The fact that Jack Eichel still has not tasted the Stanley Cup Playoffs is just one of the many storylines coming out of Vegas on Thursday as the Golden Knights have missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. A team that was built with an agenda to win it all, the organization sacrificed and traded multiple players along the way in an attempt to put together the best possible on-ice product possible. Clearly, it didn’t work.
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A team that has a history of making moves, even when things are good, what comes next for a club that has a ton of big contracts, far fewer prospects and draft picks than most other teams, and an insatiable desire to be better than they were the season before? Elliotte Friedman asked what repercussions the team will face in his latest “32 Thoughts” column and there are likely to be many.
While the team is heavily committed to Eichel, there’s also a situation brewing between the organization and goaltender Robin Lehner. Friedman writes, “We haven’t heard yet from Lehner – who is never shy”. He adds that there’s a possibility this gets more flammable before it calms and it feels as though everyone is just waiting for him to comment on how the final few days unfolded.
Lehner was dressed as a backup for the Golden Knights, even though he was to get season-ending surgery, which the club first publicly denied he needed. Many thought Lehner shut it down on his own accord because he was unhappy about being called out and thrown under the bus by his head coach. How this goes is anyone’s guess, but Lehner is under contract for three more seasons.
Friedman also wondered about Reilly Smith. He hasn’t played since March 1 because of an injury and the NHL insider notes that there are mixed reports about how close the two sides are in an extension.
There was the Evgeni Dadanov trade that never happened and there’s the smaller matter of a salary cap which the club is already right up against for next season.
What About the Coach?
Injuries played a huge factor all year for Vegas and it’s a major reason they didn’t make the cut, but coaches have been fired for less in Vegas. Pete DeBoer might be looking over his shoulder this summer and the way his team fell apart against beatable opponents will not go overlooked.
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