Vegas Golden Knights will try for a Stanley Cup repeat with mostly the same roster from last season


COACH: Bruce Cassidy (343-177-62 with 9 ties over 10 seasons).

SEASON OPENER: Oct. 10 vs. Seattle.

DEPARTURES: F Reilly Smith, G Laurent Brossoit, F Phil Kessel.

ADDITIONS: F Max Comtois.

GOALIES: Adin Hill (25-16-7-1, 2.50 GAA, 0.915 save percentage) and Logan Thompson (36-21-13-3, 2.65 GAA, 0.915).


LAST SEASON: The Golden Knights fulfilled owner Bill Foley's pledge to win the Stanley Cup in six years with an impressive run through the playoffs in which they never faced elimination. Vegas got there despite a rash of injuries at goalie. Five players started in net and recorded multiple victories, with Hill going 11-4 in the playoffs. Vegas overwhelmed opponents with its depth. Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy, but that playoff MVP award also could've gone to Hill, Jack Eichel or captain Mark Stone.

STRENGTHS: Depth remains an asset for Cassidy, who emphasized rolling all four lines even through the postseason. The Knights have some dynamic players in Stone, Eichel and Marchessault, any of them capable of winning a game virtually by himself. But it's their defense that stands out with an emphasis on allowing only low-percentage shots.

WEAKNESSES: Though the goalies shined last season, plenty of questions remain. Are Hill and Thompson capable of staying healthy? Both missed significant time last season. For Hill, there's also the question of whether his postseason run was an anomaly. Thompson was an All-Star as a rookie before getting injured, but like with Hill, it's difficult to gauge his effectiveness with such a small sample size. Both are fortunate that Cassidy's defense relieves a lot of pressure on the goaltenders.

WHAT TO EXPECT: The Knights decided to run it back rather than make their usual offseason flashy signings. Of all those who skated in the Stanley Cup Final, only Smith departed. Because Vegas went all the way, it had a short offseason to get ready. But the Knights, with pretty much the same group, proved they are capable of winning it all. Doing it two years in a row, though, has proven to be a challenge; only Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay have done it this century.

PLAYER TO WATCH: F Ivan Barbashev. The Knights traded for him late last season, and he had 18 points in 22 playoff games. That production was a big reason Vegas parted ways with Smith, an original Knight, so the club could sign Barbashev to a five-year, $25 million contract. Now he has to show it was money well spent.



The Associated Press