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Tag: John Carlson

“Not Everyone Will Be Back”; A Look Into VGK’s Free Agency Situation (Plus 9 Predictions)

Reading between the lines, either Neal or Perron likely won’t be back. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights were close to the ultimate goal, but in the end, they fell three wins short. So, they now head to the offseason with a plan in mind, make the team three wins better than they were a year ago.

There are plenty of decisions to be made with the roster as currently constructed and oodles of cap space available to bring in outside help.

The reality is in a salary cap world you have to make some tough decisions, and with this team, not everyone will be back. We’ve all learned lessons over the years, if you examine what happens in the salary cap world you have to be smart about what you do and the contracts you hand out or it hurts your team. We’ll do our best to keep this group together but there are always three or four changes. -George McPhee

The Golden Knights have four major unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) which are set to hit the open market on July 1st. They are James Neal, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, and Luca Sbisa. Also, Maxime Lagace, Jason Garrison, Brandon Pirri, Mikhail Grabovski, Clayton Stoner, Chris Casto, and Paul Thompson will become UFA’s in 20 days.

It doesn’t matter where in the lineup, you have to be smart about what you do. -McPhee

Then there are the restricted free agents (RFA’s) of which the Golden Knights have plenty. The most notable is William Karlsson. In short, Karlsson is not going anywhere. Unless something unprecedented happens, he’ll absolutely remain the first line center for Vegas next season. However, the projections on his contract are all over the map.

Technically, the Golden Knights only have to extend a “qualifying offer” to Karlsson of $1 million. This will happen soon and then Karlsson and his agent will request arbitration. An arbitration date will be set sometime in late July to early August. That will basically be the deadline for the Golden Knights and Karlsson to reach a long-term extension.

Tomas Nosek, Colin Miller, Oscar Dansk, Teemu Pulkkinen, Stefan Matteau, and Philip Holm are also all arbitration eligible and would follow the same process.

Finally, there are the two younger players who are RFA’s in Shea Theodore and William Carrier. Due to their age, neither are arbitration eligible. Thus, the Golden Knights can simply extend them a qualifying offer (Theodore -$874,125, Carrier – $787,500) and the player will have to sign it and remain with the team through next season. However, especially with a player like Theodore, this offseason may be a good time to lock him up long-term before he gets arbitration rights and has more negotiating power. The two sides can come to an agreement on a long-term deal at any time.

That brings us to the magical world of unrestricted free agency which opens on July 1st. Names like John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, and John Carlson will be thrown around with basically every team that has cap space. The Golden Knights have plenty of cap space so get used to seeing the big names linked to Vegas, but the Golden Knights also have a GM that’s historically not a big spender in free agency.

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Unbalanced Defensive Minutes For Washington Could Become Factor As Series Wears On

The golden Knights have to take advantage of the heavy minutes load to create more moments like this with VGK’s top line vs. Brooks Orpik. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant likes to utilize his top defensive pairing of Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb against the opposition’s top line. However, that doesn’t mean he lessens the minutes of his other two pairings significantly. Through two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Golden Knights have been much more balanced in terms of minute load compared to the Capitals on D.

 ATOI (Series)ATOI (Regular Season)ATOI (Playoffs) 
Matt Niskanen25:4122:2625:32
John Carlson24:3024:4725:50
Dmitry Orlov23:1223:0824:24
Nate Schmidt21:5822:1424:32
Shea Theodore21:5820:2121:39
Brayden McNabb21:0020:0921:55
Deryk Engelland19:2620:1722:14
Colin Miller18:3319:2119:16
Michael Kempny18:3219:2217:43
Brooks Orpik15:4115:4516:59
Luca Sbisa15:0019:3116:17
Christian Djoos9:0514:0210:59

Washington boasts the top three defensemen in average time on ice and also has three of the four bottom players in ATOI through two games in the series.

As the workload continues to increase for the Caps, it should come as with an advantage the longer the series goes. Niskanen, Orlov, and Carlson are on the ice a lot, and as long as Vegas’ forecheck can get back to their normal relentless selves, the Capital d-corps should wear down.

Carlson and Kempny are the only two defensemen which a 50+% Cosri For for the Capitals, but both have been on the ice for more even strength goals against than for.

Wearing out terrific defensemen like Carlson, Orlov, and Niskanen is easier said than done, but the minutes load is likely to add up at some point. Late in games, Vegas has to make it hard on these guys and force Barry Trotz to go deeper down his bench more often.

It may not materialize in Game 3, or even Game 4, but as the series continues, the Golden Knights should be the fresher team, especially on the blue line.

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