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Missed Post-season Raises Questions About Golden Knights' Off-season Plans

For the first time since joining the NHL in 2017-18, the Vegas Golden Knights failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Pundits are already musing over what went wrong and how management will get this club back on track.
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For the first time since joining the NHL in 2017-18, the Vegas Golden Knights failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Pundits are already musing over what went wrong and how management will get this club back on track.

The Athletic's Jesse Granger pointed to injuries to core players such as Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty as one factor. Another was a turnover of core talent putting players under pressure as management sought to upgrade the roster as contributing factors. He also suggested some of their recent roster addition could be having difficulty adjusting to coach Pete DeBoer's defense-first mentality.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, meanwhile, wondered what the repercussions will be for missing the playoffs, particularly for Robin Lehner. Hampered by injuries this season, the 30-year-old goaltender seemed to draw DeBoer's ire as the Vegas coach recently indicated several of his banged-up skaters were still playing and giving their best. Lehner has three seasons left on his contract.

Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli felt it was an inevitability that DeBoer could be cut loose. He also wondered if general manager Kelly McCrimmon will follow him out the door.

McCrimmon (or his successor) will have to make one or two cost-cutting deals. Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have $83.6 million invested in 18 active roster players for 2022-23.

Core winger Rielly Smith is slated to become an unrestricted free agent. Freeing up sufficient cap room to re-sign him could mean attempting to shop Evgenii Dadonov again, this time to a destination not on his 10-team no-trade list. Their efforts to ship him to the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline ended in embarrassment as the deal was voided by the league.

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