Free Agency is hard on fans, some guys just can’t strike a deal to stay around no matter how much the fans want them to be there.
It looks like the Vegas Golden Knights might have to say goodbye to some of their history making stars who helped guide them to the Stanley Cup finals in just their first year of operation as an NHL team.
Forwards James Neal, David Perron and Ryan Reaves, as well as defenceman Luca Sbisa are all yet to agree terms to new deals, and maybe be hitting free agency to get the deals they want, unless the winds change before July 1st, that’s according to David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
With the players yet to agree to sign on the dotted line, it’s important to note that it’s not because they don’t want to be in Vegas.
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James Neal for example was reportedly offered a deal previously in the region of 5-years at $5mil AAV at the trade deadline, but the former Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators forward is looking for a deal in excess of $6mil AAV.
Perron was reportedly also offered an extension around the trade deadline, but according to his agent Allan Walsh, he hasn’t been offered anything further since the end of the season.
Now the window has opened for potential UFAs to speak with other teams, interest has been high on Perron, and if a more lucrative offer is made to they man who put up a career high 66-points this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone if he finds another city to call home for the next few years.
Ryan Reaves and the Golden Knights appears to be close in terms of value, but Reaves apparently wants a longer deal that George McPhee doesn’t seem prepared to offer, while a deal for Luca Sbisa just doesn’t seem like its getting done.
It would be a big blow for the Golden Knights to lose some of their key guys, but while Neal, Perron and the rest might be able to listen to offers from other teams, Vegas are also able to look to pry others away from different teams.
John Tavares might be about to become one of the most coveted free agents of all time, and with the current (and potentially soon to be former) New York Islanders captain narrowing his list of teams he’s meeting with down to five, the Golden Knights are rumoured to be one of them.
Whether or not you feel John Tavares is a guy the team need to go after is one thing, but George McPhee has a lot of money to work with this season, so a deal for JT is definitely affordable.
There’s also the reports that the Golden Knights were close on a deal to bring Erik Karlsson over from the Ottawa Senators via trade at the deadline, and apparently those talks have picked back up again.
Vegas may be able to bring in some of the leagues biggest stars over the coming weeks, but they also have the flexibility to not just bring in big money and big point producing guys, but ensure their depth is kept as solid as possible so that while they develop their prospect pool, they have the guys up in the NHL already to keep the team competitive and show that year one wasn’t a fluke.
The main thing Vegas need to do this year is not be taken advantage of just because they have the cash to splash.
Also, it’s equally important to keep remembering that these deals might not get done because of length and value, these players all want to remain in Vegas. Players want to be a Golden Knight.
It may be a new hockey market but it’s certainly an attractive place for players to want to be now. If these guys can’t get deals done, there’s always more in free agency who’ll want to come to Vegas.
James Neal searching for in excess of $6 mil might not be good business for a 30-year-old goalscoring winger who’s only reached the 30-goal plateau twice in his 10-year NHL career.
Kevin Hayes of the New York Rangers for example had better numbers in 2016/17 than Neal, and identical numbers this year (25 goals, 19 assists). He’s just finished up a two-year, $2.6mil AAV contract. I doubt he gets north of $6mil a year on his deal he’s set to sign this summer as an RFA, and he’s younger and a centreman. According to Larry Brooks of the NY Post, Hayes is rumoured to be around the $4.75mil region.
A deal worth $6mil plus for James Neal might not be great business for the Golden Knights to conduct down the line, for me I know it’s just the difference of a million dollars, but the reported 5-year at $5mil a season offer was fair value.
Vegas also have to look at getting pen to paper with some of their restricted free agents like William Karlsson and Shea Theodore.
Both aren’t as high priority right now because of the restricted status, but Karlsson is due a significant raise on the $1 mil he earned last year. He finished third in goals this year so he’d be quite an expensive guy to get this summer but worth the money.
Overall, the Golden Knights have six pending UFAs, forwards Neal, Perron, Reaves and Mikhail Grabovski as well as defenseman Sbisa and Clayton Stoner.
They also have a handful of pending RFAs in Karlsson and Theodore, as well as Tomas Nosek, William Carrier and Colin Miller.
It’s going to be an interesting summer for Golden Knights fans, one with worry about some of their big names leaving but also the potential of big name stars coming in makes this team one of the big players at the free agency table. Players come and go, it’s part of the business of hockey, but players want to come to Vegas.
It’s going to be an interesting summer followed by another exciting season.