The Vegas Golden Knights announced that they have acquired goalie Adin Hill from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2024 fourth-round pick. The deal seemingly solves the issue of San Jose’s goalie trio while giving Vegas another legitimate NHL goaltender in the absence of Robin Lehner this season.
As Vegas tries to shake off missing the playoffs for the first time in team history, there was a clear need for some change and to re-allocate their salary. Most notably, the team re-signed forward Reilly Smith, acquired the contract of defenseman Shea Weber, who they’ll place on LTIR, signed forward Phil Kessel, and dealt forward Max Pacioretty to the Carolina Hurricanes. However, the plan became problematic when it was revealed that star goalie Robin Lehner would have surgery and miss the entire 2022-23 season.
After losing Lehner, and before making the trade, Vegas did have two goalies with NHL experience in that of Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson, however neither had been a regular starter in the NHL. Brossoit had played parts of eight NHL seasons, but had never played more than 24 games in a season, those 24 coming in 2021-22. Certainly not a bad goalie by any stretch, Brossoit’s career .905 save-percentage and 2.84 goals-against average realistically may not have been numbers the Golden Knights trusted the bulk of their season in net with. Thompson brings with him just 20 games of NHL experience, but was a key piece in helping Vegas make a push for the playoffs with a remarkable final few weeks in net. His .914 save-percentage and 2.66 goals-against average could be sustainable as a full-time goalie for Vegas, but given his limited experience, might not be the solution to their immediate need for a starter. A fairly interesting consideration, knowing what we do now, was that only a few days ago, Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon stated that the team would be running with a tandem of Brossoit and Thompson in net, if possible. Between all three goalies, only Thompson is waivers exempt.
Hill, similarly to Brossoit, has never been a starting goaltender in the NHL, however he does have more intriguing numbers. For his career, Hill carries a .908 save-percentage and 2.74 goals-against average, with a similar .906 and 2.68 in 2021-22, where he played 25 games, a career-high. Also of note, Hill spent his career with the Arizona Coyotes prior to being dealt to the Sharks last offseason, two teams that have struggled to an extent. With Vegas, who is generally a competitive, defensively sound team, Hill could very well see his numbers improve.
The trade seems to be good value for Vegas, giving up a fourth round pick for Hill, who was dealt just a year ago with a seventh-round selection in exchange for young goalie Josef Korenar and a second-round pick. The two packages for Hill, book-ending what was arguably the best year of his career, may not be a great look for San Jose, however the team’s tricky situation with three goaltenders meant that they would likely be forced to trade one for less than what they would want, lose one to waivers eventually, or run the always unpopular three-goalie system. Now for 2022-23, it appears San Jose will run a tandem of James Reimer and Kaapo Kahkonen in net, at least to start. Also worth considering, after trading promising defenseman Jacob Middleton to get Kahkonen and believing they could get a semi-substantial return for Reimer, neither seemed like a candidate to be traded for any less than San Jose believed they were worth.
On the salary cap front, the deal puts Vegas $10.24MM over the cap ceiling, but with the ability to put Weber ($7.86MM) and Lehner ($5MM) on LTIR, they will effectively have $2.62MM with which to work now. If they do wind up with Nolan Patrick ($1.2MM) on LTIR, that would increase to $3.82MM. Either number would seem comfortable, however the team does still need to re-sign current RFA defenseman Nicolas Hague, who could eat up most, if not all, of the lower number.