Kelly McCrimmon has 2 choices the rest of this offseason

The Vegas Golden Knights had a free agency period to forget. What's there to do?
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

If Ice Cube released a song called, "Today Wasn't A Good Day," the Vegas Golden Knights could've used that song for Monday. First, they watched their beloved "Misfit," Jonathan Marchessault, sign with the Nashville Predators for five years and $5.5 million AAV. That didn't sit well with most of the fanbase, who revered him as one of their favorite Golden Knights.

But, wait! He had a backup plan. Go after Steven Stamkos and replace Marchessault's production on the top line. It was foolproof and would benefit numerous aspects. Whether it was the power play or Vegas's overall scoring, the strategy couldn't fail, right?

Arnold, tell them again.

What happened was Stamkos followed Jonathan Marchessault to Nashville, signing a four-year, $8 million AAV deal. It didn't help that other big-name free agents like Jake Guentzel were already scooped up. Now, the Golden Knights were without a crucial top-line player. What's a team to do?

In short, it was a gamble they took and went broke on. Instead of fortifying the first line with a key scorer, now there's an empty void where an "Original Misfit" was. But who's going to replace that void now? Will it be Mitch Marner, who's on a Toronto Maple Leafs team without much cap space? Will it be Brendan Brisson, who hasn't had much time in the NHL?

For Vegas, the team has many questions about what to do with their roster. Watching all six unrestricted free agents walk doesn't make a fanbase happy. That's especially true when one of those stars holds numerous franchise records. So what's Kelly McCrimmon supposed to do now?

Kelly McCrimmon can stand pat

During a Monday press conference, McCrimmon said there were young forwards they believed would step up and take on bigger roles. That was the price a team pays for winning the Stanley Cup. He alluded to the 2023 Stanley Cup, where numerous players outperformed their contracts.

While there are younger names such as Pavel Dorofeyev and Brendan Brisson ready to take on bigger roles, the farm system isn't exactly stacked. Of course, notable names such as Lukas Cormier are waiting in the wings. However, it's not on the same level as the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens.

Still, Vegas has done a great job of turning average pieces into something more. Chandler Stephenson was a fringe player who almost didn't stay on the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2019-20 season. 237 (77 goals, 160 assists) points later, he gets an excellent contract with the Seattle Kraken, going to the Pacific Northwest for seven years and $43.75 million.

The one benefit of this is it keeps the Golden Knights under the salary cap. Not moving any players and trusting younger players to develop makes them a threat. But there are some problems, such as players not panning out as originally thought. Therefore, it's easy to see why fans are panicking about the quiet offseason.

The Vegas Golden Knights make a big move

On the other end of the spectrum have been rumors regarding a big move. Vegas has been heavily involved in Mitch Marner rumors, with the elite player in the last season of his contract. There's good reason for this considering the team's circumstances.

For one, there's a massive void on the top line. The Golden Knights don't have any players (yet) who can take the helm without reshuffling the lineup. Brendan Brisson hasn't had sufficient playing time to develop at the NHL level. Pavel Dorofeyev is a nice player who's also not there yet. With some time, these players can become solid stars that can take such roles.

That's why fans have clamored for a big name this offseason. With Marchessault gone and Stamkos going to Nashville with him, the talent pool is dried up. Now, the team looks weaker on paper. This won't likely be the route McCrimmon takes. However, it's one which can make them better out the gate.

Of course, there are downsides to this, too. As mentioned, the Vegas Golden Knights aren't exactly stacked in their farm system. Couple that with limited salary cap space (roughly $2.3 million with Robin Lehner on LTIR) and there's good reason why Kelly McCrimmon is leaning towards standing pat.

feed