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Knights forwards excited about future after signing extensions

The Golden Knights giving away left wing Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes for future considerations July 13 left a gaping hole in their lineup.

The move did have one upshot: It opened up salary-cap space for a team in desperate need of it with several restricted free agents due raises. The Knights have used it well, locking up right wing Keegan Kolesar and center Nicolas Roy to long-term deals.

Kolesar signed a three-year, $4.2 million contract Friday, and Roy signed a five-year, $15 million deal Monday.

“I like everything about the team, the city, the fans, the players, the team we have,” Roy said Tuesday. “I wanted to come back long term, and I’m very, very thrilled and excited to be back for five more years.”

Kolesar and Roy are two players the Knights acquired, developed and received key contributions from over the past three seasons. General manager Kelly McCrimmon said July 14 that the two, along with center Brett Howden and defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague (a restricted free agent who remains unsigned), are “really important players” for a team always pushing up against the salary cap’s upper limit.

The Knights traded for Kolesar at the 2017 draft by sending Columbus a second-round pick. The 25-year-old has 37 points in 121 games in the past two seasons while playing in the NHL full time. He said he “wasn’t too involved” with his contract negotiations and spent most of his energy on getting healthy.

Kolesar missed the final three games last season with a lower-body injury and had surgery this offseason. He’s been patient with his recovery but said he will be ready for training camp.

“We had a long summer, so there really wasn’t any need to push myself further than I needed to,” Kolesar said. “We took a very, very conservative approach. … (It’s) going really good now, though.”

Roy was acquired when the Knights traded center Erik Haula to Carolina on June 27, 2019. The 25-year-old has 64 points in 156 games with the team, including a career-high 39 in 78 games last season.

Roy said he feels more confident offensively and thinks he can still get better. A focus for him this summer has been his skating agility so he can make his 6-foot-4-inch frame more difficult to defend.

He will get a chance to test his progress Tuesday in the 12th annual Gagne-Bergeron Pro-Am benefiting sick and underprivileged children in the Quebec City area. Roy’s team includes current and former Knights Jonathan Marchessault, Jack Eichel, William Carrier, David Perron and Marc-Andre Fleury, and they will be facing a group led by Boston captain Patrice Bergeron.

It will be a good warmup for Roy, who was told by new coach Bruce Cassidy he could play a variety of roles this season.

“He told me to be ready for everything,” Roy said. “They might need me as more of the defensive role on the third line or (an) offensive role sometimes also on the second line.”

The Knights will need Kolesar and Roy to continue to contribute if they want to return to the playoffs and make a deep run. The team has subtracted talent by trading Pacioretty, right wing Evgenii Dadonov and defenseman Dylan Coghlan. That means younger players will need to take on more responsibility.

“We have a lot of unfinished business here as a team,” Kolesar said. “(I’m) very glad to be back to be a part of this and correct what could have been from last year.”

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

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