Golden Knights Regular Season No. 7 Report Card

AP Photo/David Becker

Another Vegas Golden Knights regular season has come to an end. In standard fashion, the season had goaltender drama, injuries, moments when the team was unstoppable, and periods when the team struggled with bottom-feeders. Let’s dive right into the grades.

98 Points, fourth-place in the Pacific, Wild Card No. 2, C-

Listen, “C’s” get degrees. In this case, a degree equates to a trip to the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and a chance for the Golden Knights to defend their Stanley Cup championship. The path to 98 points was a tough one as the Golden Knights left a number of points on the table against non-playoff opponents.

It is hard to claim 98 points was a successful regular-season campaign. The Golden Knights have a first round matchup with the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars as a result.

Goaltending, B-

Logan Thompson 25-14-5, 2.70 GAA, and 9.08 SV%
Adin Hill 19-12-2, 2.71 GAA, and .909 SV%

Thompson and Hill both came in better than the 2.91 GAA and .903 SV% league averages. It was not pretty at times for both goalies, but they got the job done. Has either goalie separated themselves as the clear-cut playoff starter? Can Hill return to his form from last year’s Stanley Cup championship run?

Coach Bruce Cassidy, C

For the third consecutive season, the Golden Knights found themselves near the top of the league in man-games lost due to injury. To Cassidy’s credit, he had to spin the dials on a nightly basis to get the most out of his lineups. Lineups that at times, had a lot of players from the American League.

What is holding back Cassidy’s grade is how he handled the goalie rotation with Hill and Thompson. Hill and Thompson have been at their best when the starts were nearly evenly split.

Cassidy gave Thompson and Hill long stretches of starts instead of giving the goalies breaks. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon expressed confidence in Jiri Patera before the season started. Patera was limited to six appearances.

General Manager Kelly McCrimmon, C-

I am the biggest supporter of McCrimmon and the #McCrimmoPlan, so it is hard for me to give him this grade. Remember, this is a regular season report card. McCrimmon would receive an “A+” if I was factoring his trade deadline performance and how it will help the Golden Knights from a long term perspective.

McCrimmon has built a roster that is susceptible to injury. Golden Knights captain Mark Stone has missed 110 games over the last three seasons and the team has been among the league leaders in man-games lost due to injury over the last three seasons.

That is not bad luck.

McCrimmon did a great job adding key pieces in the trade deadline. Noah Hanifin, Tomas Hertl, and Anthony Mantha will have key roles in helping the Golden Knights to compete for their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Jonathan Marchessault not having a contract extension as of game No. 82 of the regular season is the reason McCrimmon’s grade is not higher. McCrimmon missed his opportunity to extend Marchessault at a more team-friendly number during the offseason. If McCrimmon wants “Money” Marchessault’s services next season, it is going to cost him millions more than he anticipated.

Special Teams, C-

The Golden Knights have fixed their powerplay issues as of late. But the powerplay ranks No. 20 overall. The Golden Knights would have had a much higher ranked powerplay had McCrimmon traded for Hertl earlier in the season.

The penalty kill is ranked No. 14 overall and has been serviceable. Jack Eichel and William Karlsson are a joy to watch on the kill.

Jack Eichel, A

The King Clancy Award nominee took a major step forward in his game. We saw flashes of the 200-foot version of Eichel last season and he took it to a new level this season. Eichel is still the team’s best difference maker on the offensive side of the ice. the 27-year-old is now a difference maker on both ends of the ice.

Jonathan Marchessault, A+

What is left to say about the misfit? Marchessault carried the Golden Knights all season by putting up a career high in goals (42) and his second best points total (69).

Will Marchessault return to Vegas for an eighth season? Marchessault is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

William Karlsson, A+

Karlsson has enjoyed a resurgence of the offensive side of his game since Cassidy’s arrival. Everyone knows that Karlsson is a spectacular defensive center. But Karlsson had a 30-goal season and is bound to be a matchup nightmare for the opposition when the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs start.

Zach Whitecloud, C

Whitecloud has been a rock as far as being a trusted member of the defense goes. But Whitecloud’s game has taken a small step backwards this season. Whitecloud was a plus-9, plus-21, and plus -10 for his previous three seasons. He regressed to a minus-3 this season.

To his credit, after Whitecloud was a healthy scratch when Noah Hanifin arrived, Whitecloud showed improvement. Whitecloud has been joining the rush more and not afraid to take chances on the offensive end of the ice.

Tomas Hertl, A

How can you not love the creator of the “Fun is Always” quote? Hertl is always smiling and reminds me of Marc Andre Fleury. Vegas is going to love him.

As far as on the ice goes, Hertl is a faceoff machine, and the powerplay is clicking.

“Fun is Always” is the title of the book if the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup this year.

Paul Cotter, C

Cotter is fun and has a high level of compete. Is he an energy player or a skill player? Cotter’s game lacked an identity for most of the season. Everyone remembers his highlight-reel between-the-legs dangle against the Philadelphia Flyers from early in the season.

It may come down to Cotter just needing time for his game to pick a path. He has plenty of skill and scoring ability. Cotter is not afraid to battle hard in the corners and get his nose dirty. A fourth-line, energy role, may suit his game best.

Unpredictability Factor, A+

We have come to expect the unexpected in Vegas. This team can be a one-ring circus at times. Hopefully, the Golden Knights will become a two-ring circus in June.

Who had Hertl becoming a Golden Knight on their 2024 bingo card? No one saw a 40 plus goals season for Marchessault coming. Karlsson had his best offensive performance since his 43 goal season in 2017-18. McCrimmon had a masterclass trade deadline and pulled of a shocker in acquiring Hertl.

It is so much fun covering the Golden Knights because you expect mayhem. You expect to be surprised. Yet, this team always finds a way to surprise you.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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