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SEATTLE KRAKEN 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (16-5-1, 33 PTS)

The Golden Knights hosted the Seattle Kraken for the first of a back-to-back set at T-Mobile Arena. The Kraken opened the scoring 2:38 into the game and took a 2-0 advantage six minutes later. Vegas worked their way back and evened the score at 2-2 before the 1st intermission.

Like the 1st period, Seattle came out strong and scored in the opening five minutes of the middle frame. The Kraken would later double their lead late in the 2nd period and held a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes of action.

The offense dried up for both teams in the 3rd period. Vegas went scoreless over the final 40 minutes, mustering only six shots on net in the frame.

The Golden Knights record drops to (16-5-1) falling to the Kraken 4-2. It was Vegas’ first loss to Seattle in franchise history. The Golden Knights get right back to work tomorrow night against the Vancouver Canucks. Puck drop is scheduled for 7P PT. (Recap by Jason)

(Analysis/Tweets by SinBin.vegas community)

Goalies Have Been Great, Defense Has Been Even Better

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Unproven. That was the buzzword coming into the season when it came to the Golden Knights’ plans in the net.

A 25-year-old undrafted rookie with 19 NHL starts under his belt, a 26-year-old who has bounced around a few franchises and never yet established himself as a starter, and a 29-year-old career backup. That’s the VGK goalie room.

On the outside looking in I think people automatically assumed it was going to be not good, and I get it on paper, but the game is not played on paper. -Bruce Cassidy

With Laurent Brossoit on the shelf, through 10 games, the tandem of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill leads the league in goals against per game and save percentage and has backstopped the Golden Knights to the top of the standings in the Western Conference.

Their .941 save percentage is 14 points higher than any other team in the league and  40 points better than the league average. The 17 goals allowed are three fewer than the next closest team, the Calgary Flames, who have only played seven games. Of teams that have played 10 games thus far, VGK is the only team to allow fewer than 30 goals.

Quite simply, you can’t ask for much more.

At the end of the day, I’m happy for them. They’ve both worked hard. They’ve both, when it was their turn, took the ball and ran with it. -Cassidy

But while the story of the season may seem to be about the goaltending, it’s been the play in front of them that’s the real reason for the incredibly hot start.

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McCrimmon Shares Details On Stone’s Health, Hague’s Contract, And Goalie Outlook

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Training Camp is right around the corner. Trust me, it actually is, the long wait is so close to being over. With it a number of questions will begin to be answered for the Golden Knights. From lineup to systems to personnel to health, much of the picture will start to clear up every day we get closer to October 11th.

Until then, we must rely on snippets of information from the most important people in the organization, and recently we got some from the general manager. Speaking on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, Kelly McCrimmon dipped into the latest on Mark Stone’s health, contract negotiations with Nic Hague, and the goalie picture.

First, on Stone. A few days prior to Stone’s surgery at a press conference McCrimmon shared the news of what they expected the offseason to look like for the captain.

Mark Stone has been seeing consultants and meeting with doctors and it appears quite likely he’ll have back surgery on Wednesday. He would be available for Training Camp and rehab over that period of time. That’s not 100% for certain but it’s certainly the most likely outcome at this time. -McCrimmon on May 16th

Three days later, following the surgery, the team released this statement via Twitter.

Mark Stone underwent a successful lumbar discectomy with Dr. Robert Watkins, IV at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital. He is expected to be ready to play for the regular season. -Golden Knights Official Statement

McCrimmon has spoken a few times and reiterated the expected timeline of Stone returning to the team for the first game of the season. In the interview with Fox Sports Radio, McCrimmon continued along the same path.

No different than what we’ve been saying all along. Mark’s in town, he’s skating. Our expectation is that he’s going to be available for the opening of the season. What that means exactly with respect to training camp, we’ll see. When you have these offseason surgeries, Laurent Brossoit is another one, really you don’t have that definitive timeline until the players get here, they get with the medical team, you see how they respond to certain treatments to certain levels of intensity. There’s a reason that teams at times appear to be vague with respect to timelines on injuries because it’s hard to pinpoint. My answers I’m giving here today are exactly I think as what we’ve said throughout the offseason and that’s the information we’re working with and the expectations we have. So that’s how we’ll play it out and once we get on the ice and see how players react that are coming off injuries or surgeries or lengthy rehabs we’ll know more at that time. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show

So, it still appears Stone is on track to be in uniform with the team on October 11th, but his availability to start Training Camp on September 24th remains in doubt.

On to the next order of business, restricted free agent Nic Hague.

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What The Acquisition Of Adin Hill Says About VGK’s View Of Their Goalie Situation

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was just five days ago when Kelly McCrimmon said the Golden Knights’ plan was to head into the season using the tandem of Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson in net. He said after internal discussions the team felt they really liked the two guys and they both “earned the opportunity” to take the reins between the pipes.

Then, yesterday, they went out and surrendered a 4th round pick to add 26-year-old goalie Adin Hill and his $2.175 million cap hit.

With NHL front offices, actions speak much louder than words. So, what exactly does this move say? Quite a bit actually.

First of all, it’s important to note that what McCrimmon said last week was the correct statement to make in the moment because it set the Golden Knights up nicely whether they wanted to add a goalie or not. If they were considering it, which we now know they were, it made sense to keep that information close to the vest to ensure they were not taken advantage of on the trade market. Plus, if any deal for a goalie fell through, it was best to portray confidence in Brossoit and Thompson in the event they did enter the season as the tandem.

But, despite it being the correct thing to say, it’s unclear whether or not the statement was actually what the Golden Knights truly believed. The acquisition of Hill says two different things depending on its validity.

If VGK did truly believe five days ago that Brossoit and Thompson were the plan, then the trade shows they think Hill is either already, or has a strong chance to be, better than both this season. If VGK projected Hill to be third behind Brossoit and Thompson, they never would have rushed out to spend a draft pick and use up cap space to make this move.

If VGK did not truly believe in their goalie tandem as they were presenting, the move can be viewed as insurance or even another lottery ticket. If you like the two guys in the organization but aren’t completely sure they can get the job done over the course of an 82-game season, it makes perfect sense to burn through a little draft capital to have another legitimate option in the system.

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RFA Goalie Market Potential Gold Mine For Golden Knights

Even with the salary cap projected to stay flat for at least the next year, the Golden Knights aren’t in a terrible place. However, the move most hope (expect?) them to make remains nearly impossible without blowing up another part of the team.

Of course, I’m talking about re-signing Robin Lehner to a long-term extension. Reasonably, Lehner could be asking for anywhere between $5-$8 million after completing consecutive strong seasons. It’s always possible that number comes in a little lower if he gets the proper length and maybe even a no-move clause, but there’s little chance he’s going to be worth less than $3 million per season for the foreseeable future.

The Golden Knights needed two teams to retain salary to make room for Lehner when they first acquired him. Now, if they want to keep him, it’ll likely mean a major player or two shown the door.

So, rather than exploring the options of who to get rid of, let’s look at some of the potential options to replace Lehner. Aside from Lehner, there are a few free agents and there will be plenty of trade options with the Expansion Draft right around the corner, but the best place might be the under-utilized restricted free agent market, one that’s teeming with excellent back-up/long-term future options for the Golden Knights this offseason.

Here are those RFAs.

Alexandar Georgiev – New York Rangers
24-years old, 77 career NHL games (35 wins)
2019-20 Cap Hit: $792,500

The Rangers are headed for a bit of a tough spot when they break training camp to start the 2020-21 season. With Henrik Lundqvist under contract for another season at $8.5 million and a no-move clause in tow, he’s essentially guaranteed to be on the roster. They’ll then have to choose between Georgiev and fellow Russian Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin is waiver exempt for another season, so they have the ability to keep Georgiev and hide Shesterkin in the AHL for another season, but Shesterkin was so good in his short time in the NHL that they may not want to do that.

Thus, if the Rangers believe more in Shesterkin than Georgiev, the latter could be ripe for the picking for the Golden Knights.

Tristan Jarry – Pittsburgh Penguins
25-years-old, 62 career NHL games (34 wins)
2019-20 Cap Hit: $675,000

Poaching Penguins goalies is one of the Golden Knights’ great past-times. The Penguins actually have two goalies headed for restricted free agency this offseason (Matt Murray is the other) and another under contract for $1.25 million through 2021-22 (Casey DeSmith).

Jarry might actually be the best of the three, yet he also may be the most affordable. No matter which way the Penguins go, there will be at least one goalie available and with the Expansion Draft on the horizon, they could lose another as well. Jarry shouldn’t be in line for too much of a raise and the situation could hurt his trade value as well.

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