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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

Defensemen (7 – $20,866,667)

Nate Schmidt – $5,950,000
Shea Theodore – $5,200,000
Alec Martinez – $4,000,000
Brayden McNabb – $2,500,000
Nick Holden – $1,700,000
Nic Hague – $791,667
Zach Whitecloud – $725,000

Goalies (1 – $7,000,000)

Marc-Andre Fleury – $7,000,000

Retained Salary (1 – $500,000)

Tomas Tatar – $500,000

TOTAL (19 – $76,780,000)

That means there is approximately $5 million to work with in order to fill out the roster.

The first order of business is to re-sign the two NHL level RFA forwards, Chandler Stephenson and Nick Cousins. Both are likely to make more than they did this season, with Stephenson’s number likely to go up more than Cousins’.

RFA’s – Projected Salary (Qualifying Offer) *Both are arbitration eligible*

Chandler Stephenson – $2,000,000 ($1,050,000)
Nick Cousins – $1,250,000 ($1,000,000)

If they sign for what I project them to, the Golden Knights are looking at a 21 man roster (without a backup goalie) that comes in about $1.5 million short of the cap. If they both take their qualifying offers, which is unlikely, Vegas can have a maximum of around $2.7 million of available money.

Considering they must have a backup goalie on the roster, and the league minimum is $700,000 in 2020-21, the Golden Knights currently sit at a cap hit of around $80,730,000, assuming they retain both RFA’s, Cousins and Stephenson.

In other words, unless there are changes, they will have somewhere between $750,000 and $2 million to work with to make decisions on their four UFA’s (Tomas Nosek, Jon Merrill, Deryk Engelland, and Robin Lehner) and the rest of free agency.

Previous Podcast #199: Leverage


Reaves Scores In Contract Negotiations On VGK Again


  1. Herby Widmer



    Lehner 7y 5 mio – 5.5 mio.
    He wants term


    • Durp

      You gotta be completely blind and deaf if you think merrill is worth resigning…

      • Definitely Not Jon Merrill

        Not worth re-signing? I, and more importantly the statistics, beg to differ. First, consider Jon Merrill the power forward. Even after throwing out the fact that the building was ELECTRIC while he was crashing the net and making goalies quiver with fear, the numbers are STAGGERING. Personal stats? How’s a perfect 100% shooting percentage as the league’s most feared winger? Not enough? He scores a goal for every 14 minutes and 24 seconds of ice time when he’s free of his blue-line responsibilities. Not impressed? Well Alexander Ovechkin needs over 34 minutes on average to find the back of net. Ovi is helped by top-line minutes as well as staying on the ice for nearly all of the Capitals’ power play time. Jon gets relegated exclusively to the fourth line and he still produces. HE. STILL. PRODUCES. More of a team stats guy? The VGK are undefeated in his 2 games as a dominant left winger. Those wins came against the Flyers and the Oilers — two playoff teams, regardless of the format. Oh yeah, on top of that salad you can sprinkle on the bacon bits of Norris Trophy level defense and the NHL’s best hair and mustache combo.


  2. Buckeye63

    I can see a few of these guys not getting offers from the VGK and walking. Merrill, Nosek, and Lehner are pretty much gone after the season is over. Engelland should call it a career and move on to the front office. Time to bring up some of the guys that have been “cooking” in the AHL.

  3. Doktor Hockey

    “It’s still way too early to really start worrying about what the Golden Knights will look like next season” … That’s YOUR opening for this article. So WHY the waste of time writing it?

  4. Way to heavy on the front end. If they don’t win the Cup assuming the season gets completed the decisions will be easy. However if they do and l am sure everyone in Vegas would like to see that happen there will be some real tuff choices to make. You may find some guys to just hang around for less money with the thoughts of a repeat on their minds. It will be interesting to say the least. Stone is a good hockey player but l am not sure 9.5m worth.

  5. Mike StG

    They cannot trade Stastny as they’d have no legit 2C. Glass isn’t there yet, and his history of injury adds to that uncertainty. The only way to trade Stastny is if they win the cup this year. That could leave cap space to sign Lehner as goalie of future after MAF. Also, a likely compressed season schedule next year will make the backup goalie a critical position.

    • Daniel

      Trade Stastny to make room for Lerner. Stastny is ok sometimes, but invisible a lot. He’s not nearly worth the $$ he’s getting.

      • Mike StG

        You won’t win a cup without good centers. Without Stastny they’d have Karlsson, Glass, Stephenson or Roy, maybe Nosek. Two of them are barely rookies. That won’t cut it. You need at least 2 quality centers in your Top 6.

      • Trade Stastny for what? Who wants a $6.5M guy who is on the backend of his career? They may unload him, but they would have to give up a prospect and/or a pick. However, if they did do that, they could sign Lehner then after next season, unload MAF. Hopefully by then Krebs should be good to go. This way they would have Karlsson, Krebs, Glass, Stephenson, as well as Roy. The only problem is, they trade a lot of future. Merril should not be resigned and like others on here said, Englland can go to front office.

        • Mike StG

          You’re missing the point. Even paired with Glass playing out of position and Tuch playing on his wrong side Stastny was on track for about 45 pts. He’s got great vision and playmaking skills. He is a solid 2C, which Vegas does not have otherwise. Maybe in 21-22 when Glass and Roy can develop. That’s precisely why they gave Stastny a 3yr deal. It ends about the time Glass should be able to take on the role at 2C. In 20-21 no Stastny no cup for sure. Depth down the middle is essential.

  6. The Noodle King

    GREAT breakdown, Ken. Thanks. I actually thought they were going to be in a lot worse shape but it looks like—-depending on what the Cap is for 20-21—- they may be fine.
    Man oh man would it be fun if McPHO and GMKM could figure out a way to keep Lehner around.

  7. Tim

    As much as I like Nosek Roy has taken his spot. Engelland will retire and probably assist with our AHL team. Merrill is gone. The only question is Lehner and that will take care of itself in the playoff. Stansty with a 6.5 million salary would definitely give us some breathing room. I trust George and Kelly to do what needs to be done. Ken the price you put on Stephenson and Cousins sounds about right hopefully it’s multiple years.

  8. Junior

    You guys are missing another option that needs to head out of town, William ” I’m only a 20 a year goal scorer, but get paid like 40 a year” Karlsson. Karlsson along with Stastny you could resign all UFA’s except Engelland and have money left over to fill the rest of the roster with the young guys.

    • I think you are highly misinformed on what is expected of a $5.9 million player.

      Karlsson put up 46 points in 63 games while battling a hand injury in which he admitted caused him to “not be able to grip his stick.” He remained one of the best defensive centers in the NHL and improved his faceoff percentage, something he struggled at. His underlying stats were tremendous once again and he posted a +11 in his 63 games.

      If he were expected to score 40 goals a game, he’d be making $10 million a season. He’s not. He’s paid $5.9 million to be an above 0.5 point per game player (which he was 0.7), to be dominant defensively (which he was), and to be a part of one of the best lines on the team (which he was).

      Could he have had a better season, sure, but he is definitely not underperforming based on his contract. Here are a few other guys making $6 million a year, Loui Ericksson, Milan Lucic, Jordan Staal, Kyle Okposo, Kyle Turris, Brendon Saad, and David Backes. Plus, this past season was year one of his eight year deal. It’s the year in which he’s most likely to be overpaid (which he wasn’t).

      The expectations for him are absolutely ridiculous based on his 43 goal season, something he’ll likely never repeat and was not paid to do so. The idea of trading William Karlsson is of the most ludicrous opinion that can be made about the Golden Knights and I’ve heard some crazy stuff.

      • Mike StG

        Thank you. Well explained. He’s a gem. With Patch & Stone they’ve become a monster line.

      • I respectfully disagree, giving his past, I don’t see Karlsson being a 20 goal scorer too far into the future. I notice that he doesn’t have any type of NTC on his contract. I think McCrimmon (or was it McPhee) knows WK won’t make 8 years. I am thinking they could have gotten something nice for him at the end of last season, but I guess the plan is to win now.

        • Mike StG

          I guess all the Karlsson and Stastny critics have a plan on how Vegas could even make the playoffs by jettisoning their top 2 centers. So Glass at 1C and Roy at 2C?? Ridiculous. Glass can’t play more than 10 or 15 games without getting injured and being out for long stretches. Or maybe they think Vegas could trade Karlsson for Braydon Point or Sebastian Aho. Or just make Pirri the 1C… Lol.

  9. Tim

    Wild Bill is a player anyone who wants to trade him doesn’t know hockey. He’s all over the ice offense and defense and fits perfectly with Stone and Patch.

  10. sb

    Moves to clear cap space to resign the future: While you can still get something, trade Tuch (Mr LTIR, 8 goals) for a draft choice (Buffalo?, GAIN $4.75m). Buy-out Stastny (no team will trade for Stastny), gain about $4 mil. Buy-out Fluery, gain about $4 million.

    Sign Cousins, Lehner, Stephenson (new second line center), and Nosek. First and second line set. Third line of Cousins, Carrier, Roy. Fourth line of Reaves, Nosek, Glass. Starting goalie Lehner. Back-up Dansk.

    • Mike StG

      That’s absurd, unless you’re throwing in the towel on cup chances the next 2 years. The current team is built to compete for the cup this year and next. Possibly into 21-22. What you’re describing is basically a rebuild, which would undo everything Foley and GM have put in place the last 2 years. In 21-22 season the team will start to reload with new talent and younger players taking on greater roles – Glass replacing Stastny at 2C, younger D replacing Marty, goalie succession from Fleury, Krebs & Dugan in Top 9.

    • james

      You stole my idea ! Yes I hope we can do all those moves. Maybe ristolainen from Buffalo at a salary reduction.

  11. Daryl

    I think a lot of what happens will be determined by how the playoffs go. I could see Vegas planning on making deals (via trade or what not) to let MAF go and sign Lehner. This is a smart move looking ahead. Although I think Engo is gone after this season, picking him up at base salary would not be a bad idea. For me he’s a lot better than Merrill and defensively better than Holden. I still think our younger blueliners still need time to develop especially considering this season was a wash. They need Cousins and Stephenson and by signing Engo that gives them more room to work with. I say let Merrill and Nosek walk. I would concentrate on Lehner, Cousins, and Stephenson. There are enough good young defenseman (Whitecloud, Hauge, etc) that I wouldn’t worry about spending money on that group.

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