All four of the Vegas Golden Knights’ soon-to-be unrestricted free agents made their feelings clear during locker room clean-out on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, they would all like to return to the team next season.
However, with Vegas facing a bit of a salary cap crunch this summer, it is unlikely all four of Deryk Engelland, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter and Brandon Pirri will be back with the team next season.
Engelland and Bellemare are the two prominent names for Vegas, but the issue with both veteran players is their age. While Engelland has become a fan favorite, he is 37 years old and questions about what he has left in the tank are more than fair.
Bellemare is in a similar situation at 34 years old, and although he said he would not like to discuss the specifics of what he is looking for in his next contract, he did say he would like to sign more than a year-to-year deal with Vegas, which would presumably mean something with term attached to it.
The real question for the Golden Knights’ brass when it comes to Engelland and Bellemare, though, is what to pay an aging fourth-line center and defenseman?
As for Carpenter and Pirri, their statuses seem to be more up in the air. Vegas’ roster is simply too deep, and both players admit that their main goal is to just play on an NHL roster.
Brandon Pirri is a UFA this offseason and has some big decisions to make.— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) April 25, 2019
He said his number one concern when deciding where to sign is opportunity to play in the NHL. He said he wants to be a part of the Golden Knights, but added-
“But this is a deep group.”
It will be interesting to see how George McPhee handles Bellemare and Engelland in free agency this summer. On one hand, both veterans played important minutes for the Golden Knights since the team’s very first game. On the other, though, young players like Nicolas Hague and Cody Glass are inching closer and closer to the NHL. Not only are both of those players younger, and arguably more talented, their entry-level contracts are also cheaper.
Add all those factors together and the Golden Knights will have some big decisions to make.