The Vegas Golden Knights are just one victory away from making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, and since the beginning of its success, the team has mentioned that the chemistry has pushed them forward and shown the rest of the National Hockey League that they are players who could have been protected at the expansion draft. The Golden Knights have become the first team in the modern expansion era to win its division, setting regular-season records in both wins and points by a club in its inaugural year. And they are now on the way to set the ultimate record: winning a Stanley Cup in their first season in the League.
Not so fast. The Winnipeg Jets are still looking to give them a fight, as they get ready for Game 5 on Sunday in Manitoba. While Golden Knights fans may be already getting excited, they need to come to the realization that every great story must come to an end... And for Vegas, the conclusion will come in the summer.
According to NHL rumors expert Lyle Richardson, the Golden Knights and their general manager George McPhee will have a very busy summer ahead, no matter what happens during the Western Conference and Stanley Cup finals. The Knights GM will need to find a way to remain as strong as a contender beyond this season.
Star forward James Neal and veteran David Perron are expected to hit the free-agent market as unrestricted free agents in July. There are also centre William Karlsson and defensemen Colin Miller and Shea Theodore who are eligible to become restricted free agents.
When it comes to Neal and Perron, many pundits believe they could be gone and that for one major reason: McPhee is expected to go after the most coveted free agent of all, New York Islanders superstar forward John Tavares. And now that the Golden Knights might be going all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, Tavares should be getting more and more excited about the prospect of signing with Vegas.
However, Tavares will command a heavy contract, and NHL insider Nick Kypreos believes that Neal would like to receive around $6,5 to 7 millions per season. Quite a bit of cash for an aging player.
If McPhee decides to gamble on a player like Tavares, he is expected to have to part with Neal or Perron, or even both! And let's not forget, the Golden Knights were the frontrunners for Ottawa Senators defenseman and captain Erik Karlsson at the trade deadline and could revisit that option in the summer.
Yeah, quite the busy offseason indeed...