was blocked directly to a Shark, leading to a cross-ice pass and a perfect shot that beat Fleury. It’s a save he’s made in the past, but not one anyone could ever expect him to come up with.
At this point, there’s absolutely no consideration of switching goalies to put in Lehner. (Remember, this is all a hypothetical in which we are considering what VGK would have done if they had both goalies.)
Goal two comes less than a minute later. This one is a shot pass that deflected in from a tip in the mid-slot. No goalie in NHL history is expected to make this save, but nonetheless, a three-goal lead is now one and there are still four minutes left to kill.
Pull Fleury here in order to buy some time for the penalty killers? Settle the team down? People still complain that Gallant didn’t take a timeout, switching goalies would achieve the same result. I doubt this would be a time to do it, but Monday morning QB’s everywhere would be barking nonetheless.
Fleury stays in. The Sharks tie it about four minutes into the power play. A breakdown in penalty killing leads to a shot from the high-slot that beats Fleury. He’s now allowed three in less than four minutes and blown a Game 7 lead. Is now the time to pull him and put in Lehner?
Goal four is the one that would get the coach in hot water for not switching goalies. It’s a shot Vegas allowed on the PK all series long, in fact, that was in the game plan to give that shot up. Fleury is off his angle and the softest goal of the four gets past him. Trust me, if Lehner was on the Golden Knights at this moment, fans (including myself) would not have been happy that he was sitting on the bench.
Again, Fleury stays in the game having now allowed four. We get all the way into OT, and a poke check gone awry allows a fourth-liner to net the season-ending goal for the Golden Knights. Again, if Lehner is on the team, people are none too happy he never saw the nets in this horrific road loss.
In reality, Gallant never even considered pulling his goalie to put in Subban, nor would anyone have, and thus this criticism never existed, but if the situation were exactly the same, and Lehner was on the Vegas bench, the coach would have gotten crucified over refusing to put in the trade deadline acquisition.
2018 Western Conference Final – Game 1 – at Winnipeg
It’s going to be different. It’s going to be quiet. It’s going to be weird.
But according to Mark Stone, it’s going to be just as intense as ever when the games finally get going in front of empty seats at a hub city somewhere in North America.
No matter what the surroundings or what the setting is, I think the intensity is going to be there. -Stone
Vegas fans are so used to seeing their team play in front of 18,000 screaming fans inside of a building with a sound system that makes jet engines sound like lullabies. They’re also used to players both home and away explaining how important to fans are to the success of the Golden Knights.
But the fact of the matter is when you take it all away, as awkward as it will look visually, hockey is still hockey and the best players in the world will be competing for the same prize they’ve dreamed of winning since they were young boys.
The NHL is a league built on parity. Winning the Stanley Cup is as much about matchups (and luck) as it is the skill of any given team. This year, the matchups have a chance to vary wildly as the league is re-seeding teams at the conclusions of the play-in and first rounds.
Unlike the eight teams with set play-in round matchups, the Golden Knights seed throughout the tournament is dependant on their performance in three round-robin games. The round-robin not only determines who the Golden Knights will play in the 1st Round, but it also determines the opponent in the 2nd round as well.
With four games in the play-in round, there are 16 possible outcomes between the eight teams. Using William Hill odds, we ranked them from most likely to least likely to occur. Then, using those rankings, we are able to show the probabilities of which team the Golden Knights would be most likely to face depending on which seed they end up with in the round-robin. (An explanation of how I arrived at these numbers is at the end of the article.)
As you can see from the chart, there’s a significant advantage to finish atop the round-robin. Finishing first eliminates the possibility of a matchup with Edmonton, Nashville, or Vancouver, while coming in fourth takes away any chance to play Chicago, Arizona, or Minnesota.
Compare that to this chart, how Vegas has played against each of these eight teams.
Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play protocol is underway which meant groups of six players were allowed to resume training on the ice at team facilities.
The Golden Knights provided a video of one of those groups including Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden, and Deryk Engelland.
Group sessions are expected to continue for the next six weeks or so until the league re-opens for training camps prior to the 24-team playoff. The target date to start training camps is mid-July while the hope is to start playing games in early August.