Rumors circling around Vegas Golden Knights after elimination

vegas golden knights
Apr 9, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) and center Jack Eichel (9) leave the ice after defeating the Arizona Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This was not supposed to happen. The Vegas Golden Knights were not supposed to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Especially not after sacrificing big pieces of their future for Jack Eichel.

When the Golden Knights took the biggest swing in their franchise history at an attempt to go over the top to win the Cup, they gave up cost controlled assets in Peyton Krebs (2 years at $863K), Alex Tuch (4 years at $4.75M), and two draft picks. In return, they took on Eichel’s remaining 5 years at $9.5 Million and will likely have to cut costs for 2022-23.

Heading into next season, Vegas has around $1M in cap space to play with per CapFriendly. Depending, which players you move around it still looks like they need to sign a few more forwards which is impossible with limited space.

What’s next for the Golden Knights?

The Golden Knights collapsed down the stretch going 3-3-4 in their last 10 games. When they lost to Dallas in a shootout, elimination was inevitable and it occurred last night after the Stars picked up a point in an OT loss to the Coyotes.

“I’m surprised. I’m disappointed,” Vegas’ coach Pete DeBoer said. “I’m at the front of the line for responsibility. “There was a lot of expectations. It’s not an easy thing and it does’t feel good for anybody right now.”

So the biggest question will be what happens with DeBoer?

This has been a rough season for the bench boss, but DeBoer has a proven track record of 512-379-123 including two trips to the Stanley Cup Final. Once in 2012 with the New Jersey Devils and again in 2016 with the San Jose Sharks, both losses.

DeBoer’s future may hinge on what Vegas will do with GM Kelly McCrimmon. If they decide to let him go, then it is almost assured that the new GM will bring in his own coach.

The Robin Lehner situation may be a tip-off

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Mar 24, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer is pictured in a game against the Nashville Predators during the second period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

As the Vegas season was coming to a close, eyebrows started to raise when ESPN reported that Robin Lehner was going to have season-ending surgery.

The Golden Knights dismissed the report and said they expected Lehner to dress for last Sunday’s game as the backup. Which he did.

After losing to the Sharks in a shootout, thanks to a spectacular meltdown in regulation the team announced Lehner was having shoulder surgery. When DeBoer was asked about the situation he was pretty curt.

“The announcement speaks for itself,” DeBoer said. “I’m concerned about the guys that are here battling with us tonight. I’m not going to spend and of my time and energy on that.”

Well that seems pretty dismissive and the last time I checked, Lehner had three more years on his contract and the player usually wins in these cases. The buzz around the situation is that Lehner was upset with criticism directed at him (likely by DeBoer) promoting him to want to shut it down.

If DeBoer isn’t back, many will be able to look at this situation as possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Will the Golden Knights make some big roster changes?

No matter who the GM is this summer, the Golden Knights are likely to make some roster changes.

They would probably like to bring back UFA forward Reilly Smith, but will need to clear some cap space. Vegas is obviously married to Jack Eichel even though he doesn’t have any form of trade protection. Captain Mark Stone isn’t going anywhere because he has a full no-move clause, which points us to Max Pacioretty.

“You don’t hate your game in those games, but at the same time you didn’t do enough to win them in regulation or overtime to make sure that there’s no question marks,” Pacioretty said after being eliminated. “There’ll be a lot of regret this summer, a lot of reflection.”

Patches as he’s affectionately known has a modified no-trade clause and must submit a 10 team list. The 33 year-old has one more season remaining on his deal at $7M AAV and will have a good market for his services after scoring 35 points in 38 games.

Evgenii Dadonov and his one year left at $5M AAV is most assuredly gone. The Golden Knights actually traded him at the deadline but failed to recognize his modified no-trade clause which had the Ducks as a no-no destination. Another embarrassing moment for the franchise this season.

In the end, this has been a stunning season for the Golden Knights missing the playoffs. However, it could become even more so depending on what moves they make after they play their final game on April 29.