Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon: Exploring a Moneyball Strategy to Replace Marchessault…

With the start of free agency just a month away, Jonathan Marchessault hasn’t received any calls about a contract extension from the Golden Knights. Could this indicate that his time with the team is coming to an end? It’s a possibility.

General Manager Kelly McCrimmon is considering various strategies to keep the Golden Knights competitive for the next season. However, the team faces significant challenges.

Marchessault, along with Michael Amadio, William Carrier, Anthony Mantha, Chandler Stephenson, and Alec Martinez, will be free agents on July 1 unless they sign extensions. Additionally, Brett Howden, Keegan Kolesar, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Adin Hill, and Logan Thompson will become free agents after the 2025-26 season.

Changes are imminent.

Remember the scene from “Moneyball,” starring Brad Pitt as Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane? After the 2001 MLB season, first baseman Jason Giambi left for a $120 million, seven-year deal with the New York Yankees.

This situation is somewhat similar.

The Golden Knights aren’t struggling financially but are constrained by salary cap limitations. They have $5.9 million in cap space to try to extend Marchessault and others.

Marchessault had a career-high 42 goals and his second-best points total with 69. His next contract will undoubtedly reflect his standout season.

McCrimmon might be reconsidering his decision not to negotiate with Marchessault last offseason. The answer seems clear.

Moneyball Strategy to Replace 69 Points

Finding a free agent who can deliver 40 goals and 30 assists for $5.9 million is unlikely. However, McCrimmon might look for undervalued players to complement the current roster and compensate for Marchessault’s scoring.

Here are a few potential “Moneyball” free agents under 30 with potential upside:

Dakota Joshua: Projected by @AFPAnalytics to sign a three-year deal worth $3.25 million AAV, Joshua, 28, has grit and scoring ability. He scored 18 goals in 63 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season and added eight points in the playoffs. Joshua could be hitting his prime, potentially offering 50 points per season on a $3 million AAV deal.

Victor Olofsson: A former teammate of Jack Eichel on the Buffalo Sabres, Olofsson has been a 20-goal scorer in three of the last five seasons. His next contract is projected to be around $1 million AAV. Olofsson might be looking for a bridge deal, and Vegas could be a good fit as he aims to rebound from a 15-point season in 51 games.

Kevin Labanc: Having spent the last eight seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Labanc, 28, had a down year, scoring just nine points in 46 games. However, he combined for 96 points in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. Projected to sign for around $893,000 AAV, Labanc might also be seeking a bridge deal.

Internal Options

McCrimmon doesn’t need to solely rely on external options to replace Marchessault’s scoring. Paul Cotter, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Brendan Brisson have the potential to step up.

Pavel Dorofeyev: Among these players, Dorofeyev appears most likely to become a regular in the lineup, with 33 points (20 goals) in 67 career games.

Paul Cotter: Next season is crucial for Cotter to establish his role—either as an energy player or a skilled forward. He might fill William Carrier’s role as a fourth-line energy player if Carrier leaves.

Brendan Brisson: Brisson showed promise with eight points (two goals) in 15 games. The upcoming season will determine if he’s ready to become an everyday NHL player.

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