Last season Vegas stacked the net and came away with a Jennings Trophy for their efforts. Between goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner the Golden Knights gave up the least amount of goals in the NHL, holding opponents just 2.18 goals against per game. Of course, the numbers could drop significantly without Fleury’s Vezina winning season, but the Golden Knights are confident in Lehner and supported him by signing a true backup goaltender.
As emotional as the decision to move Fleury was, it was the right move for the organization. Lehner is now the defined starting goaltender and signed free agent Laurent Brossoit is the clear backup. It’s possible a heavier workload will benefit the new Ace to perform as well as his predecessor did. From 2018-19 to 2019-20 Lehner started an average of 40 games and finished top six in Vezina voting in back-to-back seasons. The big Swede has been sharp in Vegas registering a 16-4 record, .917 Save %, and a 2.20 GAA. If those statistics average out over 55+ games Lehner will be one of the league’s best.
To repeat as the Jennings trophy winners the team will need superb goaltending from both backstops. Brossoit had a bounce-back season in 2021 which clearly caught Vegas’ eye. In 11 starts the 27-year-old goalie posted a 2.42 GAA, a significant drop from his 3.28 GAA in 2019-20. The 28-year-old spent the last three seasons relieving 2019-20 Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg. As a Jet, Brossoit posted .913 Save %, allowed 2.75 goals per game, and won 25 of 45 starts. The Golden Knights coaching staff are hoping he will do even better backing up Lehner.
In a perfect world, Lehner would suit up for 55 or more starts, leaving Brossoit to tread above water in his limited time in net. The average Jennings winners allowed only 185 goals per season which the Golden Knights have never accomplished, averaging 225 goals allowed per 82. That could change after a full campaign under Pete DeBoer and his team’s tight defense.
Realistically, expectations for the Lehner-Brossoit tandem should be high but it’s difficult to duplicate another award-worthy season. We all have to move on, it’s impossible to replace the historic combination of Fleury and Lehner no matter how well the new tag team does in 2021-22.