Trusted salary cap database CapFriendly has rolled over their site to the 2019-20 season already and one of the most eye-grabbing results is just how much trouble the Vegas Golden Knights are already in. Using a projected salary cap ceiling of $83MM, up $3.5MM from this season, at the top of the projected salary list is Vegas, who are already $125K over the cap with more than $83MM committed to just 19 players. A further inspection reveals that the Knights have just one goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, and six defensemen signed as of now, with no room to make any further additions. GM Kelly McCrimmon and company will have no choice but to shed salary this summer, at the very least just to re-sign restricted free agents like William Karlsson, Nikita Gusev, Jimmy Schuldt, and Malcolm Subban. Any free agent signings beyond that will require further sacrifice. Despite being just two years into their existence, Vegas has already accumulated an incredible amount of salary, mostly due to major contracts handed out to the likes of Mark Stone, Nate Schmidt, Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and Fleury, all signed since this time last year. Golden Knights fans should be prepared for some tough moves, as solving this problem won’t be as easy as simply placing David Clarkson on the injured reserve. Inaugural Knights like Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin, and Colin Miller are among the most likely casualties.
- Even in the midst of his new team’s cap crunch, Nikita Gusev is expecting and hoping to re-sign with Vegas. Gusev, whose rights were acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, finally jumped to the NHL late this season after a decorated career in the KHL. The 26-year-old forward burned his one-year entry-level contract, despite not playing, and is now a restricted free agent. He tells Russian hockey source Sport-Express, as translated by The Sin Bin, that he likes Las Vegas and feels he owes it to the team to re-sign with them if made a reasonable offer. Gusev acknowledges that he will likely receive other offers, either from KHL clubs overseas or in the form of an NHL offer sheet, but he will wait for Vegas’ initial offer before making any decisions. What might it cost the Knights to retain their newfound weapon? The interviewer suggested to Gusev that a $4MM AAV could be the ballpark price and he did not disagree. He would only confirm that he expects a one-way deal, but did not talk specific finances. Overall, Gusev sounded very flexible about getting a deal done and even acknowledged that he would be open to playing in the AHL if that is what is asked of him. That seems like an unlikely route for Vegas to take, but Gusev’s attitude at least implies that this negotiation process and first full year in North America should go smoother than it did for Vadim Shipachyov. If (when) the Golden Knights are forced to sell off scoring this off-season, Gusev could be an ideal candidate to take on a major role next season.
- Speaking at a conference today, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman projected the successful growth of betting on hockey by using the Golden Knights as an example, per TSN’s Rick Westhead. In Nevada, where sports gambling is legalized, hockey bets grew by 60% in Vegas’ inaugural season and again by 40% this season. While Nevada, and Las Vegas in particular, is the unofficial gambling capital of the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy v. NCAA last summer allows all states to decide for themselves whether or not to allow for legalized gambling. Many states already have sports books up and running and many more will soon follow. If the growth exhibited in Nevada in regards to betting on hockey is replicated by other states, it will be a key growth factor for the game and the NHL and one that Bettman will surely try to take advantage of as best he can.