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.
Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner and his wife Donya filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the District of Nevada on December 30th, 2022.
According to the public filing, Lehner estimates the worth of his assets between $1-10 million while his liability to creditors is between $10-50 million.
In the bankruptcy filing documents, Lehner is said to be the owner of RL Exotics LLC, “which operates a reptile farm in Plato, Missouri, which is an operating business with 3 employees, and which requires reptiles to be maintained and fed.”
Lehner was first linked to snakes back in 2017 when he reportedly purchased a collection of exotic snakes for $1.2 million.
Renick agreed to sell his snakes, ball pythons and anacondas, to NHL goalie Robin Lehner in early 2017 for $1.2 million. Lehner would pay Renick in quarterly installments of $200,000 throughout the year. Lehner made one such payment in February 2017. –Article by Lucas Geisler of KMIZ in St. Louis, Missouri
Lehner countersued in December of that year, claiming that he took on millions of dollars in costs taking care of Renick’s animals. At some point after Ben’s death, he said, the snakes “began breeding amongst one another in an unsupervised, uncontrolled manner.” That caused the collection of snakes to lose value, but Lehner’s attorneys did not specify by how much.
Renick Reptiles then claimed in July 2019 that at some point, Lehner “stole a collection of anacondas [from] Renick Reptiles’ place of business (as well as taking the collection of ball pythons that Lehner refused to pay for).” The lawsuit does not say how many snakes were allegedly taken.
The two sides suddenly announced a settlement in November 2019. A filing in the Montgomery County estate case from that August said the two sides had reached a settlement, but wanted to keep the terms of it confidential. Laiderman wrote that both sides wanted to “complete [Lehner]’s purchase of the [snakes].” –Article by Lucas Geisler of KMIZ in St. Louis, Missouri
In 2019, Lehner formed RL Exotics LLC and the company has been operating since.
Listed among the potentially interested parties in the bankruptcy filing include the Vegas Golden Knights, Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, the National Hockey League, Newport Sports Management, and a financial company called Sure Sports Lending.
Sure Sports Lending describes itself as an agency that “specializes in low-interest, unsecured loans and contract advances to Professional Athletes in the NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, NHL, and MLS based on their player contracts.”
This is the same company that was sued by the trustee assigned to oversee Evander Kane’s bankruptcy.
Sure Sports over 10 months crossing between 2018 and 2019 arranged nearly $14 million in loans to Kane, according to court filings. Kane in early 2021 filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, declaring $26.8 million in liabilities and unleashing an ongoing vitriolic process between creditors and the hockey star who recently signed with the Edmonton Oilers. Sure Sports itself filed as a creditor, seeking nearly $1.2 million it alleged Kane owed in fees. –Article by Daniel Kaplan in The Athletic
The article also links Sure Sports to defaulted loans with NFL running back Adrian Peterson and MLS left-back Kemar Lawrence.
The bankruptcy claims that Lehner’s debts are “primarily based on business debts that were incurred to help obtain money for a business or investment.”
In an email to SinBin.vegas, the attorney representing Robin Lehner says both the Golden Knights’ team counsel and creditors have been made aware of the bankruptcy filing.
**The initial headline to this story read Robin Lehner Files For Bankruptcy Due To Ownership Of Exotic Snake Farm, it has been changed to “in connection with” after more information about the case became public.**
The Golden Knights have had a not-so-memorable offseason. The roster has changed dramatically and devastating injury news continues popping up week after week. A lot of it seems to stem from miscommunication between various parties.
Earlier this week, NHL.com reported that Mark Stone would shockingly miss all of training camp. The reporter was quoting from her conversations with Golden Knights center Jack Eichel and head coach Bruce Cassidy. One or the other likely unintentionally let too much slip out in his interview with Spiegel. Later in the day, the reporter tweeted the team had clarified some of the comments.
Update regarding Mark Stone’s status as there was a miscommunication regarding his availability for training camp.
A team source confirmed Stone’s availability at the start of camp is now questionable but he is expected to participate at some point. https://t.co/Rh9nxR0A0a
While the organization cleaned up some comments they never offered a concrete response to Stone’s training camp expectancy. “Availability is questionable,” is not a full response, and McCrimmon’s comments in his press availability left plenty of room for a timeline on Stone’s return. Vague information leads to speculation from the fanbase and they’ve done enough of that. From all accounts, Stone was on track to attend training camp on time with the rest of his teammates. That’s what the Golden Knights captain implied on NHL radio earlier this summer.
I’m battling a pretty bad back and ended up getting a discectomy and should be ready to go first day of training camp. – Mark Stone on NHL Network Radio in June 2022
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.
McCrimmon says Brossoit's rehab has been going very well.
The last time Kelly spoke it sounded like Brossoit was almost certainly missing Opening Night and a bit beyond, now it seems like if he's not there on 10/11, it'll be shortly after.
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
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
Unpredictability, it’s what makes sports the best soap opera in the world. It’s also what makes the lives of the decision-makers so incredibly difficult. No matter what the data and history say, no one truly knows what is going to happen until the humans who put on the jerseys actually step onto the ice and compete.
From 100 points and competing for the Stanley Cup to barely hitting 80 and starting a rebuild and anywhere in between, opinions on what’s in store for the Golden Knights this season range wildly.
There are questions surrounding scoring, depth, health, goaltending, coaching, continuity, accountability, and more. And not a single person on the planet has even some of the answers, let alone all of them.
This volatility is why the Golden Knights must finish the offseason and enter the regular season with a patient approach.
It’s probably an oversimplified way to look at an extremely complex sport, but say you break the teams into a few different tiers. The tiers include bad, average, good, great, and elite. Teams in the bad and average tier will miss the playoffs, those in the good tier will fight for the final spots, while the great teams will compete with the Stanley Cup favorites, the elite.
As mentioned above, it’s not far-fetched to place Vegas in any of the five tiers. Reasonably though, they are likely to fall somewhere in the middle three, average, good, or great.
With the injury to Robin Lehner, Vegas suddenly have a bit more cap flexibility. Lehner’s $5 million can be stashed on LTIR, giving the Golden Knights room to add to the team. It’s possible with the perfect combination of moves, they could leap up one tier. With where we are in the calendar and the limitations of what $5 million can buy in today’s NHL, a two-tier leap is highly improbable. So, if they are average, they can become good. If they are good, they become great, but if they are average, they aren’t becoming great this season.
Ken and Jason had their turns to put the Golden Knights in a better position for this season and beyond, and now it is my turn to make Vegas a younger and cheaper team that can still compete this year and for years to come. I am not trading Jack Eichel like Ken, I am not keeping as many players as Jason.
Here’s what I would do.
TRADE – Max Pacioretty and Nolan Patrick traded to Detroit Red Wings for a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 4th round pick
The Red Wings seem like a team that is very close to making their return to the playoffs after a few years of being on the outside looking in. Adding a proven scorer in Max Pacioretty could be the trade that moves the needle in Detroit, which is great for them but this is about the Golden Knights.
Pacioretty is in the final year of his contract which counts $7 million against the cap. He is also going to be 34-years-old during this coming season. Vegas moving on from him solves a few problems. Most importantly, they instantly get cap relief, something that they desperately need. Almost as importantly, they will get younger which should help with the fear of potential injury problems.
As far as moving Nolan Patrick, he was not much of a factor in a Golden Knights uniform, which is unfortunate because it is due to his injury history and his ability as a player. If he is not part of any trade package, he should be a prime candidate to be waived to save a few more dollars.
TRADE – Robin Lehner to New Jersey Devils for a 2022 3rd round pick and a 2022 6th round pick
Robin Lehner may very well be a top 10-15 goalie in the NHL. He has proven that before winning the Jennings Trophy twice and being a Vezina Trophy finalist. Unfortunately, his health has failed him in the last couple of seasons. With additions being made later on in this article, Logan Thompson appears to be a viable option for much less money, and Bruce Cassidy implementing a “goalie friendly” system, it makes sense to move on from Lehner and give Thompson the keys to the franchise. It’s up to Thompson to make this move look good, we’ve seen a small sample size of what he can do and there’s nothing showing me he can’t continue his upward trend. This trade is me going all-in on Thompson, not going all-out on Lehner.