Although the Vegas Golden Knights seem to be enjoying early success in their short time in the NHL, there are certain things that have stopped them from capturing the Stanley Cup. The team’s front office has dealt out some questionable contracts, despite the praise they receive for some. By using emotion rather than logic, this cup-hungry team may have signed a few players that will ultimately do more harm than good in the latter years of their contracts. However, if the Golden Knights capture the Cup in two to five years, all of this will most likely be worth the money.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been a center point of the Golden Knights since the expansion draft. The three-time Stanley Cup champion was given a generous extension by the Golden Knights. However, he is now most likely going to relinquish the main goaltending duties to Robin Lehner next season. Fleury is a champion, however, and the Vegas front office wanted to use his experience to help lead their younger group of players.
Fleury currently has two years left on his contract with a $7 million cap hit. Although there were reports of the Golden Knights trying to trade the 35-year-old veteran, they announced that they will go into next season with two starting goalies. His contract does not help the Vegas front office as they now have $12 million invested into their goalie duo. Due to the size of his contract and Lehner’s extension, the Golden Knights were forced to trade Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets in order to sign key free agents.
William Karlsson has been a fan favorite in Vegas since he scored 43 goals during the Golden Knights’ inaugural season. “Wild Bill” was then given a hefty contract following his performance. Although he has continued to produce at a consistent level, his goal-scoring numbers have decreased each year. Karlsson is currently the number one center on the Golden Knights and part of the reason his goal-scoring numbers are decreasing could be attributed to the scoring abilities of Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone.
Karlsson currently has a cap hit of $5.9 million for the next seven years — it seems as if the front office overreacted to his breakout season. However, he does more than just play on the top line. He is a distributor on the power play and a leader on the penalty kill. He is also the all-time leader in short-handed points for the Golden Knights.
Despite this, his contract seems a bit overpriced for his level of production. Even with playing on the first line and power play unit, the 27-year-old Swede tied for fifth in points with Shea Theodore. There is a chance that Karlsson could still turn it around and increase his production, but as of right now it seems like Vegas may have coughed up a bit more than they should have for him.
The newest member of the Golden Knights may have benefitted from a championship-hungry team during “Free Agent Frenzy.” Alex Pietrangelo is an elite defenseman that will bolster the Vegas blue line tremendously. However, his addition comes with a price as the Golden Knights were forced to trade away one of their fan favorites, Nate Schmidt, to the Vancouver Canucks. Pietrangelo does add winning experience as he won the Stanley Cup with the Blues during the 2018-19 season.
Pietrangelo signed a seven-year deal with an $8.8 million average annual value. This will put the former Stanley Cup champion in Vegas until he is 37 years old. Even though he may be worth the money now, the length of his contract could come back to hurt Vegas in the future. It could cause a situation similar to what the Chicago Blackhawks are going through with both Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Once again, though, if the Golden Knights are able to win the Cup, then it will be worth it.
The Golden Knights appear to be in a win-now mindset. This has caused their front office to overspend or overextend players. They seem to be taking pages from the Tampa Bay Lightning playbook. However, although the contracts may seem questionable now, if Vegas is able to win the Stanley Cup, then the talks about the contracts will pass by as they accomplished their goal.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.