Free agency is now a little less than a month away from opening up and there are quite a few prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. Vegas has a pair of notable restricted free agents to re-sign this summer and extremely limited cap space to work with. Here’s a closer look at their free agent situation.
Key Restricted Free Agents: F William Karlsson– His contract situation a year ago was one of the more interesting ones of the summer considering he was coming off of his breakthrough season which was his only year of quality production. They wound up settling on a one-year pact so he’s up for a new deal once again. While Karlsson’s numbers dipped as expected in 2018-19, he was still productive, posting 24 goals and 32 assists, still safely in the range of a top-six forward. He’s owed a qualifying offer of $5.25M and the question will be how much more than that will it take to get him to agree to a long-term deal this time around? The 26-year-old is one year away from UFA eligibility and could simply file for arbitration and take a one-year deal if talks don’t go well.
F Nikita Gusev – It’s rare that someone that has yet to play in an NHL game is considered a key RFA but it’s fair to call Gusev an exception here. He led the KHL in scoring in 2018-19 and not by a particularly close margin. Vegas believes that he can be a top-six forward at the NHL level and the 26-year-old will likely be looking to be paid like one after quickly burning his entry-level contract in the playoffs. He technically has arbitration eligibility but with no track record under his belt, that would be a tough case to make in a hearing. His case is going to be a particularly intriguing one to watch for.
Other RFAs: D Jake Bischoff, G Zach Fucale, F Alex Gallant, F Tomas Hyka, F Tobias Lindberg, F Tomas Nosek, D Jimmy Schuldt, G Malcolm Subban
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: D Deryk Engelland – When Vegas picked him up in expansion, he was viewed as someone that was probably going to be a depth part on their back end. That hasn’t exactly happened as he has averaged over 20 minutes per game over his two seasons with the Golden Knights and was third on their back end in ATOI in 2018-19. Forget being a depth piece, he has been a particularly important one. He has already stated that he hopes to play for a couple more seasons at least but would like to go year-to-year and Vegas has recently tendered him an offer. While he could make a case for a higher base salary than the $1.5M he had this past season (plus $1M in performance bonuses), he may have to go elsewhere to get that with their cap situation.