The 2017-18 Western conference champions have consistently been one of the best teams in the NHL during their existence. When the Golden Knights joined the league, everybody expected them to be one of the worst teams for at least a few seasons. Instead, they have destroyed their competition and are looking to capture their first Stanley Cup in their fourth year in existence.
Why couldn’t they win the Stanley cup?
After being tied for seventh place in the entire league during the regular season, the Vegas Golden Knights earned a spot in the NHL’s return to play series. Vegas participated in a round-robin style tournament to decide the seeding of the top four western conference teams. Ultimately the Golden Knights won the round-robin tournament and received the first seed in the playoffs.
During the first round of the playoffs, the Golden Knights faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks. Vegas mopped the floor with the Blackhawks as they defeated them four games to one. Robin Lehner was able to earn revenge on his former team as he played stellar during the first round match up.
The team earned a spot in the second round of the playoffs after defeating Chicago. During the second round, the Golden Knights had to face the Vancouver Canucks. The Golden Knights hopped out to a controlling 3-1 series lead, but then Thatcher Demko was able to get in the net. Demko, the backup goalie for the Canucks, finally was able to get his chance to play after an injury to starting goalie Jacob Markstrom. Demko played unreal during his three games. Fortunately for the Vegas Golden Knights, Demko couldn’t lead his team to the series victory.
The Golden Knights won the series in seven games and got set for a matchup in the conference finals against the Dallas Stars. Lead by Anton Khoudobin, the Stars pulled off the upset and defeated the Golden Knights in five games. After the series loss, the Golden Knights have a lot of questions coming into the offseason. Expect the team to make some big trades and big signings.
Since the Golden Knights have been so good during their short time in the league, lots of star players have wanted to bring their talents to Sin City. Golden Knights management has done a decent job at locking these players into long term deals to help keep the dream of winning the Stanley cup alive. Below are some of the star players of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights acquired Stone during the 2018-19 season. He has been everything that the Golden Knights could have hoped for and more. The talented forward was having an incredible season when he got traded from the Ottawa Senators to Vegas. (Read more about that trade here) As soon as he got traded to Vegas, Stone inked a massive deal to stay with the Golden Knights through the 2026-27 season. He will be a cornerstone piece for the Golden Knights for the foreseeable future.
The former Montreal Canadiens captain enjoyed his 30 goal season with the Golden Knights this past season. During his second season with the team, Pacioretty put together perhaps his best NHL season as he scored 32 goals and added 34 assists for 66 total points. Although this was one less point than his career-high, he played 10 fewer games. Playing alongside Mark Stone and William Karlson will help keep Pacioretty productive as he helps lead his team toward the Stanley Cup.
The 25-year-old Canadian defenseman has been slowly turning into one of the best defensemen in the entire league. During his third season with the Golden Knights, Theodore scored 13 goals and added 33 assists for 46 total points. As he continues to break out and start playing his best hockey, Theodore will be a nightmare for opponents to match up against.
The Swedish goaltender has finally found a home. After posting stellar numbers during the 2018-19 season with New York Islanders and repeating the same success with the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights during the 2019-20 season, he inked a five-year deal worth 25 million dollars a season. Lehner figures to be the go-to guy in net for the Golden Knights, at least for the foreseeable future.
Possible Trade Candidates
As free agency approaches and Vegas signing rumors start to swirl, fans have to wonder how they are going to fit all of the money under the cap. Trading some of the luxury players they have will help trim the fat off the salary cap and potentially help them land a big fish free agent.
The face of the franchise may have played his last game as a Golden Knight during the 2019-20 campaign. With Robin Lehner signing a new five-year extension. The likelihood of Fluery and his seven million dollar cap hit getting moved increases. Although Fleury loves the Golden Knights and they love Fluery, there is no need for a backup goalie to be making seven million dollars. Golden Knights management should look to trade Fleury to a team that needs goaltending and has some young assets for return.
The 34-year-old center had a good season last year as he scored 17 goals. Although his numbers are still respectable, his cap hit is not. He is making $6.5 million next season. As the Golden Knights are looking for salary cap relief, Stastny may be a trade candidate. There are plenty of players that can put up similar numbers for a much smaller cap hit. Similar to Fleury, Stastny should be traded for young assets to help in improving the organization’s prospect pool.
Free Agent/ Trade Targets
As always, the Golden Knights have their name attached to one of the biggest names on the free-agent markets. This year is no different as the Golden Knights have been linked to the best defenseman on the market. Also, if the team decides to trade Marc-Andre Fleury, then the team will be in the market for a veteran backup goalie.
The current captain of the St.Louis Blues and native of King City, Ontario, has recently had his name linked to the Golden Knights. He is thirty years old and looking for a rather large deal. The Golden Knights are looking to bolster their defense, and Pietrangelo is the perfect option. Management needs to clear lots of cap space if they go through with signing him.
Such moves would include the players mentioned in the “possible trade candidates” section having to be traded. The signing would be worth it because Pietrangelo is a game-changing defenseman. He can contribute from the back end as he scored 16 goals and added 36 assists. He is also a shutdown defenseman that will instantly become the Golden Knights best defenseman.
The recently released Lundqvist has hit the free-agent market and should be a very intriguing signing for whoever gets him. If the Golden Knights do decide to trade Fleury, then they should consider bringing in the king. In his 15+ year career, Lundqvist has put together a stellar resume. The only thing missing is a Stanley cup. With Vegas, Lundqvist will join a team already competing for a Stanley Cup, and he won’t have to play the majority of games as Robin Lehner will take that duty.
With a team built to win now and the potential to get even better this offseason, watch out for the Golden Knights as they will be contending for the Stanley Cup for the foreseeable future.
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