Everyone in Vegas remains focused on defending the Stanley Cup and cementing the Golden Knights as an NHL dynasty. For much of the rest of the world, at least some attention has begun to shift toward the upcoming best-on-best tournaments that have been missing from hockey for nearly a decade.
The NHL announced plans to host a four-nation face-off in 2025 in advance of NHL players attending the Olympics in 2026. Assuming these tournaments actually happen (we’ve been promised this many times and it often falls through), the Golden Knights are expected to be heavily represented.
Jack Eichel, Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Mark Stone, and William Karlsson are all locks assuming health and Ivan Barbashev, Jonathan Marchessault, and others could make the squads as well.
The biggest surprise though might be the fact that a Golden Knight is in the running, and maybe even the favorite, to secure the most important position on the most widely talked-about team. That’s right, Adin Hill is among the leading candidates to be the starting goalie for Team Canada.
The continuing trend in the Golden Knights crease has reached a point where it can no longer be ignored or cast aside.
Adin Hill’s injury in the 1st period on Sunday marks the eighth time in the last calendar year a Vegas goaltender has been injured during a game. To make matters worse, Hill’s injury is the second time in the last nine months a goalie has reinjured himself in his first game back in action and the fourth time a goalie has re-aggravated the same injury.
It’s clear there is a problem, and a pretty serious one. What’s unclear is the cause of it and thus the solution.
After the game on Sunday, Bruce Cassidy spoke about the process the Golden Knights use before they put a goalie back in the net to start a game.
It’s up to him and the medical staff. It’s their call, it’s not mine. It’s basically the player first has to feel comfortable getting in there and then it’s the medical team has to feel comfortable that he’s rehabbed and he’s communicated to them that he’s doing well. -Cassidy
In the latest case, Cassidy said Hill returned to practice and there were specific drills goalie coach Sean Burke wanted to see if he could get through, and recover after, to make sure he was healthy enough to play in a game. Hill completed those drills and it was determined he was ready to play.
He said he was cleared and ready to go. It’s unfortunate. I don’t have the news of exactly what’s going on but it’s difficult for Adin. He’s put the work in and he’s worked hard and everyone thought he was ready to go. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, it happens. Hopefully, it’s not long-term again. -Cassidy
The challenge for the Golden Knights is that the current process has not been successful, but there’s not many other ways to go about it. In the end, it’s always going to be up to the player himself to determine if he’s ready to return.
When the Golden Knights entered Training Camp most viewed it as a 1A/1B situation in the goal. Adin Hill returned with a new $10 million contract after posting a Conn Smythe-worthy performance in his 13 playoff games while Logan Thompson was back healthy for the first time since January looking to build off his All Star start to last season.
Both goalies have shown to be more than capable and the expectation was they’d work as a tandem at something close to a 50/50 split.
That’s not how it has played out through four games as both the words and actions of the coaching staff have declared Hill the starter and Thompson the backup.
You go into a new year and you are starting fresh but you can’t forget what happened. So there’s a little bit of tilt towards Hill if he came out of training camp the way he was playing and he has. We still want to give Logan his starts, and he’ll get them, just not as many as Adin right now. -Cassidy
Hill was given the start on Opening Night and then followed it up by playing the third and fourth games of the season. Thompson started the lone game in between and is likely to step back in tonight in Winnipeg. Hill would then be expected to take the reins on Saturday in Chicago and then there’s just one game before next weekend’s back-to-back.
If Hill gets the game on Tuesday the 24th, which he likely will, that would mean seven starts out of the first 10 games for Hill while Thompson gets just three.
Some of it is Hill has played a lot more recently even though it’s been months. Logan hasn’t played since the end of January. We want to make sure Hill gets his starts because he earned it at the end of last year. -Cassidy
The Golden Knights used a similar rotation last year to open the season, just vice versa with the man getting the bulk of the starts. Thompson started eight of the first 12 games and eventually saw the net in 35 of the first 51 games prior to the All Star break.
Health and performance will obviously dictate what happens over the course of the entire season, but as it stands right now, the Golden Knights have a preferred starter, and his name is Adin Hill.
By the time the Stanley Cup was handed over to Vegas captain Mark Stone, coaches and players league wide were scheming up ways to copy the Golden Knights championship formula. From defensive alignments, to deeper benches and undoubtedly goaltending efficiency. Some NHL teams have the right goaltender and not enough quality players. Whereas, others have the players but are unsure if they’re good enough in net.
“Look at Vegas. They used four goalies. Depth is an important part of success in this league. But depth in that position might be the most important for teams.”
This week Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan referenced the World Champion Golden Knights in his training camp opening press conference. It’s no surprise the two-time Cup winning coach mentioned Vegas because years back he had back-to-back Stanley Cup winning rosters. Like Vegas, the Penguins won using multiple capable goaltenders.
Vegas’ finals winning goalie Adin Hill went 11-4 in the postseason after injured starter Laurent Brossoit recorded five wins and two losses. The same smooth transition occurred with the back-to-back Stanley Cup winning Penguins. Old friend Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his second and third championship rings playing his role in a duel goalie tandem. Which clearly caught the attention of Sullivan and other coaches.
It’s hot take time. Using our favorite format, we’ll be sharing some of our off-the-wall opinions on how we see the 2023-24 season going for the Golden Knights. At the end of each article, we’ll also share some of our favorites from the SinBin Discord. Ken’s first, Jason tomorrow.
Call me crazy, but Adin Hill will receive more Vezina votes than Linus Ullmark and Ilya Sorokin combined… and still not win the award.
It’s weird that it almost feels like expecting Adin Hill to be good is a hot take. After the insane run he went on in the postseason there’s an expectation of regression from most. However, I don’t have it, at least in the short term. I expect Hill to step right back into the goal and continue doing exactly what he did in his 16 playoff appearances. He’s a perfect fit to tend the VGK goal when the defense is clicking, which I expect it to be for most of the season.
Call me crazy, but VGK’s power play will finish in the Top 10 in the NHL this season.
This season the next projected superstar will be making his NHL debut in the same conference as the reigning champion Vegas Golden Knights. Number one overall pick Connor Bedard is expected to make an immediate impact for the Chicago Blackhawks, possibly realigning the Western Conference in 2023-24.
Sportsnet’s Divisional Changes of Impact
Atlantic: Bruins Lose Patrice Bergeron and Others to Retirement Central: Connor Bedard’s Presence in Chicago Metropolitan: Erik Karlsson Joins Crosby for Pittsburgh’s Last Dance Pacific: LA Adds Pierre-Luc Dubois to Center-Stacked Lineup
Sportsnet explored four divisional offseason moves, including two that could affect the West’s eight postseason invites. Most believe it’s possible Bedard can get the Blackhawks closer to a playoff Wild Card position in 2023-24. While others have stated the best has yet to come from Dubois. There’s no question, Vegas is the team to beat but the West arguably got a little more competitive this summer.
As for the Golden Knights, there are several players or scenarios that could impact the 2023-24 season. Let’s examine three.