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Golden Knights quiet in free agency; Laurent Brossoit, others leave | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Golden Knights quiet in free agency; Laurent Brossoit, others leave | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Golden Knights goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who was the Knights’ lead goaltender before becoming injured, holds up the Stanley Cup after his team won Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final for the championship against the Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Golden Knights center Teddy Blueger (53) reaches for a loose puck during the third period in Game 1 of a NHL hockey Western Conference Final playoff series against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena on Friday, May 19, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) defends the goal against the Dallas Stars during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Saturday, April 8, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The NHL free-agent floodgates opened Saturday, but the Golden Knights didn’t have many new players to roll out the red carpet for.

The Knights were quiet outside of a few minor moves since they took care of their business earlier in the week. They traded left wing Reilly Smith to the Pittsburgh Penguins and signed left wing Ivan Barbashev to a five-year extension Wednesday, then brought back goaltender Adin Hill on a two-year deal Friday.

That meant the Knights spent most of the first day of free agency saying goodbye. They’re set to return almost all of their significant contributors next season, but center Teddy Blueger and goaltenders Laurent Brossoit and Jonathan Quick found new homes once the market opened.

“We were not looking to bring anyone in from outside our organization,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said during the NHL draft. “All the decisions that we were making were on people that we just won a Stanley Cup with. By definition, that makes those decisions difficult and challenging to make, but we feel we got our way through it and are excited about what it could mean for the makeup of our roster.”

The Knights didn’t enter Saturday with a ton of money to play with.

They have about $4.35 million in salary-cap flexibility with 11 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders under contract if goaltender Robin Lehner — who had one shoulder and two hip surgeries last summer — starts the season on long-term injured reserve.

The bulk of that is expected to go to restricted free agents left wing Brett Howden, right wing Pavel Dorofeyev and goaltender Jiri Patera, who all need new deals. Those will likely come later in the summer.

”Our goal, our focus is always to improve our team, but right now, we’re really committed contractwise, and I say that as a positive,” McCrimmon said. “We’re committed contractwise here for next year, and if you like your team, as we do, that’s a good thing.”

The Knights’ preparations for their restricted free agents’ contracts led to three of their unrestricted free agents departing. The only one who remains unsigned is right wing Phil Kessel. The 35-year-old owns the NHL record for consecutive games played and scored 36 points last season. He said after the team’s Stanley Cup championship he wasn’t planning to retire, but he’ll have to wait to find a spot.

Brossoit signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Winnipeg Jets, whom he previously played with from 2018-21.

The 30-year-old was the Knights’ starter when they beat the Jets in the first round of the playoffs in five games. Brossoit then suffered a lower-body injury in the second round against Edmonton and did not return during the postseason.

Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said Brossoit is expected to partner with 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck again.

“I think they’ll be a good tandem,” Cheveldayoff said. “Obviously, (Brossoit) has grown in the goaltending department as well, and he’s a different goaltender than he was when he was here the first time, which is going to benefit our organization.”

Blueger signed a one-year, $1.9 million deal to stay in the Pacific Division with the Vancouver Canucks. The 28-year-old scored two points in six playoff games for the Knights during their championship run after arriving in a March trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Blueger will reunite with Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford in Vancouver, who was the Penguins general manager when Blueger made his NHL debut.

“The role and expectations of things (in Vancouver) really matched up with what we were looking for,” Blueger said. “Being at center, having some defensive responsibility but also an opportunity to grow in my offensive game.”

Quick signed a one-year contract with the New York Rangers to back up 2022 Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin. It’s worth $825,000 with up to $100,000 in performance bonuses, according to multiple reports.

Quick, 37, won his third Stanley Cup with the Knights. He served as Hill’s backup once Brossoit was hurt.

The only additions the Knights announced were two depth signings to help Henderson. They signed 28-year-old defenseman Mason Geertsen and 27-year-old left wing Mason Morelli to two-year contracts Saturday.

Silver Knights general manager Tim Speltz said Friday the club was looking for more veteran help before coach Ryan Craig’s first season after missing the playoffs last year.

“Very disappointed that we didn’t have a little more success,” Speltz said. “That’s on us. I think that sometimes we didn’t have enough veteran players or enough good (established) players. Hopefully, that’s something we can address moving forward.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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