Vegas Golden Knights 2020-21 NHL season preview

Golden Knights Preview

The 2020-21 NHL season is almost here so it’s time to preview all 31 teams. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at how the offseason affected each team, the most interesting people in the organization, and the best- and worst-case scenarios. Today, we look at the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights 2019-20 Rewind

Record: 39-24-8 (86 points); First place in Pacific Division; Third place in Western Conference

Leading Scorers: Max Pacioretty (32 goals, 66 points)

The 2019-20 season was a wild one for the Golden Knights. They opened the season as Stanley Cup contenders, struggled out of the gate, shockingly fired coach Gerard Gallant and replaced him with rival coach Peter DeBoer, traded for Robin Lehner, and then sent Marc-Andre Fleury to the bench in the playoffs (in favor of Lehner) creating some agent-driven drama. Through it all, they still ended up in the Western Conference Final for the second time in the first three years of their existence. In short: It was not a boring season.

The Golden Knights followed that up in the offseason by continuing to reshuffle their roster in significant ways by making another blockbuster addition with the signing of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.


Alex Pietrangelo (free agency), Carl Dahlstrom (trade)


Paul Stastny (trade), Nate Schmidt (trade), Deryk Engelland (retirement)

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3 Most Interesting Vegas Golden Knights

• Marc-Andre Fleury. From the moment he arrived Fleury was the face of the Golden Knights franchise. He was the biggest star on the initial roster, an immediate fan favorite, played a huge role in their improbable Stanley Cup Final run, and he has been a mostly strong goalie in his three years with the team.

Now he finds himself entering a situation where his role is uncertain. He was benched in the Stanley Cup playoffs — resulting in some off-ice drama from his agent — and was the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason when the team re-signed Lehner.

It seems clear that DeBoer trusts Lehner to be his goalie, and given the way both goalies played a year ago that is not necessarily the wrong decision. But it is still going to be fascinating to see how this situation gets handled this season and what Fleury’s short-term (and long-term) future with the Golden Knights is.

• Alex Pietrangelo. The latest blockbuster addition by the Golden Knights. With Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore the Golden Knights have two outstanding top-pairing defensemen in their lineup. But even though the Pietrangelo addition was through free agency it was still costly.

Along with the seven-year, $61 million price tag, the Golden Knights also had to trade Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt — two pretty significant players from last year’s team — for well below market value to make room for him under the cap. That is significant, especially the Stastny departure given what it means for their center depth. Are the Golden Knights better after all of those moves? Pietrangelo is clearly an upgrade over Schmidt, but a lot of it might come down to whether or not a player like Cody Glass can step forward and help fill that opening that was created when Stastny was traded.

Either way, Pietrangelo and Theodore are going to be impact players on defense and with their goaltending duo this should be a tough team to score against.

[MORE: 2021 NHL schedule notes: Stats, oddities, fuel for nasty rivalries]

• Robin Lehner. Ah, yes. The other goalie in Vegas. After acquiring him at the trade deadline and going through the Stanley Cup playoffs with him as their starter, the Golden Knights re-signed Lehner this offseason to a five-year, $25 million contract extension.

Does all of that make him the starter? DeBoer said on Saturday that both Lehner and Fleury will take part in a 50-50 split early in the season until they get settled, and then after that “all bets are off.” Meaning, in theory, it is going to be a competition.

Given the way things have developed over the past year, as well as the fact that Lehner has been one of the league’s most productive goalies for several years running now, it is really hard to envision a scenario in which he does not get the upper hand.

Best-Case Scenario

The best case for the Golden Knights is Pietrangelo is worth every penny, Glass takes a big step forward at center, the two goalies play great and they find a work load that works for both, and the Golden Knights remain a Stanley Cup favorite.

There is no reason to think they will not be a playoff team. The roster is just too good and they have too many impact players throughout it (Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Pietrangelo, Theodore). It is simply a question of how good of a playoff team it will be. Every possible ingredient is there to win the Stanley Cup.

Worst-Case Scenario

Again, this should be a playoff team and it is really hard to envision them finishing lower than fourth in this division this season. The biggest obstacle might be the possibility of having to get through both Colorado and St. Louis (depending on where they finish in the standings) in the first two rounds.

From their own internal viewpoint, the goalie situation being unsettled and the lack of center depth could be two of the factors that hold them back.

Pointsbet – Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup odds

Pointsbet Stanley Cup odds: Golden Knights +825. (PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.



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    Sharks goalie James Reimer declines to wear Pride jersey

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    San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer didn’t take part in pregame warmups, saying the team’s decision to wear Pride-themed jerseys in support of the LGBTQ community runs counter to his religious beliefs.

    Reimer said in a statement Saturday that he made the decision based on his Christian beliefs, adding that he “always strived to treat everyone with respect” and that members of the LGBTQ community should be welcome in hockey.

    “In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions, which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in life,” Reimer said.

    Reimer is the second NHL player this season to refuse to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, with Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov declining to in January. Reimer was not slated to start in Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders, which is Pride night.

    Additionally, the New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

    The Sharks said in a statement that they are proud to host Pride Night, saying the event reinforces the team’s commitment to inclusiveness.

    “As we promote these standards, we also acknowledge and accept the rights of individuals to express themselves, including how or whether they choose to express their beliefs, regardless of the cause or topic,” the team said in a statement. “As an organization, we will not waver in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and continue to encourage others to engage in active allyship.”

    The You Can Play Project, which works to promote inclusiveness in sports, said the organization was disappointed in Reimer’s actions.

    “Religion and respect are not in conflict with each other, and we are certainly disappointed when religion is used as a reason to not support our community,” the organization said. “Wearing pride jerseys, like any celebration jersey worn, is not about the personal feelings of an athlete; rather the communication from the team that a community is welcome in the arena and the sport.”

    Panarin, Shesterkin lead Rangers to 6-0 rout of Penguins

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    NEW YORK — Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Artemi Panarin scored twice and Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves as the New York Rangers routed Pittsburgh 6-0 on Saturday night for their second win over the Penguins in three days.

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Chris Kreider and Jacob Trouba also scored for the surging Rangers, who have won nine of their last 11 home games and are 12-4-0 in their past 16 at Madison Square Garden.

    Shesterkin won his fifth straight and posted his second shutout this season. He nimbly denied Pittsburgh forward Mikael Granland with a sprawling save five minutes into the third period to preserve the shutout, the 10th of his career. His other one this season was a 1-0 home win over Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

    “When you put in hard and honest work, miracles happen,” Shesterkin said through a translator. ”We played wonderfully today – scored many, many goals. Honestly, I hope the fans loved it. We’re playing for them.”

    The Penguins lost their third straight and trail the Rangers by 12 points for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh, still in wild-card position, is trying to reach the playoffs for the 17th straight time.

    “Tonight was a humbling experience for all of us,” coach Mike Sullivan said. ”At this time of year, you have to have a short memory. We still have control of our destiny.”

    Patrick Kane and defenseman K’Andre Miller also had two assists apiece as New York improved to 7-1-1 in its last nine home games against Pittsburgh. The Rangers are five points behind the second-place New Jersey Devils, who lost at Florida on Saturday.

    “This was a big game for our goalie and our team,” Panarin said. “If you work at playing the right way, you have opportunities for goals.”

    Since Dec. 5, when they turned around their season with a 6-4 comeback win at home over St. Louis, the Rangers are 29-9-5.

    As he did on Thursday when the Rangers beat the Penguins 4-2, Zibanejad opened the scoring. He got his team-leading 36th goal at 5:10 of the first, beating Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. Trouba and Miller assisted.

    Panarin made it 2-0 at 19:49 on the power play, whipping the puck past Jarry from the left circle off a pass from Adam Fox.

    Tarasenko increased the lead at 3:54 of the second with his fifth goal since joining the Rangers in a trade with St. Louis on Feb. 9. Tarasenko has points in 10 of his first 18 games with the Rangers.

    Kreider made it 4-0 at 6:43 with his 31st goal and third in two games against the Penguins. Kane and Vincent Trocheck assisted on Kreider’s 260th career goal, which moved the Rangers forward within two of Vic Hadfield for fifth place on the franchise list.

    New York won Thursday when Kreider scored the go-ahead goal in the third and added an empty-netter.

    After Casey DeSmith replaced Jarry in net following Kreider’s goal, Trouba beat the replacement with a sharp-angle shot at 8:39 for his eighth to increase the margin to 5-0. Trouba has points in six of his last eight games.

    Panarin scored again at 16:38 of the second – his 22nd goal of the season – to make it 6-0, with assists to Kane and Filip Chytil.

    “We’re building chemistry, building every day and every game,” Kane said.

    Panarin has points in eight of his last 10 games and leads the Rangers with 77 points overall, while Kane has seven points in his last six games.

    “It’s nice to see that many great players on your team,” added Panarin, whose first two NHL seasons were played alongside Kane with the Chicago Blackhawks. “We’re happy tonight.”

    Zibanejad assisted on goals by Tarasenko and Trouba and has 25 points – including 14 goals – over his last 20 games.

    “It was just one of those nights when the puck goes in for us,” Zibanejad said. “And obviously Igor gives us a boost making all those saves.”

    NOTES: The Penguins were missing defenseman Jeff Petry after he was hit with an unpenalized elbow from Rangers forward Tyler Motte on Thursday. … Pittsburgh also scratched defenseman Jan Rutta and forward Dalton Heinen and played defenseman Mark Friedman for the first time since Feb. 11. … The Rangers were without injured defenseman Ryan Lindgren for the 10th straight game.


    Penguins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Monday.

    Rangers: Host the Nashville Predators on Sunday night.

    Coyotes sign Shane Doan’s son to entry-level contract

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    TEMPE, Ariz. — Josh Doan is following his father’s footsteps into professional hockey.

    The Arizona Coyotes signed the 21-year-old forward to a three-year entry-level contract, beginning with the 2023-24 NHL season. He will report to the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL and play his first game against the Calgary Wranglers.

    Doan’s father, Shane, played 21 seasons with the franchise, many of those as captain, and followed it from Winnipeg to the desert in 1996. Shane Doan now serves as Arizona’s chief hockey development officer.

    The Coyotes drafted Josh Doan in the second round of the 2021, but he opted to play for the hometown Arizona State Sun Devils.

    Josh Doan set school records for goals (12) and assists (25) as a freshman last season. He had 16 goals and 22 assists in 39 games with Arizona State this season.

    The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder also played two seasons for the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

    Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman has shoulder surgery

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    CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks forward Cole Guttman had surgery on his right shoulder.

    The team said the operation was performed in Los Angeles. Team physician Michael Terry said the 23-year-old Guttman is expected “to be out of hockey activities for approximately four months.”

    Guttman had been a pleasant surprise for rebuilding Chicago. He made his NHL debut last month and finished the season with four goals and two assists in 14 games.

    Guttman was selected by Tampa Bay in the 2017 draft. He agreed to a two-year contract with Chicago in August 2022 that had a $950,000 salary cap hit.