The offseason is in full swing. Last week was the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the buyout window closed, the last opportunity to make offers to pending free agents, and the opening of free agency. General manager Kelly McCrimmon had a very busy week, to say the least.
Things will slow down a bit for the Golden Knights, but there are three items to keep an eye out for during the offseason.
Free Agents: Beyond moves to help the Henderson Silver Knights of the American Hockey League, McCrimmon has not brought in a free agent who would figure to be on the Golden Knights roster immediately. McCrimmon does not have much money to spend. That does not mean he isn’t going to make a move. He is just waiting for the right move.
What exactly is the right move? A couple free agents who stand out and could fit within the remaining cap space are;
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak; Adin Hill got paid and Logan Thompson figures to be healthy well before the start of camp in September. Halak would be a good insurance policy given the injury history of Hill and Thompson last season.
Forward Tomas Nosek; A team can never have enough depth. Nosek has synergy with many of the players on the Golden Knights roster and would be a great depth piece that slots in comfortably in the bottom six. It’s also worth noting that coach Bruce Cassidy had Nosek in the lineup for 82 games (75 regular-season, seven playoff) when he coached him during the 2021-22 season.
Coaching changes; Ryan Craig is leaving the Golden Knights bench to be the head coach of the Silver Knights. Craig has been behind the Golden Knights bench since day one and survived two head coach firings.
Moving Craig to coach the Silver Knights is a great move for the organization as a whole, but will there be some growing pains between the new assistant and coach Cassidy? Could Silver Knights assistant coach Joel Ward be the top candidate to replace Craig?
Misha Donskov will not be returning to the organization for the 2023-24 season. Donskov’s responsibilities included providing day-to-day leadership to the team’s management group and hockey operations department, overseeing video/technology and analytics, managing the amateur and pro scouting administrative platforms, and scouting and player evaluation at the amateur and pro levels. Donskov will be incredibly difficult to replace.
Training camp battles; Of course, this is much further down the road, but it’s never too early to think about training camp and what to watch for. Two key battles that stand out.
Paul Cotter vs. Pavel Dorofeyev; Both figure to fight for what’s possibly the final spot in the opening night lineup of 12 forwards. Cotter offers a physical edge and Dorofeyev is a better scorer. The edge in NHL experience goes to Cotter with 62 NHL games played vs. Dorofeyev’s 20. Can Cotter use that experience to his advantage?
Hill vs. Thompson; Yes folks, there is going to be a battle for the starting goaltender position. Hill is not going to be handed the net based off his contract or Stanley Cup Final performance.
Hill made roughly three times more than Thompson did last season, and Thompson was the Game 1 starter. Cassidy is going to play the best player of the two for the banner raising game, and the battle will remain throughout the season. In a perfect world, both goalies stay healthy and keep the split around 60/40.