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Robin Lehner Excited To See What Free Agency Has In Store For Him

(Photo Credit: Jason Pothier,

It’s been Goaltending Month here at SinBin. Earlier this month we examined the offseason decisions the Golden Knights front office will have to make in net. Last week was focused on cap percentage and how much is the right amount to spend on goaltending. So, let’s continue Tendy Month by getting some insight from Vegas’ exceptional backup goaltender as he addressed his future with the Golden Knights.

On Ottawa radio, unrestricted free agent to be Robin Lehner explained his desire to find a permanent address this offseason.

I’m looking for the right set up for me and my family. I got a five year-old and a two-year-old. My five-year-old has been to five different teams. I feel like I deserve to get some stability for me and my family. -Lehner on TSN Ottawa

It’s been a journey for Lehner. At 29 years-old with ten years of NHL service, the goaltender hasn’t found a location to settle down in.

We will see what happens and what makes sense for me and my family. To say I that need X amount of years or dollars, it’s kind of not what it’s been for me. I just try to perform as good as I can and I think I’ve done that throughout my career. I’ve had some other issues obviously but I’ve also taken the steps and been very serious about those steps and I’ve bounced back and I’ve shown that I’m on a really good path which is only getting better and better. -Lehner

The former Senator, Sabre, Islander, and Blackhawk is proud of success on and off the ice and feels he’s earned the opportunity to find a permanent NHL address. Especially, for his wife and kids.

I believe that I’ve proven my statistics for a long time and that I’m a very reliable goaltender… We’ll see what opens up and what makes sense for me and my family. We’re excited to see what happens this offseason. -Lehner

Can the playoffs do anything to help leverage Lehner’s future contract negotiations? Will he need to compete with Marc-Andre Fleury for playing time and excel in the postseason?

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Where Do The Golden Knights Stand Against The Cap Following The Reaves Signing

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s still way too early to really start worrying about what the Golden Knights will look like next season, considering there’s still a Cup to be won this season. Plus, the salary cap for the 2020-21 season remains a mystery.

But with plenty of time to go before the Golden Knights hit the ice and a few contracts hitting the books over the past few weeks, we thought it’s a good time to take a look at the Golden Knights salary cap snapshot to give you an idea of what kind of wiggle room they have to operate with whenever the offseason does get underway.

The current salary cap is $81.5 million, a number the Golden Knights flirted with all season. Heading into next year, they currently have 19 players under contract that are likely to be a part of the 23 man roster. Plus, there’s still that pesky $500,000 cap hit that remains from the Tomas Tatar trade.

Here’s the full breakdown (salary numbers provided by

Forwards (11 – $48,413,333)

Mark Stone – $9,500,000
Max Pacioretty – $7,000,000
Paul Stastny – $6,500,000
William Karlsson – $5,900,000
Reilly Smith – $5,000,000
Jonathan Marchessault – $5,000,000
Alex Tuch – $4,750,000
Ryan Reaves – $1,750,000
William Carrier – $1,400,000
Cody Glass – $863,333
Nicolas Roy – $750,000

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Salary Snapshot

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whether this season resumes or not, the Golden Knights have some interesting decisions to make whenever the calendar allows for them to be made.

Everything starts with the salary cap, which is a massive question mark at this point. Due to the uncertainty with “hockey-related revenues” for this year, it’s certainly not going up by much, if at all.

For the purpose of this article, let’s act as if the cap will remain flat, meaning it will stay at $81.5 million.

Starting with forwards, here’s where the Golden Knights stand heading into next year.

Signed (9 forwards)

Mark Stone – $9.5M (11.7%)
Max Pacioretty – $7M (8.6%)
Paul Stastny – $6.5M (8.0%)
William Karlsson – $5.9M (7.2%)
Reilly Smith – $5M (6.1%)
Jonathan Marchessault – $5M (6.1%)
Alex Tuch – $4.75M (5.8%)
William Carrier – $1.4M (1.7%)
Cody Glass – $863K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $45.913 (56.3%)

RFA (3 forwards)

Chandler Stephenson – $1.05M*
Nick Cousins – $1M*
Nic Roy – $735K
Total – $2.785M (3.4%)

*Stephenson and Cousins are arbitration-eligible so their numbers could increase by a bit. It won’t be drastic in either case.*

Signed (5 defensemen)

Nate Schmidt – $5.95M (7.3%)
Shea Theodore – $5.2M (6.4%)
Alec Martinez – $4M (4.9%)
Brayden McNabb – $2.5M (3.1%)
Nick Holden – $1.7M (2.1%)
TOTAL – $19.35 (23.7%)

RFA (1 defesneman)

Zach Whitecloud – $875K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $875K (1.1%)

Signed (1 goalie)

Marc-Andre Fleury – $7M (8.6%)
TOTAL – – $7M (8.6%)

TOTAL FORWARDS (12) – $48.698 (59.8%)
TOTAL DEFENSEMEN (6) – $20.225M (24.8%)
TOTAL GOALIES – $7M (1) (8.6%)
TOTAL RETAINED – $500K (0.6%) *Tatar*

TEAM TOTAL (19) – $76.423 (93.8%)

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Exactly When The Golden Knights Have To Clear Salary Cap Space

Disclaimer: There are a few gaps of missing information in this article that could change the overall numbers. We are working to fill as many of those gaps as possible and will update this article with them if/when we learn more. Nonetheless, we stand by the overall premise of the article and do not believe it will change radically with any of the additional information we are seeking.

It’s no secret, the Golden Knights are tight against the salary cap. In order to solve this issue, they are going to have to find a way to shed some salary. Of course, there are multiple ways to do this including trading players, waivers, buyouts, injuries, suspension, and likely more that we aren’t even aware of.

But, no matter which way you break it down, it’s a fact that something is going to have to happen to make sure the Golden Knights are cap compliant when all is said and done heading into the 2019-20 season.

Trying to guess exactly will happen will probably yield results about as accurate as when dogs pick winners by going for the treat on the left or the right. So let’s leave that for another day (plus, if you’ve listened to our podcasts or any of the many radio spots Jason and I have done over the last two months, you’ve probably got an idea of what we think is going to happen.).

Instead, in this article, I’m going to try to fill in another one of the 5 W’s. Instead of “who,” “what,” “where,” or “why,” we shall try to solve the “when” in the salary cap equation.

The league calendar resets on July 1st. Thus, until then, every player on the Golden Knights is still considered to be paid under their 2018-19 salary as it pertains to the salary cap. So, between now and June 30th, the Golden Knights will not be forced to do anything as they are well below the salary cap limit.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

However, on July 1st, the 2019-20 calendar begins, and Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt, and Alex Tuch’s new contracts will all kick in. That’s when the cap number starts to get tight. But exactly how tight is important in relation to when the Golden Knights must make something happen.

By rule, the CBA states that no team may cross the “Upper Limit” (a fancy word for the salary cap) at any time using their “Average Club Salary” (fancy way to say the total amount of money committed to players for the league year).

That “upper limit” number for the Golden Knights during the offseason is approximately $95.6 million. (For a complete breakdown of how I came to that number, see the end of the article.)

The CBA also states that there are eight categories of salary that are all added together to calculate a team’s “Average Club Salary”. Of the eight, the Golden Knights have a sum greater than $0 in four categories.

On July 1st, 2019, the sum of those four categories for Vegas is $90,878,214. (To see the exact breakdown of this sum, including the eight categories, see the end of the article.)

Thus, by rule, the Golden Knights are NOT required to move any player on July 1st in order to become cap compliant. ($95,600,000 – $90,878,214 = $4,721,786)

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Salary Cap Implications For The Golden Knights In The Aftermath Of The Mark Stone Trade

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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, 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.

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Future Cap Better Than Present Team

Three of the four major professional sports in North America have a salary cap. The reason the salary cap is used in leagues like the NHL is to keep parity as high as possible. It makes it challenging to keep all of the best players while helping to distribute them to the weaker teams in the process.

Hopefully guys will keep taking fair prices like Marchessault did before testing free agency. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be hard to believe, but even with the superb talent the Golden Knights have put on the ice in 2017-18, with the three 1st round picks, and with the contract extensions for Jonathan Marchessault, Jon Merrill, and Deryk Engelland, George McPhee’s biggest asset from the Expansion Draft is still the salary cap.

When all is said and done with this season, the Golden Knights will end the season among the bottom 10 teams in money spent against the cap. This includes the contracts of David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski, and Clayton Stoner, none of which will play a game for the Golden Knights. It also includes the retained salary of Alexei Emelin and Derick Brassard. Things can change slightly down the stretch, but as it stands, the Golden Knights will be the cheapest team to make the playoffs.

Projected Salary Cap Usage In 2017-18 ($75m Salary Cap)
Vegas Golden Knights – $68,950,653
Buffalo Sabres – $68,698,464
Florida Panthers – $68,068,090
Montreal Canadiens – $67,761,117
New Jersey Devils – $67,421,712
Colorado Avalanche – $66,931,457
Edmonton Oilers – $66,249,688
Carolina Hurricanes – $59,183,386
Arizona Coyotes – $58,768,559
*All other teams are higher

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Vegas’ Cap Looks Golden, Even With Marchessault Signing

As great as the Golden Knights have looked on the ice and as amazing as the prospect pipeline and cupboard of draft picks look for the future, the Golden Knights management of the salary cap may be their best asset moving forward.

Keeping these two isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds when you look at the Golden Knights cap. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

First off all, the Golden Knights sit more than $8M under the cap for the remainder of the 2017-18 season, so, monetarily speaking, nothing is off the table at the trade deadline.

But on to the more important portion of the cap, the future. As of this article, the Golden Knights have a total of 17 NHL players under contract for next season. The total cap space these 17 players take up is just north of $40M. If the cap stays stagnant (which it almost certainly won’t, it’ll probably go up a couple million) that leaves Vegas with about $35M to work with, plus David Clarkson‘s $5.25M that can come off due to injury. So essentially $40.25M.

That’s $40.25M to pay the following players. James Neal, David Perron, William Karlsson, William Carrier, Tomas Nosek, Luca Sbisa, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Oscar Dansk.

For the sake of proving a point, let’s say every single player mentioned here has their salary doubled to return next season. That would cost the Golden Knights $38.5M, under the cap by $1.5M.

Yes, that’s with paying James Neal $10M, David Perron $7.5M, Luca Sbisa $7.2M, and Deryk Engelland $2M. None of that is happening, yet even if it did, the Golden Knights would STILL be under the cap next season.

Instead, here are some more likely numbers (still probably overpaying everyone).

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