Whether this season resumes or not, the Golden Knights have some interesting decisions to make whenever the calendar allows for them to be made.
Everything starts with the salary cap, which is a massive question mark at this point. Due to the uncertainty with “hockey-related revenues” for this year, it’s certainly not going up by much, if at all.
For the purpose of this article, let’s act as if the cap will remain flat, meaning it will stay at $81.5 million.
Starting with forwards, here’s where the Golden Knights stand heading into next year.
Signed (9 forwards)
Mark Stone – $9.5M (11.7%)
Max Pacioretty – $7M (8.6%)
Paul Stastny – $6.5M (8.0%)
William Karlsson – $5.9M (7.2%)
Reilly Smith – $5M (6.1%)
Jonathan Marchessault – $5M (6.1%)
Alex Tuch – $4.75M (5.8%)
William Carrier – $1.4M (1.7%)
Cody Glass – $863K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $45.913 (56.3%)
RFA (3 forwards)
Chandler Stephenson – $1.05M*
Nick Cousins – $1M*
Nic Roy – $735K
Total – $2.785M (3.4%)
*Stephenson and Cousins are arbitration-eligible so their numbers could increase by a bit. It won’t be drastic in either case.*
Signed (5 defensemen)
Nate Schmidt – $5.95M (7.3%)
Shea Theodore – $5.2M (6.4%)
Alec Martinez – $4M (4.9%)
Brayden McNabb – $2.5M (3.1%)
Nick Holden – $1.7M (2.1%)
TOTAL – $19.35 (23.7%)
RFA (1 defesneman)
Zach Whitecloud – $875K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $875K (1.1%)
Signed (1 goalie)
Marc-Andre Fleury – $7M (8.6%)
TOTAL – – $7M (8.6%)
TOTAL FORWARDS (12) – $48.698 (59.8%)
TOTAL DEFENSEMEN (6) – $20.225M (24.8%)
TOTAL GOALIES – $7M (1) (8.6%)
TOTAL RETAINED – $500K (0.6%) *Tatar*
TEAM TOTAL (19) – $76.423 (93.8%)
That’s a 19 man roster than takes up 94% of the cap, leaving about $5 million to fill out the remaining few spots.
There’s only one spot in a gameday lineup that absolutely must be filled. That’s the backup goalie.
There are 12 forwards listed and there’s no help needed there. They have the superstar at the top of the list, followed by a stacked top-six, solid center depth with Karlsson, Stastny, Stephenson, Roy, and Glass, and then a bevy of wingers that can score and defend. Reasonably, those 12 forwards are good enough to win you a Stanley Cup, so adding much money to that list doesn’t seem prudent or necessary.
Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek are both UFAs this summer. It would make sense to keep both, but it must be done as cheaply as possible. The challenge is that both would have to remain on the active roster unless placed on waivers and the only waiver-exempt player of the 12 forwards is Glass.
On D, the Golden Knights have a host of cheap options already in the system to fill out the last one or two spots on the roster. Nic Hague, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan are all under contract for less than $1 million and Jimmy Schuldt shouldn’t cross the seven-figure mark either. Plus, all are waiver-exempt.
Add it all up and it means the Golden Knights are going to be tight to the cap once again, and that’s before we even consider the option of keeping both goalies. There’s literally about $4 million in space with a roster of 20 players if the backup goalie makes the league minimum.
In other words, it’s going to be a money-in, money-out scenario this offseason. You want to keep Lehner or add a high-end defenseman, you’ve got to find the money to send away.
It probably won’t be as painful as last year, but don’t be expecting a mega offseason from McCrimmon, McPhee, and company, whenever the offseason ends up happening.