Frustration in Vegas leads to messy fallout on end-of-season day  

Frustration in Vegas leads to messy fallout on end-of-season day

Rival teams could greatly benefit from this…

Chris Gosselin

When the defending Stanley Cup champions Vegas Golden Knights were eliminated in the first round by the Dallas Stars, surprise was quickly replaced by concern when it comes to their current cap space and their pending unrestricted free agents. Everyone wondered if players like Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson played their final games for the Golden Knights and the message that was sent on dressing room clearout day did not reassure fans.

“Only 1 of the 6 pending UFAs spoke at locker cleanout day, that was Marchessault.
Stephenson, Carrier, Martinez, Mantha, and Amadio all did not.
Read into that as you may.”

Marchessault was the only one who faced reporters and told them how he hopes to be a Golden Knight until he hangs up the skates.

“I’ve done everything I can to stay here,” Marchessault said during Tuesday’s end-of-season media session. “I know I’m a big part of the organization. I would love to stay. I was a part of the guys who started this, one of the most proud things in my life. I’m happy to be a Golden Knight and want to be one the rest of my life.”

However, as one of six pending UFAs, Marchessault recorded a career-high 42 goals and led Vegas with 68 points, setting him up for a significant raise from the $5 million he earned annually since he signed a six-year, $30-million contract in 2018-19.

This comes along with Vegas being so cap-strapped that you have to wonder how they will hold on to any of the six aforementioned free agents. The Knights are projected to have less than $1 million in financial flexibility this summer with 20 active roster players under contract, per Cap Friendly.

GM Kelly McCrimmon could get an additional $5 million of wiggle room if goalie Robin Lehner remains on long-term injury reserve. But he will still need to make room for Marchessault, who has been one of the few original misfits left on the roster. He collected 417 points in 514 games since joining the Golden Knights for their inaugural season and won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in 2023.

Same goes for a guy like Stephenson, who is a reliable second-line forward who has played out the final season of a four-year deal with a cap hit of $2.75 million.

Stephenson did not speak with media, which hints at the fact that he, along William Carrier, Alec Martinez, Anthony Mantha, and Michael Amadio, could be on their way out of Vegas.

There might still be some hope for Marchessault, who admitted it was difficult to play on an expiring contract, saying he “thought about it all year.”

He could become a coveted free agent, with some of his teammates this summer… which he might have another several weeks to think about it.

Recommended articles:

Source: X