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Golden Knights Face Salary Cap Conundrum After Acquiring Jack Eichel

With injuries to Jack Eichel, Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone providing some salary relief, the Vegas Golden Knights are currently cap compliant. However, they'll have to shed salary when those three return to the lineup later this season.
Jack Eichel

The Jack Eichel trade watch finally ended last week with the Vegas Golden Knights acquiring the 25-year-old center from the Buffalo Sabres. He'll undergo disc replacement surgery on his injured neck on Nov. 12 and expects to return to action in three months' time.

Cap Friendly shows Eichel joining Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone on the Golden Knights' long-term injury reserve list. That allows the club to sit over $11 million above the $81.5 million salary cap, providing them with some short-term cap flexibility. However, they'll have to shed salary to become cap compliant when those three return to the lineup later this season.

The Athletic's Jesse Granger and the Las Vegas Sun's Justin Emerson pondered the most painless route for GM Kelly McCrimmon. Both proposed sending Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg to the minors, waiving Ben Hutton and Michael Amadio and trading pending unrestricted free agents Reilly Smith and Brayden McNabb. Emerson also suggested moving winger Evgenii Dadonov if McCrimmon prefers retaining Smith.

Smith and Dadonov each carry an annual cap hit of $5 million. Smith, 30, would be easiest to move as a rental player given his lack of no-trade protection. The 32-year-old Dadonov is signed through 2022-23 with a 10-team no-trade list.

Granger observed those moves would leave the Golden Knights roughly $300K under the cap on a 21-man roster. However, there's no room for further additions without shuffling more salary via waivers, demotions or other trades.

The cap crunch will also extend into next season as Granger noted they have over $77.8 million invested in 16 players for 2022-23. That means a busy summer for McCrimmon with more cost-cutting moves.

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