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2020 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

  • Paul Stastny has been traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Carl Dahlstrom and a 4th round pick. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Robin Lehner has signed a 5-year $25 million ($5 million AAV) to remain with the Golden Knights. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Lehner’s contract includes a modified no-trade clause which allows him to submit an eight team list for year’s one through three and then a five-team list in the final two years. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Chandler Stephenson has agreed to a 4-year deal with $2.75 million AAV. (Source: @FridgeHNIC)
  • Tomas Nosek has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Reid Duke and Jimmy Schuldt signed one-year contracts for the league minimum of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
    • Both are two-way deals. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Gage Quinney agreed to a one-year two-way deal with an NHL value of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Tomas Jurko to a one-year one-way deal worth $700,000. (Source: @simiinko_97)
  • Danny O’Regan has signed a one-year deal with the Golden Knights at $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the Golden Knights did NOT extend a qualifying offer to Nick Cousins. He becomes an unrestricted free agent. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Cousins signed with the Predators for two years at a $1.5 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Jimmy Schuldt and Keegan Kolesar. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights will make a significant pitch to Alex Pietrangelo. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Torey Krug is expected to sign with the Blues further paving the way for Pietrangelo to sign in Vegas. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • Pietrangelo is taking a private flight to Vegas to visit with the Golden Knights today. (Source: @gm_mark)
  • Keep an eye on Erik Haula, we’ve heard some rumbling that there could be a reunion coming. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed he does not expect Deryk Engelland to return to the Golden Knights this season. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Jon Merrill has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. One year deal worth $925,000. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Malcolm Subban has re-signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for $850,000 AAV for two-years. He is expected to be given a shot to win the starting job in camp. (@Tramyers_NHL)
  • Max Lagace has signed a one-year two-way deal with the Penguins. (Source: @Penguins)
  • Daniel Carr signed a one-year two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. (Source: @Capitals)

The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney. This page will update throughout the day as more information comes in.

Even Without The Only Stabilizing Provision An NHL Player Can Have, Robin Lehner Feels Stable In Las Vegas

In his next contract, Robin Lehner put a high priority on stability.

He mentioned it over and over again in his Zoom meeting with the media following the signing of his new 5-year $25 million contract.

It’s clear he believes with the Vegas Golden Knights, he finally has it.

I’ve worked very very hard for this. It’s been a long journey since I moved into the league. I’ve had my bumps and bruises, I’ve battled through a lot of things… I have a 5-year-old son that has five different hockey jerseys. We live a privileged life, but you want to give your family stability as well and I couldn’t find a better opportunity and a better setting than here in Vegas with a great community and fan base. -Robin Lehner

Lehner has bounced around a lot in the last few years of his career. After putting up good numbers on a struggling team in Buffalo, he was not extended a qualifying offer by the Sabres which saw him hit the unrestricted free agent market in the summer of 2018. He bet on himself, signing a one-year deal worth just $1.5 million. That season he turned in a Vezina quality year and appeared to be headed for a payday in the summer of 2019. But, while the pay raise came (he signed for $5 million) term did not. He accepted another one-year deal, this time in Chicago. He split time with Corey Crawford and then at the deadline found himself on a third team inside of two calendar years all while playing out the end of an expiring contract.

He’s about as open and honest a person as you’ll find in the NHL and he has not been shy in sharing his disappointment that he was unable to find a long-term home despite performing at a high level. That’s why when pen hit paper on the deal in Vegas, he was overjoyed to have finally found it.

It’s obviously been a pretty emotional day for me and my family. We are exteremly happy to be here and get this deal done. I have a lot of people to thank but it’s a big win for us. -Lehner

There’s just one problem that remains. Despite committing himself to the Golden Knights for the next five seasons, Lehner’s contract did not come with a full no-trade clause. Instead, he received a modified no-trade which allows him to veto eight teams in the first three seasons and then five in the final two.

That’s not exactly reassuring regarding stability considering this is an organization that signed another goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, to a similar contract in July 2018 which was scheduled to run through 2022. Vegas will likely cut ties with Fleury with two years still left on the deal and that contract actually had a larger no-trade clause than Lehner’s.

Lehner is well-aware of how the Golden Knights conduct business. He described it as a “no politics team,” clarifying to mean that the best players play no matter the situation. So when I posed the blunt question of, “how do you feel stable in an organization when you do not have a full no-trade clause?” he answered calmly, insightfully, and incredibly confidently.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS SIGN ROBIN LEHNER TO 5-YEAR $25M DEAL

Henrik Lundqvist To Vegas?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The goaltender carousel has yet to start spinning, but when it does, the Golden Knights are likely to have a ticket on the ride. The probability of Vegas re-signing Robin Lehner and moving on from Marc-Andre Fleury remains incredibly high which means the Golden Knights would suddenly be in the market for either a backup to Lehner or at the very least an AHL starter if the job is handed to Oscar Dansk.

If indeed they are to keep Lehner, that would eliminate Vegas from the top names soon to be on the market like Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom, and Darcy Kuemper but it would be an intriguing place for anyone willing to play for less money but a greater shot at a Stanley Cup.

Enter Henrik Lundqvist.

After being kicked to the curb during the season in favor of Igor Shesterkin, Lundqvist’s time in New York officially came to a close yesterday when he was bought out by the Rangers.

That makes him an unrestricted free agent who is still being paid by his previous organization. He’s made no indication whether or not he even wants to continue his NHL career, but if he does, there’s a connection to Vegas that could make sense.

I wonder about Vegas. If they move Fleury I would think that spot would be an interesting one because Lundqvist has known Robin Lehner since Lehner was 12-years-old and Lehner’s father was Lundqvist’s goalie coach and instructor in Sweden before he came to New York. I think the fit it the room would be there. –Larry Brooks, NY Post on VGK Insider Show

Brooks told the VGK Insider Show that he has not spoken to Lundqvist and thus he is speculating but he named Vegas without being prompted (though I’m sure he knew he was on a Vegas-based radio station).

Lundqvist was far from elite a year ago, but there’s no question there’s still some hockey left in his Hall of Fame career if he so chooses to continue it.

As a backup, the Golden Knights could certainly do much worse and his cost against the cap could be minimal considering he’s made almost $100 million in his career already and has still yet to win a Stanley Cup.

Maybe he sees Vegas as a place that could give him that one last chance. Maybe he’s tight enough with Lehner that it would make for the perfect drama-free duo. Or maybe this is all for naught and he closes up shop on an unbelievable career.

A lot is about to go down in the next seven to ten days, especially between the pipes. We’re fairly certain the Golden Knights are going to part ways with one future Hall of Famer, maybe they can save the day by bringing in another.

Fleury’s Agent Echoes His Client’s Desire To Stay Put; Even Though Both Know He’s Probably Not

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t new to the business side of the NHL. He knows what went down between the trade deadline and the end of the Golden Knights playoff run, he understands the Golden Knights salary cap situation, and he sees the writing on the wall. No matter what he says or does now, nothing is going to change what will happen in the coming weeks (or maybe months).

So, when placed in that situation, might as well say the right thing before the inevitable happens.

Marc said that he wants to stay in Vegas, and he’s not looking for or seeking a trade anywhere else. He’s perfectly happy to co-exist with Robin Lehner, if that’s what ultimately happens. To some extent the decision making is out of his hands. But he wanted everyone to know where he stands and that he loves Vegas. –Alan Walsh on TSN 690

Walsh, Fleury’s agent, backed up what his client said to The Athletic’s Jesse Granger last week. You should read that interview if you haven’t yet, but to sum it up, Fleury hasn’t and won’t asked to be traded, he hopes to retire in Vegas, and he’d be perfectly happy to share the goal with Robin Lehner in 2020.

It’s all true, but there’s a motive behind the message Fleury was trying to get out. Speaking optimistically about the uncertainty of his future was a tactic and a smart one at that.

By stating he isn’t asking for a trade, Fleury is wisely playing both sides of the fence. He’s showing his appreciation and fondness for the fan base and the city of Las Vegas, but the 35-year-old goaltender was also signaling if and probably when a trade happens, it’s on the organization, not him.

He has great connection to the community. He loves his teammates and he came on board as literally player number one and wants to finish the journey that he set out on when he went to Vegas. Ending with a winning cup. He’s not looking for a change or anything else. –Walsh on TSN 690

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Ranking The 5 Goalie Options The Golden Knights Have From Best To Worst

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The clock is ticking on the “first order of business” for the Golden Knights this offseason. With the buyout period open and free agency set to begin on October 9th, the VGK front office will have to execute whatever plan they have in mind to solve their conundrum between the pipes soon.

Yesterday, in an interview with Jesse Granger of The Athletic Fleury indicated that he has not formally requested a trade, he would prefer to finish his career in Vegas, and he is not opposed to splitting time with Robin Lehner.

I want to stay in Vegas. I thought when I came here that maybe I could retire here. I wanted to end my career here. –Marc-Andre Fleury to The Athletic

That willingness leaves the door wide open for the Golden Knights. There are five options for Vegas. Some are great, some are ok, and some are downright terrible. I’ve ranked them, in order from best-case scenario to worst-case for the organization. We start with the best option.

Re-sign Lehner. Trade Fleury without retaining any salary

This is the best realistic result for the Golden Knights this offseason. There have been reports of a handshake agreement on a deal worth $5 million per year between Lehner and Vegas but both sides have denied such deal exists. But, where there’s smoke, oftentimes there’s fire, which means while that deal may not be final right now, it could in the near future. After signing that deal, Vegas would look for a landing spot for Fleury in which the team taking him on accepts 100% of his salary. Obviously, in a perfect world, the Golden Knights would get an asset in return, but in the current landscape, that seems fairly unlikely. So the hope would be that it wouldn’t cost more than a 3rd round pick to make it happen.

If it all goes down that way, Vegas will have saved $2 million at the goalie position, gotten much younger going from Fleury to Lehner, bought an extra three years of goalie contract, and turned their “rental” into a long-term piece making the initial trade for Lehner even more palatable than before. Even if Lehner’s number is closer to $7 million or if the term is shorter, the Golden Knights will have made out well.

Re-sign Lehner. Trade Fleury with a portion of salary retained (or take a player with a significant cap hit in return)

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Offseason’s “First Order Of Business” Is Between The Pipes

The weirdest season ever is over which means the weirdest offseason ever has now begun. According to the Golden Knights’ GM, the issue on the top of mind for every fan is the same as the front office.

We don’t have those answers for you right now but the first order of business in many respects is to sort (the goalie position) out. -Kelly McCrimmon

The future appears to be heading in the direction of Robin Lehner. From being handed the starting role to the Allan Walsh tweet to the reported long-term contract negotiations with Lehner, all signs point to a parting of ways with Fleury.

No one has more respect for Flower as a person or a teammate or his resume and what he’s done for this franchise and through his career but we made the decisions that gave us the best opportunity to win and we’re going to do that again going forward. -Pete DeBoer

Both Lehner and McCrimmon have denied the rumors of a handshake agreement on a 5-year $25 million ($5M AAV) contract.

It’s not true. Nothing is finalized. It’s kind of annoying that we are here in the conference final and people are saying things they don’t know. If it would have been finalized it would have been finalized. -Lehner on 9/11/20

The goalie situation will be the driving force behind all of what the Golden Knights do this offseason.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If they decide to go with Lehner only, where does Fleury end up and what are the cap ramifications that go with it?

If they decide to keep both, where will they trim to make it work?

Can they go back to Fleury after all that’s happened? Does Fleury even want that?

They are all questions that will be answered quickly as the offseason truly ramps up in just a few weeks. The Draft is scheduled for October 6th and 7th and unrestricted free agency opens up two days later on the 9th. The Golden Knights will likely reveal their answers before the latter.

The NHL’s salary cap is set to remain at $81.5 million heading into next season and is likely to stay there for at least one more year after that. That makes life a little more difficult on the Golden Knights as they were pushing (actually went over) the Cap in 2019-20.

There are decisions to be made on plenty of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, but the offseason starts and ends with what shakes out in goal. It will shape the present and future of the organization and until it’s figured out, not much else really matters.

In The Playoffs, Back-To-Back Doesn’t Have To Mean Two Goalies

I want to preface this article by saying the point of it is not to challenge the decision being made by the Golden Knights coaching staff in regards to which goalie will start Game 4. Because, as I’ll show, there really isn’t a right or a wrong way to do it. Instead, the goal is to debunk an idea that seems to have turned into a hard and fast rule for the Golden Knights, and thus VGK fans as well.

In the playoffs, you do not have to switch goalies when playing back-to-back games.

Again, that doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, it just means you don’t absolutely have to, especially when playing in a bubble with no travel and against the same team both games.

This postseason 13 series have experienced a back-to-back situation. Of the 26 teams involved in those games, 19 of them chose to use the same goalie in both ends of the back-to-back. Goalie performance, as well as team performance, do not appear to be correlated to this decision.

With such a small sample size and the teams playing each other, wins and losses cancel out as a whole. So, instead, I decided to use total goals against as well as save percentage in an attempt to determine if a goaltender was better or worse in the second game of the back-to-back.

Hellebuyck – Worse
Talbot – Better
Markstrom – Worse
Stalock – Worse
Kuemper – Better
Saros – Worse
Andersen – Better
Bobrovsky – Better
Varlamov – Worse
Talbot – Better
Allen – Better
Markstrom – Worse
Kuemper – Better
Rask – Worse
Hart – Worse
Price – Worse
Crawford – Better
Halak – Worse
Vasilevskiy – Better

10 were worse, nine were better. Compare that to the teams that switched goalies.

Korpisalo to Merlizkins – Better
Lundqvist to Shesterkin – Better
Mrazek to Reimer – Better
Bishop to Khudobin – Better
Grubauer to Francouz – Worse
Mrazek to Reimer – Better
Fleury to Lehner – Worse

Five better, two worse.

Looks good right? But, when we dig a little deeper, the numbers end up identical, just arriving at the same place in different ways.

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The Inevitable Goalie Controversy Has Arrived For The Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo tweeted by Allan Walsh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s agent)

Goalie controversy, this is the Vegas Golden Knights. Golden Knights, goalie controversy. It’s been six months in the making, but the time has now come for you two to get acquainted with each other.

The inevitable was put into place on February 24th when the Golden Knights traded then back-up goalie Malcolm Subban for starter-to-be Robin Lehner. Despite the words of positivity coming from the front office and head coach about Fleury’s place atop the Golden Knights goalie depth chart, his role changed on that day, and it’s devolved ever since.

Today, one day before the Golden Knights begin their second round series with the Vancouver Canucks, what went from a potential hazard lurking in the distance stormed into the forefront and is now here to stay.

That’s a tweet from Allan Walsh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s long-time agent. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one really only needs to be worth four.

Fleury is not happy.

This isn’t a new move from the Walsh playbook though. He’s always been very active on Twitter and has even used the platform to stand up for another one of his clients in a nearly identical situation.

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Gallant On VGK Goalie Situation: “That’s Going To Be A Tough One For Them”

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now. Robin Lehner is the Golden Knights starting goalie.

Robin (Lehner) has done what you want players to do when they show up with a new team. He has played at a level, not just in games but also through camp, where we have had to give him the net. This is not about Flower not doing something. He has been great. Robin has just been at a different level. –Pete DeBoer to The Athletic

The Golden Knights sticky goalie situation is starting to become a bigger story in the national media. With it has come a rash of opinions about the present and the future, both of which will be challenging for Vegas to navigate.

It’s time for the market to recognize that Robin Lehner deserves that multi-year deal, in my mind anyway, and I just don’t know how that can be in Vegas. –Pierre LeBrun on 2 Man Advantage podcast

The next series, two, or three will certainly go a long way in determining where the Golden Knights head with their future between the pipes. At the same time, the reason it will be one, two, or three series is directly correlated to how the situation is handled in the present.

It’s a situation that hasn’t been easy to maneuver already and the Golden Knights have only lost a single game since arriving in Edmonton.

That’s going to be a tough one for them, there’s no doubt. Marc’s such a popular guy and a great character guy but, as I found out, it’s all about winning. They want to win, they’re thinking they’re doing the best thing for their team. They are tough decisions. It’s easy to look at it from the outside and say ‘Why isn’t Fleury playing? He’s done this and that for them,’ but you know they are on a path where they are trying to win every game and obviously they think Lehner is the better goalie right now. It’s a tough call for them and everybody knows that, every fan knows that. A thousand people have asked me that question the last couple days and I say ‘hey I don’t have to make that decision anymore.’ –Gerard Gallant to 2 Man Advantage podcast

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