Free agency is now less than six weeks away and many teams are already looking ahead to when it opens up. There will be several prominent players set to hit the open market in mid-July while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign as well. Next up is a look at the Golden Knights
Key Restricted Free Agents
F Nicolas Roy – After a 2019 trade brought him to Vegas, Roy began showing flashes of skill and higher ability than he had shown in Carolina’s organization. Roy played 20 playoff games for the Golden Knights as they made a run to the 2020 Western Conference Final, scoring eight points, and finally established himself as a regular in 2020-21, getting into 50 regular-season games and 19 playoff games. Roy’s real breakout, though, came this past year, where he flew by his career highs in goals and points to finish with 15 goals and 39 points on the year. Roy was a consistent presence bringing both skill and physicality to a lineup ravaged by injuries, and his development was a major factor in keeping the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes alive until late in the season. Roy played on a $750k cap hit last year and is set to earn a decent raise on that number, although it remains to be seen if he will take a bridge contract or if the Golden Knights will choose to try to lock him up long-term.
D Nicolas Hague – Hague was the Golden Knights’ first-ever second-round pick and has developed nicely since he was drafted 34th overall in 2017. Hague’s big six-foot-six frame has always intrigued scouts and has helped him carve out a role in the NHL. Hague made his NHL debut in 2019-20, getting into 38 games and posting a healthy 11 points. Hague was a regular in 2020-21, skating in 52 games and scoring 17 points. While he battled injuries this past season and only featured in 52 out of the team’s 82 games, Hague’s future in Vegas looks bright. Hague played on a $791k cap hit this past season, and does not have arbitration rights. Given the cap constraints of the cup-or-bust Golden Knights, it seems like a bridge deal makes the most sense for both parties, although after the team signed fellow young blueliner Zach Whitecloud to an extension through 2027-2028, a similar long-term deal for Hague cannot be ruled out.
F Keegan Kolesar – Kolesar has been a great story for the Golden Knights. Kolesar was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second-rounder in the 2017 draft, and disappointed in his first season in their system, spending 20 games playing for the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL. But since that point Kolesar has developed his game year after year and grown to be a regular bottom-sixer in Vegas. This past year was Kolesar’s second as an NHL regular, and he got into 77 games and posted 24 points. Kolesar was a dependable physical force in former coach Peter DeBoer’s lineup, but didn’t reach the offensive heights some may have expected. Kolesar is arbitration-eligible so it will be interesting to see which direction the team goes with his extension. The value true value of players like Kolesar can be sometimes difficult to quantify, so the raise Kolesar receives from his $725k cap hit will say a lot about his standing in Vegas’ organization.