The Vegas Golden Knights' early-season acquisition of Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres sparked questions over how they'll clear sufficient salary-cap space for the 25-year-old center. Those concerns have resurfaced with Eichel slated to return next month from neck surgery.
Cap Friendly shows the Golden Knights sitting over $10.7 million above the $81.5 million salary cap with the combined cap hits of Eichel and sidelined defenseman Alec Martinez ($5.25 million) on long-term injury reserve. They have just $4.2 million in projected cap space.
The Athletic's Jesse Granger and Vegas Hockey Now's Owen Krepps pondered potential cost-cutting scenarios to address this issue. Both suggested various options but considered winger Evgenii Dadonov and his $5 million annual average value as the likely trade candidate. They cited the value head coach Peter DeBoer places on wingers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, who also each carry an annual cap hit of $5 million.
Marchessault has two more seasons remaining on his contract while Dadonov is signed through 2022-23. Both players also carry modified no-trade clauses, with Marchessault submitting an eight-team no-trade list while Dadonov's is a 10-team list.
Smith, however, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and lacks no-trade protection. The 30-year-old winger would be easier to move despite the value DeBoer places on him. Knowing the Golden Knights' need to clear cap space, rival general managers could insist on Smith rather than Dadonov.