Following last night’s signing of Phil Kessel to a one-year deal, Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon spoke to the media and answered questions on a wide variety of topics. One of the most pressing topics he addressed was the team’s goaltending. As relayed by The Athletic’s Jesse Granger, McCrimmon stated that the team will run a goalie tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit for the entirety of next season, if possible. McCrimmon elaborated on that decision, stating that the timing of Lehner’s surgery all but made adding a goalie through free agency impossible and that the organization believes that this tandem can get them where they want to go.
For a team that is desperate to return to the playoffs next season, a Thompson-Brossoit tandem seems like a risk, at least on paper. Thompson, 25, did nearly single-handedly save the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes last spring but has just 20 NHL contests under his belt. Brossoit, 29, has served as a lightly-used backup goalie for the past few seasons, and is currently rehabbing from hip surgery. McCrimmon stated that Brossoit’s rehab has been going well and that he should be ready early next season, if he’s not ready for opening night, but even at full health this tandem is one that carries significant downside risk. With each passing day, it looks more and more likely that the Golden Knights’ hopes for next season will rest on Thompson’s shoulders.
Now, for some other notes regarding the Golden Knights:
- The goalie previously slated to be the Golden Knights’ starter, Robin Lehner, will miss the entirety of next season after undergoing hip surgery. Today McCrimmon elaborated on the nature of Lehner’s operation, stating that he is undergoing double hip surgery and has already had the procedure on one of his hips. Much has been made of the difficulties goaltenders face when recovering from hip ailments, and one has to assume that recovering from double hip surgery is even more difficult. But with all the talent Lehner possesses, his recovery from these injuries will be extremely important to the future of the Golden Knights.
- One other topic McCrimmon touched in his press conference is the status of restricted free agent defenseman Nicolas Hague. Hague is coming off of a two-year stretch where he has established himself as a quality NHLer, and is undoubtedly looking for a contract that reflects his newly-proven value. McCrimmon stated that “priority number-one” for this offseason is getting Hague under a contract, and with Lehner now set to hit long-term injured reserve he should have the necessary wiggle room under the cap to get a deal done. Given the Golden Knights’ ever-present need for salary-cap space (even with Lehner’s eventual placement on LTIR) a bridge deal could make the most sense, though one cannot rule out a long-term pact. The Golden Knights have previously shown a willingness to lock-up young blueliners to long-term pacts, as they did with Zach Whitecloud, so perhaps Hague receives a similar (albeit likely more expensive) deal.