Jonathan Marchessault hits the jackpot with new contract in Vegas

By signing a new $30 million contract over six years with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, forward Jonathan Marchessault has earned himself a 667 per cent raise. The 27-year-old from Quebec City will be cashing in $5 million worth of paycheques per year over the next half a dozen seasons after making just $750,000 a campaign on his current two-year deal, which is just $100,000 over the league minimum. The centre signed his present contract with the Florida Panthers and was taken by the Knights during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.

Marchessault made it to the NHL as an undrafted player by signing a three-year entry-level contract as a free agent with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012/13. He played the first year of the deal in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and led the club in scoring with 21 goals and 46 assists while making the league's First All Star Team. Marchessault was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline in 2013/14 and racked up another 53 points in the AHL. He spent the 2014/15 campaign with the Syracuse Crunch with 67 points in 68 games and finally cracked the Lightning lineup as a regular the following season.

Marchessault contributed eight goals and 11 assists in  47 games for Tampa Bay and added an assist in five appearances in the 2015/16 playoffs. However, he left Tampa and signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2016. Marchessault proved he belongs in the NHL as he broke out that season by leading the Panthers in scoring with 30 goals in 75 games and added 21 assists for 51 points. He was the first Florida player to reach the 30-goal plateau since David Booth achieved the feat with 31 goals back in 2008/09. 

For some strange reason the Panthers didn't protect Marchessault in last year's expansion draft and it was no surprise when Vegas snapped him up. The 5-foot-9-inch Marchessault has lived up to his billing with the Golden Knights and as of January 8th was leading the team in scoring with 16 goals and 24 assists for 40 points in 38 games and was also a plus-17. Marchessault's excellent play has helped Vegas become the surprise of the season so far in the NHL as the expansion franchise had a 29-10-2 record for 60 points to lead the Western Conference and sit second in the league's overall standings.

By signing Marchessault to a long-term contract along with locking up defenceman Brayden McNabb to a new four-year deal, the Knights realize they already have a possible Stanley Cup contending team on their hands and want to keep it together. Marchessault would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1st and could have been moved at the trade deadline on February 26th, but general manager George McPhee has made a smart move by signing him until the end of the 2023/24 season at a reasonable price.

McPhee praised Marchessault by saying he works hard in all 200 feet of the rink and is an exceptional offensive player. He's currently playing on a line with Reilly Smith and William Karlsson with the trio being one of the best and most effective units in the league. McPhee also believes Marchessault is just entering his prime and will continue to produce for the team for the next five seasons.