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Golden Knights Analysis

Did The Playoff-Less Golden Knights Even Improve This Offseason?

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Max Pacioretty Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

The other day, I gave my picks for the Vegas Golden Knights 2022-23 line combinations. This got me thinking back to last year’s roster and had me pondering the question on whether or not this season’s upcoming team is better than last year’s.

It’s a heated question, and there are a lot of factors that go into it. But to answer my own question, I like last year’s team better (on paper).

On paper, this year’s team looks almost identical to last year’s team but without some key depth. Although they lacked consistency, both with scoring and with staying healthy, Evgenii Dadonov, Mattias Jannmark, and Max Pacioretty are all gone with nothing other than cap space to show for in return.

Let’s go over the additions and subtractions first before we go any further.

Additions

  • Shea Weber*- Contract acquired from Montreal Canadiens
  • Phil Kessel- Signed in free agency- One year, $1.5 million
  • Adin Hill– Acquired from the San Jose Sharks for a 2024 4th
  • Byron Froese- Signed in free agency- Two years, $762k
  • Sheldon Rempal- Signed in free agency- Two years, $762k
  • Michael Hutchinson- Signed in free agency- One year, $750k
  • Spender Foo- Signed in free agency- One year, $750k
  • Six players at the 2022 NHL Draft;  Matyas SapovalivJordan GustafsonCameron Whitehead, Patrick Guay, Ben Hemmerling, and Abram Wiebe.

Subtractions

  • Evgenii Dadonov- Traded to Montreal Canadiens
  • Max Pacioretty– Traded to Carolina Hurricanes
  • Dylan Coghlan- Traded to Carolina Hurricanes
  • Mattias Janmark- Walked in free agency
  • Sven Baertschi- Walked in free agency
  • Jake Bischoff- Walked in free agency
  • Dylan Ferguson- No qualifying offer, walked in free agency
  • Ben Jones- No qualifying offer, walked in free agency
  • Jack Dugan- No qualifying offer, walked in free agency
  • Robin Lehner*- Will miss the 2022-23 season with a hip injury

So in terms of additions, the Golden Knight’s most recent signing of Phil Kessel and trade acquisition of Adin Hill are the only notable ones. These are solid gets for the VGK but pale in comparison to some of the players that left.

Again, while a lot of last seasons can be blamed on injuries, Janmark, Dadonov, and Pacioretty are all capable goal scorers at the NHL level. Especially Pacioretty, who was traded for a half-eaten bag of Cheetos. The Golden Knights also did not really replace Dylan Coghlan, and will likely do so internally with someone like Kaedan Korczak.

The loss of Lehner is also huge. No matter how you feel about his 2021-22 campaign, he was the definitive starter for the Golden Knights and could have bounced back this upcoming season and rejuvenated his career. Instead, we will have to wait until 2023-24.

This offseason can basically be boiled down to general manager Kelly McCrimmon cutting off some of his team’s fat to free up space so that he could re-sign guys. Reilly Smith, Nicolas Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and Brett Howden were all resigned, with most of them no longer being on their entry-level, low-cost contracts.

Here’s how the Golden Knights will stack up in 2022-23 with our projected lines.

Projected 2022-23 Roster

Chandler Stephenson- Jack Eichel- Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith

Paul Cotter- Nicolas Roy- Phil Kessel

William Carrier- Brett Howden- Keegan Kolesar

Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo

Alec Martinez- Shea Theodore

Brayden McNabb- Zach Whitecloud

Logan Thompson/Adin Hill

Spares– Michael Amadio, Ben Hutton, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg

IR*- Nolan Patrick, Laurent Brossoit LTIR- Shea Weber- Robin Lehner

Prospects: Brendan Brisson, Kaedan Korczak

This is far from a bad roster and likely a playoff team. But the thing is, we said that about last year’s roster, which was arguably stronger. And just a refresher, the Golden Knights missed the 2021-22 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It seems as if Golden Knights upper management had their hands tied this offseason and worked with what they had. This requires sacrifices to be made, such as the Dadonov and Pacioretty deals. I think a lot of the thought process with the Golden Knights is that they are betting on this season not being anywhere near as bad as last season was when it comes to injuries, which is fair. The VGK were dealt some pretty bad luck last season with some freak accidents and roughed-up players.

But what happens if those problems occur one more this season? We have already seen Lehner be ruled out; Mark Stone has been rumored to miss training camp, and now it looks like Laurent Brossoit is out considering the Hill trade.

The worst part about all of this is that we will never truly know how dangerous last season’s Golden Knights team could have been. Just as it seemed as if the team would be complete, another injury or two would arise, and before you knew it, the regular season ended with the VGK outside of the playoff line. We were only given a snippet of what Jack Eichel could do if Nolan Patrick could shine, what the defense would look like with fully healthy, and what a line of Pacioretty Eichel, and Stone could do.

A refresher on last year’s team with a huge asterisk, considering we never got to see this team fully healthy.

Last Season’s Fully-Healthy* Lines

Max Pacioretty- Jack Eichel- Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith

Mattias Janmark- Chandler Stephenson- Evgenii Dadonov

William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar

Nicolas Hague- Alex Pietrangelo

Alec Martinez- Shea Theodore

Brayden McNabb- Zach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner/Laurent Brossoit

Spares– Brett Howden, Dylan Coghlan, Nolan Patrick, Logan Thompson, Michael Amadio, Ben Hutton, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg

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Owen Krepps covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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HOCKEYDIVA

What is wrong with everyone who can’t see that LEHNER is damaged goods. He’s vulnerable physically and mentally unsound. I’ve been around bipolar people and LEHNER has all the indicators for that disease 😐. LEHNER will always Be unpredictable and a liability!

Austin

Yep. Paying top level goaltender money for a guy who plays have a season physically and is even more fragile mentally. Thompson showed more competitiveness in 20 games than Lenner showed during his stay here. Addition by subtraction.

Assuming reasonably good health, I’ll take a full season of Eichel/Stone over a third each from Eichel/Stone/Pacioretty. And Janmark a proven goal scorer? Please.

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