Golden Knights News & Rumors: Pacioretty, Kolesar, Smith & More

In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan were shipped to the Carolina Hurricanes in a puzzling and disappointing deal. In other news, Keegan Kolesar has filed for salary arbitration. Meanwhile, Reilly Smith has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a three-year deal. Last but not least, general manager Kelly McCrimmon has signed two Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) players in Sakari Manninen and Spencer Foo to one-year deals.

Pacioretty & Coghlan Dealt to Hurricanes

In a very surprising move this past Wednesday, the Golden Knights announced that they were shipping both Pacioretty and Coghlin to the Hurricanes. While it was clear to everyone that McCrimmon would need to shed some salary due to his team’s messy cap situation, no one expected a player of Pacioretty’s status to be traded in a cap dump. That was exactly what happened, however, as the Hurricanes gave up nothing but future considerations in the deal.

Max Pacioretty Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty, former Vegas Golden Knights (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This trade was the unfortunate reality of the Golden Knights’ all-in, all-the-time mentality. They always seem to be interested in trying to add any and every top player available, with perhaps the best example being their acquisition of Jack Eichel and his $10 million cap hit last season. In large part a result of that move, they were forced to move Pacioretty, who remains one of the game’s better point producers when healthy, for nothing in return.

As mentioned, they also moved Coghlan, an undrafted 24-year-old defenceman who appeared in a career-high 59 games last season. Despite some improvements in 2021-22, he appears to be nothing more than a depth option at this point, so shedding his $762,500 cap hit wasn’t nearly as big of a blow to the Golden Knights. Nonetheless, it is extremely disappointing that they were forced to make this move while receiving nothing in return, but that is what happens when other teams realize you are in a cap crunch.

Kolesar Files for Salary Arbitration

On Sunday, the NHLPA listed off every player in the league who filed for arbitration, and one name on the list was Kolesar of the Golden Knights. The 25-year-old, who was taken back in the third round (69th overall) of the 2015 Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, has turned into an effective bottom-six forward over the past two seasons.

Related: Golden Knights’ Pacioretty Salary Dump Linked to Eichel Trade

In 2021-22, Kolesar appeared in a career-high 77 games in which he recorded seven goals and 24 points along with a team-high 68 penalty minutes. His toughness in the bottom six, especially with the departure of Ryan Reaves after 2020-21, has been welcomed protection for the Golden Knights’ top skaters. A decision will be made on his next contract between July 27 and Aug. 11.

Smith Re-Signs with Golden Knights

This past Thursday, the Golden Knights announced that they had re-signed Smith to a three-year deal that will carry an average annual value of $5 million. This deal was said to have been verbally agreed upon weeks prior, as first reported by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, so it didn’t come as a major surprise when it was officially announced.

Reilly Smith #19, Vegas Golden Knights
Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Smith is one of the very few remaining on the Golden Knights who was a part of their 2017-18 roster that made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Throughout his five years with the organization, he has been a solid offensive player while also being good in his own end of the ice. In 56 games this past season, he registered 16 goals and 38 points and should be able to continue with similar production moving forward.

Golden Knights Add Two From KHL

Though the Golden Knights weren’t able to add any high-profile free agents due to their cap situation, that didn’t stop them from bringing in a few intriguing players. As officially announced this past Friday, they signed both Manninen and Foo to one-year deals for the upcoming 2022-23 campaign.

Manninen, 30, has spent the past four seasons playing in the KHL. In 38 games this past season with Ufa Salavat Yulayev, he recorded a team-high 19 goals along with 32 points. In the season prior, he posted an even more impressive 19 goals and 52 points in 55 outings. His contract will carry a cap hit of just $750,000, making it a low-risk, high-reward type deal. One interesting thing to note about Manninen is that he stands at just 5-foot-7, 178 pounds, which may mean he will have a tough time adjusting to the physical style of the NHL, though that remains to be seen.

Foo, 28, is another intriguing signing. The Canadian-born forward appeared in four games with the Calgary Flames back in 2017-18, where he compiled two goals. After spending just one more season in North America, however, he left for the KHL where he has spent the past three seasons. In 48 games for the Kunlun Red Star last season, he scored 14 goals and 33 points. His deal, like Manninen’s, will carry a $750,000 cap hit at the NHL level, but also has an American Hockey League salary of $400,000.

Looking Ahead for the Golden Knights

With free agency having begun this past Wednesday and the draft roughly two weeks behind, there likely won’t be a ton of Golden Knights news throughout the remainder of the summer. One thing to keep an eye on, however, will be in regards to the health of both Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit, as it was reported not too long ago that they may not be ready for the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

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