Three questions facing the Vegas Golden Knights

NHL.com offers in-depth analysis of each of its 32 teams from August 8 to September 8. Today, there are three important questions facing the Vegas Golden Knights.

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1. Who will be goalkeeper No. 1?

Robin Liner Most likely in the season following hip surgery. to support Laurent Prosuitewho has not played after March 15 and underwent a medical procedure for an undisclosed injury after the season, is not expected to be ready for opening night.

to leave Logan Thompson And the Aden Hill Compete to be the No. 1 goalkeeper for the Golden Knights.

Thompson played well last season, making six of the seven games when Lehner and Proswett missed. The 25-year-old was 10-5-3 in 19 games (17 starts) with a 2.68 goal-to-average rate, 0.914 savings and one closing.

“If you look at the way he played his first two NHL games, compared to the way he played at the end, I think that’s because he’s starting to get some miles under the NHL level and with that comes some confidence,” said Vegas Director of Player Development, Will Nicole.

Hill, acquired in a deal with San Jose Sharks on August 30, was 10-11-1 with 2.66 GAA, .906 savings and two in 25 games (22 starts). The 26-year-old has a 2.74 GAA and 0.908 savings percentage in 74 NHL games with the Sharks and Arizona Coyotes.

Before the trade, coach Bruce Cassidy said Thompson’s job was to lose. After the trade, general manager Kelly McCremon said adding Hill gives the team more comfort in the position.

“LT, he was huge for us to beat that way… I gave him a lot of credit for the way he came up for our group,” Forward Jack Eichel He said. “I think he earned a lot of respect from the players in the dressing room last year with his way of playing, and we have a lot of confidence in LT as our goalkeeper.”

2. Can new coach Bruce Cassidy help improve strength performance?

Since entering the NHL in 2017-18, the Golden Knights have ranked 20th in the league in the power game (19.2 percent). During that same time, Cassidy’s full five seasons with the Boston Bruins, the Bruins’ strength play was tied for second place in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs (23.7 percent).

Cassidy said he would bring a new philosophy to the Golden Knights. Although he didn’t show all his cards, Cassidy said he’d rather play the power game through the attackers in front of the net rather than the big shot from the point.

“We know our strength has to be better, and we know that our penalties have to be better,” Eshel said. “I think Bruce brings a good look at both of them, playing the force in particular is what I talked to him about. And he had some really good ideas about that, how to help us achieve more goals and be more successful.”

Video: NHL Tonight on Vegas Golden Knights Season Outlook

3. Will Jacques Eichel return to the elite level?

Eichel could make excuses for playing him last season, but the 25-year-old won’t. He had 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 34 games, but struggled when the Golden Knights failed to secure a Stanley Cup berth for the first time in their history.

Eshel said that after ten months of having surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, and about four months since playing the final six weeks of the season with an undisturbed fracture of his thumb, “the body feels great.”

The Golden Knights hope that better health will help Eichel regain his form as an elite player in the NHL. The forward earned 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games over six seasons with the Buffalo Sabers before moving to the Golden Knights last season.

Eichel should also benefit from not having to carry the burden of scoring in Vegas as he did in Buffalo.

“Some less nights will be more because you’re on a good team, you don’t have to drive everything every night,” Cassidy said of Eshel. “We have other good players. It doesn’t mean you’re taking time off, that’s not what I’m saying. I understand you’re giving us 18 1/2, 19 hard minutes, win your share of draws, play, but if you’re not on the score sheet that night we win With matches and you are helping us, that is positive.”