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Salary Projections For Golden Knights Heading Towards Free Agency

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Money is tight in VGK land this summer. After taking a big run at repeating as Cup champions, the Golden Knights have already allocated about 90% of their salary cap to players for next season.

The midseason acquisitions of Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl will likely serve as Vegas’ big splashes heading into next season. Figuring out which of the expiring contracts to spend the rest of the money on will tell the rest of the story.

Vegas have six significant pending unrestricted free agents and one key RFA with arbitration rights. They have about $7.4 million of cap space (read our salary cap primer) to work with to keep as many, or as few, of them as they choose. So the question becomes, how much will it cost to keep each guy?

Lucky for us, much of the guessing game has already been done by the brilliant consulting firm, AFP Analytics. Using past contracts as a guide, they’ve come up with a projected contract for every player in the NHL currently without a contract.

Here’s what they project for each VGK free agent. Each is followed by a little blurb by me about the player’s situation as it relates to the Golden Knights.

**Take a look at the full spreadsheet of projected contracts here. And be sure to follow @AFPAnayltics on X/Twitter.**

Jonathan Marchessault
AFP Analytics Projected Contract: 3 years at $6.285m AAV
Comps: Joe Pavelski (3 years, $7m), Alex Killorn (4 years, $6.25m), Jordan Eberle (2 years, $4.75m)

The kingpin of the offseason was always likely to take up a majority of the Golden Knights’ available space. The hope for VGK is that he and the team will be able to come up with a friendly deal that will fulfill his wish to remain in Las Vegas for the rest of his career. Before the career-high 42-goal season, Killorn was an excellent comparison. Now, Marchessault stands as a unicorn as a recent Conn Smythe winner set to hit the open market. There’s a reasonable argument for Marchessault to reach as high as $9 million, while it’s also fair to look at the Eberle contract and project him for less than $5 million. Term, age, and his incredible standing with the organization make this one nearly impossible to project, but it’s pretty clear to see, if he’s going to stay in Vegas, just about everyone else set to hit the market will have to go.

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Sportsnet Weighs In On Future Of Chandler Stephenson And Jonathan Marchessault

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ve been very open with our feelings about getting a deal done with unrestricted free agent Jonathan Marchessault. Sure, we know the organization would prefer to keep the 2023 Conn Smythe winner but as Vegas fans have heard over and over again, ‘hockey is a business.’ Understanding that, it’ll be a challenge getting deals done for Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson and the rest of VGK’s unrestricted free agent.

[Vegas] will be hard-pressed to re-up Marchessault, centre Chandler Stephenson and rental Anthony Mantha now that [they’ve] locked up Noah Hanifin. No one would blame the late-blooming Marchessault ($29 million in career earnings) for pulling an Alex Killorn and taking the best offer available. –Luke Fox on

In the eyes of Vegas fans, they would like to see #81 cash in but in Las Vegas and as a Golden Knight. Sure, the fans desire isn’t necessarily VGK’s front office priorities, but they are aware of the negative attention they’ll receive if they let Marchessault walk. It will infuriate a fanbase that’s been giving almost everything they could want in seven seasons. However, a year-old Stanley Cup trophy won’t satisfy the void of the franchise’s most beloved and decorated player.

The Conn Smythe–winning Marchessault is an original Misfit integral to the defending champions’ off-ice culture and on-ice success. No doubt, in a cap-free world, the sides would be content to extend their relationship beyond this season. Yet one only need to look as far as Reilly Smith, GM Kelly McCrimmon’s 2023 cap casualty, to see the line between sentiment and business. –Fox on

To a lesser extent, Stephenson is another Golden Knight that fans would like to see return next season. However, with only a certain amount of capital, both UFA’s are tied to one another.

The demand for both centres and proven post-season performers remains sky high in the NHL. The Detroit Red Wings splashed $25.5 million at centre J.T. Compher in 2023’s free agency, and his previous best was 52 points. Bottom line: There will be a robust market for the two-way Stephenson if he remains unsigned by July. –Fox on

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VGK’s Deadline Overhaul Impacted By Lack Of Chemistry

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been years since Golden Knights fans have felt the empty feelings of a first round exit. Excluding the dreadful missed playoff season of 2022, Vegas has only one other first round defeat. It stunk back then and stinks again this spring.

Now that the team has been eliminated, cleaned out their lockers, and begun making summer plans, it’s time to begin diagnosing the 2023-24 season. There’s an abundance of discussions but we’ll take our time addressing them. After all, we have an unexpectedly longer summer than in years past.

How much better did the Golden Knights get after the trade deadline?

Post trade deadline the Golden Knights received extremely high grades for their late season wheeling and dealing. Completing packages for Noah Hanifin, Tomas Hertl, and Anthony Mantha, the Golden Knights put the league on notice. All signs pointed to a deep run in the playoffs with Vegas’ new flashy lineup.

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Above, Below, or Meeting Expectations: Far Too Many Golden Knights Fall Into The Wrong Category

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

The Golden Knights are defending Stanley Cup champions.

For the last 11 months here at we’ve used that sentence to start just about every article, literally every podcast, and everywhere else possible. Tonight might be the last time we get to use it.

That is unless the Golden Knights get improved performances from a bunch of players in Game 6 and 7.

Being the reigning champions, and bringing back a roster that is similar, if not improved on paper, means Vegas doesn’t need anyone to exceed expectations. Instead, they simply need everyone to play to their ability and they should once again be the best team in the NHL.

Through 5 games in this first round series against the Stars, that is not happening. More than half of the roster is falling short of their expectations, while just a few are exceeding them.

To illustrate this, I’ve broken the team down into those three categories, exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, or below expectations. For the Golden Knights to retain their title as defending Stanley Cup champions for even one more day, a bunch of players are going to have to take a step up from the category they’ve resided in currently in this series to at least one step higher.

**These are listed in order. For “exceeding,” first is the player most exceeding their expectation. For “meeting,” first is the player closest to exceeding, last is the player closest to below. For “below,” first is the player closest to meeting, last is the player below by the most.

Exceeding Expectations
Brayden McNabb, Logan Thompson, William Carrier

There’s a legitimate argument that Brayden McNabb has been VGK’s best player in this series. If you told me that was going to be the case coming in, I’d be certain the Golden Knights are behind in the series, and that’s exactly where they are. He’s been offensively involved and even better than his already high level defensively.

Thompson and Carrier are in a similar spot as both have been very good but their best moments have come in losing efforts so they get lost a bit. Thompson was out of control good in Game 3, but the team was so bad it didn’t end up making a difference. Carrier scored a wraparound goal on a wonderful individual effort, but the game-tying 1st period goal was the last Vegas scored.

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VGK’s Heaviness Contributing To 2-0 Series Lead

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We heard it way back after the 2017-18 Stanley Cup finals, the Golden Knights needed to get bigger and stronger. Or in hockey lexicon, Vegas needed to get heavier. So, they did.

They traded for Ryan Reaves (6’2″, 225) around the 2018 deadline, completed a late offseason deal for Max Pacioretty (6’2″, 217), and they traded and signed Mark Stone (6’3″, 217) minutes before the 2019 trade deadline expired. So, the organization did what they said they, get heavier. And it didn’t stop there.

Size matters, especially at this time of year. They lean on you all night and they wear teams down because they lean on you. It’s impressive because there are times when they get a lead where they’re not trying to score. They’re controlling the territory of the game, and you don’t get any second chances. Every puck is confronted in your own zone and there’s no free ice anywhere. There’s got to be tactic changes when you play that team because of their weight and size. It’s fun to watch that team play that type of playoff hockey. – Ken Hitchcock, former NHL coach on Bob McCown Podcast

Over the years Vegas introduced Nic Hague (6’6″, 230) to their lineup, took a chance on monster goaltender Adin Hill (6’6″, 215), picked up Nick Holden (6’4″, 210), added depth with Ben Hutton (6’3″, 201), brought in Nic Roy (6’4″, 202), signed a mega-deal with Alex Pietrangelo (6’3″, 215), and are currently starting large Logan Thompson (6’4″, 205) in net. Easy to say, the Golden Knights set out to be heavy, and they were rewarded with a Stanley Cup trophy last year.

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2024 Trade Deadline Roundup

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL Trade Deadline is at Noon Pacific time today.

This article will be dedicated to all pertinent news surrounding the Golden Knights and this year’s deadline. It will be updated throughout the day.

  • The Golden Knights are trading for Thomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks (Source: Bob McKenzie)
    • VGK give up a 1st round pick, David Edstrom (last year’s 1st round pick), and two 3rd round picks. VGK are getting two 3rd round picks back too.
    • San Jose are retaining 17% of his salary, so VGK will be on the hook for $6.75 million against the cap through 2030.
  • Golden Knights acquired Anthony Mantha on Tuesday in exchange for 2024 2nd round pick and 2026 4th round pick.
    • Washington is retaining 50% of Mantha’s salary
    • Mantha will carry a $2.85 million cap hit
  • Noah Hanifin has been traded to Vegas from Calgary for Daniil Miromanov, a 2025 1st round pick, and a 2025 3rd round pick.
    • The 1st round pick becomes a 2026 1st round pick if the Golden Knights trade their 2025 1st round pick before the deadline.
    • The 2025 3rd round pick becomes a 2nd round pick if the Golden Knights win a playoff round.
    • Calgary retained 50% of Hanifin’s salary in the trade.
    • Philadelphia also retained 50% of Hanifin’s remaining salary in a separate trade in which the Golden Knights gave up a 5th round pick.
    • VGK are on the hook for $1.2375 million against the cap for Hanifin.
  • Tobias Bjornfot was placed on waivers by VGK on Thursday.
    • He was claimed by the Florida Panthers.
  • Daniil Miromanov signed a two-year contract extension with the Flames for $2.5 million.
  • Malcolm Subban has been traded from St. Louis to Columbus for future considerations. He will be assigned to the Cleveland Monsters in the AHL. (Source: @reporterchris)
  • Erik Brannstrom is being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Source: @sas11h)
  • GM Kelly McCrimmon will hold a press conference at 2:00 PM today whether the Golden Knights make another move or not. (Source: Golden Knights)

Winning The Deadline Is Good, Winning Games Is Better

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Once again, the Golden Knights are going all in. They’ve already made moves to bring in a forward and a defenseman and there’s still time to bolster the lineup further before noon on Friday.

There’s one problem.

The play on the ice hasn’t instilled a ton of confidence that the reigning champions can do it again. The Golden Knights are 2-7-1 in their last 10, 12-16-2 in the last 30, and 22-22-6 in the last 50 games.

The Buffalo game, we’re in it, it’s 2-2, we give up a goal at the end of the 2nd period when we mismanage a puck. Losing hockey, to me. It’s not something that we typically do. Then it snowballs and then the same thing happens in Columbus. -Bruce Cassidy

While much of the focus will understandably be about the new players coming in, the Golden Knights have to start getting their game in order.

We’re in 8th place, so the next spot you’re out of the playoffs. Players do have to realize that and focus on the task at hand which is building your game and getting better. The urgency level is much more on us than a team that’s ahead of us. Is this going to continue or are we putting the breaks on this and start getting going here now. That’s the message. -Cassidy

Anthony Mantha will be in the lineup tonight and Noah Hanifin could join him as well. In addition, Cassidy believes they could also see a bump from the return of injured players.

We need a little pop. Theodore came in and gave us that. Hopefully Jack does cause he’s missed time and now Hutton. -Cassidy

Cassidy doesn’t believe the team is far away from turning the corner though.

I have faith in this group. I think management does and I think the players do. We’ve just got to get it done. That’s it. -Cassidy

The next chance comes tonight against the Pacific Division leading Vancouver Canucks. It’s the first of three more matchups in the regular season, a matchup the Golden Knights have dominated historically. History has seen Vegas in this very spot too.

We’ve seen the last two years at this point. One story didn’t end well and one ended really well. -Cassidy

The deadline is fun and the Golden Knights have clearly been leading the charge there, but they have to start stacking up some wins now.

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