Talks between the Vegas Golden Knights and defenseman Deryk Engelland on a new contract have yet to get off the ground, according to David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period, raising intrigue on the 37-year-old’s future with the club.
Engelland was a top-four defenseman for the second consecutive season in Vegas. His first year resulted in a 23-point season, an NHL career-high, and his performance was rewarded with a one-year extension worth $2.5 million AAV signed on Jan. 15, 2018.
Year 2, however, was a steep dropoff for the longtime Las Vegas resident. His 12 points were his lowest since 2015-16, and he averaged nearly five minutes more of ice time this season than that year.
The obvious desire for a partnerhship between Engelland and the Golden Knights is no secret. Vegas selected him in the expansion draft two years ago from the Calgary Flames with the understanding that his residency in Las Vegas would make him valuable to the Golden Knights in that regard. His play in Year 1, as a veteran presence that helped lead Vegas to the Stanley Cup Final, was a bonus.
He was also a catalyst in helping Las Vegas heal following the Oct. 1 mass shooting two years ago, giving a speech before Vegas’ home opener Oct. 10 that punctuated with, “We are Vegas Strong.”
Engelland also expressed desire, to no surprise, that he would like to come back following Vegas’ stunning seven-game loss to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round this season. But while the partnership is evident, the numbers and roster space won’t agree.
The Golden Knights are expected to be capped out when the new league year starts, and there are more pressing needs Vegas will have to tend to this summer, not limited to William Karlsson’s and Nikita Gusev’s impending restricted free agency. Vegas has $21.1 million committed to six defensemen and have the option of one of its plethora of defensemen in AHL Chicago ready in the wings should the likes of Jimmy Schuldt, Zach Whitecloud or Nic Hague be ready to make the jump.
Engelland’s next deal with Vegas, should there be one, has to be less than the $1.5 million cap hit assessed to him and will result in a third pairing role or as a seventh defenseman. There’s no denying the mutual respect between both sides, but the timing isn’t right if the Golden Knights look to make another run to the Cup Final next season.