You’re not going to find a fan in this region that will disagree about the importance of acquiring Adin Hill last summer. The Golden Knights surprisingly added a fourth goaltender to their roster via trade with the woeful San Jose Sharks. San Jose’s front office were likely satisfied to receive a fourth-round pick for a player that was not in their plans, while Vegas got a future Conn Smyth candidate in return. Looking back, it’s as lopsided as a deal can but in reality, neither FO believed Hill would do what he did in the postseason.
Tops among this group has to be Hill, who was plucked from the San Jose Sharks by Vegas in August for a fourth-round pick. The journeyman backup had played five seasons when that trade sent him to Vegas, having spent the first four years of his career in Arizona before a 2021 trade had sent him to San Jose. He’d excelled in brief spurts for both clubs, but overall had gotten little opportunity to prove what he was capable of. –Sonny Sachdeva on Sportsnet.ca
To be fair, the national hockey media hadn’t realized before Vegas’ championship run how high Hill climbed to be in the starting role by Game 2 of the second round. Of course, the third-string goaltender was highly profiled in the later rounds, but the general public hadn’t caught up with his rise.
Hill’s 2022-23 Leap
- Career Statistics Before Becoming a Golden Knight: .907 Save %, 2.73 Goals Against Average, .504 Quality Start %
- Regular Season Statistics as a Golden Knight: .915 Save %, 2.45 Goals Against Average, .640 Quality Start %
- Playoff Statistics as a Golden Knight: .932 Save % (Led NHL), 2.17 Goals Against Average, .706 Quality Start % (Led NHL)
The league has seen goaltenders mature later in their careers and blossom into quality starters. Calgary’s Jakob Markstrom is a good example, as he didn’t really become an impact starter until he was 26. Hill’s postseason consistency is a good sign he’s the next NHL keeper to come into his own in his late 20s.
A series of events in Vegas thrust Hill into the spotlight, though, with Robin Lehner, Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson all sidelined by injury. The 27-year-old wound up closing out the regular season in promising fashion, putting up a sterling .932 save percentage in the post-season, and backstopping Vegas to a Stanley Cup. –Sachdeva on Sportsnet.ca
It remains to be seen if the newly signed Hill is the goaltender he was throughout the 2023 postseason. The Golden Knights clearly believe he is or else they wouldn’t have committed to him in late June. It could be a crowded backend next season if Robin Lehner and Logan Thompson return to form. Lehner’s situation may need some massaging by the FO but as of right now, Vegas has three returning starters.
Lading the Golden Knights to their first Stanley Cup should give Hill an edge over the other two. That’s keeping in consideration Lehner’s cap percentage and Thompson’s All-Star nod.
In years past, multiple starting goalies hurt Vegas in the postseason, the flip side happened in 2023. How about 2024?