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5 players the Golden Knights could pursue in NHL free agency

Updated June 30, 2018 - 11:56 pm

John Tavares was crossed off the list days ago.

The Golden Knights were unable to land a meeting with the biggest prize on the market ahead of free agency, which starts Sunday.

While Tavares is home in Toronto deciding where he’ll play for the next seven or eight seasons, the Knights have their own issues to address.

Forwards James Neal and David Perron are set to become unrestricted free agents, and their impending departures mean the Knights must replace more than 40 goals and 100 points on the second line.

Defenseman Luca Sbisa also is on the way out. And rugged forward Ryan Reaves reportedly is coming back on a two-year deal worth $2.775 million a season.

It should be a busy week for general manager George McPhee, with the Knights looking to bolster their top-nine forwards and shore up a defense that currently has five players under contract (Colin Miller and Shea Theodore are restricted free agents).

McPhee rarely signed high-profile free agents during his tenure as Washington’s GM, preferring to build through the draft and trades. But with more than $30 million in salary cap space, the Knights are in position to make a splash.

Here are five unrestricted free agents the Knights could pursue:

Riley Nash

2017-18 stats: 15 goals, 26 assists in 76 games with Boston

The scoop: The 29-year-old produced career highs in goals and assists for the Bruins and is a versatile bottom-six center capable of taking faceoffs and killing penalties.

Nash is a former first-round pick and would add a bit of size (6-foot-1-inches, 190 pounds). After making $900,000 last season, he could triple his salary.

———

Michael Grabner

2017-18 stats: 27 goals, nine assists in 80 games with New Jersey and the New York Rangers

The scoop: The 30-year-old left wing is known as a strong penalty killer. And he’s fast, which seemingly fits with the Knights’ style.

Grabner has produced consecutive 27-goal campaigns and had a bargain $1.65 million salary cap hit last season, making him an affordable third-line option.

———

Tobias Rieder

2017-18 stats: 12 goals, 13 assists in 78 games with Los Angeles and Arizona

The scoop: A bit of a reclamation project who was traded to the Kings at the deadline and then wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer by Los Angeles because of salary cap considerations.

Rieder, 25, showed potential during his time with the Coyotes, including a career-high 16 goals in 2016-17. He had a $2.225 million cap hit last season.

———

Calvin de Haan

2017-18 stats: one goal, 11 assists in 33 games with the New York Islanders

The scoop: The defenseman is expected to be ready for training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery in December.

De Haan, No. 12 pick in the 2009 draft, was one of the lone bright spots on defense for the Islanders, posting a plus-11 rating before his season was cut short. He turned 27 in May and could benefit from a change of scenery. But he won’t come cheap after making $3.3 million last year.

———

John Moore

2017-18 stats: seven goals, 11 assists in 81 games with New Jersey

The scoop: The 27-year-old defenseman averaged 20:01 of ice time and was a key penalty killer for the Devils. He was second on the team in hits and blocked shots.

Moore was a first-round pick in 2009 and bounced around early in his career. But he is entering his prime years and should receive a sizable raise over his $1.67 million cap hit from last season.

More Golden Knights: Follow Golden Knights coverage at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @ DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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