Expectations heading into the 2021-22 season were extremely high for the Vegas Golden Knights, but both injuries and inconsistent play caused them to miss the playoffs altogether. It was both a frustrating and humbling experience for this group, who now have plenty of time to do some reflecting on exactly what went wrong and what they can do to get better from it.
Not only are the fans unhappy with how things went, but management is as well. They already chose to make a big change as they announced the firing of head coach Pete DeBoer weeks ago, and there are likely several more changes to be made. With that said, here are four players from this past season’s roster that are unlikely to be back in 2022-23.
Despite having a team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural 2017-18 campaign, Golden Knights management has made so many changes to this roster in years since that very few players remain from that original team. One who has stayed to this point, however, is Reilly Smith, though that may be no more.
Even with the 2021-22 season having ended, the Golden Knights still have just $200,000 in cap space. That means that Smith, who is coming off of a five-year, $25 million deal, will be nearly impossible to re-sign. By all accounts, both sides would like to work out a deal, but there is almost no chance for it to work given the cap implications. On the open market, the 31-year-old may very well be able to get a raise from his past salary thanks to his outstanding two-way play, something the Golden Knights will miss moving forward.
Golden Knights management surprised many when they chose to acquire Evgenii Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators last offseason. It was a puzzling move considering the now 33-year-old was coming off a bad year in which he recorded just 20 points in 55 games. On top of that, he still had two seasons remaining on a deal with a cap hit of $5 million.
While the trade didn’t make a ton of sense from the get-go, it caused the Golden Knights even more headaches than anyone could have possibly imagined. In order to try and free up some cap room to activate players off of the injured reserve, management traded Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks minutes before the trade deadline had passed. That trade, however, ended up being vetoed by the league as the Ducks turned out to be one of 10 teams on the Russian forward’s no-trade list. As a result, he finished the season with the Golden Knights in very awkward fashion.
Despite Dadonov having himself a relatively nice bounce-back season with 20 goals and 43 points, the Golden Knights are still very likely to try and find a new home for him this summer. Not only will it be a fresh start for the player after a chaotic season, but it will give the team some much-needed cap room.
Since being picked up in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2020-21 campaign, Mattias Janmark has proven to be a solid bottom-six player for the Golden Knights. Like Smith, he is a player they would welcome back with open arms if they could, but cap implications will likely prevent that.
The 29-year-old is on an expiring contract that carried a cap hit of $2 million, and will likely command similar dollars on his next deal. Even if management were able to make room to sign him, they have other forwards who can step up and fill his role while putting those dollars to better use. Barring a complete shocker, Janmark will be wearing a different sweater for the 2022-23 season.
Last offseason, the Golden Knights made a very bold decision when they chose to trade Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. This move showed that they had full confidence in Robin Lehner as their undisputed number one netminder moving forward, but also meant they needed to find him a backup. In their search, they came up with Laurent Brossoit, who had spent the previous three seasons with the Winnipeg Jets behind Connor Hellebuyck.
Like many on the Golden Knights roster, Brossoit’s 2021-22 campaign was filled with injuries and inconsistencies. The 29-year-old suited up for a total of 24 games, recording a 2.90 goals-against average along with a .895 save percentage. Though he has one more season remaining on his deal, the play of Logan Thompson in his absence made him extremely expendable, as management would likely prefer the younger, cheaper option to back up Lehner in 2022-23. Assuming they can find a trading partner, Brossoit is as good as gone.
While these four seem the most likely candidates to move on, this Golden Knights management group has proven time and time again they aren’t afraid to make massive deals that no one could have predicted. With his injury troubles this past season, perhaps Max Pacioretty is a player they consider moving given his $7 million cap hit. An underperforming William Karlsson is another they may have discussions about, though dealing him when his value is at its lowest may not prove wise. Regardless of what is decided, there are tough decisions that lie ahead to ensure this roster is salary cap compliant for the 2022-23 campaign.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.