With just a few days to spare earlier than the scheduled arbitration listening to, Keegan Kolesar agreed to a three-year contract extension price $1.4 million per 12 months. It’s a size and a worth that matches completely for everybody concerned, together with the cap-strapped Golden Knights.
To perceive why, it begins with setting apart any preconceived notions one might have of Kolesar’s sport, the chief amongst them being his lack of ability to attain. There’s no denying the truth that Kolesar may have doubled his purpose output final season had he been extra medical across the purpose. But the actual fact stays, even nonetheless, he scored seven objectives and posted 17 assists in 77 video games, and did it whereas capturing properly under the league common at 7.4%.
If he can enhance his capturing even a bit, simply to round 10%, we’re counting his objectives utilizing each arms and some toes. But even when he cannot, 5 to seven objectives for a participant in Kolesar’s function is completely acceptable.
That’s as a result of there’s extra to Kolesar’s sport than placing the puck at the back of the online. He led the group in hits final season, allotting 246, almost 100 greater than each different Golden Knight. He’s one of many higher forecheckers on the group whereas additionally being defensively accountable. He logged the sixth most penalty kill minutes amongst forwards, and with Mattias Janmark leaving that quantity may go up. And he even stuffed in on the facility play, scoring a purpose in simply 35:42 of man-advantage time.
Plus, regardless of my private emotions for the function of enforcer, Kolesar fought 9 instances final season, accounting for actually half of the group’s complete quantity. If it’s a must to have a man like that on the roster, which it appears the Golden Knights stay dedicated to, he would possibly as properly have the ability to rating just a few objectives, chip in 20+ assists, and play in all conditions.
Combine all of it, and there is not any purpose why Kolesar is price something lower than $1.5 million. (Don’t imagine me? Look up Zach Aston-Reese and/or Garnet Hathaway.) However, with the Golden Knights’ state of affairs, they should maximize each greenback they will, which is why $1.4 million is an efficient quantity for Vegas in 2022-23. Throwing on the additional years to keep away from arbitration possible saved Kolesar’s contract from pushing nearer to $2 million in a 12 months VGK can barely afford to discipline a authorized lineup.
It additionally units Vegas up properly for the longer term. If Kolesar can take even the smallest step ahead within the ending division, he has the aptitude of being a few $3 million participant. Paying him simply $1.5 for every of the subsequent three years presents a uncommon likelihood for a participant to considerably outperform his contract, one thing the Golden Knights are in determined want of. Even if issues do not get properly, $1.5 million is straightforward to maneuver or bury within the AHL.
On the opposite hand, for Kolesar, he is arrange properly not just for now however for 3 years down the street. For a participant who had logged simply 45 video games within the first six years after being drafted, he parlayed his first true full season within the NHL into $4.5 million assured.
Had he gone to arbitration, he most likely would have gotten a pinch extra, however the time period would have been only a single 12 months. That would have compelled him into one other prove-it season which may simply have resulted in a mid-season commerce and even not getting a qualifying provide subsequent season. Instead, he now has three seasons to construct on his sport and place himself for his subsequent contract, when he shall be a 28-year-old UFA in a 12 months the place the cap may bounce 10-15%.
Keegan Kolesar shouldn’t be the proper hockey participant. Heck, he is not even the proper fourth liner, however he is actually above substitute degree with sufficient untapped offensive upside and bodily intangibles to be price way more than the league minimal.
The Golden Knights now have him locked in for 3 seasons by which on the absolute worst he prices lower than $300,000 in opposition to the cap whereas buried within the AHL. At the very best, he is filling the function of enforcer whereas potting double-digit objectives and killing penalties alongside the way in which.
Low-risk, high-reward. A guess you’re taking each time. Especially in Vegas.