In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights News & Rumors, playoffs are officially out for this season after a loss on Wednesday night to the Chicago Blackhawks. In other news, Robin Lehner is set to undergo shoulder surgery for an injury he is believed to have sustained back in February. Last but not least, prospect Ivan Morozov has agreed to a two-year, entry-level contract.
Golden Knights Eliminated From Playoff Race
Heading into the 2021-22 season, expectations were very high for this Golden Knights squad. With the Pacific Division being arguably the weakest in the NHL, they were expected to run away with a divisional title and even more importantly, were viewed as one of the favorites to bring home a Stanley Cup.
That has been far from the case, however, as injuries and inconsistent play have plagued this team from the get-go of the 2021-22 campaign. Still, the chance to sneak in was there for them. On Tuesday night, they had a huge game against the Dallas Stars, whom they were chasing for the final wild card position. While they were able to pick up a point, they ultimately fell in a shootout, meaning they needed to win their two remaining games, and also needed the Stars to go without a point in each of their remaining contests.
Shockingly, the Stars did go on to lose to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, though it came in overtime meaning they got the single point they needed to clinch. That game didn’t end up mattering, however, as the Golden Knights fell once again in a shootout to the Blackhawks. With the loss, they now sit three points behind the Nashville Predators, and four behind the Stars with just a single game remaining. It is extremely disappointing given how high expectations were and has many thinking some big changes could take place this summer.
Lehner to Undergo Shoulder Surgery
As strange and frustrating of a season as it was for the Golden Knights, it was even more bizarre for Lehner. The 30-year-old came into this season as the team’s undisputed number one goaltender after they chose to trade Marc-Andre Fleury this past summer, a move which they may be regretting at the moment.
Lehner started the season out quite inconsistent, and went on to battle a number of different injuries. It appeared his season was over back on Feb. 15, as Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff said it was believed he needed shoulder surgery. However, he did end up returning to the crease, though his poor play suggested he was battling an injury. It appears that is indeed the case given this most recent news.
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While the surgery itself doesn’t come as a surprise, the way both parties went about it was very strange. After two poor performances in a row, Pete DeBoer called out his goaltender to the media, which reportedly didn’t sit well with Lehner. He chose to let the team know shortly after that he would indeed undergo surgery and end his season early. However, he ended up dressing as a backup the following night, resulting in confusion for many.
According to management, he was asked to dress on Sunday due to salary cap circumstances that wouldn’t have allowed for them to have another goaltender on the bench that night. Regardless, it was a very odd situation and one that has many believing the relationship between DeBoer and Lehner has gone sour. It will be interesting to see what may come of it this summer.
Morozov Signs Entry-Level Deal
On Tuesday, the Golden Knights announced that they have signed Morozov to a two-year, entry-level deal. The 21-year-old winger was selected in the second round (61 overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft and has since spent the majority of the past three seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
This past season, he suited up for 17 games with SKA St. Petersburg and managed four goals along with four helpers. He was then traded to HC Sochi, where he recorded a goal and three points in five contests. While he still has a ways to go before becoming a regular at the NHL level, he appears to have plenty of potential, making this signing a very exciting one for the Golden Knights organization.
Up Next for the Golden Knights
With playoffs now out of the picture, the Golden Knights have just one game remaining this season, which will take place on Friday night against the St. Louis Blues. Given the disappointment the team is feeling at the moment, it is hard to say how they will perform tomorrow, but the hope is that they are able to come out hard and finish the season strong.