The Golden Knights have one aim, and after three seasons, it nonetheless eludes them.
Proprietor Invoice Foley desires a Stanley Cup. Quick. Each choice made by his administration group has been in pursuit of that aim, and his membership reached two convention finals in three seasons due to it.
That stage of success is sweet for many groups — the Knights have already got extra playoff collection wins than the Arizona Coyotes, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets — but it surely’s not adequate for this franchise.
The Knights need extra, they usually’ll have nearly as good an opportunity as every other group to win the Cup subsequent season. However there are nonetheless issues they need to do to get there.
“I really feel that I’ve been handed the keys to a Porsche right here, and we’ve obtained to discover a method to get it throughout the end line in first place, not in second or third or fourth,” coach Pete DeBoer mentioned.
Listed here are three questions the Knights must reply subsequent season:
1. What’s the goaltending state of affairs?
OK, actual authentic. However this goes past who’s the starter.
If the group strikes on from Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner — a good wager due to its wage cap state of affairs — it’s going to have a void at backup goaltender.
The Knights are 65-37-10 when Fleury or Lehner have began the previous two common seasons. They’re 17-19-5 once they don’t. The Knights are basically a 103-point group with a top-end starter and a 78-point membership with backups.
Having a strong No. 2 is perhaps extra essential than ever subsequent season. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned the league nonetheless hopes to play an 82-game common season, but it surely may not begin till late December or early January. That might imply a condensed schedule that forces groups to rotate goaltenders extra typically.
Past that, the Knights both can have a then-36-year-old starter (Fleury) or one who has began greater than 50 video games simply twice in 10 seasons (Lehner). Each may use somebody to spell them.
“It could possibly be a compressed schedule,” common supervisor Kelly McCrimmon mentioned. “We’d have much less days off. It would enhance the necessity for groups to have two actual good goaltenders. Maybe that’s a consideration as we make our choices.”
The group can have resolve whether or not 26-year-old Oscar Dansk, who had a .908 save share and a pair of.57 goals-against common within the American Hockey League final season, is able to be a full-time NHL netminder. If not, the Knights would possibly must dip right into a deep free-agent class for goaltenders that features veterans Cam Talbot, Mike Smith, Aaron Dell and others.
2. Can Tuch hold this up?
The most effective factor about proper wing Alex Tuch’s postseason efficiency is it erased many of the style from his bitter common season.
Tuch was injured, inconsistent and simply couldn’t get on observe earlier than the pause. He had 17 factors in 42 video games, and the Knights had been outscored 25-15 with him on the ice at five-on-five. It continued a sample from the top of the 2018-19 season, when the 6-foot-4-inch speedster grew to become loads much less noticeable as soon as he was bumped from the highest six to the third line for Mark Stone.
Tuch got here again for the playoffs this season renewed, refreshed and 10 kilos lighter. He scored as many objectives as he did within the common season in 20 postseason video games. He additionally began scoring on the third line with new linemates Nicolas Roy, Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson. These efforts earned him the nickname “The X-factor” from teammate Max Pacioretty.
The Knights outscored opponents 10-7 with Tuch on the ice at five-on-five within the playoffs. If he helps them keep that scoring depth all through the common season, the group will probably be a matchup nightmare.
3. What’s going to Cody Glass convey?
One disappointment for the Knights final season is that they didn’t get a protracted have a look at their first-ever draft choose, Cody Glass, at his pure middle place.
Glass opened the season between Stone and Pacioretty, however then performed loads of proper wing the remainder of his rookie marketing campaign. The place didn’t go well with his strengths. The sixth total choose in 2017 didn’t get to indicate off his playmaking means or imaginative and prescient, and he was outmatched bodily towards the wall.
He completed with 12 factors in 39 video games, with half of these approaching the facility play. His season led to February with a knee harm.
The Knights want a second-year leap from Glass. His offensive creativity may spark a group that slumped badly in its remaining eight playoff video games. The membership desires to enhance its in-zone offense, and mixing in additional of Glass’ passing could possibly be a method to do this.
“His rehab has gone fairly effectively,” McCrimmon mentioned. “He’s actually used the time to work on his energy, which I believe goes to be actually useful for him. He’s going to be a man that we’re actually excited to see when coaching camp begins.”
Contact Ben Gotz at [email protected] Observe @BenSGotz on Twitter.