Vegas Golden Knights Season Recapby Carter LaCorte July 6, 2021 0 comments
Aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs, no team had higher expectations entering the postseason than the Vegas Golden Knights. With perfect attendance in the playoffs and a very capable roster, the pressure continues to be on the Knights to succeed.
Vegas edged out the Minnesota Wild, then made the dominant Colorado Avalanche look silly. But when facing a team that many felt should not be in the playoffs, the Golden Knights were humbled by the Montreal Canadiens.
Will Vegas overreact and go for it next year? Time will tell. But they may be the entertainment capital of the hockey world very soon.
By the Numbers
Record: 40-14-2 (82 points)
Power Play: 17.8 percent (22nd)
Penalty Kill: 86.8 percent (1st)
Goals For: 191 (3rd)
Goals Against: 124 (1st)
This should be a tie between Mark Stone and Marc-Andre Fleury. Named captain before the season, Stone led the team in points with 61. However, a postseason collapse against Montreal tainted Stone’s year. He was great offensively and defensively all year long. The latter gained him 11 first-place Selke votes, and he finished third overall. After Fleury was terrible in 2019-20, he rebounded in 2020-21. Fleury won his first Vezina Trophy, as well as the Jennings. He had a .928 save percentage with a 1.98 GAA, playing an instrumental part in Vegas being first in goals against in the regular season.
After the Golden Knights went all-in by trading away fan favorite Nate Schmidt to sign Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year deal last offseason, the latter was expected to perform. Instead, he had just 23 points. While he was held to just 41 games and had 12 points in the playoffs, Pietrangelo wasn’t spectacular. For just the third time since 2011-12, he received zero Norris votes. On a team that did not have many disappointments, that is enough for Pietrangelo to take home this title.
Behind the Bench Analysis
The Golden Knights’ knee-jerk decision to fire Gerard Gallant and replace him with Peter DeBoer has not done much for them. However, it has not harmed them, either. The team was a force under DeBoer this year, finishing top-threee in goals against and goals for. They just missed out on the President’s Trophy as well but beat the team that did win it in the second round. DeBoer made some questionable goaltending decisions in the playoffs, but he was not the problem.
Front Office Analysis
The Vegas heads of George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon made many amazing moves in the franchise’s first few seasons. Their shooting percentage came down to earth this year. The Pietrangelo decision and the salary cap hurdles that came along with it were rough but not awful. However, it forced the Golden Knights to play multiple games with less than 18 skaters. The worst move this year was trading for Mattias Janmark. The forward did not do enough to warrant his trade price of a second- and third-round pick. Now, he is a UFA and unlikely to return. How they react to another tough playoff ending will be key in determining their success. So far, they are still far away from the hot seat.
2021 NHL Entry Draft Picks
The Golden Knights still have their own first-round pick, which will be 29th overall. However, they do not have any of their own picks from Rounds 2 to 5 thanks to trades for Janmark, Tomas Tatar (remember that trade back in 2018?), Nick Cousins, and Chandler Stephenson. That is the bad news. The good news is that they have a selection in all of those rounds aside from the third. New Jersey’s second-round pick was acquired in exchange for Nikita Gusev, and they all added Winnipeg’s fourth for Cody Eakin and Carolina’s fifth for Erik Haula. With no changes in the last two rounds, the total amount of picks is standard for Vegas.
2021 Offseason Checklist
With a smidge over $6 million to work with, the Knights have no key restricted free agents. However, they do have three UFAs in Janmark, Alec Martinez, and Tomas Nosek. The latter two could easily return and potentially even Janmark, too. The rest of the money could go to fixing their center depth, which was the one main issue the team had this year. Vegas could also trade for Jack Eichel. Is it likely? No. Do they have the assets? Maybe not. But if they want Eichel, the Knights could make it work.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
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