Now that Jonathan Marchessault has signed his six-year extension worth $30 million, it’s time to break brass tax. What do the Vegas Golden Knights do from here?
First thing’s first: The contract makes sense. It’s relatively cheap for the value that Marchessault represents, and should keep the Golden Knights’ first line, once William Karlsson is locked up to a long-term contract, intact. Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith is also making $5 million per season up until the 2023-24 season ends.
But Marchessault’s deal does have some implications for the future of the Golden Knights, starting with the potential of an extension for James Neal. The Golden Knights and Neal are expected to start talks soon on a new contract, another move that could solidify the core that is the Golden Knights’ future. Neal is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Here’s what we know: Marchessault was the best deadline trade piece Vegas had. Counting against only $750,000 against the cap, Marchessault really could’ve been traded. If the Golden Knights don’t have 60 points at the halfway point of the season and atop the Western Conference, there’s a chance Marchessault is on a contending team come February.
Alas, Vegas is winning and Marchessault has 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists). He’s worth every penny the Golden Knights are paying him.
Now, it gets interesting when discussing a possible Neal extension. David Perron is also an unrestricted free agent after this year. You’d like to think his wonderful post in the Player’s Tribune means he’s in Vegas’ long-term plans, but you can never be too sure. The Golden Knights might go all in with the year one roster, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It helps when you’re winning and are on pace to be the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
It suggests general manager George McPhee has a chance of heart on the current state of this roster. The core, which also includes the re-signing of defenseman Brayden McNabb, is highlighted around Marchessault. Getting Neal locked up to a long-term deal would officially change the plans of what McPhee wants to do.
Vegas has cap space, a contending team and a boatload of draft picks. The Golden Knights will be fine should they lock up the current roster as is.