Big Name Free Agents Landing in Vegas? It Could Happen

December 29, 2017

A lot of noticeable hockey players have yet to sign extensions to their existing contracts that expire at the end of the 2018 or the 2019 campaign. Because of this a lot of speculation and rumors have been floated as to where these players may end up. The thought of players attempting to create a super team like in the NBA has even been speculated on. Still, there has been no mention of how any of these players could and in my opinion, have a good chance of landing in Vegas. Here is a list of some of those that will qualify as unrestricted free agents over the next two years.


  • John Tavares
  • Josh Bailey
  • Evander Kane
  • John Carlson
  • Henrik Sedin
  • James van Riemsdyk
  • Joe Thornton
  • Paul Statsny
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Patric Hornqvist
  • Tomas Vanek
  • Mikael Backlund
  • Mike Green
  • Derek Ryan
  • Patrick Maroon
  • Michael Grabner
  • Brian Gibbons
  • Tyler Bozak
  • David Desharnais
  • Rick Nash


  • Jason Spezza
  • Drew Doughty
  • Erik Karlsson
  • Jordan Eberle
  • Artemi Panarin
  • Matt Duchene
  • Logan Couture
  • Joe Pavelski
  • Jeff Skinner
  • Tyler Seguin
  • Blake Wheeler
  • Nikita Kucherov
  • Marcus Johanssen
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson
  • Alex Edler
  • Derick Brassard
  • Nikita Kucherov
  • Gustav Nyquist
  • Jori Lehtera
  • Max Pacioretty

First, even by the most generous prediction at least 75% of these players will likely re-sign with the same team. Second, there are a lot of other talented players also without new contracts that both expire at the end of this season and next season. In short, there will likely be some big names available over the next two years.

Only nine teams currently have over six million in cap space; Jets, Canadiens, Panthers, Devils, Oilers, Golden Knights, Avalanche, Hurricanes, and Coyotes. Many of the teams mentioned have internal caps enforced by ownership and as such do not spend up to the current $75 million-dollar cap ceiling. Next season it is estimated the cap will rise upwards of $3 million giving all teams even more room to play with before the inevitable lockout when the CBA expires in 2022 or the NHLPA opts out in 2019.

The Golden Knights presently have over $8 million in cap space and are not a team restricted by an internal cap hit from ownership. Still, it is deceiving how much the Golden Knights are spending on players to play in the lineup. Roughly $17 million is being spent on players either on long-term injury reserve (LTIR), buried contracts, or retained salary. These monies all count against the cap because the team has not spent up to the ceiling for LTIR to be waived. This means only about $49 million is being used on roster players. Here is a break down of cap space currently being used on non-roster players.

  • Mikhail Grabovski $5,000,000 (LTIR) Expires Summer 2018
  • Clayton Stoner $3,250,000 (LTIR) Expires Summer 2018
  • Jason Garrison $3,575,000 (Buried) Expires Summer 2018
  • Alexie Emelin $1,117,625 (Retained Salary) Expires Summer 2018
  • David Clarkson $ 5,250,000 (LTIR) Expires Summer 2020

Excluding the Clarkson contract, roughly $13 million in cap space will be freed up in summer 2018 for a total of $21 million. An NHL team can do a lot with that amount of cap space especially when you consider the cap increasing an additional $3 million as well. It is going to be hard to outbid Vegas during the John Tavares auction. Getting the entire Vadim Shipachyov contract of $5 million dollars off the books without any repercussions certainly helped the Knights.

The team will have twelve players looking for new contracts with five being UFAs and seven being restricted free agents (RFAs). These twelve players roughly make up $19 million in cap space, so it goes without saying it will take at least that much if the team wants to resign all of them. It is far more likely a couple players are left unsigned while other receive raises. For example, leaving one player such as Luca Sbisa unsigned and re-signing every other player may at most eat into 3-5 million of the $21 million mentioned previously and that is without factoring in the cap increase.


  • James Neal $5,000,000
  • David Perron $3,750,000
  • Jonathan Marchessault $750,000
  • Luca Sbisa $3,600,000
  • Deryk Engelland $1,000,000


  • William Karlsson $1,000,000
  • William Carrier $689,167
  • Tomas Nosek $612,500
  • Jon Merrill $1,137,500
  • Colin Miller $1,000,000
  • Shea Theodore $863,333
  • Oscar Dansk $650,000

Judging from the Brayden McNabb contract it does not appear most Vegas players are going to get significant raises. McNabb is currently second on the team in even strength ice time and third in overall ice time. He has been one of the most consistent defensemen on the team and only received a contract extension of $2.5 million dollars which was a slight increase from his previous of $1.7 million. Also, restricted free agents rarely get large raises so while the likes of Colin Miller, Shea Theodore and William Karlsson may be the future it is unlikely they start to see big paydays due to their status.

All in all, expect Vegas to make use of the absurd amount of cap space they are about to have heading into 2018. If there is a superstar player with a soon to expire contract in the NHL expect Vegas to come calling.


Feature Image Credit: New York Post
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