The start to the 2021-22 season didn’t go as planned for Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon. After beginning the season 1-4-0 and seeing their roster shrink due to injuries, the future looked uncertain for the Golden Knights.
It’s been a different season. I’ve often used the expression that every team runs it’s own race. You look at last year where we were relatively healthier than we’d been this year. We won a lot of hockey games and we were fighting for first place with Colorado the entire season. This year the injuries began early. -Kelly McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission show
Like most fans, Vegas’ GM had confidence that the group he assembled would turn it around. The roster made up of healthy Golden Knights, Silver Knights and free agents kept the team above water and in place for the stars to return.
The reinforcements healed at the right time for a poised Vegas run to first place.
Our first 20-22 games was really survival mode and I give credit to the coaches and players a lot of credit for scratching and clawing. I felt with the Calgary game earlier in December, from there we started really playing with identity and look more like we want the finished product to look. -McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission show
Instead of panicking the organization played through injuries and gathered enough information about their roster to prompt Vegas’ GM to make another franchise shifting move by acquiring center Jack Eichel.
Jack’s rehab has gone real well. We’re getting closer to two months since he’s been rehabbing. We’ll get him to Vegas sometime in January. Confident he will be in the lineup this season. -McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission show
Roughly two months after Eichel’s elected neck surgery the organization expects more positive progression to come later this month. Once he’s settled in Las Vegas, the front office should have better feel for when the 25-year-old will make his Golden Knights debut.
I’ve cautioned people in different discussions that I’ve had, he’s likely to look like he’s closer to being ready than he may be actually is. There’s going to be the last piece where the body contact is what the doctors have to sign off on so that may take some time. It’ll take however long it takes. -McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission show
Currently, Vegas has roughly $37M in players on the shelf and it’s unknown when Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez will be available. Although McCrimmon sounded confident Eichel would suit up this season, was he implying regular or postseason? If all of VGK’s injured players return to the regular season lineup the general manager will be forced to make significant moves in order to comply with cap restrictions.
The Golden Knights GM never addressed potential roster corrections during his second intermission interview but I’m sure it’s a daily concern. If and when the Golden Knights make a decision it’ll send a ripple across the entire league. Vegas will either be a loaded, over the cap team or a cap compliant team that lost a key piece along the way.
It’s changed a little bit here again with some injuries but we’re competitive in our division, currently in first and first in the conference. In general terms we are pleased with where we’re at. -McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission show
For VGK fans, no matter who’s on the ice for the playoffs it’ll come down to strong goaltending and timely scoring. Which has been the key issue for two straight postseasons. A Cup run with Eichel will erase all of those painful playoff exits.