The Vegas Golden Knights enter their seventh training camp as defending Stanley Cup champions. Below are two key battles to watch.
Logan Thompson vs. Adin Hill
If Friday’s captain’s practice is any indication, Thompson and Hill plan on battling for every start. The two goaltenders put on a show in a short-ice two-on-two drill. Both made a series of epic saves that earned a series of ovations and stick taps from their teammates.
It is false to assume that coach Bruce Cassidy plans on giving the net to Hill based on his new contract and playoff run. Thompson started more games at a two-to-one ratio than Hill when both goalies were healthy last season. It is important to note that Hill’s contract last season was approximately three times of Thompson’s. The money did not matter then and it does not matter now.
Hill might get the flowers and the courtesy of the opening night start when the banner gets raised. Remember, Cassidy started five misfits for game five of the clinching game of the Stanley Cup Final. Game one might be the only courtesy either goaltender gets. After game one, Thompson and Hill will have to earn their starts.
Paul Cotter vs. Pavel Dorofeyev vs. Max Comtois
Reilly Smith’s departure left a spot open on the wing on the William Karlsson-Michael Amadio line. Cassidy has three viable options to fill Smith’s void.
Cotter could have the inside track. In 55 games last season, Cotter had 18 points (13 goals). Cotter’s was a minus-5 last season which is a concern. We hear it multiple times per week from Cassidy, he wants players to win their races and to win their board battles. Cotter is not the fastest, but battles hard.
Dorofeyev had a great run down the stretch last season. In 18 games, Dorofeyev had 9 points (seven goals). The best path to Dorofeyev winning an opening night roster spot is if Cassidy opens a spot on line two. Dorofeyev’s defensive game may not be where it needs to be to fill a third-line role.
The Golden Knights brought Comtois in on a PTO last week and he has been working hard at the captain’s skates. Comtois has 210 games of NHL experience and is a big body that knows how to compete. The 24-year-old has the type of skill set that Cassidy wants. Comtois can get behind the other team’s defense and finish.