The Dallas Stars dispatched the Vegas Golden Knights in over time to reach their first cup final since 2000. While many finally started to believe in the Stars and their “We’re not going home” attitude it left the team from Sin City looking for answers on a bubble trip that was all for nothing.
Early on the Knights looked like the best team in the West that wasn’t named the Avalanche. The Knights had the offensive depth that GM’s covet and scored at will while dictating play on the ice. The defensive side was contributing points and shutting down the teams top players in chances and quality scoring areas but even in the crease the Knights had their answer. Robin Lehner continued to shine up until the final goal in this series. Whitecloud’s penalty for delay of game in OT provided the chance to seal their fate and there wasn’t much you can fault the tender on.
In the end the VGK ran out of the asset that powered them though the early rounds and that was their offense. Dallas matched intensity but took control when it was important on the score board.
Unsure what happens with Vegas moving towards the next season. Mark Stone will be back as a key piece for the franchise moving forward. Along with the rest fo the forward group they will remain largely intact. Pacioretty, Karlsson, Stastny, Tuch, Marchessault and Smith all return. Offense did dry up in the conference finals so if changes are coming up front it most likely will have to be a subtraction of dollars and contracts due to the flat cap.
Defensively the Knights will lose only Merrill and Engelland to free agency, combined they only played in 1 playoff game. This bodes well for them as Theodore lead them in points overall during the bubble run and the rest of the blue liners chipped in timely offense too. Vegas did have some issues controlling the front of their net as the Stars got to the those spots with ease. This was a glaring issue on the first goal Jamie Benn scored in the deciding game.
As we shift quickly to the crease MAF is still under contract but recently had to forward his new to not be traded to list. You have to wonder after the great season and playoffs Robin Lehner had is flower now on the move. Allan Walsh (MAF Agent with Octagon) earlier this playoffs posted artwork with a sword going through the goalie’s chest…but the sword had the name of coach Pete Deboer. This created a riff with the goal tandem I’m sure and both goalies seemed unfazed by the twitter posting. Robin Lehner is a UFA this offseason and Vegas will have a bit lower than 5 million to spend on him if they want to keep him and the rest of the current line up. Moving MAF or another player could free up the space in the cap to make the moves. Keeping MAF could work as well with the expansion draft on the horizon but does management and ownership want a repeat of the same player agent drama that normally occurs outside of the NHL.
For a team so early on in it’s organizational history they do have a playoff tradition with a cup final birth and two trips to a conference final to show for it. Getting over the next hurdle of winning the cup I’m sure is next on their list. That will have to wait til next year however.
ENJOY THE OFF SEASON VGK!