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Future Cap Better Than Present Team

Three of the four major professional sports in North America have a salary cap. The reason the salary cap is used in leagues like the NHL is to keep parity as high as possible. It makes it challenging to keep all of the best players while helping to distribute them to the weaker teams in the process.

Hopefully guys will keep taking fair prices like Marchessault did before testing free agency. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be hard to believe, but even with the superb talent the Golden Knights have put on the ice in 2017-18, with the three 1st round picks, and with the contract extensions for Jonathan Marchessault, Jon Merrill, and Deryk Engelland, George McPhee’s biggest asset from the Expansion Draft is still the salary cap.

When all is said and done with this season, the Golden Knights will end the season among the bottom 10 teams in money spent against the cap. This includes the contracts of David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski, and Clayton Stoner, none of which will play a game for the Golden Knights. It also includes the retained salary of Alexei Emelin and Derick Brassard. Things can change slightly down the stretch, but as it stands, the Golden Knights will be the cheapest team to make the playoffs.

Projected Salary Cap Usage In 2017-18 ($75m Salary Cap)
Vegas Golden Knights – $68,950,653
Buffalo Sabres – $68,698,464
Florida Panthers – $68,068,090
Montreal Canadiens – $67,761,117
New Jersey Devils – $67,421,712
Colorado Avalanche – $66,931,457
Edmonton Oilers – $66,249,688
Carolina Hurricanes – $59,183,386
Arizona Coyotes – $58,768,559
*All other teams are higherBut the fun doesn’t stop there. It gets even better when we project forward into 2018-19 and even onward to 2020 and beyond. The Golden Knights are set to enter the offseason among the five teams with the most salary cap space available. Vegas is likely to win the division, and could easily win a playoff series or two putting them among the top five or ten teams in the NHL, yet the teams in their company when it comes to cap space next year are the Arizona Coyotes, New York Islanders, and Carolina Hurricanes, all teams expected to miss the postseason.

Estimated Cap Space Available For 2018-19 Season (using $75m cap)
New York Islanders – $26,839,167
Arizona Coyotes – $26,577,225
Carolina Hurricanes – $26,539,168
Vegas Golden Knights – $26,475,000
Colorado Avalance – $25,981,905

The massive amount of cap space allows George McPhee and Co. easier decisions on James Neal, David Perron, and Luca Sbisa, opens the door to hand out big bucks to William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, and Shea Theodore before their demands get out of control, and possibly enter back into the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes.

This season has been awesome, and hopefully, it’s not even close to coming to a close. All the while, the cupboard is full of young talent after the 2017 Entry Draft. But the best part of the Golden Knights future is freedom. They can do whatever they would like, whenever they would like moving forward due to their wide open cap.

We’re not even through with year one in franchise history, but the Erik Karlsson rumors had to have opened the eyes of the other 30 GM’s that the Golden Knights may be good now, but they should be even better for a long while in the future.

**Salary cap figures gathered from and**






  1. Why are they waiting to sign Wild Bill Karlsson to an extension?

  2. Michael V Smith

    We need to continue to sign suburb talent. Better than city talent. Lol

  3. Mark

    Great work as usual.

    The best part of this cap space, is they really only have to sign their RFAs to basically fill out their team.

    Based on current lineup, they need 2 guys after RFAs to get to 23, which very well may be one vet (Perron?, and one kid Brannstrom?)

    8 signed forwards, 4 pending RFAs (Karlsson, Hyka, Carrier, Nosek)
    5 signed Dmen, 2 pending RFAs (Miller and Theodore).
    2 signed goalies

    They have 26 million, and the RFAs May cost $15 million leaving 11 to fill out and carry to the next deadline.

    Karlsson 5 million
    Carrier, Hyka, Nosek 1 million each
    Miller and Theodore 2 million each (think Schmidt money)

    That’s 12 million, so I buffered 3 million just in case I’m off with the Dmen. Perron 4-5 million, so anywhere from 6-10 million for the deadline and other AHL deals that may hit the cap I forgot about.

  4. RJ

    I keep seeing people penciling in William Karlsson at 5M. I think that is an incredibly low number, at least 7M even in arbitration.

    Here is an incomplete list of young Centers making more than 5M next season:
    -Evgeny Kuznetsov 7.8M
    -Derek Stepan 6.5M
    -Leon Draisaitl 8.5M
    -Connor McDavid 12.5M
    -Jonathan Huberdeau 5.9M
    -Aleksander Barkov 5.9M
    -Ryan O’Reilly 7.5M
    -Mika Zibanejad 5.25M
    -Ryan Johansson 8M
    -Sean Monahan 6.35M
    -Mikeal Granlund 5.75M

    Of those, here is the list that have ever had a single season with William Karlsson’s current number (35):

    That’s right. None of those players have ever scored 35 goals. Here is the list that have had a single season with a +/- of +38:

    Yep, same list. I get it, it’s one good season, but it is one amazing season. If the awards are fair, Karlsson will be in the running for The Lady Byng, The Selke, and The Hart.

    Maybe you think 5M is too much to pay for any player, and maybe you’re right, but the current market of the NHL disagrees.

    • Mark

      Great research, and I understand your points, but

      1. Like you even said, Most of those guys had more than 1 decent season before those contracts.

      2. Like I mentioned, I did add a buffer, in case I’m a little low. I know I won’t be low on the other 3 forwards, and I mentioned the Dmen, but based on Nate’s deal, I don’t think I am that low.

      3. How many of those were still RFAs when they signed? Off the top of my head, I know Draisitl and Johanson were UFAs and O’Reilly was going to be a UFA the next season after receiving an offer sheet from Calgary. Buffalo extended him after the trade a year before his deal was to expire.

      But, I understand, you may be correct and he gets a couple more. I just think if he gets 7, it’s for a one year deal. When I mentioned 5 million, I’m also thinking 5-6 years.

    • Richard Evans

      Yeah, Wild Bill is having a wild season, but don’t freak out. It is one outlier season by a guy who has never done anything like this before – shooting at a completely unsustainable rate. He has never shown an ability to produce like this at any level.

      As it has been mentioned, all the other players YOU mentioned had several years of production to earn those contracts. Wild Bill needs to produce at a high level over two or more seasons to be considered in that group.

      Also sports management 101 – signing a guy to a huge contract based on one good season = bad contract and cap space problems in future years. Think of teams that were throwing draft picks at Vegas during the expansion draft to take on Clarkson and Grabovski. Do you want to be there in 3 years?

      Most likely he’ll be resigned for 2-3 years with a big pay bump. IF HE CONTINUES scoring at such a high level then his next contract will be huge.

      • RJ

        But they didn’t have several years of production at Karlsson level. That’s the entire point. Most of these guys had 1-2 years of decent production at the NHL level, but, with the one exception of McDavid, nothing like what Karlsson is doing this year.

        Not one of them ever had a goal scoring season like the one Karlsson is having. Not a ton of 20 goal seasons on that list, just a handful of 30 goal seasons, and not a single 35 goal season. Karlsson will almost certainly hit 40.

        I guess my point isn’t that McPhee should offer him a 7M+ contract with term, my point is that SOMEONE will. Would you take a $2M raise to so the same exact job,, but you have to move to San Jose or Montreal? I know I would.

        • No one can yet though (without paying the RFA compensation price, which would be 3 firsts, at least.)

          • Mark

            I tried posting that earlier, but I was having internet issues.

            Where it gets tricky, if they offer him O’Reillys deal for instance, it’s actually 4 firsts.

            Even though the cap hit is 7 million, when doing the RFA compensation formula, a contract longer than 5 years is still divided by 5. So one like O’Reillys actually would come in at 9.8 million for RFA compensation formula.

          • RJ

            Of course you’re right, which means if GMGM puts the offers on the table I am seeing in these responses, he is definitely going to arbitration. That’s part of what I’m getting across, Karlsson shouldn’t take a deal well below market value because (offer sheet notwithstanding) in a season he is going to get it from someone else.

  5. Michael

    Just an FYI, as of this moment Calgary have played a game more than Anaheim but with two less points. I think they are two points closer to elimination than the side bar states.

    I am enjoying watching it tick down!

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