Building the 2019/2020 Vegas Golden Knights; Who Should Stay and Who Should Go?- Part 1

When the Vegas Golden Knights exceeded Bill Foley’s expectations of making the playoffs in three years (with the Cup in 6), he decided to alter his goals to a “shorter plan.” Sure the Knights had a disappointing end to their playoff run this year, but the team performed quite well once they finally had a healthy team, and they show promise to be a formidable team next season.

However, there are some issues facing the Vegas Golden Knights this offseason as they prepare to build an even stronger team. The issues include how to afford to pay William Karlsson what he deserves (we’ll talk about why he deserves it too), what to do with the current UFAs and RFAs, and who to trade to build the best team possible. Last season fans didn’t expect many trades to be made since the team made it to the Stanley Cup Final on almost the original roster. But this season most know that changes need to be, and will be, made.

Players Evaluated, Changes Made

In the coming days, we will be evaluating the lines and the players, and discussing what decisions we would make as GM. The VGK Ladies staff agree on some players and disagree on others. We will post differing arguments so that you, the reader, can make up your own decision and play “GM for a day”.

For today though, we will start off by saying that we all agree that nothing will be done to alter the first** and second line. Both lines have chemistry and are very productive. To alter these lines is to say “hit me” in a game of Black Jack when your hand shows 19. Could pay off, but most likely you’ll lose. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So stay tuned as we break down the rest of the team and decide who should stay, who should go, and how we rebuild those lines to create a powerhouse team for a 2020 run for the Cup.

Until tomorrow, here are some things to think about:

*Karlsson becomes an RFA this season for the last time (UFA next year unless he signs a long-term contract). His salary last year was $5.25M. In order to keep his rights, the Knights will have to offer him At Least that. But seeing that he is one of the few 200′ forwards on the team, he should be getting paid at least $6M going forward. In order to do that, and still offer contracts to Jimmy Schuldt and Nikita Gusev, the Knights will have to make some big cuts.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

*Gusev hasn’t played for the Knights yet, so we don’t know how well he would fit in, but we do know that he is a phenomenal player. He currently has 11 points (3 goals and 8 assists) in just 6 games in the IIHF Men’s World Championships and he led the KHL this last season in Points and Assists. It would be foolish to let him go without a test drive first and a very high price on his head. But to keep him, Vegas will have to pay for him.

*Current Restricted Free Agents: William Karlsson, Nikita Gusev, Tomas Nosek, Malcolm Subban, Jimmy Schuldt (valuable prospect), Jake Bischoff (prospect), Alex Gallant (prospect), Tobias Lindberg (prospect), Tomas Hyka (prospect), and Zachary Fucale (goalie prospect).

*Current Unrestricted Free Agents: Deryk Engelland, Brandon Pirri, Ryan Carpenter, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Maxime Lagace (prospect), and a few other prospects.

*Haula is healthy again! That means the Knights need to find a spot on the roster for him. Will he continue to be a center? Or will he be moved to a wing?

**We’ve heard some predict that Smith will be traded. We don’t believe this would happen for 3 reasons: 1. He has a no-trade clause in his contract. 2. He is highly favored by Gallant and was Alternate Captain this year. 3. Most players on the team believe he is one of the most valuable players because he is excellent on both ends of the ice and on all special teams.