Four off-season questions for the Golden Knights after a shocking miss in the playoff

The complete disaster: The Vegas Golden Knights are out of the playoffs.

Perhaps the most shocking story on the ice this season. The 2017 expansion team rocked the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final outright, then maintaining that distinction in the ensuing years, returning to the semifinals on two more occasions. They are in every trade, every prominent free agent, every rumor.

The Vegas Golden Knights who make a bold move into the roster can no longer surprise us. We expect that, even when we don’t know how they’ll make the dollars work.

This character is descended from the owner. Bill Foley didn’t think he wanted Vegas to be a destination and try to win the cup at all times. They work differently than any team before them.

Now that they’ve missed out on the matches, we have to wonder what big changes will follow in the summer. they were expected Troubles and a great reaction to such a negative outcome.

“If this team doesn’t go into the playoffs, my intuition is that there will be some kind of movement,” said Athletic’s Jesse Granger. fact Keeper and Born earlier this week. “It’s up to Bill Foley to decide if the front office is more in charge, is it Pete Debor, is it just the players not attending? Bill’s decision will be difficult.”

The owner will determine what happens next and how the team should act. Here are some questions he might consider:

What is the future of Peter Debor?

On January 16, 2020, the Golden Knights were 25-19-6, fourth in the Pacific Division, but only one point off the top spot. They had a bit of bad luck – first in the expected goals at the time, but with the 24th seeded team’s shot percentage keeping the actual overall goal path. The goalkeeper did not do well either, with a 0.900 percentage save between Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Soban.

That was the lowest point in the NHL’s presence in Vegas at the time. After reaching the Cup Final in Year 1, their win total dropped from 51 to 43 in Year 2 (it ended with a first-round loss to the playoff), then Year 3 brought this slow start. Of course, they were still hanging around the mid-season breakout picture, and core numbers suggest they could change it.

But that was the day coach Gerard Gallant lost his job.

Under his replacement, Peter Debor, the Golden Knights got back on track, winning the Pacific Division (in 71 games), and then making it to the conference final in the bubble playoffs. Last season, Vegas finished second to Colorado via the tiebreak in a one-time Western Division realignment (and actually had one more overall win than the Avs) and then dropped them into the playoffs. Vegas again reached the semi-finals and was upset with the Montreal Canadiens.

And now this. The playoffs are completely blown away.

Sure, injuries played a big part all year in Vegas, but they’ve been putting some important players back on the extended run and they haven’t been able to pull off the indispensable victories. He lost at home to New Jersey last week, a two-goal lead in the third inning at home to San Jose this weekend, then lost Tuesday’s game in Dallas.

Vegas is facing an identity crisis after this disaster. Galant was given up for less, and now DeBoer could be next.

What is the future of Robin Lehner?

It was a strange ending to Season 1 of Netminder in Vegas. Reports last week suggested Lehner would have surgery at the end of the season, which DeBoer promptly denied. Then on Sunday, Lehner was on the bench in support of Logan Thompson.

The next day, on Monday, it was announced that Lehner would have shoulder surgery after all, and that he would not be with the team for the final three games of his long vote. Lehner was off the bench on Sunday. It was a bad look and a questionable move.

Oddly enough, when Lehner was pulled from last week’s game against Washington after allowing one goal on 13 shots in the first half, Debor said the goalkeeper was healthy, mature and had plenty of energy. He blamed Lehner for the loss to New Jersey.

“They’re clearly at odds,” Granger told Kieber and Bourne.

Could this be the beginning of the end for Lehner and Vegas?

Lehner still has three more years left on a contract that pays $5 million for the cap, which remains a good value to him in full health. And while Thompson has shown well in 17 NHL games this season, it might be unwise to enter next season with him as your number one. If Lehner is to leave, Vegas will need to find another veteran goalkeeper, you guess.

Lehner finished the season with a .907 keeping percentage that was below the league average, and -0.37 GSAA. Both Thompson and departing Marc-Andre Fleury outperformed Lehner. But, Lehner will only be 31 this summer, and there is reason to believe he could be back at his level in 2022-23 if surgery and recovery go as planned. It is important to remember that he has played through injuries for some time this season. It may have closed on Monday, but the first reports of a shoulder injury surfaced in February, and he was also dealing with a knee problem as well.

“Once I saw him on the ice, he didn’t look even close to a goalkeeper, and I know he could have been and the goalkeeper when he first came to Vegas,” Granger explained. “He wasn’t moving. Especially when he fell into the butterfly, he didn’t have any movement there. The guy who made his run play the corners, being in the right place, being a goalkeeper plugging a net and letting the disc hit him in the chest, all of a sudden he hit it all. It was obvious. He was not in good health.”

golden knights merely They chose Lehner over Fleury and that’s a decision they might always regret. Not because Lehner is a bad goalkeeper or anything – he isn’t – but because he was always a luxury car when they took over. For a team dancing around the cap ceiling and always looking for the shining new star to add, having a $5 million 1B goalkeeper next to the franchise’s face was too daring and forced them to make other uncomfortable choices. Someone would have found good transportation when Chicago was shopping for Lehner – it wasn’t need to To be Vegas.

It may seem difficult to bring both DeBoer and Lehner back next season given how the season ended, but it will be much easier to move on from the coach. Unless someone else is coming back, just moving on from Lehner can create other problems. A team with high hopes will not want to start a new season with new concerns about goalkeepers.

But this is still an evolving situation. Details of what happened and why are bound to emerge. It will be interesting to hear Lehner’s point of view when he talks to the media and in 32 Ideas, Eliot Friedman noted “the possibility of this becoming more flammable before it subsides.”

How will they be able to reach the limit for next season and who will be responsible for doing so?

Since the owner’s goal is to win the Stanley Cup every year and this team has been breathing their entire post-season, every part of the organization will face scrutiny. The coach and players will be looked at as well as the front office.

While it’s fun to have a team like Vegas on every big step on the outside, it can also cause some headaches and strain the team’s chemistry. The tight-hat situation forced Vegas to start short benches, and had it not been for injuries throughout the season, the team would have had to take steps to cut costs at some point.

Evgenii Dadonov’s trade/non-commercial was an embarrassing moment for the front office. The Jack Eichel move wasn’t really successful this season (more on that next) and last summer’s failed tackle on Fleury’s trade infuriated the fan base. Despite all the goodwill the team gained in the first few years of its existence, recent months have raised legitimate questions about how effective team management can be. It has turned their happy story into one that many people are rooting for.

General Manager Kelly McCremon is going off-season on the hot seat and we have to wonder who Hockey Operations Chief (and former General Manager) George McVeigh is, too. How high will it go, and how much change does Foley think should happen?

While all of the time is great theater, the Golden Knights eventually need to start building an organization, and that means maintaining some potential for evolution. Perhaps missing the playoffs will make them think about the future a little more.

And if not in terms of their prospects, will missing out on the playoffs change Vegas’ approach to team building? Rather than trying to gain the more popular name, will they instead look to settle down with more of what they have and maintain a healthy core to build upon?

Of course, this question comes at a time when some kind of change is necessary, not only because this season ended in crushing disappointment, but also because the cap still needs to be managed. Vegas is already expected to be fit for next season ($83.8 million of maximum committed until 2022-23) and that’s with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. This does not include a re-sign of Reilly Smith, an original rider. Dadonov, we think, will be a prime candidate to move to a place that is she has signed on. That would be a ceiling move — what other changes might be considered, how much tolerance can this roster take, and who will be sitting in the front office chairs to oversee it?

What about Jack Eichel?

Look, Vegas’ lack of playoffs isn’t all about Jack Eichel. He returned in February from a lengthy recuperation after undergoing disc replacement surgery on his neck, and this was his first act in the game in 11 months. It would take a while to get back up to speed, get used to the game, and this wasn’t a complete and healthy lineup anyway.

12 goals and 22 points in 33 games is a step back for Eichel, and when the games became really important late in the season, Eichel went goalless against Edmonton, New Jersey, Washington, San Jose and Chicago. In Wednesday’s must-win game, a careless pass from Eshel to the midfield at the defensive end led directly to the Hawks’ green goal in the second half.


Meanwhile, Buffalo far exceeded expectations this season, even though they still finished off the playoff pace. The swords were at least showing signs of improvement, especially at a later time. In six seasons with Eichel on the roster, Buffalo finished first with 81 points (in 2015-16, Eichel’s rookie campaign) and had his second best score of 78 when Eichel was a sophomore. That’s when they climaxed with him. This season, they have 73 points and two games left – done without their former star.

Surprisingly, since Eichel returned to court on February 16, the Golden Knights have made 14-14-5 and the Buffalo scored 15-14-3, with a slightly better points ratio.

It’s not that Eshel is the best player to blame for the Vegas failure, but it was a factor. The truth is, when you win $10 million for the cap and the team moves through heaven and earth to acquire you…yes, you’ll be in focus when things go as bad as they go right.

We’re far enough away in Eichel’s career without any team success to wonder what’s going on here. And while the chaotic state of Buffalo’s rebuilding has given it some coverage before, there’s no hiding any of the Vegas lights.

Eichel is not a player in danger of an off-season transfer, but when he returns in 2022-23 to be the heart of Vegas once again, he should be prepared for a year full of monsters and help Vegas rise again. Anything in short, and we’ll have clearer conversations about his contributions on the ice.

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