Vegas Golden Knights 2020 Free Agency: Greiss ticks all the boxes as a high-end backup

Thomas Greiss could be a perfect fit for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Today is the start of NHL Free Agency with all the madness set to begin at noon ET, and the Vegas Golden Knights are expected to be at the heart of it all.

It is no secret that the Golden Knights are desperately trying to clear cap space in order to make a serious run at elite defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who will hit the open market today after failing to sign a new contract with the St. Louis Blues.

Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug and offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie could both be alternatives if Vegas misses out on Pietrangelo, although there are other needs for this franchise.

For instance, if the front office proves successful in moving face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury in a trade in order to crate the cap space they will need for a big move, a spot for a backup goalie will open.

The market for netminders heading into Free Agency is insane with names such as Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford, Cory Schneider and Anton Khudobin all available, which means that goalies in the category below the big-hitters could be available on a team-friendly deal.

As such, there is one name in particular the Golden Knights should make a real run at if they find themselves in need of a backup goalie…

German Efficiency

Thomas Greiss may well just be one of the most underrated names available on the open market on the opening day of Free Agency.

The German goaltender hasn’t signed a new contract with the New York lslanders and so will be on the hunt for a new home and a new team.

And, make no doubt about it, there will be a lot of teams interested in acquiring Greiss’ services and the Golden Knights should be one of those teams.

A huge piece in the Islanders’ recent success, Greiss has formed one of the best and most effective goalie tandems in the entire NHL over the past couple of seasons with both Robin Lehner and Semyon Varlamov.

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders looks on.

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders looks on. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Under General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz, New York has mastered the art of splitting starts between two high-end starters and maximising both parts of an effective tandem.

Greiss has been integral to that and he already shares a close relationship with Lehner, with the two winning the William M. Jennings Trophy in 2018-19 together, given to the goaltender(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it during the regular season.

Greiss had a .927 Save Percentage and a 2.28 Goals Against Average to go along with five shutouts in 39 starts that season, while he also boasted a Quality Start Percentage of .641.

He was solid in 2019-20 with a .913 Save Percentage and a 2.74 Goals Against Average in less starts with 28, while Greiss had numbers of a 2.02 GAA and a .929 SV% with one shutout in three Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The underlying numbers are just as impressive when you dig deep too, including the fact that Greiss had an even-strength Save Percentage of .920 in 2019-20 and a .929 SV% while shorthanded.

He had similar numbers the year before and the 34-year-old has also been good for 25 Quality Starts in 2018-19 and 15 in 2019-20.

In all, Greiss has been one of the most effective backups in the NHL over the last few years and he could easily shoulder a workload of 25-35 games with the Golden Knights.

He already shares a relationship with Lehner so the fit inside the room wouldn’t be a problem, and he could be available at a team-friendly deal…

Thomas Greiss #1, New York Islanders

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders looks on against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

What it would cost

It is no secret that the Golden Knights are currently just over the flat cap of $81.5 million heading into the first day of Free Agency. Teams can go over the cap by 10 percent during the off-season, while the front office are trying to clear cap space so they can make moves today.

The good news is that Greiss shouldn’t be expensive and he could be willing to accept a team-friendly deal if he goes to a contender and given his age at 34.

Greiss’ last deal with the New York Islanders was $9,999,999 over three years, carrying an AAV of $3,333,333.

Now, given that they are in the middle of their Stanley Cup window, the Golden Knights could try to sign Greiss to a two-year deal with an Annual Average Value of $2.5 million given the fact that the goalie is probably in the last few years of his career.

Also, given the sheer amount of big name goalies that will be available today, it could be that players in the ilk of Greiss will be willing to take a further pay cut in order to sign somewhere given the sheer amount of netminders that will be out there.

It would give Greiss one last chance to win a Stanley Cup on a legitimate contender and reunite with a starter he knows well in Robin Lehner, while it would give the Golden Knights a proven 1B goalie who has been stellar over the last few years should they be successful in moving Marc-Andre Fleury today.

There will be a boatload of goalies on the market today but Thomas Greiss could be a perfect fit for the Vegas Golden Knights in more ways than one.