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Salary Projections For Golden Knights Heading Towards Free Agency

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas 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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Above, Below, or Meeting Expectations: Far Too Many Golden Knights Fall Into The Wrong Category

Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas

The Golden Knights are defending Stanley Cup champions.

For the last 11 months here at SinBin.vegas 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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Golden Knights Have Proven Success Without Stone In Lineup

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On January 12th of last season, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone played in his last regular season game of 2022-23. Vegas’ roster battled through the schedule without their leader and secured the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.

We all know what transpired once the postseason began.

(Courtesy of TNT)

Without Stone in the second half of last season, the captain’s teammates went 23-9-7 to finish out the string of regular season games. It was a bit of a surprise but also a sign of what to expect in the postseason. The Stone-less lineup averaged 3.23 goals per game and allowed only 2.67 per contest. Coach Bruce Cassidy got his entire roster to buy in and finish off the season strong without their heart and soul.

January 14, 2023 to April 13, 2023 – Games Without Stone

  • Record: 23-9-7 (53 Points)
  • Points Percentage: .679
  • Goals Scored: 126
  • Goals Allowed: 104
  • Games with 4 or More Goals Scored: 20
  • Games with 5 or More Goals Scored: 9
  • Winning Streak of 4 Games or More: 3
  • Record vs. Playoff Teams: 12-6-4 (26 Points)
  • Shots Per Game: 30.5
  • Games Scoring First Goal: 22
  • Blocks Per Game: 17.74

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William Karlsson Passed An Impossible Test, Keying The End Of The Oilers’ Streak

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Having not played a game in nearly five weeks, William Karlsson was tasked with one of the most difficult jobs in the NHL. Stop Connor McDavid.

Might as well throw me into the fire, or to the wolves, or whatever you guys say. Yeah, just right at it, so I better be on my toes. -William Karlsson

Playing alongside a makeshift line created specifically for this matchup, Karlsson, Michael Amadio, and Jonas Rondbjerg pulled it off.

I thought Karly did a great job against McDavid. He played against him not all the time but a lot of the time, and they did a really good job. You have to if you are going to beat Edmonton. You’ve got to keep him in check. He’s going to get his looks but all in all Karly did his job great. -Cassidy

In eight minutes of ice time against the league’s best player, Karlsson’s line allowed just three shots on goal while starting every shift either in the defensive or neutral zone. As Cassidy said, McDavid and Co. got their looks, they generated 12 shot attempts, four high-danger chances, and .56 expected goals, but when the game ended the Oilers had not recorded a single goal at even strength.

Karlsson shoulders the brunt of the load as the center, but his wingers deserve a ton of credit as well. Jonas Rondbjerg delivered his usual solid defensive outing while Michael Amadio has continued to insert himself among VGK’s most reliable players.

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Vegas Wraps Up 2023 With Strong Outing Against Pacific Contender

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

With two minutes to go in last night’s 3-2 victory over the LA Kings, the Golden Knights were forced to fight off a lengthy 5-on-6. LA had their chances but the reigning champions battled in front of the net, forced ineffective shots, and swept pucks out of harm’s way.

The shot we gave up for the 5-on-6 goal we’re going to give up all day long. That’s the goalie’s shot. We wanted to protect the middle. They hit a few seams but again that’s outside the middle. Would we have rather give up nothing? Yes, but we wanted to give up stuff from the outside. I wasn’t worried because it wasn’t a mad scramble in front. If a puck did come in there and there were a lot of bodies we’d have more than them. -Bruce Cassidy

Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy was pleased after the divisional win and brushed off the late attack by the visitors. The Stanley Cup champions executed the model game plan by limiting LA’s opportunities and cashing in on their handful of chances.

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Michael Amadio Among League Leaders In Cost Per Point

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season Golden Knights forward Michael Amadio surprised many people by scoring 16 goals and registering 11 assists in 67 regular season games. He doubled down in the postseason with five goals, five assists and one hell of a game winner in Game 3 of the opening round against Winnipeg.

Overall, the seven-year veteran put together his best NHL season in 2022-23 and was rewarded with a Stanley Cup championship ring for his effort. This season Amadio is back at it totaling 15 points (5/10) in 27 games. Not only is he on track to pass last season’s numbers but he’s doing it on the cheap.

NHL Standard Contract Forwards Cost Per Point

  1. Michael Amadio (VGK): 15 Points – $50,833 Per Point
  2. Michael Carcone (ARI): 15 Points – $51,666 Per Point
  3. Stefan Noesen (CAR): 14 Points – $54,464 Per Point
  4. James van Riemsdyk (BOS): 16 Points – $62,500 Per Point
  5. Thomas Novak (NSH): 12 Points – $66,666 Per Point

The 27-year-old is currently signed until the end of the season with a base salary of $775,000. In other words, the Golden Knights are getting one hell of a deal.

(CapFriendly.com – NHL UFA Cost Per Point)

With the exception of Stefan Noesen, all of the players on the top of the Cost Per Point list make more than VGK’s winger. His cap space is the third lowest on the Golden Knights active roster, taking up a tiny 0.85% of the organization’s entire salary hold.

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Veteran Clapped Back At Bruce Cassidy On The Bench Last Season In Support Of Michael Amadio

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Bruce Cassidy was let go as head coach of the Boston Bruins, one of the biggest critiques of his coaching style was how harsh he was on players. There were many stories from Bruins, especially younger players, that they never felt they could please the coach.

In Vegas, it’s not hard to get a sense of where that criticism comes from. Cassidy’s blunt honesty with the media can come across as a bit harsh when directed at a specific player. And, if he’s saying it publicly, there’s a pretty good chance he’s telling them directly too.

There have been multiple examples of Cassidy asking for more consistency out of Paul Cotter, he’s mentioned Phil Kessel’s defensive shortcomings in more than one press conference, and then there was the notorious “Plan E” comment about Michael Amadio getting the place on a line with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson.

Obviously, Cassidy’s straightforward approach has resonated with the Golden Knights as it led to each and every one of them seeing their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.

A story shared by Gary Lawless on the VGK Radio Network during the 2nd period of Tuesday night’s game is a strong example of why.

We’ve heard players tell stories about how Bruce would be chirping at Michael (Amadio) on the bench in the beginning of the season and finally, one of the veterans turned around to him and said ‘Hey, leave him alone. Pick on me, pick on somebody else.’ Bruce said afterward, ‘You know maybe they think I’m going to be mad because they yelled back at me. No. It shows they’re a team, they are looking after one of the younger guys. I like that. It lets me know they are coming together.’ -Lawless on VGK Radio Network

It’s an interesting glimpse into not only Cassidy’s coaching style, but also the togetherness of the Golden Knights as a team. No matter how established you are in the league, clapping back at a coach in defense of a young player bouncing in and out of the lineup is a gutsy move.

There’s always a debate over what comes first, team chemistry or winning. Obviously, after winning the Stanley Cup together, chemistry in the Golden Knights locker room is at an all-time high. However, this story of a veteran sticking up for Amadio shows that bond goes back long before they won their 16th playoff game.

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