In order to win back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Golden Knights will need a lot to go right and receive contributions from their entire roster, like what occurred in the 2022-23 season. If we’re being honest, not many predicted Chandler Stephenson to land on 49 helpers, and nobody expected 16 goals from William Carrier and Michael Amadio. We could keep going. Consider this, Nic Roy, Phil Kessel, Paul Cotter, Keegan Kolesar, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Brett Howden combined for a total of 62 regular season goals. It was the complete opposite of what the Golden Knights got back in the 2021-22 season. Looking back, the production from depth players was one of the reasons Vegas was the last NHL team standing.
So, will relying on the returning cast of offensive characters be enough in 2023-24?
Where do you think Vladimir Tarasenko ends up? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/2JLQ6XyTR2
— JayOnSC (@JayOnSC) July 5, 2023
It’s no secret that one of the league’s most dangerous snipers over the past ten years is still without a contract. To NHL standards, Vladimir Tarasenko is considered long in the tooth but still a valuable commodity for any team in need of offense. At this moment, the 16th overall pick in 2010 is mulling, listening, and seeking the best deal for him and his family. Most teams, including the Golden Knights, would love Tarasenko’s services but only a handful can fit him in their salary cap plans for next season.
It’s been reported that the 31-year-old is seeking an annual salary of $7M or more. The majority of NHL teams have nowhere near that much cap space, most notably the Golden Knights. Tarasenko silently stuck to his guns by turning down several offers close to his price point, including one with the Carolina Hurricanes. While he could still end up in Raleigh, the career 270 goal-scorer hasn’t given up on his desired compensation. Which leads us to Vegas.
With little to no wiggle room, it would be unlikely the Golden Knights could agree to terms with Tarasenko and his new agents. Remember, Vegas was rumored to be a possible suitor for the Russian native at the trade deadline so there was interest back in March.
It’s hard mentally a little bit to change things. For me, I like old stuff. I use old equipment for many, many years. I cannot switch. But I’m happy for a new challenge. -Vladimir Tarasenko
Tarasenko to Vegas does actually make some sense, assuming his price comes way down. His new agents have worked plenty of deals with the Golden Knights (and Vegas drafted one of their sons). Also, Tarasenko would be reunited with former Blues teammates Alex Pietrangelo and Ivan Barbashev. Based off his words, being comfortable and quick adjustment might be enough to convince the All-Star winger to consider Vegas. Finally, there’s the most obvious reason, the Golden Knights are the reigning champions. If a player is looking for a place that will give him a chance to win, there’s no better place than Vegas right now.
Now, let’s step out of Xanadu for a minute. Vegas has already moved cap space in order to keep Barbashev and Adin Hill. Eliminating more money would be difficult without touching the Cup-winning core. Without taking a significant discount, convincing Tarasenko to forgo more money in order to make another cup run seems unrealistic. Golden Knights fans would love to see Vladdy light the lamp in Las Vegas but it’s an impulse purchase their favorite team doesn’t necessarily need. Heck, if Vegas’ depth scorers continue to produce, the 2023 Stanley Cup champions will be in a position to repeat.
It’s good to be a Golden Knights fan right now.