Vegas Golden Knights 2021-22 Season Recapby Christopher Gallagher May 12, 2022 0 comments
The Vegas Golden Knights were one of the biggest disappointments around the league. They missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Unable to string together victories throughout the second half of the year, the team suffered defeats at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Philadelphia Flyers. Along with this, Peter Deboer’s group was also hampered by injuries.
This led them to lose more than 500 man games and nearly 40 points due to constant changes in their lineup. With no players on their roster playing in all 82 contests, star wingers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone led the way with over 80 games lost between the two. Lauded as a Stanley Cup contender before the start of the season, the Golden Knights are faced with significant question marks heading into the summer.
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By the Numbers
Power Play: 18.4% (25th)
Penalty Kill: 77.4% (21st)
Goals For: 262 (13th)
Goals Against: 244 (18th)
Jonathan Marchessault put together one of the finest seasons of his nine-year NHL tenure. Appearing in 76 games, the 31-year-old eclipsed the 30-goal mark for the second time in his career. Along with this, he also recorded 36 assists while playing over 17 minutes per night. Once again, one of the best checkers on the team, he racked up 38 takeaways and 61 hits. Slotted in on the team’s second line alongside William Karlsson and Michael Amadio to close out the year, he was also a mainstay on their second power play unit. With honorable mentions to Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo, the duo once again led the way for the Golden Knights on the back end.
Unable to get healthy, Vegas lost key players for long stretches. Without Stone for a large chunk of the season, the four-time Selke Award finalist suffered a back ailment that kept him out until April. In addition to this, Pacioretty played in just 39 games. The 33-year-old broke his foot in the fall before undergoing wrist surgery in January. Then, in the thick of the playoff race, as the year winded down, the Golden Knights were dealt their final blow after it was revealed that Robin Lehner would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Originally suffering the injury back in February, the team was forced to rely on Brandon Wheat Kings alumn Logan Thompson after already placing Laurent Brossoit on the reserve list.
Behind the Bench Analysis
Deboer remained one of the brightest minds in the game behind the bench and did his best to keep his group in it. He faced changes in the lineup, game in and game out. Adjusting on the fly, the 53-year-old brought Chandler Stephenson and Karlsson up to the top line at points while also moving center Nicolas Roy to the wing. One of the best in the business at correcting problems for his group, he chose to move to a 1-1-3 forechecking system. Looking to turn more pucks over in the neutral zone, the longtime New Jersey Devils head coach opted to move away from his patented 1-2-2 setup that brought the franchise to at least the Conference Semi-Finals in his first three years with the organization.
Front Office Analysis
Kelly McCrimmon is facing a lot of scrutiny after missing the playoffs for the first time in his tenure as general manager. The longtime executive made multiple moves to get his team over the playoff hump by spending to the salary cap limit. This included trading Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch, a top 10 protected first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft to the Sabres for Jack Eichel. Along with this, he also chose to flip the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Marc Andre Fleury to the Blackhawks last offseason while committing to Lehner as the Golden Knights franchise netminder. Taking another hit in March, McCrimmon also saw his Evgenii Dadonov trade with the Anaheim Ducks become voided by the league after it was revealed the winger had a no-trade list.
2022 NHL Entry Draft Picks
Vegas holds six selections in July’s 2022 NHL Entry Draft. They will be without their first-round pick after shipping it to the Sabres in the Eichel deal. Along with this, they will also not have their original third-round selection. The team acquired Nick DeSimone and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the Blackhawks. They sent back a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 third-round pick. Getting back a third-round choice, the Golden Knights sent power forward Ryan Reaves to the New York Rangers. Pressed up against the cap heading into the 2023 season, the franchise has multiple needs present on their roster. They will continue to need to draft depth forwards well to take advantage of cheap rookie contracts.
The Golden Knights will face multiple key decisions up and down their roster. First, they will need to choose what the future holds for Deboer. He will meet with the front office within the next few days. Then they will need to shed money to get under the league’s salary cap total. The team currently has $83.6 million invested in 18 active roster players for the 2022-2023 season. This means they are a projected $1.6 over. In addition, Winger Reilly Smith is an unrestricted free agent. If the franchise wants to re-sign the 31-year-old, they could look to shop active roster players like Dadonov. Furthermore, Vegas must also decide what to do with their pending restricted free agents in Nicolas Hague, Roy, Keegan Kolesar, and Brett Howden.
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images