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Max Lagace’s Wild Ride As A Golden Knight

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights take the ice tonight there will be a familiar face on the bench. With Malcolm Subban out with an injury, Max Lagace will don the pads and serve as the back-up for Marc-Andre Fleury for the second straight game. This isn’t a new experience for Lagace and nor should it be for fans to see him in a Golden Knights sweater. However, it’s easy to forget how wild a ride last season was for the 26-year-old French Canadian goaltender.

July 1, 2017 – Lagace signs as a free agent with the Golden Knights.

October 5th, 2017 – Lagace does not make the opening day roster with the Golden Knights, is optioned to the AHL.

October 14th, 2017 – Following an injury to Fleury, Lagace is called up to back-up recently acquired Malcolm Subban.

October 19th, 2017 – Without appearing in a game, Lagace is sent back to the AHL and replaced on the roster by Oscar Dansk.

October 22nd, 2017 – Lagace is recalled to the NHL following the injury to Malcolm Subban. Dansk assumed the role as the starter after helping lead Vegas to a win over St. Louis and then shutting out Colorado.

October 30th, 2017 – About halfway through a game against the Islanders, Dansk is injured and Lagace makes his NHL debut. He allows four goals on 11 shots in a loss.

November 1st, 2017 – The very next night, Lagace is the now the starter for the Golden Knights against the Rangers. He allows five goals on 37 shots in a 6-4 loss.

My first game in Madison Square Garden was pretty crazy. I can’t even remember the first few minutes of the game and then after it started to sink in. -Lagace

November 4th, 2017 – Lagace earns his first career NHL victory is a 5-4 win over Ottawa.

November 7th, 2017 – The Golden Knights travel to Montreal to play the Canadiens, Lagace gets the start.

The Montreal game was something else too. Being from there, the story of that building, and I had about 20 people (family and friends) in the building there. -Lagace

November 10th, 2017 – Lagace appears in his first game at T-Mobile Arena, a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

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Offseason Outlook: Goaltenders

Never could anyone have imagined the Golden Knights goalie depth would be tested the way it was. Five goalies used in the first 17 games gave George McPhee a pretty solid look at the present and the future of the most important position on the ice.

It would seem not much needs to happen between the pipes for the Golden Knights with Marc-Andre Fleury the clear starter, Malcolm Subban a solid backup and Oscar Dansk plus Maxime Lagace manning the crease in the AHL. However, it’s not that simple, and in fact, McPhee has plenty of decisions in the net not only this offseason but moving forward.

Marc-Andre Fleury

It’s a bit of a shame Fleury will not win any awards after that incredible season. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After posting Vezina quality numbers in the regular season and then racing out to become the Conn Smythe favorite before the final series of the playoffs, it appears Fleury’s days as a full-time starter aren’t as numbered as they appeared during the last days in Pittsburgh.

He’s mentioned playing for many more years and recently said he wants to finish his career in Vegas. Fleury has one more season left on his contract scheduled to pay him $5.75 million. Then he would become an unrestricted free agent, something the Golden Knights probably aren’t interested in letting happen.

Things do get a bit tricky though when dealing with the long-term future of a 33-year-old goalie. While it certainly appears his age isn’t getting in the way at this point, that could change at any moment. Signing Fleury to a four or five year deal is risky as his production could slip at any moment, but letting him constantly play on expiring deals keeps the control in the hands of the player rather than the organization.

If Fleury is being completely honest that he wants to finish his career with the Golden Knights, they should play the short-term contract game with him on a gentleman’s agreement that he’ll get a new deal every time he wants one and the price will be fair. There aren’t many players who any GM would be willing to go down that road with, but if there’s one, it’s probably Fleury.

There’s one concern there though, and that’s Pittsburgh. What if they come calling at some point? It’s easy to say he wants to finish his career in Vegas while sitting on stage in the same building as the Campbell Bowl, but if the idea of going back to the Penguins ever became a realistic possibility, he’d likely want to hear it out.

The best course of action for the Golden Knights is likely to keep him one year away from free agency at all times. Extend his contract each offseason so he feels comfortable, while also protecting the organization against the inevitable father time induced decline.

Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk, Max Lagace

Only one of these three players currently has a contract with the Golden Knights and that’s Subban. Dansk remains under Golden Knights control as he’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Lagace is an unrestricted free agent set to hit the open market on July 1st if he doesn’t reach a deal with Vegas before then.

Subban still seems to be the clear #2 behind Fleury, but his injury-riddled season has to bring pause to the organization’s desire to commit to him as the heir-apparent. Subban was hurt once during a game early in the year and then found himself unavailable two more times due to injuries that occurred during practice. Subban missed a majority of the postseason and the team opted to use Lagace as the backup over Dansk.

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Malcolm Subban Headed To IR; Maxime Lagace To Be Recalled

Max’s back. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the second time this year, the Golden Knights will be without their backup goalie, luckily this time the starter isn’t hurt as well.

Malcolm Subban sustained an upper-body injury during morning skate prior to the Golden Knights game in San Jose. Subban was dressed and was seen sitting under the bench during the game, but was apparently not available to enter that game.

All Star coach Gerard Gallant confirmed the team will recall Maxime Lagace. Lagace started 13 games during the Golden Knights goalie fiasco at the beginning of the year in which they lost three goalies in the team’s first 10 games. Vegas went 6-6-1 in those 13 games while Lagace allowed 3.79 goals per game and posted .872 save percentage. Lagace returned to the AHL with the Chicago Wolves where he has played in 14 games posting a .910 save percentage.

Oscar Dansk, who was sent back to the Wolves on January 24th has yet to start a game.

Both Dansk and Lagace are waiver-exempt this season, so the Golden Knights can freely rotate between the two assuming Dansk is healthy enough to play.

Maxime Lagace Saved The Golden Knights Season

Often times Brian Blessing of Vegas Hockey Hotline fame rings my phone in what eventually becomes a 45+ minute conversation about various Golden Knights related topics. Normally it’s just complaints over the saltiness of the press box peanuts or disagreements over intermission entertainment (don’t care what he says, this video is glorious), but last night he brought up a point so good it needed to be fully researched and shared.

See that in his glove? It’s the Golden Knights season. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Marc-Andre Fleury has been activated off IR which caused the Golden Knights to send backup to the backup to the backup goalie Maxime Lagace back to the AHL. Lagace has started 13 of the Golden Knights 29 games. The team’s record in those games is 6-6-1. More importantly, Maxime Lagace has started 11 of the Golden Knights 16 road games. The team is 4-6-1 in those games.

Let me remind you, Maxime Lagace is the Golden Knights fourth goalie, he has played in all but five of the Golden Knights road games, and the team’s away record is 8-7-1 and their overall record is 19-9-1.

Was Max Lagace great for the Golden Knights? No he was not. But what he definitely was not either, was terrible… like he probably should have been. Normally when a team loses their starting goalie they try and tread water until he returns. When a team loses their second goalie they are just hoping to win a game here and there. We don’t even know what happens when teams lose their third goalie because it hasn’t happened in decades.

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The transaction signals that Fleury is scheduled to start the Golden Knights next game, home against Carolina.

It’s Maxime Lagace’s Net To Lose Now

Oh come on, not again!

For the third time in nine and a half games, the Golden Knights watched their goaltender succumb to injury. For the second time, that goalie was taken out of the game and a replacement came in.

Yup, we’ve got a Max Lagace picture in the archives. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

First, it was Malcolm Subban taking over for Marc-Andre Fleury. He was great. Then, it was Oscar Dansk taking over for Subban. He was great. Now, it’s Maxime Lagace taking over for Dansk. He was… we’ll hold that til tonight at least.

The Golden Knights entered the season with six goalies under NHL contract. They traded Calvin Pickard on the morning of the regular season opener and were then left with five. At the time, that seemed like plenty. Two in the NHL, two in the AHL, and one stashed away in juniors. It wasn’t.

It wasn’t.

Fleury’s concussion isn’t seeming to be going away anytime soon, Subban’s out at least another two weeks or so, and Dasnk is on IR out for at least the rest of the road trip, So in the net goes Lagace and up from juniors comes Ferguson. (Yes, they can do that.)

The question now is, can you actually ride out the rest of the road trip, and possibly a bit longer with Lagace in the net and 19-year-old Dylan Ferguson as his back up.

It’s crazy, obviously you never expect that but you’ve got to be ready. Didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but it’s a new day tomorrow. I was a little nervous very excited, I think it showed a little bit, I was a bit nervous in net. But now I know the feeling and I’ll take the experience into tomorrow night for the game. -Maxime Lagace

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Abnormal Team With Abnormal Goalie Situation

Remember when goalie depth was widely considered to be the best asset the Golden Knights got from the Expansion Draft? When Marc-Andre Fleury was the starter and Calvin Pickard was set to back up him. That’s changed a bit, huh?

But before we get into what’s going to happen moving forward, and a bit of what’s happened already, let’s dispell a rumor that has already popped up to this point.

This team isn’t normal. That’s kind of why theyir 6-1. Embrace it. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are not likely to make a trade to acquire a “starting” goalie. For proof of this, think back to the timeline of the backup goalie thus far. Three days before the season began George McPhee claimed Malcolm Subban. The next day he waived Calvin Pickard in somewhat a surprising move, but just another in a long line of focusing on the future rather than the present for the Vegas front office.

That move left the Golden Knights one moment away from having to put in a 23-year-old goalie, who was waived by the Bruins, into the net for good, and they were comfortable with that because this season’s not about winning. Four games later, that moment came, as Fleury took a knee to the face and suffered his third (maybe fourth) career concussion.

They didn’t run out and make a trade. Not because they believed so much in Subban, because they still, despite the record, aren’t focused on winning this season. They simply put Subban in the net, and called up another backup (Maxime Lagace at the time). Now, Subban is hurt, and Oscar Dansk appears to be the temporary starter, and just like before, they probably aren’t going to panic and make a move.

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