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Golden Knights Analysis

Another Chapter in the Golden Knights Goaltending Story Has Begun



Vegas Golden Knights goalies Logan Thopson, Adin Hill, and Laurent Brossoit (Photo(s)- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

The reveal that Vegas Golden Knights starting goaltender Robin Lehner would miss the entire 2022-23 NHL season due to a hip injury shook the team’s goaltending to its core this past summer.

With backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit also out with a hip injury, the Golden Knights went to the NHL trade market and free agency to add goaltending depth. They traded for Adin Hill of the San Jose Sharks and signed free agent Michael Hutchinson. Former goalie Sean Burke was also hired as a goalie coach.

To start the season, Hill and former Henderson Silver Knight’s goaltender/AHL goalie of the year Logan Thompson were, and still are, the Golden Knights tandem.

Backstopped by a veteran Golden Knights defense that features the NHL’s leader in blocked shots, Alec Martinez, both Thompson and Hill started the season strong.

In a Rut

But now, their play is starting to take a dip, something head coach Bruce Cassidy addressed after the team’s second straight loss on Saturday.

“As you can see, our goaltending numbers have leveled off from the start of the year. We figured out that would happen eventually. These are two young guys. So there’s a little adversity there that they have to (work through). We knew that would come,” said Cassidy.

In his last three starts, Thompson has let in a total of 10 goals. Hill has let in four goals in his last two outings as well. It’s not necessarily that these two are playing badly, just they have not made the big stops that they were making earlier in the season.

“They have got to do their part and make their saves. But we have to do better in front of them. They are young guys. We have a veteran D-corps that has played in the league. So we have to get some of that squared away. And it’s on me to get that message across,” said Cassidy.

The LB Dynamic

What looms over both goaltenders is the Golden Knight’s third NHL-capable goaltender, Laurent Brossoit, who, after a conditioning stint, was assigned to the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL.

Brossoit is simply not a minor-league goaltender; he has over 100 games of NHL experience and was a reliable backup when he played for the Winnipeg Jets. But due to his hip injury and the early-season success of Thompson and Hill, Brossoit was given a trial in Henderson after he cleared waivers.

With both NHL goaltenders struggling and Brossoit sitting in the minors, it is safe to say that we have entered a new chapter in the ongoing story of the Vegas Golden Knights goaltending.

What to Expect

We knew the Golden Knights were not going to go the entire season with their current goalie dynamic in motion. Things were/are bound to change, and here is what we think might happen next.

First off, the Golden Knights are currently traveling to Columbus to start their four-game Eastern Conference road trip that will take them into December. It seems safe to say that both Thompson and Hill will survive as the team’s tandem until the end of this trip.

This allows the potential of a bounceback from both goaltenders and also gives Brossoit more time to heal up and find his game in Henderson.

The Golden Knights play Columbus, have two days off, then play every other day all the way until Christmas. So with no back-to-backs, it will be interesting to see which games Hill will play.

Based on Cassidy’s comments and his tendency to start Thompson over Hill, it is all but confirmed that Thompson is the current frontrunner for the Golden Knight’s permanent starting position.

“We say that we don’t want either one sitting longer than the other, but you can see that Logan has got a few more starts and the numbers reflect that. So that’s our intention right now is to build him into that role as the guy that is playing more as that so-called No. 1,” said Cassidy.

Backup Duel

This really isn’t a surprise to see Cassidy basically confirm Thompson as the team’s starter. With his recent struggles, he still remains a solid goaltender and a frontrunner for the 2023 Calder Trophy.

So the attention now turns towards Hill v Brossoit for the Golden Knight’s backup role.

So far, with the Silver Knights, Brossoit has played in seven games, let in 28 goals, has a save percentage of .897, and a goals-against average of 3.15.

Hill has played in eight games with the Golden Knights this season, allowing a total of 22 goals, posting a .903 save percentage and a 2.74 goals-against-average.

Personally, I am still leaning toward Brossoit being the odd man out. I don’t see either one of these goaltenders as being content with staying in the AHL for a season. So I predict that we will see some sort of transaction with Brossoit if it is waivers or an NHL trade.

Each goaltender makes over $2 million in cap space, and the Golden Knights could use the cap space to add forward depth to their underperforming third line.

Play Strong Regardless

Regardless of who emerges as the Golden Knight’s permanent backup, the team will need to play better defensively in front of whoever is in the net.

“We’re gonna have to fight through some games where they’re gonna have to work hard to get their game back… So we’re either going to help them out and play better in front of them and stay out of the box… or we’re going to open it up… and hang them out to dry,” said Cassidy.

The Golden Knights play on Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at 4:00 p.m.