The Vegas Golden Knights, overall, are looking for a quality bounce-back season after failing to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. A lot of the team’s failures can be directed towards their injuries and consistency throughout the season.
Today we will be looking at five names on the Golden Knights who need to have a bounce-back year this upcoming season. With the way 2021-22 went, there are a lot of eligible names for this. Heck, even Robin Lehner and Max Pacioretty could be here.
We will mostly be focusing on players who battled injuries this past season. I wasn’t sure whether or not to include Eichel on this list, as you would have to rewind time to 2019-20 to find a true Jack Eichel performance. We’ll talk about him separately.
Golden Knights Bounceback Candidates
1) Mark Stone
Last Season: 37 GP 9-21-30 pts- Missed 45 games
The big one here is the captain. Mark Stone is known to be one of the best two-way forwards in the entire NHL. But in 2021-22, it was clear that he was not 100%.
An assortment of injuries, most notably to his back, caused him to miss 45 games. He had back surgery this offseason. Stone still somehow managed to score 30 points in 37 games and be a leader on the ice when he could.
If the Golden Knights want to challenge for a playoff spot again, they need Stone to get back to the 60-70 point guy that he can be. If not, you have to start to wonder if his cap hit is a little too high at $9.5 million.
2) Alec Martinez
Last Season: 26 GP 3-5-8 pts- Missed 56 games
Perhaps the Golden Knights who had the roughest 2021-22 campaign was Alec Martinez. A skate to the face in November caused him to miss 53-straight games with a facial laceration that also required over 50 stitches.
Martinez is the oldest current player on the Golden Knights and a veteran leader with two Stanley Cup rings. He thrived in his first season with the VGK after being brought over at the trade deadline.
Look for Martinez to stay healthy and have a strong bounce-back season as one of the Golden Knight’s most reliable two-way defensemen.
3) Reilly Smith
Last Season: 56 GP 16-22-38 pts- Missed 26 games
Relatively speaking, Reilly Smith had a strong past season. However, a knee injury towards the stretch run of the season greatly damaged not only his campaign but the Golden Knight’s chances of making the playoffs.
Now re-signed to a three-year deal, Smith will once again provide the Golden Knights a scoring winger, something he has done since the very beginning of the VGK.
With Evgenii Dadonov and Max Pacioretty off to new teams, Smith, Stone, and Jonathan Marchessault will have to step things up to provide offense on the wing in 2022-23.
4) Laurent Brossoit
Last Season: 10-9-3 record 2.90 GAA, .895 sv%- Missed 58* games
The second half of this past season saw Laurent Brossoit struggle with both injuries and his overall play. He ended his first season with the Golden Knights on a bad note, getting pulled against his former team, the Winnipeg Jets, and then missing the remainder of the season with an injury.
With Lehner out, Brossoit, who also had offseason hip surgery, will have to step up in his absence. All signs point towards the VGK at least starting the season off with Logan Thompson and Brossoit as their tandem.
If Brossoit either struggles or battles injuries like he did last season, it could force the Golden Knights to make a trade so they could prevent a tandem of Thompson and Michael Hutchinson.
5) Nolan Patrick
Last Season: 25 GP 2-5-7 pts- Missed 57 games
Nolan Patrick is looking for more of a bounce-back career than a bounce-back season at this point. The former no. 2 overall pick from the 2017 draft only played 25 games last season.
He dealt with head injuries, upper-body injuries, COVID-19, and undisclosed injuries all in 2021-22 and put up only seven points in the games that he did play.
If the Golden Knights want to compete for a Stanley Cup, they will need good young depth forwards who do not take up much money against the salary cap. Patrick fits the categories of young and cheap, but can he, for lack of better words, be good?
Having any one of these players back to their true forms in 2022-23 will greatly improve the Golden Knight’s chances of winning.