“Sustainability” is a word we keep hearing in Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon felt the success of the season one Western Conference-winning Golden Knights team was not sustainable. He felt nearly every player had a career season that would be difficult to replicate.
Throughout the years, McCrimmon found a number-one forward and defenseman, played goaltender roulette, maxed out the credit card, and made a series of big moves. The ultimate payoff was a Stanley Cup victory in season six.
What is the sustainability level of the current Golden Knights roster? We know McCrimmon likes what he sees.
Our objective has been to try to keep as much as our roster together as we can. I think we will be able to almost return our team almost intact, which is pretty uncommon for a Stanley Cup winner,”
McCrimmon from Nashville during the 2023 NHL Entry Draft
The core is in place to compete for additional Stanley Cups for three or four more years. Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Ivan Barbashev, Nicolas Roy, Alex Pietrangelo, and Zach Whitecloud have contracts through at least the 2025-26 season.
Eichel is coming into his own. The Golden Knights perform exceptionally well with Stone in the lineup. Roy may be the best fourth-line center in the NHL. Pietrangelo is as reliable as they come.
Age is starting to be a concern for Golden Knights players. Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, Chandler Stephenson, Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, and Ben Hutton will be 30 years old or older during the 2023-24 season. Pietrangelo and Martinez are the highest-paid defensemen for the Golden Knights and also happen to be the oldest defensemen on the team.
Injuries have been an issue for the last two seasons for the Golden Knights, however, the team got to full health in the playoffs and dominated. It could go a long way if the Golden Knights can get on the right side of variance with injuries.
In looking at the 2022/23 regular season stats. No skater really had a standout, career-year type of regular season. Everyone did their jobs. Eichel had 66 points in 67 games. Stephenson had 65 points in 81 games. Marchessault had 57 points in 76 games. Mark Stone had 38 points in 43 games. These are very repeatable numbers.
Karlsson hasn’t lit up the scoresheet since season one, but his defensive metrics are noteworthy. Brett Howden had 13 points in 54 regular season games but came alive in the playoffs with 10 points in 22 games. Paul Cotter and Pavel Dorofeyev are knocking on the door of breakout seasons.
It is fair to have concern over the goaltending situation, injuries added up last year and there is less depth at the position. Is Jiri Patera ready to be the No. 3 goaltender? 70 starts collectively between Adin Hill and Logan Thompson for the 2023-24 season is a good target.
McCrimmon has done an excellent job in creating a roster that has now won a Stanley Cup, and is set up for future success. The roster turnover from season six to season seven is minor. If the Golden Knights have a bit of good luck on the injury front and father-time is kind to the thirty-somethings, another deep playoff run is in the cards for season seven.