Sunday was a busy day on the contract front for the Golden Knights. Brayden McNabb, Logan Thompson, and Michael Amadio all signed new contracts extending each of their stays in Las Vegas.
McNabb signed a three-year extension with an AAV of $2.85 million per year, locking him up through the 23-24 season.
Thompson and Amadio both signed league minimum salary deals with Thompson’s being for three seasons and Amadio’s for two.
Despite the contracts all being fairly straightforward, there’s a lot to consider in regards to the timing and what they say in relation to the upcoming trade deadline on March 21st. So, let’s fire up another edition of frequently asked questions.
**If you have a question we did not cover, post it in the comments or tag us on social media and we’ll add it into this article.**
Do these contracts have any impact on the Golden Knights salary cap this season?
No, they do not. Each of these three are technically new contracts that begin next season. So, the cap hit for each player remains the same for the rest of this year. McNabb – $2.5 million. Thompson – $800,000. Amadio – $750,000
Why sign now?
For McNabb, it was in the best interest of both the player and the team to have a resolution to his contract status for next season. As a pending unrestricted free agent, the Golden Knights were in a situation where they would have had to consider trading McNabb so they didn’t lose him for nothing in free agency. This deal gives McNabb a slight pay increase, he gets to stay in Las Vegas, and it has him under contract through the age of 34. Both sides benefit in giving each a clear picture of the future.
As for Thompson, the deal is essentially a no-brainer for the Golden Knights. Thompson has proven capable at the AHL level and still potentially has an NHL future. Signing him for the league minimum comes with only upside as he’ll either be as cheap a player as possible in the NHL, or not count against the salary cap in the AHL. For Logan, the second two years of the deal are one-way contracts, meaning he’ll earn the full $775,000 whether he’s in the majors or minors.
It’s a similar situation for Amadio. Vegas gets a useable league minimum player while Amadio is guaranteed more than $1.5 million over the next two years no matter where he plays. For a player who was on waivers a few months ago, that’s not half bad.
Can the Golden Knights still trade McNabb to create salary relief?
Yes, they absolutely can, but it’s incredibly rare in the NHL for a player to sign a contract and then be traded in the same season (unless it’s a sign-and-trade that happens immediately). The contract obviously would look enticing to another team both now and in the future, but the Golden Knights getting it done now likely indicates that he’s in the plans for at least this season and next. Beyond that, all bets are off.
Did McNabb get any trade protections?
McNabb’s contract includes a 10-team no-trade clause for next season and a five-team no-trade clause for the following two years. He does not have any trade protection on the current contract that runs through the end of this year.
What impact does the Thompson deal have on Laurent Brossoit’s future with the Golden Knights?
This is a complicated one. On one hand, signing Thompson shows VGK’s belief in him, which could mean they now find Brossoit expendable. Trading Brossoit and handing the backup role to Thompson would mean a savings of about $1.5 million against the cap. It certainly makes sense and could very well be an indication that this is in the plans.
However, there’s also an argument to be made that Thompson’s usage is a stronger indication of how Vegas feels about their backup goalie position this season more so than the new contract. As mentioned above, Thompson’s contract really offers no downside to the Golden Knights as it can only have a positive impact on the cap. It was clear before the season that Vegas did not have enough faith in Thompson at that time to hand him the reins to the backup job. Since, he’s played just one game in the NHL and his AHL numbers are not as good as they were a year ago. Meanwhile, Brossoit has done exactly what has been expected of him as the NHL backup. It’s still possible they move Brossoit, but no decisions on the ice have shown any indications that their beliefs have changed since the offseason.
So, take McNabb off the table as a trade piece, who is most likely to go now to clear space for Jack Eichel?
First off, it’s important to note when the Golden Knights would need to make any move happen. Until Jack Eichel is ready to play, there’s no need to make a move to free up salary cap space. Then, once Eichel can play, it’ll depend on how many other injured players the Golden Knights have. If Alec Martinez remains out, his $5 million can offset half of Eichel’s cost. If there are others hurt, it could eat up the rest. So the timing will continue to depend on not just Eichel but many others.
That being said, it does appear likely the day is going to come where the Golden Knights will have to make trades to free up cap space. The magic number of how much cap space they’ll need to clear is somewhere around $7 to $8 million. Most of that money will probably come from one of a group of seven players with large cap numbers and limited or no trade protection. That group is Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Evgenii Dadonov, Alec Martinez, and Shea Theodore.
Smith is the only one of these players who is not under contract for at least next season, which makes him one of the most obvious options. However, like McNabb, it’s always possible the Golden Knights sign him in the coming days or weeks to sure up his future with the team.
Then, once they move one of those players, they can start looking to the players making around $1.5-3 million which include Chandler Stephenson, Mattias Janmark, William Carrier, and Brossoit.
Guessing who will go is still nearly impossible because of the number of moving pieces still involved. Vegas not only is looking to minimize the damage the move will have to their team this year, but also maximize the return on trading a good NHL player.