Vegas can likely fit all their free agents under 2018-19 salary cap

So you wanna keep the gang together, eh? It can be done, but should it?

Following the Game 5 (and Western Conference Finals) series victory, nearly all of the Knights On Ice crew took to our Slack chat.

To discuss the win?

Yeah, there was some of that. But the conversation soon turned to the offseason—would Vegas retain David Perron and/or James Neal? How much would the pending restricted free agents get? Will Mike and Shepard ever find a middle ground on William Karlsson’s true talent level?

The only answer we have is to the last one (no), but the other questions are fascinating. Fortunately, Matt Cane has released his yearly spreadsheet of salary projections for pending free agents, a set of guesses that often proven eerily accurate. For example, Cane predicted that if Evander Kane were to receive a seven-year contract extension, it would be worth $7,107,358 annually. Kane, of course, received $7MM on the dot from the San Jose Sharks, possibly because general manager Doug Wilson is a fan of rounding.

But Cane’s projections are accurate for far more than players with whom he shares a similar last name. Let’s take a look at how the roster would shake out next season if Vegas opts to re-sign all of their NHL free agents with just a few exceptions (sorry Clayton Stoner, Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Garrison).

After all, the Vegas Golden Knights saga over the past year has been a tremendous feel-good story, albeit one with a bittersweet ending. As such, it makes sense that there would be good reason in bringing back a lot, if not all of their players from this past year. One, they clearly found some type of magic with this collection of guys, and two, fans often form strong bonds with the players that led a team to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Given the team’s relatively low salary total paid out last year, plus the likely rise to $80MM for the 2018-19 cap, Vegas should absolutely be able to retain their entire group. Whether they should or not, is a story we will get into over the coming weeks.

Here are your 2018-19 Vegas Golden Knights:

There you have it—raises for Karlsson, Neal, Perron, Colin Miller, Shea Theodore, and yet the Knights would still have some wiggle room below the cap for another signing. Also, there is the possibility that some Vegas youngsters or players on two-way contracts (hello, Tomas Hyka) could fight their way onto the roster next season.

Now, you may have a few questions at this point, and I could imagine the largest one being, “why is Perron getting $6.7MM a year?” Hey pal, I don’t make the rules, but I also don’t like betting against Cane’s projections. While they are not a bulls-eye every time, it is rare to see a wildly disparate result.

A few things jump out, one of which is William Karlsson’s six-year, $33 million contract. If he has a few years anywhere resembling his 2017-18 output, the contract is a steal, and cements the line with he, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault as one of the league’s fonest. However, seeing as none of the 21 players to post a 20+% shooting percentage and 20 goals+ between the 2004-05 lockout and 2016-17 season ever matched the feat the following season (save for Alex Tanguay), it is unlikely that Karlsson will either.

Miller receiving a few more bucks than Theodore may raise a few eyebrows, however Miller did outpace Theodore in points, 41 to 29, and he is a little older, therefore closer to his UFA years and presently arbitration-eligible.

I love Tomas Nosek at below $1 million a year. I’d love him at anywhere under $1.75MM per. He has shown himself to be the perfect fourth-liner, and a far better value than Ryan Reaves ($1,100,000).

Luca Sbisa appears to be the only player in line for a noticeable pay dip. This is not so much an indictment of his abilities rather than one of the Vancouver Canucks for giving him a three-year, $10.8 million deal after *squints* 11 points in 76 games and a 46.2 CF%.

Keeping this team together can be done. What say you, George?

Oh. Well then...