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Potential Replacements For James Neal, David Perron, And Ryan Reaves

Since George McPhee’s “not everyone will be back” quote there’s been a growing fear that the Golden Knights roster won’t be as strong in Year 2 as it was in the magical Year 1. McPhee noted there are always three or four changes which has the speculation on James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Ryan Reaves running wild.

Sportsnet reported earlier this season that James Neal was looking for a long-term deal commanding upwards of $7M per season.

It’s mildly surprising that he hasn’t re-signed in Las Vegas because he would like to stay there. He’s one of the team leaders. It still could get done. –USA Today

Remember when this happened? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s hard to believe the organization would give a massive contract to a player over the age of 30, but would they on a player who’s 29?

Potential Replacement:

James Van Riemsdyk
29 Years-old
2017-18 Stats: 36 Goals (11 PPG), 18 Assists, 14:54 ATOI
Career Stats: 201 Goals, 393 Points, 0.33 Goals Per Game, 0.65 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 7 Years, $6M+ AAV

Neal has 62 more career goals and is one year and 243 days older than van Riemsdyk. Both wingers have comparable career statistics, and the age difference isn’t wide. The Golden Knights know what they’re getting with Neal; 20+ goals, second-line minutes, plays with edge. It’s an unknown if van Riemsdyk can repeat his success in Vegas.

I could see Neal being offered a high-cost, short-term contract, but the question remains if we would be willing to sign it. It’s likely his last chance at a long-term deal. One thing is for sure, if the Golden Knights offer JVR a contract, it’s a sign they’re content moving on from Neal.

Van Riemsdyk was integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but was otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? New Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Sportsnet

He’s said all the right things about coming back, but it’s going to take a discount to make it actually happen. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

David Perron is a player many fans fell in love with. His silky hands, his beautiful passing, his pestering ways, how can you not love him? With Perron, the feeling is mutual. He loves it in Vegas, he loves his teammates, and he’d love to stay here. Or at least so he says to Vegas media.

What I think Perron cares most about is security. Staying in one place for an extended amount of time. He’s played on six different teams since 2013. He won’t have many more opportunities to sign a lengthy deal, which ultimately could effect his return to Vegas.

Potential Replacement:

Michael Grabner 
30 Years-Old
2017-18 Stats: 27 Goals, 9 Assists, +11, 14:49 ATOI
Career Stats: 158 Goals, 249 Points, 0.29 Goals Per Game, 0.45 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 4 Years, $4M+ AAV

If the Golden Knights want to replace Neal’s goal production on the cheap or move on from Perron for a better defensive player, they could make a pitch to Grabner. Vegas would have the option to give Tomas Tatar and/or Alex Tuch second line minutes and use Grabner on the third line. He scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons and he’s versatile. That would give a nice addition of speed, scoring, and penalty killing to the bottom six of Vegas.

A handy specialist who brings speed, penalty killing acumen and tremendous even-strength scoring on bottom-six assignments. Flopped as a deadline rental with the Devils, so he’ll come cheaper than anyone would’ve thought even three months ago. -Hockey News

On to the next order of business, physical presence. If the Golden Knights are looking for a player like Ryan Reaves, they should just sign Reaves to a new contract. Now, if Vegas wants a strong, physical, skating type player with way more offensive upside, then they’re going to have to pay.

Potential Replacement:

Patrick Maroon
30 Years-Old
2017-18 Stats: 17 Goals, 26 Assists, 73 PIM, 16:32 ATOI
Career Stats: 78 Goals, 178 Points, 451 PIM
Contract Speculation: 3 Years, $3.5M AAV

Maroon isn’t that top line player that skated along-side with Connor McDavid in Edmonton. He’s more of a second or third line forward. Maroon adds size (6’3), grit, and spends almost as much time in the box as Reaves. I know Maroon isn’t as nasty as #75, but he’s a major upgrade offensively.

Ryan Reaves, replaceable? C’mon. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Some argue Vegas has too many fourth line players, but thankfully they’re nicely balanced with top liners. So maybe it’s best to strengthen the middle six this offseason. Maroon or another power forward could fill those 14-16 minutes a game, and bring some toughness. But like I said, if Vegas wants a fourth line player comparable to Reaves, then they should just re-sign him. There are not many low-scoring, low-minute, penalty prone players that add more. And that’s not a slam.

There you have it, just a quick glance at free agency to wet your whistle. Also, keep an eye out on trade swirls, Vegas may look into adding another center, and of course, a defenseman. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for us to dive into that next.


“Not Everyone Will Be Back”; A Look Into VGK’s Free Agency Situation (Plus 9 Predictions)

Next Podcast #113: 2nd Place


  1. defenseman would be nice. I am not worried about regression from the first season. Next chapter gets written in the VGK novel and I can’t wait to read it.

  2. Mike

    I have long been a fan of JvR as a potential Neal replacement, but if the deals are similar then I agree with the point you allude to that we at least know what Neal can do with this team. The one year age difference probably doesn’t add enough value to take JvR over Neal in an apples to apples comparison.

    As for Perron, I love the guy but if we could get Grabner for $4m AAV for 3 years instead of 4, I would take it in a heartbeat. I guess a lot would depend on what Perron is asking after making $3.75 and having a career year in points. He deserves a raise but I’m not sure I would be too excited about giving him one because I think he’ll probably become a third line player for us next season.

  3. Brian

    I love the thoughts on all 3. JVR would fit in REAL well. Same on Grabner. Would Maroon and/or Grabner sign for 3-4 at age 30, or are both going to be looking for that longer term to end their careers?

  4. Andy

    Feels like they have the replacements for all 3 on the roster already.
    Perron replaced by Tatar
    Neal replaced by Tuch
    Reaves replaced by Carrier.
    Back-fill Tatar, Tuch, Carrier with Pirri, Hyka and Matteau, and some Lindberg.

    • Gabe

      This is a legitimate point too honestly. I always assumed Tatar for example would replace Neal when he inevitably left. There’s a lot of speculation as to Tatar’s improvements in production, but he seems like the best candidate given the price we paid and expectations. As far as Tuch, I honestly like him on the 3rd line with Eakin, so I could definitely see keeping Perron on the 2nd or replacing him with JVR. Definitely agree with directly replacing Reaves with Carrier, although injuries are an issue at times. And bringing up Carpy or Pirri as healthy scratches or to bring onto the 4th lines wouldn’t be a bad idea either as they’ve gotten experience.

      • Andy

        Carrier does have an injury-prone style. I just think Reaves is as good as he’ll ever be, but Carrier and Carpenter could still improve. Another wildcard is Nosek. He did lead a Calder Cup winning team in playoff scoring a year ago. Could he have a Karlsson-like jump given the ice time?

    • Brian

      I like it, but Tatar and Tuch gonna need to step it up BIG time to fill Perron and Neal’s skates. DP is number 2 in points produced last season of all UFA’s behind only Tavares. Nealer is number 6. I’d love to see more of Hyka and Pirri, the later with 3 goals in 2 games last year !! And I can’t wait for another year or two for Glass, Suzuki, and Hauge after getting “over cooked” in development.

      • Gabe

        That’s why I personally think we should keep Perron on the 2nd, let Neal walk, and move Tatar up to the 2nd with Perron if he can show solid production (which we know from his time in Detroit he’s capable of). Tuch I like on the 3rd line with Eakin still to add some offensive depth on that line.

  5. Cathy McGowen

    Fun, smart insight❗☘

  6. bob

    I see Grabner as the only move that appeals to me. (Of course I am not the GM) Perron for regular season play is OK but its the NHL filled with a shit ton of guys like him or fringe guys that could take his spot easily. His playoff play very unreliable and for the NHL just not acceptable. I am still thinking Tatar is going to break through at some point confusing but I think timing has been everything there. Reaves staying would seem like a no brainer. He does not cost cap space and produces big plays especially in the playoffs. This after sitting which not sure how you replace that, besides he worked his ass off to get and keep the spot. Neal I am on the fence. With Nevada’s low taxes and low cost of living for high end income people that has to be a consideration. Heard endless podcast that a player can play here for $2m less and still net more than a market in Canada etc. I am guess AZ & FL would be the only ones that compare on the tax net side. Tampa the only good org there not sure how crowded they are.

  7. bob

    I am curious and think we have a serious goalie position to manage as well. Age & durability for Flurey is a consideration. Pitts & Caps kept their positions from solid #2 guys from what I can see. Tampa as well.

    Seems we do not have a solid #2 ready player at the moment sounding like Subban is not durable unless just lack of play causes that, the other two seem to be a mystery as to their roles on the team almost as if VGK just wont comment to them. Forget the play this past season there was never a reason not have Flurey go as much as possible but we were really lucky he never went down a game or two in the march through the playoffs. Copley is out from the caps he is going be someones solid #1 guess we will see.

  8. Michael V. Smith

    Would still like to see Riley Nash tossed into this convo. 29 underutilized, could blossom with VGK.

    • Brian

      Good point, Michael. Like you say, 29, Center-RW, played 76 games, 15 G, 26 A, 41 Pts, 15:24 TOI all for $900k.

  9. Travis Bickle

    Sign Taveras, re-up Neal, let Perron go. Use the no state tax vs say NY or Canada to keep cap hit down. Can also revisit E. Karlsson deal sending Haula, Miller, Branstrom, futures. Foley factor to win sooner.

    • Ian

      I’m sure Vegas would love to send Haula, Miller, Branstrom and futures to Ottawa foe EK as well. Not a shot that Ottawa would take that deal They were asking for Tuch, Shea, and Glass. So for that they can keep EK.

  10. Fasi Siddiqui

    I will miss the Real Deal James Neal, but Tatar was brought in for a reason, let’s give him a chance on the second line. Let’s re-sign Perron, love his passing. Reaves gave us the toughness we needed, he should be resigned in my opinion for the Playoffs. I say forget Tavares, he will cost us the future, go after John Carlson with money saved from Neal, offer him an extra mil than the $7 Neal is look for, $8 million per year for 4 years sounds good to me. Let’s move Nick Hague up from Chicago next year will we develop Cody in the AHL with the wolves. Trade Gusev to move into the first round this year. I believe that these moves will set us up nicely.

    • Mr Kenji

      There’s zero chance Hague makes this team next year. He needs to work on his skating as he’s fast for his size, but still slow overall at the moment. Tall dmen take longer to develop.

      And Gusev’s rights are not going to get a 1st round pick. There’s no guarantee that he’ll ever leave Russia to play in the NHL.

      Lastly, Reaves is an awful player. I have no idea why he’s a fan favorite. Goons aren’t needed anymore. VGK has enough guys that can step up if someone needs to drop the gloves.

      If anything, they need to add a solid bottom six player that can score 15+ goals and play a solid 2 way game. The Caps beat us with good bottom six players that can play a good defensive game and add scoring. We should learn from them and do the same. Tuch has potential, but he won’t score if he’s playing with Eakin and Carp who are both black holes on offense. Adding John Tavares would bump Haula down to the 3rd line pivot role and would help Tuch or Tartar score more if they are also on the 3rd line.

      If EK or Carlson can’t be added to our blue line, there’s lots of good dmen rumored to be on the block. I’d like to get Noah Hanifin. He’s young, but a really good player and won’t cost as much as EK. And it would push Engelland to the bottom pairing where he belongs. He’s a fan favorite, but the Caps showed that he could exposed as he lacks the speed to play a shutdown dman role.

  11. Brian

    I know 1 forward GMGM won’t be bringing in……..Mike Hoffman from Ottawa. What a mess they got going on up there. Thank our lucky stars we got GMGM looking at a players character as another important skillset.

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