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Graney: Knights must keep this Misfit in Las Vegas

Updated May 8, 2024 - 5:13 am

The Golden Knights must do what’s in their best interest when it comes to Jonathan Marchessault.

What is that?

Re-signing him.

It’s the brutal side of business in major league professional sports. These kinds of decisions. Don’t overthink the room on this one.

Marchessault, a pending free agent, means too much to the organization, the team, the fan base. And he’s still a very good player.

“He has done everything possible to put himself in a good position,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said. “His value extends to what you see on the ice.”

It’s about winning

I know. The Knights have an obligation to themselves and what they believe gives them the best chance at winning. It’s what they have always done, no matter the name on the back of a sweater.

They’ve moved on from other incredibly popular players. I hear you, Marc-Andre Fleury fans.

But there is this: Marchessault is coming off a career year. His presence (and numbers) would be ultra difficult to replace short of a home run via trade or free agency.

He spoke at length about his future Tuesday with his six-year, $30 million contract about to expire after the Knights’ first-round loss to the Dallas Stars.

“I thought about (free agency) all year — it’s always in the back of your mind,” Marchessault said. “I thought about it (against Dallas) on Game 6 at home. Leaving the rink, coming to the rink, all the memories come back.

“It was tough for sure, to be honest with you. I tried not to be a distraction for my teammates. They knew I would perform every night and give the best that I have. I’m always going to work hard.”

It’s obvious how much he wants to stay. Wants to continue what he began as an original “Golden Misfit.” Wants his family to continue enjoying the life Las Vegas has provided.

He will turn 34 next season but has been more than durable the last three years. Seems he is one of the few who doesn’t get hurt on the Knights nowadays.

This is likely also his last opportunity at a splashy contract. Maybe there’s a middle ground.

The Knights could offer a short-term deal at a rate that reflects what Marchessault has accomplished the last year. But it might also be on the player to take a hometown discount for the hometown he so cherishes.

There is a solution somewhere in there to make both sides happy.

Coach Bruce Cassidy has called Marchessault the “fabric” of the team. There is no questioning the player’s impact in the locker room. His personality. His leadership qualities.

“I love coaching Jonathan Marchessault,” Cassidy said. “I love his energy around the room. He has had great years as a Golden Knight. Can’t say enough good things about him. We’ll see where it leads.”

Proud of accomplishments

Marchessault, a 2017 expansion-draft selection, won the Conn Smythe Award for playoff MVP during the Knights’ run to a Stanley Cup championship last year. He returned to score 42 goals this regular season, one shy of center William Karlsson’s franchise record.

“I’m proud,” Marchessault said. “Sitting here today, I can tell you what I’ve done for the Golden Knights. I don’t know what can happen. I talked to (McCrimmon) this morning and he wants me back. Obviously, the feeling is mutual. I love Vegas, my teammates, the organization, all the staff. They’re family to me now.

“I left it all out there. I’ve done everything I can to stay here. I don’t think, I know that I’m a big part of the organization. I’m pretty confident. I would love to stay. It’s my home. I was part of the guys who started. I’d like to be a Golden Knight for the rest of my life.”

He should be.

Don’t overthink the room when deciding what’s best for the organization.

Re-signing him is.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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