We’ve been over the sticky situation in store for Nic Hague, we’ve explored the potential cost of Nic Roy, now it’s time to dig into those not named Nic who enter this summer as restricted free agents under Golden Knights control.
Keegan Kolesar (Arbitration eligible)
As one of the most consistent performers over the course of the entire season for the Golden Knights, Kolesar heads into the offseason in a much better negotiating position than what may have been expected. His 24 points with the added value he brings as a physical presence on the ice do actually set him up nicely to cash in a little bit more than the league minimum which he has collected in his first three seasons in the NHL.
The most obvious comparable for Kolesar is commonly a linemate of his, William Carrier. In a similar situation two summers ago (Carrier was coming off a season in which he scored 19 points in 71 games), he was able to cash in $5.6 million over four seasons, or $1.4M AAV. His history in the NHL was incredibly similar to Kolesar’s both in production and style. It shouldn’t shock anyone if Kolesar’s next is structured exactly like Carrier’s.
Around the league, a few other similar-style players have also been paid a bit more than the bottom dollar price. Zach Aston-Reese made $1.725 million on a one-year deal as an RFA in Pittsburgh, Garnet Hathaway got a four-year deal from Washington at $1.5 million per year as a UFA after scoring 19 points in 76 games in Calgary, and Jujhar Khaira was given $1.2 million per by the Oilers after posting similar numbers to each of the players listed above.
Reasonably, Kolesar should be aiming for as close to $2 million as possible and be comfortable settling in the $1.3-$1.7 range.
Brett Howden (Arbitration eligible)
The former 1st round pick is in a tricky spot after missing every game down the stretch and only participating in 47 of the team’s 82 this season. However, in those games, he was nearly a half-point per game player (20 in 47) and put the puck in the net at a much better pace than he ever has in his career (9 goals).
There aren’t many good comps for Howden because of the injury situation and the ragged nature of his season, but he definitely did enough to at least hit the seven-figure mark.
The key for Howden will be the importance he offers to the Golden Knights. This won’t do him anything in an actual arbitration hearing, but in the negotiations beforehand it will be a factor. As one of the few depth players still with legitimate offensive upside, he could point to the Nolan Patrick $1.2 million deal and say he’s worth at least that. In the end, I’m not sure there’s enough on the stat lines to get him quite that high, but anything under $1 million should be out of the question.
The qualifying offer for Leschyshyn is a two-way $787,500 deal. Despite playing most of his games last year at the NHL level, it’s hard to argue he did enough to rise above the minimum salary threshold. So, there’s nothing wrong with taking that qualifying offer.
However, at the age of 23, meaning he’s still quite a ways from unrestricted free agency, it might be wise for Leschyshyn to try and strike while the iron is hot, or at least might be at its hottest. He didn’t exactly shine at the NHL level, but he also was far from sinking. If the Golden Knights are in an injury pinch again, no one will have any concerns about chucking Jake right back into a fourth-line role no matter where the team is in the standings. It’s possible he could parlay that into a multi-year deal that nets him a lot more than the $70,000 he was making while in the AHL last year. I doubt he’s in line for a one-way deal, but quadrupling up that AHL salary seems perfectly fair after what he did in 2021-22.
Daniil Miromanov (Arbitration eligible)
What a weird spot this is because of the upside Miromanov potentially offers. I’m not sure I’d say his 11-game stint at the NHL level should get anyone excited (1 point in 11 games won’t ever do that), but the dominance he exhibited in the AHL despite his inexperience at the position has to be worth something. Maybe he can push for a bit more money at the AHL level, but in the end, even with the arb rights, he probably doesn’t have enough negotiating powers to outdo the qualifying offer.