A number of insiders and likely a handful of important people behind the scenes in Vegas will point to the 508 man-games lost to injury for the Golden Knights as the reason they didn’t make the playoffs this season. The GM doesn’t seem to be one of them. Kelly McCrimmon said that the franchise can’t use injuries as excuses and hinted there will be changes to his roster this summer.
McCrimmon noted, “To have a championship team, you have to get better over the course of the year.” The Golden Knights didn’t exactly do so, even when a few important players returned. He added:
“I’ve always believed your team has to be better in the second half than the first half, then better in the playoffs than the second half and keep improving as playoffs go on. I’m very disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs. I believe strongly that we could have and should have.”
So what does that mean? What changes will be made?
First off, head coach Pete DeBoer will be a name to watch. He said he has not talked to George McPhee or McCrimmon about his future with the organization but noted he’d like to be back. Whether the team blames the coach for any of the issues isn’t clear just yet, but moving on from DeBoer would be one of the easier moves to manage and, in the past, the Golden Knights have gotten rid of a coach for much less. Still, DeBoer said, “I want to be back. I want to coach this team.”
Second, the team doesn’t exactly have a lot of salary cap flexibility from which to work. Next season’s cap sits at $82.5 million and Vegas currently has 18 players under NHL contracts which total $83 million against that cap. That means, if the Golden Knights want to make changes, they’ll have to ship players out. Expect rumors surrounding Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Reilly Smith, and even Robin Lehner to surface.
Could Mark Stone’s Issue Last Longer Than Expected?
Mark Stone spent much of last season on the injury list and if his issues are still nagging him, it will be interesting to see how the team handles it. Stone said Tuesday that he will spend the beginning of his offseason getting more tests and research done to determine the appropriate action moving forward. Stone said he feels ok right now, but he needs to be sure. He noted, “it’s just on me to find the right advice, find the right plan and get it healed so this doesn’t happen again.”
As for whether he intends to get surgery, he said, “I’m doing something that’s going to benefit me not just for next year but for the five years that I have left on my contract, and I’ll hopefully sign a couple more after that.”
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