Are the Vegas Golden Knights going to stand pat with their goaltending to start the season?
That’s what a league source told San Jose Hockey Now: “They’re probably going to start the season with what they have, unless something falls into their lap.”
This means going with No. 3 and 4 goalies Logan Thompson and Michael Hutchinson as their NHL tandem, with starter Robin Lehner out for the season with a hip injury, and no return date set for back-up Laurent Brossoit, who’s recovering from May hip surgery.
According to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley, Brossoit is ahead of schedule but won’t be ready for opening night: “He isn’t ready to be on the ice yet, but there was some talk that he isn’t that far away from skating. All indications are he is ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean he will be ready for opening night. It could be a few weeks into the season.”
Starting with Thompson-Hutchinson suggests that the Golden Knights believe Brossoit should be ready sooner than later though.
Also, not many teams around the league have a young No. 3 like Thompson, who carried the load capably last season with Lehner and Brossoit unavailable, registering a 10-5-3 record with a .914 Save %.
If anything, the Golden Knights might be excited to continue to see what they have in the 25-year-old Thompson.
Playing Hutchinson isn’t as exciting a prospect, but the 32-year-old veteran does have a wealth of NHL experience with 137 appearances, spread over nine seasons, under his belt.
So what does this mean for the San Jose Sharks, who have one goalie too many between presumed starter Kaapo Kahkonen, James Reimer, and Adin Hill?
25-year-old Kahkonen is signed for two more years with a $2.75 million dollar AAV, 34-year-old Reimer has another season with a $2.25 million AAV, and 26-year-old Hill has one more year with a $2.175 million AAV. The Sharks might be able to fit all three goaltenders under the $82.5 million cap, but it’s going to be a tight squeeze.
But more than a month past the beginning of free agency, there aren’t a lot of goalie seats available around the league, and maybe there’s a couple less if you close the Vegas door.
The San Jose Sharks’ ask for Reimer might be a tad high. Last week, SJHN reported that the Sharks were looking for a second-round pick for Reimer.
That seemed like a fair price, considering that last off-season, 1A-1B goalie Vitek Vanecek went for a second-round pick. The Sharks also sent a second to the Coyotes for Hill last off-season.
It’s worth noting though that this past summer, Vanecek went from the Washington Capitals to the New Jersey Devils for a 2022 third-round pick and a swap of 2022 second-rounders (the Capitals gained nine spots in the second round). Also, the St. Louis Blues got just a 2022 third for Ville Husso from the Detroit Red Wings.
So perhaps the goaltending market isn’t robust enough this off-season to net a second for Reimer.
It’s not clear whether the San Jose Sharks and the Golden Knights have entered into talks about Reimer. But would Mike Grier take less than a second for Reimer from Kelly McCrimmon? Anyway, Vegas sounds like they may not even want to give that up.
As for Hill, he struggled last year, so it’s hard to pinpoint his value. But for the Golden Knights, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to trade an asset, even a low pick, for a goalie that they may not trust.
But who knows, let’s say Hutchinson has a rocky pre-season, maybe Vegas re-thinks their position. Also, I’d bet that they’ll be watching the waiver wire closely during training camp. Or maybe they take a pass at a UFA goalie over the next month, to add some depth.
Right now, the next man up after Thompson-Hutchinson for the Golden Knights is prospect Jiri Patera, zero NHL experience, so you figure that they’d at least like another safety blanket at the AHL level.
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