Should the Vegas Golden Knights sign Sam Reinhart?

One of the most surprising forwards this season hits free agency this summer. Should the Vegas Golden Knights go after him?
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Five
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers - Game Five / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

Imagine this doomsday scenario for a moment, Vegas Golden Knights fans. The Golden Knights don't retain any of their unrestricted free agents this summer, completely shaking up the team. That includes No. 81, who gets his big contract elsewhere. It's a grim picture that leaves the fanbase shaken, bringing up traumatic memories of Marc-Andre Fleury being traded without warning.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon would need a new strategy if this happened. He needs a solid forward to come in and impact the Golden Knights offensively. Who should McCrimmon look at to fill the role(s) left by the parting free agents? Steven Stamkos? Patrick Kane? What about adding more depth pieces on one-year deals to give the Golden Knights a foundation next season?

Why not look at another pending free agent this offseason named Sam Reinhart? The Florida Panthers forward has been a valuable piece to their Stanley Cup run, helping them get to the verge of the Eastern Conference Finals. Already, he has five goals and four assists this postseason, which has raised eyebrows across the NHL. With Reinhart's contributions, the Panthers have become one of the favorites for the Stanley Cup.

Currently, the native of West Vancouver, British Columbia, is in the final season of his three-year, $19.5 million contract. Hitting free agency will fetch him a lucrative contract, which will grow with Reinhart's breakout season. How so? The Canadian forward scored 57 goals this season, adding 37 assists to his scoring.

So should the Golden Knights pursue Sam Reinhart if the doomsday scenario happens? What must McCrimmon do if he wants to pursue the Panthers superstar in the offseason? There are numerous pros and cons of getting Reinhart on board, which could take Vegas to the next level. Here's a look at what the forward would bring.

The pros of signing Sam Reinhart

Sam Reinhart is a frequent goal scorer. The former second-overall pick has 121 career goals with the Panthers (three seasons), growing himself from his previous days in Buffalo. He also has 59 power play goals during his Florida tenure, including 27 this year. Reinhart has proven himself to become an incredible scorer, living up to being the first-round pick he originally was.

Other quality aspects of his game include his consistency, where he regularly scores more than 20 goals a game. Reinhart is also a playmaker, becoming a troublesome matchup for opposing defenders. His skills and versatility make him a good fit for the Golden Knights, with his ability to play both ends of the ice. There's a reason why the former Sabre scores many goals, with his offensive prowess standing tall.

Two-way games are treasured in Bruce Cassidy's system, which is what Reinhart brings. Forwards that play both ends of the ice and sacrifice their bodies are fundamental to Vegas's success, with the Panthers forward settling in nicely. Add a sizable 6'2" frame and he'll fit right in with the Golden Knights. It should be a no-brainer for Kelly McCrimmon to get him, especially with what he brings to the team. Imagine Eichel and Reinhart tag-teaming like they did during their Buffalo days, causing chaos and crashing the net.

The cons of signing Sam Reinhart

The biggest catch with scoring 57 goals is the production mostly slides off after that contract year. Once a player overperforms and gets their contract, their production falls a bit, at best. This isn't just a hockey problem, though. It's a sports-wide problem. One non-hockey example is Nick Bosa, whose sacks fell by eight (from the season before) after receiving a five-year, $170 million contract last season. Whether it's the NFL (like with Bosa) or with a player like Reinhart, the cliff is almost always there.

That's the same situation that Jonathan Marchessault is in, scoring 42 goals in a contract season. As much as he's beloved in Vegas, numerous detriments could affect his performance. That includes his size (5'9") and his age (33 years old). For Reinhart, he's expected to get a long-term contract worth nearly $10 million in AAV. That contract will be too much for McCrimmon to handle unless he offloads some players this offseason. That's especially true with the Vegas Golden Knights hurting for cap space and the Canadian forward's value set to diminish over time.

The verdict

Sam Reinhart's next contract will be too much for the Vegas Golden Knights to tackle. The contract year stats will fetch the Canadian forward a nice contract close to or at the $10 million AAV mark. With the Golden Knights's priorities focused on retaining No. 81 and replenishing the forward position, that might not happen at all. The funny thing is he'd be a cheaper option than Reinhart, who's expected to get more suitors.

Still, that's not diminishing the abilities of the Panthers forward. He's incredibly skilled offensively and would skyrocket the power play to new heights. Imagine Reinhart shooting the puck on the man advantage and having Tomas Hertl up front. That would be an incredible recipe for success for the Golden Knights, who would become a force to be reckoned with.

It would be nice to add a versatile forward that plays a two-way game for Reinhart. After all, he's exploded into an offensive force who's excellent in both even-strength situations and the power play. However, the price tag might be too much for the Golden Knights to handle, especially with the cap space situation putting a stranglehold on them. As of right now, this will be a pass.