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Quick Looks At VGK’s Six New Free Agent Signings

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

July 1st was a tough day for Golden Knights fans as the team said goodbye to multiple Stanley Cup champions and fixtures in the organization. Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, William Carrier, Alec Martinez, and Michael Amadio all cashed in with other teams leaving the Golden Knights searching for the next group of players to step in and step up.

Vegas didn’t completely sit out the opening of free agency though. While they didn’t make any splashy moves like many did signing former Golden Knights, VGK looked to the bargain bin in pursuit of the next diamond in the rough.

They signed six unrestricted free agents, all to contracts valued at less than $2 million a year. Here’s a bit more info on each of them.

Ilya Samsonov – G
Former Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Contract: 1-year, $1.8 million

Like most goaltenders in Toronto, Samsonov was a polarizing figure in Canada’s biggest market. Talent-wise, Samsonov has everything and more that is necessary to be a true starter in the NHL. However, he hasn’t been able to put it all together, often due to mental lapses and technical flaws. Despite posting a solid record of 23-7-8 in the regular season, Samsonov’s save percentage finished at .890 and he allowed more than three goals per game at 3.13. The advanced metrics were even less kind to Samsonov as well. He ranked 87th of 98 goalies with -8.1 goals saved above expected in the regular season and 22nd of 27 in the playoffs with -0.8 GSAE.

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2024 Trade Deadline Sparked Golden Knights Unique Roster Transformation

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After winning the Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights made a conscious effort to bring back as many of the names engraved on the trophy as possible to begin the following season. A few ancillary pieces departed in free agency and just one significant contributor, Reilly Smith, was sent away as a cap casualty.

The team got off to a blazing start and it appeared their brilliant run to the Cup was going to continue in its defense. But then the injuries began to stack up and the results mellowed out. Vegas went from leading the division on January 1st to clinging onto the final playoff spot on Trade Deadline day, March 8th.

Trades for Tomas Hertl, Noah Hanifin, and Anthony Mantha began as attempts to bolster a banged up roster and position Vegas to make another run at the Stanley Cup. When that didn’t come to fruition, those moves turned out to be the beginning of a transformation of the roster that will determine the team’s direction for the next few seasons.

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2024 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A roundup of all the signings, rumors, and rumbling surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights as free agency opens in advance of the 2024-25 season.

*This article will be updated throughout the day as more information rolls in.*

  • Jonathan Marchessault will head to the open market after failing to come to an agreement with the Golden Knights. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
    • Marchessault looks to be headed to Nashville on a 5-year contract at $5.5 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
    • Confirmed. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Chandler Stephenson signed with Seattle. 7 years at $6.25 million AAV. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • VGK are expected to sign goaltender Ilya Samsonov. (Source: @MikhailZislis)
    • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the deal is 1-year for $1.8 million.
  • Victor Olofsson has signed a 1-year $1.1 million deal with VGK. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • William Carrier has signed with the Carolina Hurricanes for a 6-year deal with $2 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Anthony Mantha has signed with the Calgary Flames on a 1-year contract worth $3.5 million. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Michael Amadio has signed with the Ottawa Senators for 3 years at $2.6 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Alec Martinez signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for 1-year at $4 million. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Jiri Patera signed a 2-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. (Source: @Canucks)
  • The Golden Knights are “positioning themselves to take a run at Steven Stamkos. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Stamkos appears likely to sign with the Nashville Predators. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • VGK have signed Zach Aston-Reese to a two-way one-year deal at $775k. (Source: @HockeyAgent1)
  • VGK have signed Tanner Laczynski to a 2-year contract with an AAV of $775k. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Pavel Dorofeyev and Kaedan Korczak. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
    • Dorofeyev signed a 2-year deal with $1.83 million AAV.
    • Korczak signed a 2 -year deal with $825k.
    • Ivan Morozov also received a qualifying offer to allow VGK to retain his rights while he plays in the KHL. (Source: @DannyWebster21)
  • Akira Schmid, Layton Ahac, and Mason Primeau did not receive qualifying offers. (Source: SinBin)
    • Schmid is expected to sign an extension with the Golden Knights. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)

Former VGK players

  • Reilly Smith is being traded to the New York Rangers. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Nate Schmidt has been bought out by the Winnipeg Jets. (Source: @reporterchris)
  • Erik Brannstrom was not extended a qualifying offer. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Laurent Brossoit to Chicago for 2-years at $3.3 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • David Perron will sign with the Ottawa Senators. (Source: @SunGarrioch)
  • Tomas Nosek signed with the Florida Panthers. (Source: @DarrenDreger)

Simplified Salary Cap Tracker

  • VGK are approximately $1,285,016 UNDER the salary cap with a 23-man roster (13 F, 8 D, 2 G)
    • Eichel, Stone, Hertl, Karlsson, Barbashev, Roy, Howden, Kolesar, Brisson, Holtz, Rondbjerg, Dorofeyev, Olofsson – $48,970,834
    • Pietrangelo, Hanifin, Theodore, McNabb, Whitecloud, Hague, Hutton, Korczak – $31,041,150
    • Hill, Samsonov – $6,700,000
  • Qualifying Offers – Morozov* ($874,125)
  • Expected LTIR – Lehner ($5,000,000)

*Not expected to sign

**This is an inexact salary estimation designed to give a rough outline of how much cap space the Golden Knights have to operate with. For exact up-to-date salary cap information, visit PuckPedia.com.**

Why Shea Theodore’s Name Has Been, And Will Continue To, Pop Up In Trade Rumors

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

You’ve probably started to see some of the rumors. If you haven’t, give it a few days and you’ll eventually come across them as they are only likely to get louder and louder as the Stanley Cup Final wraps up. It happens every time with trade speculation, the first time you see a name of a player currently on the roster and under contract you’ll think, really? Whether there’s actually weight behind them or not (I have no clue about any of the Marner stuff), the names that find their way into the hypothetical deals are not random happenstance.

Which brings us to the name that will inevitably pop up in every significant trade rumor regarding the Golden Knights for as long as his situation remains stagnant, Shea Theodore.

There are multiple reasons Theodore stands out amongst the VGK roster as an attractive and possible trade piece.

First off, and most important despite what it may seem, is his current contract status. As it stands, Theodore has just one season left on his deal before hitting unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. The 28-year-old is set to be paid $5.2 million against the cap this season and with the numbers he’s posted over the past few seasons, he’s due for a raise next summer.

Next, Vegas added a highly paid puck-moving defenseman at the deadline and instantly re-signed him to a lengthy extension. Noah Hanifin is now under Golden Knights control until the end of the 2031-32 season at the hefty price of $7.35 million. Couple that with $8.8 million alternate captain Alex Pietrangelo and there’s not a ton of space for another big dollar defenseman.

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Kaedan Korczak Has VGK Staring At An Abundance Of Defensemen

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas 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.

Adin Hill To “Uncover Every Stone” In Quest To Stay Healthy Next Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A major storyline from the past few seasons for the Golden Knights has been injuries in the net. Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Vegas goalies have been unavailable the following game after a start 17 different times. Each of the four main goalies over the span has been injured at least three times with Adin Hill and Robin Lehner each suffering injuries five times.

For Adin Hill, he says enough is enough.

It’s the third year in a row I’ve had a bit of injury problems. Nobody wants to be injured. It sucks seeing your team battle out there without you, kind of feeling helpless in a way. I’m trying to do whatever I can this summer to try and be injury-free next season and try to uncover every stone to make sure it doesn’t happen again. -Adin Hill

Hill says he’s working with a doctor he believes is one of the best in the world on preventative measures that can keep him healthy next season.

There’s nothing bothering me right now. I feel like my body is at 100% but it’s just making sure we don’t go down that road again. -Hill

The rigors of the goalie position itself have presented a great challenge to Hill in the past.

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Noah Hanifin Has Been “Even Better Than Expected” So Far In Las Vegas

From @GoldenKnights on Twitter/X

When the Golden Knights acquired Noah Hanifin at the Trade Deadline, they knew they were getting a great defenseman. What they didn’t know was that within two months of arriving, he’d have already made a case to be considered the best D-man on the team.

Noah hit the ground running. He’s a guy our pro scouts had a lot of regard for. He was probably better than we expected, he’s that good of a player. -Kelly McCrimmon

In 19 regular season games, Hanifin scored two goals and added 10 assists while leading the team in ice time down the stretch. He unseated Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore as the quarterback of the first power play unit and became one of the first guys over the boards when the Golden Knights had a penalty to kill.

Then, when the playoffs rolled around, Hanifin took his game to an even higher level. He scored the game-winning goal in two of VGK’s three wins against Dallas and became Bruce Cassidy’s go-to option when the Golden Knights had an offensive zone draw.

Jack Eichel made the comment to me today that’s he’s played with Noah Hanifin and he’s known Noah Hanifin since he was nine years old and he didn’t know he was this good. -McCrimmon

The next step in Hanifin’s career is exciting for Vegas. The 27-year-old signed an eight-year contract shortly after arriving in Vegas and he’s ready to take his game to the next level for the Golden Knights.

I owe it to this organization to come in and be my best self on and off the ice. I’m just going to try to keep getting better, keep improving. I think my first couple of months here were great. I was super happy with how everything went, the guys, the room, just being a member of this organization was awesome. I’m happy I’m going to be here a long time. -Noah Hanifin

Hanifin’s arrival gives the Golden Knights all sorts of options on their back end. With another player in the mix who can play in all situations and thrive offensively, it should pave the way for a cap-space-freeing trade that will help Vegas retain more of their offensive weapons set to hit free agency.

They may not have necessarily been looking for one when they made the trade, but the Golden Knights may have just found their next superstar.

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