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Golden Knights Analysis

Adin Hill Makes Case to Stick Long Term; VGK Buyout Robin Lehner?

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Vegas Golden Knights Goalie, Adin Hill

The Vegas Golden Knights goalie stockpile proved useful, and looking ahead to 2023-24, the cream has risen to the top. Adin Hill waited his turn, is leading playoff goalies in save percentage, and, barring a collapse from here to the end, has earned a solid contract for next season. His performance against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final is shining a bright light on his future.

Hill will be a UFA on July 1. If the Golden Knights and GM Kelly McCrimmon don’t pay Hill, someone else will.

The 6-foot-5 netminder also stabilizes the Golden Knights’ goalie situation, which remains cloudy beyond the next three weeks.

The intriguing news regarding the Golden Knights’ future was GM Kelly McCrimmon’s lack of updates on Robin Lehner’s rehab in Sweden.

“I’m not up to speed,” McCrimmon said.

Hill’s and Lehner’s immediate future seems inexorably linked.

Two years remain on Lehner’s contract, which carries a $5 million AAV. The Golden Knights can get this out of the way. After surgery on both hips, the 31-year-old Lehner’s career is in jeopardy. If the Golden Knights can’t keep him on LTIR, a buyout makes sense.

A buyout would reduce Lehner’s cap hit to $750,000 next season, then $2.25 million in 2024-25, and then two years of $1.75 million.

Of course, staying on LTIR would be better, but a buyout clears cap space for a new Hill contract with a few dollars to spare, possibly.

Given Lehner’s problems, spotty performance over his recent tenure with the Golden Knights, hip surgery, back injuries, or knee injuries, it’s time to cut bait.

McCrimmon’s answer, or lack of answer, seems like the Golden Knights are ready to do so, too.

Adin Hill

Hill has been bounced around. He was a third-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes. After five years in the organization, he didn’t reach his potential or was expendable. Arizona shuffled Hill off to San Jose. One year later, San Jose sent Hill packing to Vegas for less than they paid Arizona.

It’s not as if Hill is a surly goalie or grumpy person.

His quip after getting an Orville Redenbacher bath in Dallas was pretty funny, “I guess everything was hitting me tonight.”

Hill is an affable, genuine person in the locker room, and Jonathan Marchessault’s lament after Game 4 that the team let Hill down and that he deserved better tells you that he’s becoming a piece of the locker room, too.

“I thought we gave (Dallas) way too many chances. I thought (Adin) Hill made unbelievable saves all (through) the game. And it’s not fair to him. It’s been so good for us.”

Hill only played 27 games this season. He was one of four goalies who had double-digit numbers of starts. You could forgive the Golden Knights skaters if they looked behind them night-to-night, wondering who might be in the net.

Hill, Thompson, Laurent Brossoit, and Jonathan Quick had at least 10 starts. Hill and Thompson posted .915 save percentages with 27 and 37 starts, respectively.

Brossoit had a .927 save percentage but only 10 starts. His leaky playoff performance in Round Two was more in keeping with a goalie who spent a chunk of the season in the AHL.

Behind a good team — for the first time in his career — Hill is flexing his potential. He nearly stole Game 4 if not for another chaotic Golden Knights penalty kill in overtime.

There remains potential for Hill to fill a No. 1 goalie spot, which is in short supply across the NHL. And, because he started only 27 games, his price will not be exorbitant. Then again, a Stanley Cup ring usually means a bump in the asking price, too.

Hil could be the next in a line of goalies who found his game later in their careers. Darcy Kuemper was also a bit of a journeyman who needed to find his game. He spent 10 years in the league with four teams before one year with the Colorado Avalanche and a Stanley Cup. Jordan Binnington was also a goalie who had to fight his way into the NHL. He also won a Stanley Cup after seven years in the minors and multiple organizations.

Goalies just figure things out later than skaters.

With the chips on the table in the playoffs, Hill has an impressive .938 save percentage and 2.07 GAA. He’s outperforming Jake Oettinger and other goalies who went through two rounds, such as Andrei Vaselevskiy, Philip Grubauer, and even the heralded Sergei Bobrovsky, whose save percentage is .935.

To pay Adin Hill, the Golden Knights need a Robin Lehner solution or resolution. The first NHL buyout window opens just after the Stanley Cup Final ends, so while this talk might seem premature, the decision is only a couple of weeks ago.

To quell emotions, we haven’t mentioned the situation that brought Lehner to the Golden Knights or installed him as the No. 1 goalie. We’re just leaving that alone.

And now it’s time for the Vegas Golden Knights to move on, and Adin Hill looks like a pretty good answer.

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HOCKEYDIVA

I dont understand how MCCRIMMON or the rest of the brain trust at VGK can’t figure out that LEHNER is a liability. Physicaly and psychologically.
He’s track record shows that he will continue to have personal and professional problems. TIME TO FISH 🐟 OR CUT ✂️ BAIT.
GET RID OF LEHNER!!!!!

Sandra Scheidt

I think we can all agree it’s time to unload dead weight. Lehner falls in a that line.

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