Since George McPhee’s “not everyone will be back” quote there’s been a growing fear that the Golden Knights roster won’t be as strong in Year 2 as it was in the magical Year 1. McPhee noted there are always three or four changes which has the speculation on James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Ryan Reaves running wild.
Sportsnet reported earlier this season that James Neal was looking for a long-term deal commanding upwards of $7M per season.
It’s mildly surprising that he hasn’t re-signed in Las Vegas because he would like to stay there. He’s one of the team leaders. It still could get done. –USA Today
It’s hard to believe the organization would give a massive contract to a player over the age of 30, but would they on a player who’s 29?
James Van Riemsdyk
2017-18 Stats: 36 Goals (11 PPG), 18 Assists, 14:54 ATOI
Career Stats: 201 Goals, 393 Points, 0.33 Goals Per Game, 0.65 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 7 Years, $6M+ AAV
Neal has 62 more career goals and is one year and 243 days older than van Riemsdyk. Both wingers have comparable career statistics, and the age difference isn’t wide. The Golden Knights know what they’re getting with Neal; 20+ goals, second-line minutes, plays with edge. It’s an unknown if van Riemsdyk can repeat his success in Vegas.
I could see Neal being offered a high-cost, short-term contract, but the question remains if we would be willing to sign it. It’s likely his last chance at a long-term deal. One thing is for sure, if the Golden Knights offer JVR a contract, it’s a sign they’re content moving on from Neal.
Van Riemsdyk was integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but was otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? New Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Sportsnet
David Perron is a player many fans fell in love with. His silky hands, his beautiful passing, his pestering ways, how can you not love him? With Perron, the feeling is mutual. He loves it in Vegas, he loves his teammates, and he’d love to stay here. Or at least so he says to Vegas media.
What I think Perron cares most about is security. Staying in one place for an extended amount of time. He’s played on six different teams since 2013. He won’t have many more opportunities to sign a lengthy deal, which ultimately could effect his return to Vegas.
2017-18 Stats: 27 Goals, 9 Assists, +11, 14:49 ATOI
Career Stats: 158 Goals, 249 Points, 0.29 Goals Per Game, 0.45 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 4 Years, $4M+ AAV
If the Golden Knights want to replace Neal’s goal production on the cheap or move on from Perron for a better defensive player, they could make a pitch to Grabner. Vegas would have the option to give Tomas Tatar and/or Alex Tuch second line minutes and use Grabner on the third line. He scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons and he’s versatile. That would give a nice addition of speed, scoring, and penalty killing to the bottom six of Vegas.
A handy specialist who brings speed, penalty killing acumen and tremendous even-strength scoring on bottom-six assignments. Flopped as a deadline rental with the Devils, so he’ll come cheaper than anyone would’ve thought even three months ago. -Hockey News
On to the next order of business, physical presence. If the Golden Knights are looking for a player like Ryan Reaves, they should just sign Reaves to a new contract. Now, if Vegas wants a strong, physical, skating type player with way more offensive upside, then they’re going to have to pay.
2017-18 Stats: 17 Goals, 26 Assists, 73 PIM, 16:32 ATOI
Career Stats: 78 Goals, 178 Points, 451 PIM
Contract Speculation: 3 Years, $3.5M AAV
Maroon isn’t that top line player that skated along-side with Connor McDavid in Edmonton. He’s more of a second or third line forward. Maroon adds size (6’3), grit, and spends almost as much time in the box as Reaves. I know Maroon isn’t as nasty as #75, but he’s a major upgrade offensively.
Some argue Vegas has too many fourth line players, but thankfully they’re nicely balanced with top liners. So maybe it’s best to strengthen the middle six this offseason. Maroon or another power forward could fill those 14-16 minutes a game, and bring some toughness. But like I said, if Vegas wants a fourth line player comparable to Reaves, then they should just re-sign him. There are not many low-scoring, low-minute, penalty prone players that add more. And that’s not a slam.
There you have it, just a quick glance at free agency to wet your whistle. Also, keep an eye out on trade swirls, Vegas may look into adding another center, and of course, a defenseman. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for us to dive into that next.