The offseason is about to truly get going. Rosters freeze in a couple of hours, expansion lists are due slightly after that and will be released to the public tomorrow. That’s when the fun begins as each team will surrender a player to the Seattle Kraken and the deals will start coming through. Shortly after that the NHL Draft, then free agency. In the next two weeks, a whole lot of teams will look different, and the Golden Knights could be one of them.
Yes, we waited until the absolute last minute for this but now is the time. Jason and I worked together on our offseason predictions for the Golden Knights. Here’s exactly what we think will happen and what the roster will look like come Opening Night 2021-22.
NOTE: This is a guess at what we believe the Golden Knights will do. This is not an endorsement for any of these moves. (We’ll get to that when they are actually made.)
Alec Martinez – Unsigned
It’s simply going to cost too much for the Golden Knights to retain the two-time Cup winner. After his excellent showing in the playoffs, while playing on a broken foot, the soon-to-be 34-year old will be looking to cash in one last time. We expect him to hit the market on July 28th and sign quickly for at least $5 million AAV.
Mattias Janmark – Unsigned
George McPhee has never been a big fan of rentals, but since Kelly McCrimmon officially took the GM chair they have gone down this road a bit more. Nick Cousins was acquired and walked a few months later in free agency and we expect the same from Janmark. It’ll be interesting to see how much he can fetch on the open market as he hits unrestricted free agency for the second year running. He’s signed for $2.3 and $2.25 each of the last two years and may be headed towards that number again.
Tomas Nosek – Resigned (2 years – $1.25m AAV)
Nosek has been a loyal soldier in Vegas and has built his young family here. He made $1.25 million a year ago and had a slightly better offensive regular season this year than in his past. However, the injury in the playoffs may dampen the number he eventually signs for, which is why we’re predicting it to be right at the same price of $1.25 this time around.
Zach Parise – Signed (1 year – $1.675m)
After being surprisingly bought out by the Wild, Parise will reunite with Pete DeBoer who he served as a captain for during their time in New Jersey. Parise is an excellent net-front presence that will help aid the Golden Knights in trying some new looks on their power play. He’ll be motivated to head to a Cup contender and will do it for a fairly affordable price.
Dylan Coghlan – Re-signed (1 year – $750,000)
Coghlan is due for restricted free agency without arbitration. The Golden Knights have him in a good spot and his impact on the ice was minimal enough that he doesn’t have a ton of leverage in this situation. We expect him to sign a two-way deal with a significant bump in his AHL pay. The question becomes whether or not they’ll be willing to throw him on waivers to start the year, which we guess they will not. He’ll be on the Opening Night roster, counting against the cap, but will not start.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Extended (1 year – $3.5m AAV)
The Golden Knights don’t want to move him and he doesn’t want to go anywhere. So, he’ll return the loyalty favor by signing the first of what could be many one-year deals to keep him in Vegas until he retires. Of course, his $7 million remains on the cap this year, but it’ll make for a nice diversion as they keep both goalies for yet another season.
Jared McCann acquired for Cody Glass and 6th Round pick from Seattle Kraken
It’s clear that Cody Glass has fallen out of favor for the Golden Knights and now is probably the last time they have to get decent value out of him before sending him back to the AHL for another season. The expansion team would love to add a former #6 overall pick and will be willing to part ways with newly acquired forward Jared McCann. McCann has had success in Pittsburgh as a winger but has played enough center in his career to be an option for the Golden Knights. Plus, he’s a power play weapon having scored seven PP goals last season in just 43 games. As the Golden Knights look to revamp their power play, he’ll be a key piece.
2nd and 3rd round picks acquired for Reilly Smith from Montreal Canadiens
The Golden Knights must open up some space this offseason. The obvious move would be to ship out a goalie, but we remain convinced (despite the continued rumors) that Vegas will not move either Fleury or Lehner. So, they’ll look over their cap and realize the best option will unfortunately be Smith. With their newfound cap space with Shea Weber heading to LTIR, the Habs will use their extra draft picks to add another stellar defensive winger to their Cup contending mix.
This roster is left with about $2.5 million in cap space to work with heading into the season. We expect another excellent regular season in which the Golden Knights are at or near the top of the Pacific Division. They will then add at least one more piece at the trade deadline to round out the roster.