The Vegas Golden Knights are keeping one of the original misfits around. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reports that the team has reached an agreement with Reilly Smith on a contract extension, though notes it may not be immediately announced due to cap considerations. The deal is expected to be “in the neighborhood” of three years and $15MM. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweets that the two sides actually agreed before the trade deadline. Smith is currently scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The Golden Knights recently opened some cap room by trading away Evgenii Dadonov’s contract, though they still are in a tight situation when heading into next season. Signing Smith would only complicate that further, and potentially force them to make another substantial cost-cutting trade at some point.
Still, retaining the 31-year-old will keep a fan favorite and solid contributor in town for a while longer, as the Golden Knights continue to try to push for a Stanley Cup. Smith has been a reliable offensive piece for the team since arriving in Vegas, racking up 230 points in 321 games. While his numbers have dropped since that magical 2017-18 season when almost every player on the roster set career-highs, he still had 16 goals and 38 points in 56 games this season, while also being a key penalty killer that logs more short-handed ice time than any other forward on the team.
That makes up for a valuable player, and one that was certainly living up to his $5MM cap hit the last few years. Smith’s name was usually bandied about in trade speculation only because of his expiring deal, and not the impact he made on the ice. With Dadonov out of the picture, letting Smith walk would have left the team without a ton of top-six options on the wing, outside of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Jonathan Marchessault.
Pacioretty, in fact, is on an expiring deal of his own, only under contract through 2022-23. If the team is looking to clear additional cap space after agreeing to bring Smith back, that is a potential option. Of course, that would present the same issue, taking away one of the team’s reliable scoring options when it is no sure thing that they can replace it internally.
It will be a tricky needle to thread for general manager Kelly McCrimmon this summer.