Are the Vegas Golden Knights cursed or fortunate?
On one hand, they’re down to their fourth and fifth choices in web after accidents to Robin Lehner, Logan Thompson, and Laurent Brossoit. On the opposite, Thompson proved to be an All-Star-level alternative for Lehner, and Brossoit supplied a stellar stretch. However, a two-time Stanley Cup champion netminder occurred to be out there on a budget when the staff wanted it.
On Thursday, the Golden Knights landed the instantly well-traveled Jonathan Quick from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Michael Hutchinson and a 2025 seventh-round choose. With Thompson nonetheless on LTIR and Brossoit on injured reserve, Quick and Adin Hill will share the accountability till one goalie takes the reins or others return from damage. Essentially, Vegas upgraded their goalie insurance coverage from Hutchinson to a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner at the price of a distant draft choose.
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Will Quick Address Goaltending Crisis?
Given the circumstances, Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon did extremely nicely to add an skilled, playoff-tested backstop at subsequent to no price. But we will’t ignore that they’d not have been available in the market for Quick if their triumvirate was wholesome and productive. The newest replace from head coach Bruce Cassidy is that Thompson is “doing well” however “nowhere close to being on the ice” (from ‘Injured Knights goalie still ‘nowhere near being on the ice’,’ Las Vegas Review-Journal, 03/01/23).
In the aftermath of Thompson’s lower-body damage, Hill has gone a formidable 6-1, though he nonetheless hasn’t earned the complete belief of the teaching workers. Brossoit seemed remarkably sharp (.936 save share, 2.20 goals-against common) in a win and two shootout losses over what have been his first three video games of the season. Unfortunately, the damage bug struck once more, because the 29-year-old additionally suffered a lower-body damage and is now on injured reserve after being pronounced as day-to-day.
Quick and Hill will now be relied on to keep the staff’s tenuous maintain on first within the Pacific Division. Ironically, they’re being chased by the 37-year-old’s long-time membership, the Los Angeles Kings. Considering he was reportedly unhappy after being dealt from LA to the league-worst Blue Jackets, he’ll in all probability benefit from the prospect of stopping the Kings from chasing down a division title.
That being mentioned, there’s a cause why the Kings have been so prepared to half with a franchise icon. Quick has, to be blunt, not been good this season. He has a 3.50 GAA, the second-highest mark of any goaltender with at the least 30 video games performed (John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks has a GAA of three.94), and his .876 SV% is well the worst of any netminder to have performed 30 video games. Regardless of what he’s meant to LA, it was laborious for a staff with playoff ambitions to justify committing $5.8 million in cap area to a sub-par backstop.
With Columbus absorbing 50% of Quick’s cap hit, he’ll solely depend for $2.9 million towards Vegas’ cap. But there’s nonetheless so much driving on the winningest goaltender in Kings’ franchise historical past.
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Golden Knights Address Penalty Kill with Blueger
While goaltending was a transparent space of want, much less apparent was the Golden Knights’ penalty kill. After including Ivan Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues early within the week, Vegas acquired short-handed specialist Teddy Blueger from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for prospect Peter DeLiberatore and a 2024 fourth-round choose.
The commerce supplies additional depth and two-way play to the ahead corps, however primarily it supplies some additional help on a penalty kill ranked fifteenth within the league. It isn’t horrible however neither is it turning into of a Cassidy-coached group. One can think about that Barbashev and Blueger arrived, at the least partially, on the behest of the teaching workers.
Blueger in all probability isn’t poised for an computerized top-line promotion within the mould of Barbashev, however he may very well be slated to knock Brett Howden out of the fourth-line middle spot. While he doubtless gained’t present a lot offense (33 objectives in 250 profession video games), the 28-year-old ought to make Vegas more durable to play towards.
Having made 4 trades in simply over per week whereas working their payroll shut to $100 million, it’s secure to say the Golden Knights are all-in on a playoff run this spring. Whether out of necessity (Quick) or to additional solidify the lineup (Barbashev and Blueger), Vegas has added playoff-tested veterans who have been constructed for postseason play. Now that the reinforcements have arrived, a crucial couple of months await.