The Golden Knights entered the All-Star break with the fifth best record in the Western Conference and sit in second place in the Pacific Division. Considering their obstacles the reigning Stanley Cup champions should feel good about where they stand through 50 games. However, the worldwide leader in sports has doubts that Vegas’ roster is built to repeat.
Vegas failed to add or change much in the offseason following its Stanley Cup victory. Now, standing pat looks like a questionable call. The Golden Knights have fizzled following a hot start, with predictable problems piling up for a team susceptible to fatigue. This is when a lack of fresh legs can become one major regret. –Kristen Shilton on ESPN.com
The Golden Knights were indeed relatively quiet in the offseason. They took care of their unsigned players and added outside depth to the organization. Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev, Adin Hill, Brett Howden, and others were offered summertime extensions. No NHL players of significance were signed off the open market. It’s unfair to grade any of the Golden Knights acquisitions at the moment due to injuries, juggled lineups, and on-the-fly chemistry.
The front office did make news by trading original misfit Reilly Smith to Pittsburgh for some cap relief. Overall, their offseason transactions weren’t notable enough to make ESPN’s bottom scroll but they were the necessary decisions coming off a championship run. Since the blueprint was to repeat with the same weapons, the organization didn’t need to look too far.
ESPN’s argument for fresh legs has some credence to it though. Right now Vegas could use healthy, impactful, and lesser worn-down players in their lineup instead of a slew of Silver Knights. Local fans have enjoyed seeing the pipeline grow but Vegas is a championship team built around veterans.
It’s reasonable for the Golden Knights to feel comfortable running out the same lineup to start the year. Their plan might have included a retool at the March deadline if needed. It’s looking like they will. A deadline option could be a way to get fresh legs and outside impact in the lineup.
(Sean) Monahan has enormous respect around the league for how much he’s come back from. This was a guy who a couple of years ago, people were thinking is he going to be able to continue playing. Not only is he playing, he’s thriving. –Elliotte Friedman on Hocey Night In Canada
Some names that are circulating are Anaheim’s Adam Henrique, Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, and the aforementioned Sean Monahan. Is Vegas in desperate need of any of them? Likely not, but an extra weapon for a deep playoff run could boost up a tired team attempting to repeat as league champions.
Are the folks at ESPN right to question Vegas’ offseason inactivity? On the surface, sure. However, Vegas is still in a position of power. They’re looking like they’ll land in a desired playoff spot and will hopefully be fully healthy. And we all know how magical it can be when the Golden Knights have their full lineup.