Vegas to be big players this offseason

It must be nice having a lot of money to spare, and that’s exactly what the Vegas Golden Knights have when free agency opens on July 1st.

With the salary cap set to rise to anywhere between $78 million and $82 million, the Golden Knights could have anywhere up to $30 million of house money to play with.

William Karlsson – Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

They’ll have to tie up William Karlsson which should cost them around $5 million, James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner are pending UFA’s and Shea Theodore is due a raise as an RFA this summer.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was on TSN’s Insider Trading recently when he touched on what Vegas’ plans could be this summer.

“I think it is possible. Now, you mentioned Tavares and we expect Vegas to be a potential bidder there.

“What about John Carlson? George McPhee the GM, with Vegas of course has a history with John Carlson. Let me be clear, John Carlson’s priority is to re-sign with the Capitals after this season.

“He wants to stay there. That’s what the Caps want to get done.”

Carlson was drafted by George McPhee back in 2008 and has spent his entire career with either the Capitals or their AHL affiliate Hershey Bears.

John Carlson – Paul Vernon/Associated Press

Over the past couple of seasons he’s really transcended his role, becoming one of the premier right-shot defencemen in the league right now.

In 2014-15 he set a then career high 55 points, but due to injuries limiting his ice time over the two following seasons he couldn’t quite match that.

Fast forward to 2017/18 and Carlson led the entire NHL in scoring by a defenceman with 68, beating guys like Brent Burns, John Klinberg and Erik Carlson.

It’s fair to say a healthy John Carlson is going to get a lot of money from either the Capitals if they can find the room to extend him, or by Vegas if they can lure him to Sin City with a better offer, and with the cap space they have, they can always make the better offer this summer.

If they can’t get Carlson like LeBrun expects them to chase, perhaps is trade is on the cards for another defenceman.

Who’s to say that if the Senators still have a rocky relationship with their current captain Erik Karlsson that the Golden Knights don’t try and go after him? With some of the young forwards the Knights have like William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, the Knights could do with a bit more of a sure defensive unit and Carlson or Karlsson would definitely be huge upgrades on their current core of guys.

Erik Karlsson – Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia

To go after a guy like Erik Karlsson may cost them a fair bit, but in the next two drafts (not this year) they certainly have the draft picks necessary to try and leverage any sort of deal.

Once the silly season begins, you’ll probably hear trade rumours that are about as realistic as trades made on NHL computer games, but expect to hear Vegas ‘involved’ in any that mention any top level defenceman.

Also, while Lou Lamoriello is now with the New York Islanders and likely trying all he can to get John Tavares to put pen to paper on a new deal, with each day that passes he’s getting closer and closer to becoming a UFA.

John Tavares – Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

He’s due a huge raise on his $5.5 million AAV and if anyone has the cap room to just give him a blank cheque and tell him to put however much he wants on their, it’s Vegas.

The ball is well and truly in Vegas’ court once July 1st hits.

In the next three drafts the Golden Knights have 8 picks in the first two rounds, but only one of those is this year (2nd round)

George McPhee and Vegas did a great job stockpiling picks, but whose to say they don’t use them as leverage this summer to keep their team a contender with big names coming in, rather than what was expected at this point where people (including me) thought they’d suck, have high first rounders and build through the draft.

Your move George McPhee

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