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Miscommunication Unfortunately Shaping VGK Roster

(Photo Credit: Jason Pothier, SinBin.vegas)

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.

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

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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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Patience Is The Right Way Forward For The Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

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.

Here’s where the need for patience comes in.

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GM For A Day: Alex’s 2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights

As the week comes to a close, we decided to hand the keys to the Porsche (remember when DeBoer called the roster that?) to the man entering his 5th season as an intern at SinBin, Alex Norwood.


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.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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Distance Stats Illustrate Cassidy’s “Goaltender-Friendly” System

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Bruce Cassidy was asked to describe his coaching style, one of the first adjectives he used was “goaltender-friendly.”

There are a lot of different ways for hockey systems to assist the goalie and Cassidy’s does a lot of them. Things like making the game predictable, not allowing cross-ice passes, limiting the number of odd-man rushes, and keeping the puck away from the center of the ice.

There’s one specific metric that illustrates the way Cassidy’s teams play which helps any goalie sitting behind them. It’s a distance stat and it’s one Golden Knights fans are actually used to being on the other end of.

WaveIntel’s Jason Paul compiled stats on shot and goal distance for a three-year span between 2017 and 2020. The NHL average distance of any goal scoring during those seasons was about 22.4 feet away from the net. For Tukka Rask, Cassidy’s primary goalie, that number was just short of 25 at 24.93, much further than the average. It was the second furthest average distance of goal allowed behind only Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. As for all shots, the average was 36.7 feet while Rask was seeing shots coming from an average of 38.1 feet away.

In comparison, Marc-Andre Fleury was in the bottom third of the league in both categories, allowing goals from an average of 20.3 feet and all shots at 36.4 feet away.

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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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McPhee Not Concerned About Lehner/DeBoer Relationship Because “People Get Over It”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The saga at the end of the season between the pipes for the Golden Knights was, well, messy.

It started with Robin Lehner fighting reports of his injuries publicly and it ended with him serving as the backup in a must-win game when he had already decided his season was over and he’d undergo shoulder surgery.

In between, there were soft goals, scathing public comments about his play, a goalie pull during a tie game, a press release about a maintenance day, and a whole lot of speculation.

It’s the second time in three seasons with Pete DeBoer behind the VGK bench that drama about the goalie has marred the end of a season. At least this time there weren’t any graphic memes on Twitter.

So now, the focus turns to the simple question of “can Pete DeBoer and Robin Lehner coexist as head coach and starting goalie of this team?”

During his postseason media availability, DeBoer detailed his entire decision-making process during the final few weeks of the season and even went as far as to express regret that he used the term “healthy” about Lehner down the stretch. He then pointed to the situation as the main reason why it got so contentious.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s friction at the end of a tough season between coaches and players or even players and players. Everyone’s frustrated, everyone’s pushing, there’s lots of tough conversations that are had down the stretch in those situations and you are pushing people to max amount because we need it. This isn’t something that’s unique to us or our group or Robin Lehner. -DeBoer

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VGK’s Frustration Visibly Noticeable To Opponents

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been eerily quiet since the Golden Knights season finale. There hasn’t been a peep from any of Vegas’ players, coaches, or executives since their postgame press conferences on Friday night. It’s almost as if The Creator and his staff are choosing the next Pope.

Without any knowledge of the conversations being held it’s impossible to guess which direction Vegas is heading. Whatever it may be, it was apparently obvious to many lineups across the NHL.

I had a few teams tell me today that Vegas was always a very together team. Through good and bad. This year was the first year they really saw them as a frustrated team. Doors slamming in games, players showing frustration or snapping at each other occasionally during games. I don’t want anyone to take that I think the Vegas Golden Knights all despise each other because I don’t know if that’s true. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It’s no secret, Golden Knights fans witnessed their team’s frustration almost weekly. That’ll happen with extensive injuries, poor performances, and a struggling power play. However, we can’t hear the doors slamming or snapping on the bench. Mark Stone and other team leaders keep their locker room tight but it’s hard to believe it felt the same without the captain for most of the year. Add in injuries to Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez and the chemistry had to have taken a hit.

When you’re losing and your season is slipping away that’s normal. Teams noticed it more this year. Was that just as frustration of the injuries and the season slipping away or is there any chance the fabric of this team has been changed and they have to address that. I don’t know. Teams noticed it this year, more than ever. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman’s advice to the Golden Knights is to address the goaltending situation. Over the weekend, the Sportsnet reporter continued to stress that Robin Lehner’s frustration and season ending injuries were sensitive matters.

The number one thing they have to deal with is Lehner. People are telling me wait. This is not over. There’s still more to go here. What’s everyone going to say? This is going to take some skill and handling. There are the possibilities of aftershocks. Is this something that the league and the Players Association are going to have to get involved in? Depending on where all of this goes. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It doesn’t take a spyglass for an opposing team to hear or read about the tension between Lehner and the coaching staff down the stretch. It was on full display after Vegas’ late-season loss against the New Jersey Devils.

Is there a way to deal with this so that it can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction mentally, and physically, and emotionally without a series of aftershocks that further damage the franchise. If it’s not dealt with in a proper way it’s going to get worse before it gets better. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight, unfortunately without the Golden Knights. On the bright side, missing the cut allows Vegas more time in the offseason. A head start helps examine prospects, target free agents, trades or anything else they feel they need to get sorted out. The next few days will reveal what the organization’s plans are going forward. Lehner, DeBoer, slamming doors, and teammates snapping are areas that need immediate attention.

Organization Requested Injured Lehner For Failed Stretch Run

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights were officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas failed in shootout for the third straight game, ending what was supposed to be a highly successful season. Over the past week, the team was desperate for points, and Logan Thompson, on no rest, gave them the best chance to succeed. It wasn’t ideal. Late season back-to-backs, four straight extended games, and endless pressure was one of the reasons the organization pleaded with Robin Lehner to play out the final few games.

He was unhappy with some of the criticism he was getting and being pulled. There were talks about how can we make this work, can you at least play through the season. Then he saw the doctors, he’s legitimately injured. They announced one surgery but I think there are two or three different injuries. –Elliotte Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show

Surely, had Lehner been available coach Pete DeBoer would have considered starting him against the Blackhawks. Or at the very least use him to support Thompson. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the team was left with one option while Lehner prepares for season-ending surgery.

Lehner’s playing with two, possibly three really tough injuries. I just don’t know if it’s one thing or more than one thing. He’s left the team at times, he’s been injured at times. He’s tried to play through it, he’s competitive. It’s definitely effected his ability to be at his best. He’s not at his best but he’s competing. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman reported the team had asked Lehner to finish out the season and fight through his injuries. I’m sure that’s a common conversation players have with coaches this time of year. In this case, Vegas’ goaltender was battling too many ailments to suit up. Playing through injuries and being publicly criticized must have annoyed and frustrated Lehner. Which shouldn’t surprise DeBoer or the front office.

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