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.