The Golden Knights’ big gamble collapses

Jack Eshel's first season with the Golden Knights was a bust.  (Photo by Jeff Buttari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jack Eshel’s first season with the Golden Knights was a bust. (Photo by Jeff Buttari/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the expansion of the Vegas Golden Knights led to the Stanley Cup final in its inaugural season, fans were fascinated by the hockey brand and the entertainment atmosphere on and off the ice in Sin City.

In subsequent seasons, Vegas continued to push more chips to the table, trading draft picks and predictions in search of instant success. Every season, the team looked to the brink of glory in the Stanley Cup, until their runaway race came to a halt this season.

Vegas, which played two must-win games against San Jose and Dallas, overtook the lead and failed to secure the crucial points. As Golden Knights coach Pete Debor said after their loss to Dallas, “Our guys left everything on the ice.”

In DeBoer’s own discretion, it was the best the Golden Knights could do. Finally, it was a penalty shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, another close loss that ended the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes.

Throughout the season, Vegas has struggled with injuries to key players including Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Max Pasuritti, Alec Martinez and Robin Lehner, but Like hockey newsAdam Proto explainedYou can’t just blame the injuries.

“[T]The cause of the injury isn’t the only determinant of the Golden Knights’ disappointing season,” he wrote. “Vegas has also been hit hard by their inability to play defense at stretch.”

Proto also noted the special teams’ disappointing results with the Golden Knights ranked 21st in the power game and 19th in penalty kicks.

Now, having missed the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s five-year history, Vegas’ overall gamble could unravel, plunging the organization into a long and painful period.

To be fair, the Golden Knights are still in winning mode now and could challenge for the Stanley Cup next season. Their core, including Eichel, Stone, William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo, are still signed until next season and many are locked up for the long haul. If Vegas’ winning ways return and they can keep playing with house money, that long-term safety could be a boon. If this season turns out to be more than an aberration, the Golden Knights fan base will be on track for a losing streak that no amount of luck will fix.

Next season, there are only 18 Vegas players signed to a total cap of $83,866,667. With an estimated 2022-23 NHL salary totaling $82.5 million, Vegas General Manager Kelly McCremon will need to get rid of the salary before he can even try to put together a team. McCremon sought to remedy this in part by trading Evgenii Dadonov on the deadline, which It turned into an embarrassing ordeal involving an unknown no-trade clause.

Perhaps the most telling sign of Vegas gambling on its future is the fact that, with the 2021-22 season drawing to a close, no active player on the roster has been drafted and developed by the franchise. This season, Nicholas Haig was the only homegrown starter in the squad until he sustained a lower body injury at the end of the season with a month left in the campaign.

In building their current roster, Vegas replaced four previous first-round picks and another first-round pick, as well as several second-round picks. The four first-round options traded include Nick Suzuki (13th overall, 2017), Cody Glass (6th overall, 2017), Eric Branstrom (15th overall, 2017) and Peyton Cripps (17th overall, 2017). , 2019), while their 2018 first-round pick became Detroit Red Wings striker Joe Felino.

Among that group, Suzuki could be the player that chases Vegas the most, as he is currently the Montreal Canadiens’ 22-year-old top scorer. He would have been the youngest player on the Vegas roster this season, and his scoring and ability to stay healthy could have been a huge boost to the Golden Knights. Acquired player for Suzuki, Pasurietti was influential when he was in the squad but has played less than half of the season and will become an unrestricted free agent after next season.

The remaining expectations in Vegas pool are shallow as well. It’s a group ranked 25th before hockey news In their latest release, Future Watch. It looks like only a few players – notably Brendan Bryson, Evan Morozov and Zach Dean – will be able to replace the veterans in the coming seasons, but none of them are elite.

This season, Vegas will need to find a new home for several players in order to have enough roof space to fill an entire roster. It would almost certainly include the exit of a valuable veteran who would capitalize on their chances in the playoffs in 2022-23. The plan to expand into Vegas was a gamble. While they rode to winning highs for four years, the prospects for the Golden Knights’ future success are far from certain.

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