The Golden Knights are already in salary cap hell. Currently sitting $200,000 short of the league’s upper limit, Vegas has just 19 players under contract making up a roster valued at $82.3 million.
That’s without UFA’s Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark, without RFA’s Nic Roy, Keegan Kolesar, Brett Howden, and Nic Hague, and with just five players that can be buried in the AHL without any salary leftover.
No matter how you slice it, the Golden Knights are in quite a pinch for cash, and there are a lot of difficult decisions coming up.
Yes, I just copy/pasted the same three paragraphs from yesterday’s story on Nic Hague because they work perfectly for this one on another Nic, Nic Roy.
Roy turned 25-years-old in February and quietly (at least for me) turned in a season that will earn him a fairly significant pay raise.
In his second full season in the NHL, Roy shattered his career-high in every statistical category and did so playing mostly in a third line role with a rotating cast. He averaged just over 16 minutes a night which ranked 8th among everyday forwards in the Golden Knights lineup.
Despite the role, Roy posted 39 points, good for 6th most on the team, chipped in 3.5 point shares, the 6th most among forwards, and scored 15 goals, also good for 6th overall. He took nearly 1,000 faceoffs, played 78 of the 82 games (missing two for illness), and was a key contributor on both the power play and penalty kill.
He enters this offseason on an expiring contract as a restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights. The qualifying offer for Roy will be just over the league minimum ($750,000) which will inevitably force the French-Canadian centerman to activate his option to file for arbitration.
So, what will that number look like?
We’ll start with a pair of contracts in the NHL that were signed yesterday. The Blue Jackets signed Jack Roslovic to a two-year $8 million ($4M AAV) contract and the Stars inked Denis Gurianov to a one-year deal worth $2.9 million. Here’s how each of these players stacks up with Roy in 2021-22.
Roslovic – 22
Roy – 15
Gurianov – 11
Roslovic – 45
Roy – 39
Gurianov – 31
Roslovic – 4.5
Roy – 3.5
Gurianov – 2.6
As you can see, Roy is pretty clearly right between these two players. And this is not considering the fact that Roy is better defensively than both of these guys. However, those numbers tend to be a bit high based on previous deals.
A few other players similar to Roy that signed contracts recently include Artturi Lehkonen ($2.3M AAV), Oskar Sundqvist ($2.75M AAV), Warren Foegele ($2.75M AAV), and Andrew Copp ($3.64M AAV).
Finally, there’s the Golden Knights comp, Chandler Stephenson. He signed a four-year deal with an AAV of $2.75 million after posting 22 points in 41 games and five more in 20 playoff games in his first season in Vegas. Of course, we know what has happened since, but at the time of signing the deal, the upside on Roy now is actually similar if not a bit higher than what it was for Stephenson on October 7th, 2020.
Roy led all RFA centers last season in cost per point, showing just how underpaid he was. His 39 points to go along with a $750,000 salary had him at just $19,230 per point. The league average for centers is about $100,000.
Add it all up, and it’s going to be an expensive arbitration hearing for Roy if indeed he and the Golden Knights make it there. Unfortunately for Vegas, arbitration doesn’t care about a team’s salary situation, and if they do make it to the hearing and Roy is awarded anything less than $4.5 million (which he will), the Golden Knights are forced to sign the contract.
Reasonably, Roy should be in line for somewhere between $2 and $4 million, probably shading a bit more towards the higher side of that ranger.
I’d be surprised if Roy isn’t in the Golden Knights’ plans for both 2022-23 and well beyond, which means that money will have to come from somewhere else.