Reilly Smith may be sticking around.
The right wing and the Golden Knights have a “verbal agreement” on a contract extension, according to Daily Faceoff. Smith, 31, is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
The Knights did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Smith’s agent Paul Capizzano declined comment. Terms of the verbal agreement were not reported. Smith’s last deal was for five years with a $5 million annual cap hit.
Daily Faceoff said his possible extension may not be announced immediately for salary-cap purposes.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon expressed interest in retaining Smith during the Knights’ May 3 exit interviews, but said the team had time before a decision needed to be made. NHL free agency begins July 13.
“I like Reilly a lot,” McCrimmon said. “Everybody likes Reilly a lot. He’s a really good, low-maintenance NHL player.”
Smith joined the Knights their inaugural season as part of an expansion-draft trade with Florida. He is one of six original members still with the team, along with center William Karlsson, left wings William Carrier and Jonathan Marchessault and defensemen Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore.
Smith has been a key part of the team’s success as a productive top-six forward who can play in all situations. He received Selke Trophy votes in 2018 and has 16 shorthanded points with the Knights, tied for the fourth-most in the NHL the last five seasons.
Smith has 98 goals and 132 assists in 321 games with the team overall. He has an additional 14 goals and 38 assists in 66 playoff games.
“He’s a huge part of our group,” Marchessault said May 3. “He’s not just a great hockey player. He’s just a great guy to have around. We’ve been lucky to have him here. He’s been one of our most consistent (players) since Day One.”
Smith is best known on the ice for his longstanding partnership with Karlsson and Marchessault. They are known as the “Misfit line,” based on the Knights’ “Golden Misfits” nickname their inaugural season. Both Marchessault and Karlsson stumped for Smith to return last month.
“We all know what he means for both me and Jonathan,” Karlsson said. “We’d really like him back.”
The main question surrounding Smith’s return has been whether the Knights would be able to afford him. The team has around $5.2 million in usable cap space this offseason after trading right wing Evgenii Dadonov to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Shea Weber’s contract June 16. Left wing Mattias Janmark is a pending unrestricted free agent in addition to Smith. Centers Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden, right wing Keegan Kolesar and defenseman Nic Hague are pending restricted free agents.
The Knights will likely need to make additional moves to bring Smith back.