The Vegas Golden Knights’ season came to an abrupt and unlikely end on Thursday night, losing Game 6 and the series in overtime to the cinderella Montreal Canadiens. After steamrolling through four straight games against the Colorado Avalanche in the Second Round, it looked like Vegas might be this year’s team of destiny. But unstoppable force met immovable object, and Vegas fell in the playoffs’ third round for the second consecutive year. Today came Vegas’ first postseason media availability since their elimination, which has yielded many topics worth discussion:
- Defenseman Alec Martinez, who leads postseason skaters in blocked shots, played at least some of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a broken foot per Martinez himself today. It’s a startling statement from the pending unrestricted free agent, who, despite the injury, was one of Vegas’ best complete players in the playoffs. He actually tallied more goals than assists (four goals, two assists for six points), but blocked an incredible 72 shots through just 19 games. His stock rose sharply this season, playing well on a pairing with Alex Pietrangelo. The injury likely won’t affect his next contract.
- Another pending unrestricted free agent who impressed in the playoffs, Mattias Janmark, stated today that he wants to return to the team. Janmark provided some unexpected depth scoring, notching eight points in 16 games despite missing some time with an upper-body injury. Three of his four goals came in a Game 7 hat trick against the Minnesota Wild in the first round, matching a feat accomplished by former teammate Joel Kiviranta last season.
- It’s worth mentioning Martinez’s and Janmark’s free-agent status due to Vegas’ continuing dangerous dance with the salary cap. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who was heard often in trade rumors before the season due to his steep contract, finds himself in those conversations again due to a couple of mediocre performances against Montreal. But today, Fleury maintained his position that he wants to finish his career in a Golden Knights sweater. He and Robin Lehner have formed one of the most formidable tandems in the league over the past calendar year, capping it off with a Jennings Trophy win this season. It’s worth noting that Fleury had an incredible bounceback 2020-21 campaign after a rough 2019-20, setting a career-high with a .928 save percentage.
- Looking forward to the 2022 offseason, forward Reilly Smith said today that he hasn’t begun contract negotiations on an extension. Smith has been a critical member of the Vegas core since he was acquired at the expansion draft, totaling 192 points in 265 in a Vegas jersey. It’s unlikely they come to an agreement anytime soon due to Vegas’ tricky cap situation, but it’s certainly a storyline to keep an eye on as the 2021-22 campaign progresses.
- The Athletic’s Jesse Granger noted today that pending unrestricted free agent Oscar Dansk won’t be returning to the organization. Dansk’s been a member of the Vegas program since their inception, but only got into six games of NHL action across four seasons. It’s likely that the 27-year-old free agent heads home to his native Sweden this offseason, although nothing is confirmed.
Vegas isn’t going to win a Cup until they get a true number one center. They spend to the cap ceiling, but they have Chandler Stephenson centering their top line. Nothing against Stephenson, but he isn’t a top line center. The Knights have spent all this money on wingers, goalies & defensemen, but forgot to secure a number one center.
Edm, Col, Wpg, Bos have their #1 centers. Where are they? Do mtl have a true #1?
There’s no way to say with 100% certainty, but the ‘magic formula’ typically requires a star center, stud defenseman, and hot goalie.
Edmonton desperately needs goaltending and support for their centers. Defense is almost there.
Winnipeg had their defense gutted and are working to get something back.
Colorado. Feel their Defense isn’t big enough for playoff hockey.
Boston had a chance. Not sure why they lost. Maybe coaching (lost to NYI).
The challenge is to find a cup winning team without a star center. Let us know when you find it.
I don’t think it’s as much about having any one player versus having depth. The teams that go deep in the playoffs generally are able to roll four lines, rely on all three d-pairs to varying degrees, and have a hot goaltender. I know it sounds like I’m saying they just have a bunch of good players, but look at the last several champions; it was more than just star players or #1 centers, it was solid depth all up and down. The top line needs more than just a Point or a Backstrom or an O’ Reilly – it needs a Kucherov, a Palat, a Tarasenko, an Ovechkin, Wilson, Oshie, Perron… I could go on, but depth is the real key to that ‘magic formula.’ And a hot goaltender.
Also, Vegas didn’t lose because of Stephenson, he didn’t even play half the games. They lost because Stone and Patches had, like, two points between them in the whole series. If they’re the superstars everyone claims they are, they should be able to make it happen against an allegedly inferior opponent…
Yeah, seriously. Montreal won two OT games and a third by a single goal. (And, after all, Price going into God Mode for the first time in four years doesn’t hurt.) If Stone and Pacioretty have an AVERAGE series, VGK’s in the Finals.
I don’t disagree on depth. I was not responding to that.
But those three positions, having Star players in each is part of the ‘formula’.
Find a team that won the cup that didn’t have the Hot Goalie, Stud Defenseman, and Super-star Center.
It’s a rarity.
Look for the Rangers to talk trade for Ryan Reaves
Trading Reilly Smith & MAF would free up $12 million.
Move those guys for prospects and they could make a run at anyone on the trade market.
I don’t want Fleury to go.
We need a center. We only have 5 million to go before the cap. Decisions, decisions….
Random VGK question…
After DeBoer rolled the dice and beat the odds benching MAF for Lehner…why on Earth did he go back to Marc?
I think there are a few reasons that the VGK lost this series, but a big reason is DeBoer. He outsmarted himself with his weird goalie decisions, and for putting players like Kolesar or Nosek up top with Stone and Patches while Stephenson was out. I’m not impressed by DeBoer, I’ve never thought he was a great coach, and he’s a crybaby on top of all that.