This is how the Vegas Golden Knights can fit Alex Pietrangelo under the salary cap.
It is just a waiting game now when it comes to the Vegas Golden Knights winning Free Agency by landing its biggest prize in Pietrangelo, with multiple reports claiming that a deal is close.
Pietrangelo visited Vegas over the weekend and, with no other visits planned, it seems as though the St. Louis Blues Captain will become a member of the Golden Knights in the immediate future.
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It would automatically transform a great roster into an elite one, and Pietrangelo could be the final piece that pushes the Golden Knights over the top in their quest for a Stanley Cup.
However, browse through Social Media and one question that keeps coming up is the following:
How will the Golden Knights afford Alex Pietrangelo given their cap constraints?
Crunching the Numbers
It is no secret that the Knights are right up against the $81.5 million salary cap, with the NHL having to deal with a flat cap for the next couple of years at least due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is even after the Golden Knights cleared Paul Stastny‘s $6.5 million cap hit after dealing the veteran center to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday for a 2022 Fourth Round pick and defenseman Carl Dahlstrom.
Currently holding $1,875,896 in cap space, Vegas will go over again by quite some distance if and when Pietrangelo signs with the stud defenseman expected to command a seven-year deal with an $8.5 million AAV, maybe even more.
Now, teams are allowed to go over the cap by 10 percent during the off-season so the Golden Knights do have some flexibility.
And that’s where it gets interesting.
Reports emerged on Sunday night that suggested that defenseman Nate Schmidt was being aggressively shopped, and a trade would clear Schmidt’s $5,950,000 cap hit if the other team doesn’t retain any salary.
If Pietrangelo’s cap hit is indeed $8.5 million per year, then the Golden Knights will be over the cap by roughly $675k if my maths is correct (I’m rubbish with numbers so keep that in mind).
Therefore, General Manager Kelly McCrimmon would have to make another move besides Schmidt in order to get cap compliant by the start of the 2020-21 season, although they would have time due to the NHL’s 10 percent rule.
It is no secret that the Golden Knights have aggressively shopped face of the franchise Marc-Andre Fleury, but his $7 million cap hit with two years remaining is a problem with teams wanting high draft picks back in return, while the amount of high-end goalies available in Free Agency this year hasn’t helped matters.
Jonathan Marchessault is another name that has been out there and clearing his $5 million cap hit would certainly help, although it would be a case of robbing Peter in order to pay Paul with the Knights losing another valuable member of their top six forward unit.
Trading veteran defenseman Alec Martinez, who has one year remaining with a $4 million cap hit could work as well but, with any of these moves, the Golden Knights would have to dip into Free Agency in order to pick up a depth signing.
They are light at center, they would need to bring in another experienced blueliner if Martinez or Schmidt was traded and they would also need a backup goalie if Fleury was to be dealt, unless the front office have absolute confidence in Oscar Dansk to be able to do the job.
No matter how you look at it, the Golden Knights will be able to fit Alex Pietrangelo under the $81.5 million salary cap but they will have to sacrifice some big pieces in order to do so, and their cap situation will be tight for the duration of the 2020-21 season.
Buckle up because things are about to get interesting once that first big domino falls.