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Knights’ playoff MVP ready for another run in contract year

What can he do for an encore?

Might it be his final curtain call?

Jonathan Marchessault’s future with the Golden Knights remains up in the air entering this postseason. That’s likely not a concern for him or the team given all the right wing accomplished the past calendar year.

The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner returns to the playoffs coming off the first 40-goal season of his career. The 33-year-old has more than proven his value as the six-year, $30 million extension he signed in January 2018 comes to a close.

What that means for him and the Knights moving forward has yet to be decided. But what’s clear is both sides want to finish this season the same way last year ended.

“Perfect scenario would be to finish my time (in the NHL) here,” Marchessault said. “That’s a little bit out of our control and it’s part of the business we’re in. We’ll see where it brings (us).”

The Knights had worthy candidates for playoff MVP last season.

Center Jack Eichel set up many of Marchessault’s playoff-leading 13 goals. Goaltender Adin Hill made incredible saves after taking over for an injured Laurent Brossoit in the second round.

Marchessault’s case ultimately won out. He didn’t have a goal in the Knights’ first seven playoff games. He then scored 13 in the team’s final 15 contests.

Eichel said what makes Marchessault’s quick shot so successful is how deceiving it can be off the stick.

“If you ask our goalies, they’d probably say (it’s hard to read),” Eichel said. “It seems like he might hold it a little more, then shoot it. He doesn’t pull it back and pull the trigger right away. He pulls it back and holds it and I think that freezes the goalie.”

Marchessault became the first undrafted player since Wayne Gretzky in 1988 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Marchessault’s 34 career playoff goals are the most among active undrafted players.

“When you win, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Marchessault said.

Contract talks

The Knights don’t often hand out lucrative contract extensions in-season.

Hill and left wing Ivan Barbashev didn’t sign new deals with the team until the summer last year, for example. Same for left wing Reilly Smith the offseason before.

Defenseman Noah Hanifin did sign an eight-year extension with the Knights on April 11, but it was a different situation since he arrived in a trade.

That means it’s not a complete surprise Marchessault doesn’t have a new deal yet. He’s also put himself in a great position when negotiations do pick up.

“Good for (Marchessault) for having a great year in his contract year,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s not easy to do. Sometimes it weighs on certain people out there and it gets in the way of them preparing to play. He’s been able to focus on the task at hand.”

That means trying to win another championship with the Knights.

Marchessault enjoyed the itch of winning. He equated it to a drug. He wants more.

“I thought maybe I’d lay off the pedal a little bit, but it’s not in me,” Marchessault said. “It was so fun the whole summer, winning it in Vegas. I definitely want more.”

That consistency is what stands out to Eichel about Marchessault. He’s never satisfied.

Now Marchessault has a chance to shine again when the lights are the brightest.

“I’m sure when other guys get in that position (to succeed), they’re going to do the job as much as me,” Marchessault said. “That’s how you build a Stanley Cup-winning team.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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