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Author: Ken Boehlke Page 1 of 491 Podcast #313: 81 Drama Rolls On

Jonathan Marchessault spoke up saying not only has he not heard from the Golden Knights since the season ended, he hasn’t heard from them at all regarding his contract since he asked after last season. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

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  • Marchessault speaks out, but it sorta contradicts what his agent and VGK have said in the past
  • What is actually going on with the negotiations
  • Finding the Fountain of Youth
  • Projected contracts for all VGK free agents
  • Creating a bottom-six
  • Build it up, tear it down, build it back up

And much more…

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Salary Projections For Golden Knights Heading Towards Free Agency

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Money is tight in VGK land this summer. After taking a big run at repeating as Cup champions, the Golden Knights have already allocated about 90% of their salary cap to players for next season.

The midseason acquisitions of Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl will likely serve as Vegas’ big splashes heading into next season. Figuring out which of the expiring contracts to spend the rest of the money on will tell the rest of the story.

Vegas have six significant pending unrestricted free agents and one key RFA with arbitration rights. They have about $7.4 million of cap space (read our salary cap primer) to work with to keep as many, or as few, of them as they choose. So the question becomes, how much will it cost to keep each guy?

Lucky for us, much of the guessing game has already been done by the brilliant consulting firm, AFP Analytics. Using past contracts as a guide, they’ve come up with a projected contract for every player in the NHL currently without a contract.

Here’s what they project for each VGK free agent. Each is followed by a little blurb by me about the player’s situation as it relates to the Golden Knights.

**Take a look at the full spreadsheet of projected contracts here. And be sure to follow @AFPAnayltics on X/Twitter.**

Jonathan Marchessault
AFP Analytics Projected Contract: 3 years at $6.285m AAV
Comps: Joe Pavelski (3 years, $7m), Alex Killorn (4 years, $6.25m), Jordan Eberle (2 years, $4.75m)

The kingpin of the offseason was always likely to take up a majority of the Golden Knights’ available space. The hope for VGK is that he and the team will be able to come up with a friendly deal that will fulfill his wish to remain in Las Vegas for the rest of his career. Before the career-high 42-goal season, Killorn was an excellent comparison. Now, Marchessault stands as a unicorn as a recent Conn Smythe winner set to hit the open market. There’s a reasonable argument for Marchessault to reach as high as $9 million, while it’s also fair to look at the Eberle contract and project him for less than $5 million. Term, age, and his incredible standing with the organization make this one nearly impossible to project, but it’s pretty clear to see, if he’s going to stay in Vegas, just about everyone else set to hit the market will have to go.

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Rebuilding Forward Depth Imperative In VGK Offseason

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the NHL playoffs roll on, scoring depth has continued to prove paramount for the teams still alive. Golden Knights nemesis Barclay Goodrow has been crucial in helping the Rangers take the lead in the Eastern Conference Final while Connor Brown, Sam Steel, and former VGK Evgenii Dadonov have come up with key points in the Dallas/Edmonton series.

When the Golden Knights walked off the ice after Game 7 in Dallas they did so with arguably the deepest group of forwards in franchise history. There’s quite a bit of uncertainty with that depth though as the league calendar turns to 2024-25.

Atop the list are Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Marchessault and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Chandler Stephenson but William Carrier, Michael Amadio, and Anthony Mantha are all set to become unrestricted free agents in 35 days, Pavel Dorofeyev still needs a new RFA contract, and Henderson standouts Byron Froese and Sheldon Rempal are also on expiring contracts.

This past season the Golden Knights used 21 different forwards in the regular season. They used 14 in the playoffs and 76-game starter Paul Cotter was not one of them. The current roster has just 13 forwards under contract who have played in an NHL game.

Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Tomas Hertl, William Karlsson, Ivan Barbashev, Nic Roy, Brett Howden, and Keegan Kolesar are all under contract and make up eight of the 12 forward spots Vegas need to fill. It’s those other four where it gets a bit dicey.

With the cap space available, we can assume at least one of Marchessault or Stephenson will return. Whichever one, or both, will eat up a majority of Vegas’ flexibility though. This will leave them with nine, maybe 10, forward slots filled.

Here’s a mock lineup with Marchessault re-signing and every other UFA leaving for another team.

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First Round Loss “Should Fuel All Of Us” Going Into Next Season

From @NHL on Twitter/X

Last night the Edmonton Oilers took Game 1 from the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. It was an epic double overtime game in which both teams felt like they were knocking on the door to win the game and take early control of the series.

As it went on though, it’s impossible not to compare the Golden Knights to the teams still on the ice. I find myself thinking back to Game 7 at the American Airlines Center. I think about the series against the Oilers last year. And I ponder the future of all three of the teams next season. You are probably sitting at home doing it as well.

If we’re doing it, you can only imagine the frothing at the mouths that must be going on by the Golden Knights players.

I think (how the season ended) should fuel all of us. There’s only one team that’s satisfied at the end of the year. We happened to be that team last year. This year, there’s only going to be one team that feels satisfied about what they did this season and that’s not where we are going to be. -Jack Eichel

The last time the Golden Knights watched the playoffs from their couches, they came back with a vengeance the next season.

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Kaedan Korczak Has VGK Staring At An Abundance Of Defensemen

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights defense corps is stacked. But is it too stacked?

Since the addition of Noah Hanifin, there’s a strong argument that Vegas boasts the strongest and deepest blue line in the NHL.

Hanifin and Alex Pietrangelo are the best top pair in team history. Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore have played together for more than 500 games with great success the entire way. And Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague were lauded as the best third pair in the league during VGK’s run to the Cup less than a year ago.

Another guy is knocking at the door though.

(Kaedan) Korczak I thought did a really good job for us. He added some pace to our blue line in terms of his ability to move pucks and skating ability. He’ll push for a job next year. I fully anticipate that. -Bruce Cassidy

The 23-year-old former 2nd round pick got a taste of the NHL this season, playing 26 games and adding nine points. He proved he’s already an NHL-caliber defenseman and with more experience he’ll only get better.

Finding him a place to play is the tougher job at the moment though. It took an injury to Whitecloud to get him into the lineup the first time, then he needed injuries to Theodore, Ben Hutton, and Tobias Bjornfot to get his second chance, and once Hanifin came along he wasn’t even participating in practices with the team in the playoffs until Hague’s injury.

The Golden Knights know though, if he’s good enough to play, they’re best served getting him in the lineup night in and night out.

We want to infuse some youth into our lineup if they’re ready, but we’re not putting them in if they’re not ready. Every good organization that’s how it happens. The more you can push guys the stronger your organization is because now you have other assets that maybe you can improve other areas of your team. -Cassidy

As it stands, there’s a logjam that doesn’t benefit the team in the long term. Sure, it’s nice to have eight useable defensemen to deal with the inevitable injuries the team will face in the regular season, but that extra player could help the Golden Knights solve some of the depth issues at forward that will arise when the dust settles on free agency.

The team’s belief in Korczak has a chance to drive the biggest offseason move of the year.

Chance Creation Stats Show Why VGK’s Offense Stalled Against Dallas

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

The Golden Knights aren’t playing anymore this season because their best offensive players didn’t produce enough at the most important moments in the First Round.

Mark Stone didn’t register an assist, William Karlsson went goalless, Tomas Hertl had one point in seven games, and the list goes on and on.

Nothing illustrates this more than these advanced stats from JFresh and

Contrast that to the deep Dallas Stars team that got contributions up and down the lineup.

One of the biggest challenges in the series for the Golden Knights was generating quick strike chances and follow-up chances. In seven games, Vegas mustered up just 10 rush attempts and 35 rebounds. Jason Robertson had five rush attempts on his own and Wyatt Johnston created eight rebounds.

Just nine Golden Knights averaged more than a shot per game. Those who didn’t include Chandler Stephenson, Michael Amadio, Mark Stone, Nic Roy, and William Karlsson.

Defensively and in the net, VGK were plenty good enough to beat the Stars. They simply didn’t create enough, and that’s no surprise when Brett Howden is the most consistent chance creator.

Regular Season Caused Undue Stress On Defending Champions

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Sunday, across the pond, the English Premier League came to an end with Manchester City hoisting the trophy for the fourth consecutive season. They staved off Arsenal by two points, a team they hadn’t played since March. The 38th game of the season came, Man City led the league at the end of it, and thus, they are the champions again.

Competitively, it makes a lot more sense to simply name the champions the team with the best season. But, it’s incredibly anti-climactic, and thus, not very American.

In our sports, there are two seasons. The lengthy regular season that unequivocally separates the good teams from the bad and the short postseason that focuses as much on drama as it does on finding the league’s best team.

In many ways, the playoff system saved this year’s Golden Knights. After racing out to a blazing 11-0-1 start, the defending champions lost more of the final 70 games than they won. They were the 21st-best team in the league from November 5th to April 18th when the regular season came to a close. If the NHL were the English Premier League, VGK’s hopes of repeating as champions would have been down the drain sometime in mid-February rather than the first Sunday in May.

On the flip side, the long regular season eventually ended up being the Golden Knights’ undoing.

It wasn’t automatic we’d get back to the playoffs and we knew that going in. We figured our expectations were much higher than that but it’s not automatic. We had to work harder than we should have or needed to to get back in. We had to expend more energy down the stretch to do that than we would have liked. -Bruce Cassidy

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