One other offseason priority (not named Marchessault) for the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights expect to have a busy offseason. Here's why bringing back this young star should be near the top of the list.
Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers
Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

Jonathan Marchessault has been the talk of the town in Las Vegas. He's an unrestricted free agent and revered community figure who scored 42 goals this season. That should fetch him a good contract for the Vegas Golden Knights, right? But there's one minor problem: Vegas is vastly limited in cap space, only having $897,516 in non-LTIR money to spend.

But he isn't the only priority for the Golden Knights in free agency this summer. There's a young star set to become a restricted free agent. The Russian forward is also arbitration-eligible, adding an extra layer of suspense to the ordeal. He had a breakout season, scoring 13 goals and 11 assists in 47 games. No, it isn't Chandler Stephenson since he's already been covered. The center does provide plenty of scoring for any team, with his adaptability and speed helping anybody who picks him up.

The player in question is Pavel Dorofeyev, who impressed Vegas hockey fans with his stellar play this season. Yes, he's gotten plenty of praise for his improved play and offensive skills. However, the Russian winger will become a restricted free agent this summer. Therefore, there should be an incentive for general manager Kelly McCrimmon to bring him back during the free agency period.

Pavel Dorofeyev brings plenty of benefits to the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights will have a small issue during their contender window, one which is tough to avoid. Everyone will get older, including Mark Stone, William Karlsson, and Tomas Hertl. It doesn't help that the prospect pipeline isn't the best. Therefore, it's imperative to retain younger talent whenever they can.

That starts with Pavel Dorofeyev, who's grown into his own as an offensive player. It's hard taking the puck away from the 23-year-old, for he has immaculate control whenever he's handling the puck. He should get more time on special teams, particularly the power play (he has two goals and two assists in the past two seasons).

If he can improve his play defensively, he'll become a vital asset for the Golden Knights. He won't become a linear player with a singular purpose if he plays better away from the puck. Luckily, he weighs 194 lbs., which is good for his long-term game.

What is Dorofeyev worth?

But enough about his basics. What is he worth? Surely, he won't cost an arm and a leg to retain, correct? The good news is he's projected to earn roughly $1.5 million in AAV, which is a worthy reward for the rising forward. Keep in mind those arbitration rights give Pavel Dorofeyev some leverage in contract negotiations, which will help him earn more than the league minimum.

Kelly McCrimmon is well-known for retaining the necessary pieces through any means necessary. Last offseason's retention of Adin Hill and Ivan Barbashev provides a good example. While both players came back, it also came at the expense of Reilly Smith, who was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2024 third-round draft pick.

Golden Knights fans could see some moves made to not only keep Dorofeyev, but also Marchessault. While tough decisions must be made in free agency, it's to balance the present and future, keeping the Stanley Cup window as wide open as possible. The Russian star might be the needed piece to make that happen.