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Golden Knights Can Not Ignore Goalie Injury Trend

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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VGK’s Top 6 Stanley Cup Playoff Saves

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The success of the Golden Knights goaltenders in the 2023 playoffs will be talked about for years to come. Heck, it’s already being studied by other organizations. We’ve gone over the top offensive plays, so let’s turn our attention to the few that kept the puck out of the net.

6. Brossoit Dazzles in Game 2 vs. Winnipeg

Golden Knights fans will never forget which goaltender began the 2023 Cup run. Adin Hill earned Conn Smyth votes and a massive post-playoff payday but Laurent Brossoit will always have a special place in team history. Brossoit started eight games, eliminated Winnipeg, and picked up another win in the second round. In his group of playoff games, Vegas’ opening goalie made a few outstanding saves that some might have forgotten. His stop in a deciding Game 5 is worth watching on a loop. After making the initial save, Brossoit was forced to desperately slide across the crease and stop a wide-open shot. The Jets offense was stunned. If it hadn’t been a blowout, LB’s save would have been ranked higher.

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Decision In Goal Looms For Stanley Cup Champions

(Photo Credit: @TheRunninRebels on Twitter)

Personally, I’m not ready to move past the fact that the Golden Knights are Stanley Cup Champions. I could continue talking about that every day until the puck drops next season (and even then I’d probably keep talking about it).

However, the reality of the NHL calendar is such that decisions about the team moving forward are going to have to be made, and made quickly.

The chief among those decisions for the Golden Knights comes between the pipes. After a season in which Vegas had to scramble before it even began to overcome the loss of Robin Lehner, to using five goalies in the regular season, to seeing Adin Hill throw his hat in the ring for Conn Smythe, the choice in net for VGK is not an easy one.

One thing is clear for the Golden Knights, they aren’t going to expect one goalie to shoulder the entire load moving forward.

I do believe you have to have a good stable of goaltenders. It’s really hard to rely on one guy. I think that model has changed over the last five or six years. The tandem approach is probably the best way to go. You’re going to have one guy that’s going to end up being your guy but he should play 50 games instead of 65. And the other guy has to be good and be ready to play. And you’ve got to have some guys to bring up from the AHL team when necessary. -George McPhee

So, with that in mind, the Golden Knights will enter this offseason looking to restock their stable of goalies and they have many different routes they can go.

The best news about the position though is they start with a perfect base. Logan Thompson remains under contract for the next two seasons with a salary just a smidge above the league minimum at $766k. Thompson’s All Star first half proved he’s perfectly capable to start in the NHL and will clearly be in Vegas’ plans for next season. His salary allows the Golden Knights to view him as the backup, even if that’s not ultimately what plays out.

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Silver Knights’ Poor Play May Solve The Golden Knights Excess Goalie Problem

The Golden Knights have a goalie conundrum. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.

Like all goalie controversies, it’s about a surplus. Unlike skaters, there can be only one goalie a night. So, when a team has two, or in VGK’s upcoming case three, tough decisions must be made and they tend to have a ripple effect on the team at large.

Unlike the previous case the Golden Knights navigated (poorly), this one shouldn’t have as much impact… if handled properly.

The situation at hand is simple in theory but complicated in practice.

Laurent Brossoit is in the process of returning from the injury that ended his season prematurely last year. He missed all of training camp before rejoining the team in practice early in the season. Over the weekend, he was assigned to a conditioning stint with the Henderson Silver Knights indicating that his return is imminent.

Whenever he is ready, which could be as soon as tomorrow, the Golden Knights will have to make roster move to activate him off of IR.

Due to the 23-man roster limit, the Golden Knights cannot simply add him to the roster when he’s ready. Instead, they must clear a roster spot. Here are the ways they can go about doing that.

  1. Place a player on waivers (Leschyshn, Cotter, Hutton, etc)
  2. Assign Logan Thompson to the AHL using his waiver-exempt status
  3. Make a trade
  4. Waive Brossoit

Option 2 is the only one of the four that does not at least put the Golden Knights at risk of losing a player to another organization. However, it would clearly only be a temporary fix as Bruce Cassidy’s goalie rotation has made it evident that Thompson is the preferred starter.

So, even if that were to happen for a game or two, eventually as long as all three goalies are healthy, they’d have to make another move.

Image from Henderson Silver Knights highlight package

Here’s where the Silver Knights and their miserable performance comes in. Henderson currently sits in the cellar of the entire AHL with a record of 2-9-0. They’ve allowed 41 goals while scoring just 25, and they are riding a three-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 16-4.

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

(Photo Credit: 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: 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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Organization May Lean On Brossoit When Fully Healthy

Many Golden Knights fans would like to see Logan Thompson named as the starting goaltender for the 2022-23 season. It’s a strong argument considering how well Thompson performed late in the season when injuries promoted him as Vegas’ number one. So, are Bruce Cassidy and the Golden Knights coaching staff leaning towards Thompson? He’s confident, skilled, and younger but he’s not as experienced or expensive as the other goalie on the team. Which could lead the organization to eventually select last season’s planned backup, Laurent Brossoit.

Our last update from the organization on Brossoit was promising. The 29-year-old is rehabbing from his offseason surgery and is feverishly working his way back to form. There is no announced date or timeline for his return, but many assumed it would be awhile based off the limited information we’ve received over the summer. Last week reporter Kevin Woodley reported Brossoit could be available sooner than later.

He isn’t ready to be on the ice yet, but there was some talk that he isn’t that far away from skating. All indications are he is ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean he will be ready for opening night. It could be a few weeks into the season. –Kevin Woodley,

Woodley participated in an NHL goaltending camp which happened to be presented by the agency that represents Brossoit. The Golden Knights goaltender wasn’t in attendance, but representatives gave Woodley some positive news about the veteran’s potential return.

The camp that I was at last week was put on by his agency and LB wasn’t there. Not ready to be on the ice yet. There’s a lot of examples of guys having it done in the same window. Having this exact surgery and being back by training camp. Maybe not the beginning of camp but on the ice and doing drills early in the season if not for the start of the season. -Kevin Woodley,

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