As the dust settles on the Mark Stone trade, it’s time to start looking at the future of the Vegas Golden Knights as it relates to the salary cap.
The salary cap was set at $79,500,000 this season. The normal increase in salary cap from year to year is about 2-5%. Last season the cap increased by $4.5M. It should be expected that the cap increase from this season to next will be in the neighborhood of $4M to $7M.
Thus, we can expect the salary cap to be somewhere around $85,000,000.
According to CapFriendly.com, the best salary cap site on the Internet, the Golden Knights projected cap hit for 2019-20 is $72,875,000 without Stone’s imminent $9.5M AAV extension. So, just with Stone, the Golden Knights are looking at a projected cap hit of just under $82,375,000.
The Golden Knights still have David Clarkson on the roster. His contract can be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) next season. There are some oddities to that rule, but for simplification sake, Vegas can get around $5.25M in salary cap relief by making this move.
Therefore, if nothing changes, Vegas should have around $7,875,000 left to work with.
William Karlsson, Tomas Nosek, and Malcolm Subban are all RFAs with arbitration rights heading into the offseason. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Brandon Pirri, and Deryk Engelland are all UFAs.
Obviously, the biggest fish to fry is William Karlsson. With just under $8M to work with, it figures that Karlsson will eat up a majority of those dollars.
So, it might be necessary for George McPhee to cut some salary somewhere along the way. Possible options for that would be Ryan Reaves ($2,775,000), Erik Haula ($2,750,000), Cody Eakin ($3,850,000), Nick Holden ($2,200,000), or Jon Merrill ($1,375,000).
Finally, there’s the Nikita Gusev situation. Assuming he does indeed want to come to the NHL next season, he would have to sign an Entry Level Contract worth a maximum of $925,000 with signing bonuses that could theoretically cap his salary at $3,775,000.
There’s plenty of time to figure this all out for McPhee and Co., but there are clearly going to be some difficult decisions coming up.
And if one thing’s for sure, even if that other Karlsson decides San Jose isn’t the place for him, Vegas probably isn’t on the table anymore.