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

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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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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 NHL.com 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, NHL.com

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, NHL.com

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Toronto Talking Heads Count Vegas Out For 2022-23

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the news dropped that Robin Lehner was scheduled to have hip surgery and miss the 2022-23 season, the hockey world reacted.

Your season is done. I credit them for what they accomplished that first season. Ever since that success they’ve been drunken sailors. They’re in video game GM mode. Trade this guy, sign that guy, don’t need that guy, dump that guy, trade this pick, trade that prospect. It’s karma in a way, you’ve been too reckless. –Bryan Hayes on OverDrive radio show on TSN1050 Toronto

For the second time in team history, Vegas isn’t considered a Stanley Cup favorite. The first year was a shock to everyone, this time around, there is concrete evidence based on history for doubters to point to. The Golden Knights missed the playoffs, swapped scoring for dead money, and are without their starting goaltender for the entire season.

Losing Lehner was the breaking point for some around the sport.

I think somebody can really hold up Vegas right now. This is a team that’s built to win now. You can’t go a year without a goaltender if you’re built to win now. They have no money but they also have no goaltender. –Dave Poulin on OverDrive radio show on TSN1050 Toronto

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Predicting The Golden Knights Offseason (Ken’s Picks)

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The Cup has been awarded which means the offseason has officially begun. The Golden Knights have already started shaping their roster, most notably with the news of a Reilly Smith extension, but they still have a lot of work to do.

This week we are going to go through a series of articles giving our thoughts on how we’d like the offseason to shake out and how we think it will ultimately go down for the Golden Knights.

Today we start with my (Ken) predicted roster. This is what I expect the Golden Knights to do this summer.

Nic Roy – Re-signed for 2 years at $2.75m AAV

As I detailed in a previous article, Roy is in line for a fairly significant raise. I expect him to file for arbitration but sign a contract prior to the hearing. The Golden Knights will utilize their excellent signing of Chandler Stephenson to set the market on Roy and eventually settle on the same number. It’s a nice bump for Roy, it keeps him in line to hit unrestricted free agency at the age of 27, and it doesn’t break the bank on VGK.

Keegan Kolesar – Re-signed for 1 year at $1.3m

Like Roy, Kolesar’s arbitration rights will earn him a bit more than he’s made in the past. However, I expect a short deal as the Golden Knights look to maintain some flexibility moving forward. Kolesar doesn’t have much to prove as it’s pretty clear the player he’s going to be, so he’ll look to cash in and $1.3 million is a decent payday for him.

Nic Hague – Re-signed for 1 year at $874,125

I truly believe Hague should refuse to sign the qualifying offer and hold out from training camp and ultimately regular season games in an effort to maximize his contract. But, I don’t think he’ll end up going down that road as the risk of the Golden Knights never blinking is far too real. (Read more about the situation here) So, I think he’ll take the qualifying offer and play one more year on a cheap deal before he looks to cash in next summer, which I believe he will to the tune of north of $3 million per year.

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VGK Shedding Cap Rumors Continue To Swirl

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are not afraid to quickly erase their mistakes. As aggressive and encouraging as that is it usually ends up costing them a hefty price to do so.

Sort of like losing a deposit after terminating a timeshare you foolishly signed up for the day before. Of course, it sounded great at the time. The vacation club, the free drinks and lunch, the tour of the facility, heck they even threw in three free nights at Excalibur! How could you possibly say no to the guy pressuring you as if his life depended on your enrollment?!?

Now compare that to several notable subtractions made by the Golden Knights over the past few seasons.

It seems likely the Golden Knights will once again be wheeling and dealing for cap space this summer. Under their current situation, Vegas will need to rid themselves of several contracts this offseason.

It may be ridding themselves of contracts they recently signed (Martinez, Brossoit) one they traded for last Summer (Dadonov), or even a few that now look like overpays from the past (Karlsson, Pacioretty, Lehner). Whatever direction they head it won’t end well from a return on investment standpoint for the Golden Knights. Whether it be shipping expendable prospects, retaining salary, or most detrimental, trading away another draft pick with another unwanted player.

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It’s Logan Thompson’s Turn In Goal

(Photo Credit: Vegas Golden Knights Twitter)

Following an agonizing road trip that saw the Golden Knights go winless in five games, Pete DeBoer and the VGK coaching staff had a crucial decision to make upon returning home.

Having received below-average goaltending from both Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson on the trip, a strong argument could have been made for either goalie to get the call against the Florida Panthers. Vegas ultimately went with Thompson and it paid off with a 5-3 win over the best team in the Eastern Conference.

This is a big win for the goalie deparment. I know I haven’t been great, and every goalie coach in their mom’s basement has let me know that. -Logan Thompson

One such critic, though I’m fairly certain he doesn’t live in his mom’s basement, was DeBoer himself. Following the Columbus game and then again after the loss in Winnipeg, DeBoer did everything but outwardly blame the goaltending for the losses. Here’s one such of those comments.

I thought the guys came and worked their asses off tonight for 60 mins. We’re in that spot where we need everything firing on all cylinders. Our goalie has to be good, special teams, and 5-on-5 all have to be good. If one of those is off we’re not going to win and that’s the case. -DeBoer

So even after a win over Florida, it wasn’t clear Thompson had curried enough favor to hang on to the net for the immediate and/or interim future. That was put to rest with both the decision to start him again against Los Angles and the comments from DeBoer postgame.

On the decision to start (Thompson), it was easy. We have to win games. If you look at our records recently, if you want to play this time of year you have to find a way to win games. -DeBoer

Brossoit had one just one of his previous eight starts, and clearly DeBoer had seen enough. With Robin Lehner remaining on the shelf, he handed the job to Thompson and it appears it’s now his until Lehner is ready to return or he gives DeBoer reason to change his mind.

I’ve said before that starts are hard to come by in this league and for Pete to give me this opportunity, I didn’t want to let him down or let the team down. so it was huge but it’s over now and I’ve just got to keep building from it. -Thompson

Next up for the Golden Knights is a back-to-back in Minnesota and Winnipeg. Normally, Vegas uses both available goalies in two-games-in-two-nights scenarios, but with they haven’t been afraid to run a guy back out in both when the situation calls for it.

Thompson will almost certainly get the first game against the Wild and his performance will likely dictate the starter for the game against the Jets. This is, of course, if there’s not a move involving a goalie before tomorrow’s trade deadline at noon.

No matter how you slice it though, it appears it’s Logan Thompson’s time, and the Golden Knights’ season may rest on how well it goes.

Golden Knights Whose Stock Can Rise In Training Camp

Training Camp is right around the corner, and while the Golden Knights depth chart is fairly set due to the sheer number of returning players, there are still plenty of guys who can use this next month to make their move into bigger roles this season. Players who put in excellent training camps are often those who are called upon first when the team experiences injuries or even just needs a shuffle in lines.

So, even though we can pretty much plot out the Golden Knights’ lineup for Opening Night right now, these players all have a chance to position themselves for larger roles on the team as the season rolls on.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jack Dugan

The odds Dugan makes the roster out of camp are nearly insurmountable, but that certainly doesn’t mean he can’t show up and show out to move up the ranks once the waiver situation clears. In camp, the forward battle will be between guys like William Carrier, Brett Howden, Nolan Patrick, and Keegan Kolesar, but once the roster is set and the games get underway, there will be a pecking order as to who is called next in the event of an injury. Last year, Dugan was never even in the conversation and didn’t even see a sniff of the NHL. This year, it starts with Rookie Camp, the tournament in Phoenix, and then main camp. If Dugan can dominate against the kids and then make an impact in main camp as well as preseason games, he’ll certainly jump up the line in the “next man up” rankings. We know he has the scoring touch and he plays a style of game coaches love. Plus, he has a bit of a nasty streak in him which could be needed if the season isn’t going as planned early for the Golden Knights. A big month of September would go a long way for Dugan to earn his NHL debut, even if that doesn’t come until the calendar flips to 2022.

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Can The Jennings Trophy Stay In Vegas?

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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.

Three Years Later, Still Hard To Find Expansion Draft Mishaps

In 2000, both the Wild and Blue Jackets passed over Martin St. Louis. He went on to score 391 goals and put up over 1,000 points before being elected into the Hall of Fame. In 1993, Dominik Hasek was there for the Ducks and Panthers. He went on to win six Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies, two Stanley Cups, and become one of the best goalies ever before he was elected into the Hall.

In every Expansion Draft through the history of sports, there’s at least one. One big name that slipped through the cracks and would have changed everything for the new team that didn’t take him.

It’s been just over three years since the Golden Knights announced their expansion roster dealing with the best rules any expansion team had ever seen. They amassed tons of extra picks, selected multiple diamonds in the rough like William Karlsson and Nate Schmidt, and they even got themselves a superstar in Marc-Andre Fleury.

There were misses though. Ranked in order, here are the most influential misses from the 2017 Expansion Draft. (I ranked them in order from most to least influential.)

Colorado Avalanche
VGK Pick: Calvin Pickard (traded for Tobias Lindberg and 2018 6th Round pick which became Peter Diliberatore)
Exposed: Carl Soderberg

Since not being selected in the Expansion Draft, Soberberg has amassed 86 points in 159 games. Only four Golden Knights have reached at least 86 points in the two-year history of the team (Marchessault, Karlsson, Tuch). Soderberg also received Selke votes in 2018-19. The $4,750,000 cap hit would have been a bit tricky on the Golden Knights, but a player like Soderberg certainly seems exponentially more valuable than what Vegas got out of Pickard.

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