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Youth Movement Will Determine VGK’s Success In 24-25

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If the Golden Knights want to continue their historic success to start the franchise it’s going to take more help from young and/or inexperienced players than ever.

With the turnover in the roster since the final game of the playoffs last year, there are more open spots in the lineup than at any time since the Expansion season. There’s at least one spot available in the top-six, a few more down the forward lines, at backup goaltender, and a former 2nd round pick is ready and able to nick a job from a veteran on the blue line.

I think we’ve got some forwards on the wings that are ready to take on more responsibility and bigger roles. If your centers are as strong as ours are, it really helps to bring a younger player or an evolving player along. It’s the best scenario for people like that. -Kelly McCrimmon

Among that group are former draft picks Brendan Brisson and Pavel Dorofeyev along with newcomers Alexander Holtz and Victor Olofsson. All four of them have had some success in the NHL but each is still waiting for that opportunity to become an integral part of a winning team. There will probably never be a better chance for any of them as they’ll all get plenty of looks alongside superstars like Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Tomas Hertl.

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A Lot Of Goals To Replace, But Current Roster Can Do It

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season Jonathan Marchessault scored 42 goals. Chandler Stephenson scored 16, Michael Amadio 14, Paul Cotter 7, William Carrier 6, Alec Martinez 4, and Anthony Mantha 3. Add them all up and this summer the Golden Knights lost 92 goals from the team that finished 14th in the NHL in goal scoring to free agency and trades.

This is by far the most that has exited following a season in Golden Knights history and it’ll be up to a collection of players to make them all up. So, where are they going to come from?

The most likely candidates are the best and highest-paid players on the roster.

Jack Eichel posted his VGK-high 31 goals last year but has yet to reach his career high of 36 that he scored in 2019-20 in 68 games with the Sabres. It’s certainly reasonable he could score 5-10 more with a full season under his belt.

Captain Mark Stone scored just 16 last year after missing much of the back half of the season again. His high as a Golden Knight is 21 but he reached the 30-mark between Ottawa and Vegas the year he was traded. Obviously, health is a massive factor, but if he’s on the ice for 70+ games, he’s almost certain to eclipse 21.

Finally, there’s Tomas Hertl. The trade deadline acquisition played just six regular season games for the Golden Knights and scored two goals. His 82-game average during his 11-year career is 25 goals. There’s no question he’s in for at least 15 more and likely closer to 20-25.

Next is from the blue line.

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2024 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A roundup of all the signings, rumors, and rumbling surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights as free agency opens in advance of the 2024-25 season.

*This article will be updated throughout the day as more information rolls in.*

  • Jonathan Marchessault will head to the open market after failing to come to an agreement with the Golden Knights. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
    • Marchessault looks to be headed to Nashville on a 5-year contract at $5.5 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
    • Confirmed. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Chandler Stephenson signed with Seattle. 7 years at $6.25 million AAV. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • VGK are expected to sign goaltender Ilya Samsonov. (Source: @MikhailZislis)
    • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the deal is 1-year for $1.8 million.
  • Victor Olofsson has signed a 1-year $1.1 million deal with VGK. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • William Carrier has signed with the Carolina Hurricanes for a 6-year deal with $2 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Anthony Mantha has signed with the Calgary Flames on a 1-year contract worth $3.5 million. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Michael Amadio has signed with the Ottawa Senators for 3 years at $2.6 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Alec Martinez signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for 1-year at $4 million. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Jiri Patera signed a 2-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks. (Source: @Canucks)
  • The Golden Knights are “positioning themselves to take a run at Steven Stamkos. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Stamkos appears likely to sign with the Nashville Predators. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • VGK have signed Zach Aston-Reese to a two-way one-year deal at $775k. (Source: @HockeyAgent1)
  • VGK have signed Tanner Laczynski to a 2-year contract with an AAV of $775k. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Pavel Dorofeyev and Kaedan Korczak. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
    • Dorofeyev signed a 2-year deal with $1.83 million AAV.
    • Korczak signed a 2 -year deal with $825k.
    • Ivan Morozov also received a qualifying offer to allow VGK to retain his rights while he plays in the KHL. (Source: @DannyWebster21)
  • Akira Schmid, Layton Ahac, and Mason Primeau did not receive qualifying offers. (Source: SinBin)
    • Schmid is expected to sign an extension with the Golden Knights. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)

Former VGK players

  • Reilly Smith is being traded to the New York Rangers. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Nate Schmidt has been bought out by the Winnipeg Jets. (Source: @reporterchris)
  • Erik Brannstrom was not extended a qualifying offer. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Laurent Brossoit to Chicago for 2-years at $3.3 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • David Perron will sign with the Ottawa Senators. (Source: @SunGarrioch)
  • Tomas Nosek signed with the Florida Panthers. (Source: @DarrenDreger)

Simplified Salary Cap Tracker

  • VGK are approximately $1,285,016 UNDER the salary cap with a 23-man roster (13 F, 8 D, 2 G)
    • Eichel, Stone, Hertl, Karlsson, Barbashev, Roy, Howden, Kolesar, Brisson, Holtz, Rondbjerg, Dorofeyev, Olofsson – $48,970,834
    • Pietrangelo, Hanifin, Theodore, McNabb, Whitecloud, Hague, Hutton, Korczak – $31,041,150
    • Hill, Samsonov – $6,700,000
  • Qualifying Offers – Morozov* ($874,125)
  • Expected LTIR – Lehner ($5,000,000)

*Not expected to sign

**This is an inexact salary estimation designed to give a rough outline of how much cap space the Golden Knights have to operate with. For exact up-to-date salary cap information, visit**

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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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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Golden Knights Going To The Best Area To Score Goals, Fueling 3 Game Win Streak

Want to win in the NHL? There’s one specific place on the ice where you must be better than your opponent.

These last three games for the Golden Knights, they’ve dominated there.

Early in the year, there were some games where we played well but we ran into a hot goalie. But the Winter Classic and some of the other recent ones I think we could have been better at generating offense with a little more will and second effort. Usually that requires an inside presence and that’s how we got back in the game, we got inside. -Bruce Cassidy

The Golden Knights erased a two-goal 3rd period deficit on Saturday night because they killed the Penguins directly in front of the goal. In fact, Vegas has been excellent in the low slot for the last three games, and it’s why despite the depleted roster, they’ve been winning.

Here’s a look at where each goal was scored from in the last three games against Nashville, New York, and Pittsburgh.

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Roster Down To 26, Who Will Survive The Last Round Of Cuts?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With eyes set on 23, the Golden Knights training camp roster of 66 has been cut all the way down to 26. The VGK front office have just a few more decisions to make. But, these final ones are always the toughest.

The 26-man roster included 15 forwards, nine defensemen, and two goalies. Three more players will have to find their way off this group before Vegas can drop the banner celebrating the Stanley Cup and begin their quest to repeat.

Obviously, the two goalies, Adin Hill and Logan Thompson are expected to suit up on October 10th, with the playoff hero Hill expected to start between the pipes against the Kraken. Down to 24.

Forwards Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, Ivan Barbashev, Nic Roy, William Carrier, and Keegan Kolesar are all guaranteed, if healthy, to be on the roster as well. That puts us at 15.

On the back end, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Alec Martinez, and Nic Hague are all locks. So, we’re down to ten.

Ten players. Seven will be on the roster, three will be not.

They are Michael Amadio, Brett Howden, Paul Cotter, Pavel Dorofeyev, Max Comtois, Brendan Brisson, Zach Whitecloud, Ben Hutton, Brayden Pachal, and Kaedan Korczak.

The first variable is always health. Right now, one of those ten players, Zach Whitecloud, is not healthy, and has already been ruled out for the rest of the preseason. If he’s not available to go to start the season, he’ll be placed on injured reserve (IR) and would represent one of the three that would not be on the official 23-man opening night roster. That being said, if Whitecloud can play, his name would have been up there next to Pietrangelo and Theodore as a lock.

Amadio, Howden, and Hutton are all as close to locks as you can be as well. The Golden Knights are not immune to throwing a surprise at us every once in a while, but in this case, it would be a bit of a stunner if the 23-man roster drops without all three of their names.

So, we’re down to six players for two or three spots (depending on Whitecloud). In order, here’s who is most likely to make the final 23.

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