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Golden Knights Analysis

Five Reasons Why Golden Knights Are Still Contenders

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Vegas Golden Knights, Adin Hill, Alex Pietrangelo

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ first round playoff loss is part of an alarming pattern. The Vegas Golden Knights’ first round exodus is a result of bad luck and circumstances

That’s the easiest way to explain why no one in the Golden Knights organization is panicking over losing a Game 7 to the Dallas Stars 11 months after winning a Stanley Cup championship. Here are five reasons to believe the Golden Knights will remain a Stanley Cup:

Dependable Goaltending

The tandem of Adin Hill and Logan Thompson was tied for 11th in goals-against average (2.96) and tied for 10th in save percentage (.907).

Both goalies will be unrestricted free agents after next season. That’s a mild concern. But next season, Vegas should have goaltending numbers that rank in the upper-third of the NHL again.

Improved Special Teams

In theory, the addition of Tomas Hertl and Noah Hanifin should make the Golden Knights’ power play better next season. A full training camp and preseason will give Vegas time to blend Hertl’s net-front presence and Hanifin’s point play skill into its mix.

Based on their personnel, the Golden Knights should be a top 10 power play teams next season. They were 20th last season with a 20.2% effectiveness.

If Mark Stone and Jack Eichel can stay healthy, it will also help improve the power play next season.  Stone missed 26 games last season and Eichel was absent for 1.

Cassidy Impact

Listening to Cassidy’s words after Vegas was ousted, he sounded very much like a coach that was renewing a vow to rediscover the performance level they had in the championship season.

Would guess that Cassidy will be fiddling with lines in his head all summer, particularly after he knows whether the team will be able to keep Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson.

The Golden Knights’ penalty killing was ordinary this season (79.5%) and believe Cassidy will address that in training camp. Based on his history, Cassidy will get more from this team next fall.

Eichel Spike

At 27, Eichel could be entering his best three or four seasons of his career. He seems ready for a 40-goal, 90-point season.

He has shown the skill, consistency of effort and determination to have a monstrous season. Of course, it’s all dependent upon his ability to stay healthy. Eichel has missed 23.2% of his games in his nine-season NHL career.

Small Margin

Because the Golden Knights finished fourth, it feels like the Golden Knights took a significant step backwards. But they were only a point out of third place and six points out of second. That seems more like a bad two weeks than a major gap.

With Hanifin playing all season, the Golden Knights will have one of the league’s top defensive groups.

The Calgary Flames, Seattle Kraken, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks are not going to catch Vegas by next season.

Depending upon what happens in these playoffs, the Oilers could be in for a shake-up.

There’s certainly reason to believe the Golden Knights will be contention next season.