Make it seven.
After just two and a half years at the helm of arguably the most successful expansion club in sports history, Gerard Gallant is now out of a job. Following a 24-19-6 start to the season, the 56-year-old was unceremoniously fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. Mystifying? Yes. Shocking? Not really, especially in this day and age where bench bosses come and go like hotcakes.
Similar to other squads who’ve made performance-based changes behind the bench this season, the Golden Knights have been plagued by both poor defensive play as well as mediocre goaltending. Heading into Peter DeBoer’s debut on Thursday night, Vegas had surrendered the eighth-most goals (149) in the NHL, a far cry from the back-to-back top-10 showings in year one and two of existence. Known to be a defensive specialist, DeBoer’s system should help clean that part of the game up.
Offensively speaking, the Golden Knights have lacked the depth possessed in previous years, and they currently sit in the middle of the pack in the NHL. Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone have by far been the most consistent contributors to-date. Make no bones about it — this move is a wake-up call for a roster living a real-life fairytale for two years now. With an initial fantasy boost expected, contemplate utilizing some Golden Knights next time you construct your Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool roster.
Depending on your league settings, yes, I’d do it.
For rest-of-season purposes, I like what both Brayden Point and Kyle Connor will bring to the table. You’ll definitely get a shot in the arm depth-wise upfront if you decide to move forward with this move. Because there are very few elite fantasy defenders out there, you can likely get away with plug-and-play options to fill Hedman’s massive void. Come to think of it, I don’t mind this deal either from a keeper-league perspective either. It’s all relative to team needs, of course.
At this point, I don’t even think the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers have that answer for us. There are so many moving parts.
In Washington, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see Ilya Samsonov lead the Capitals into the Stanley Cup playoffs. For me, the Nicklas Backstrom extension put the final nail in the coffin for Braeden Holtby in D.C. They can’t afford him. Regardless of all that, Samsonov has consistently been the better of the two for most of this season. He deserves more playing time. To a degree, this situation draws many similarities to the one in Pittsburgh a couple years back with Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray. It’s quite evident, at least to me, that Samsonov is set to take that No. 1 gig. That said, Holtby does have pride and is still a really good goalie. Expect a response.
In the meantime, the Rangers will be patient. If they don’t find the right deal by the trade deadline, I’m sure they’ll gladly hold onto Alexandar Georgiev. In my honest opinion, Igor Shesterkin won’t be the firm No. 1 there anytime soon.
Samsonov or Jarry?
— Hockey/Everything ™ (@FaceoffDaily) January 14, 2020
Great question. I’ll go with Tristan Jarry. With all due respect to Murray, there’s less resistance behind him. I have more faith in Holtby to rebound than I do in Murray.. We’ll see how it all unfolds.
It’s way too early to predict something like that. I do think the Vancouver Canucks should re-sign Jacob Markstrom, however. Give him whatever he wants, within reason. He’s earned it. If GM Jim Benning feels strong enough about his tandem pairing at the time of the Seattle expansion draft, I’m sure he can work out a protection deal to keep both guys in the fold. Hit me up in a year.
Considering your options, I’d hold onto Jonathan Quick for the time being. Sooner rather than later, he’ll get traded out of Los Angeles. I may be in the minority but, I still think the 33-year-old still has a lot to offer. If you watch a Kings game, they’re horrible defensively. It’s surreal how many high-danger opportunities they surrender per game. The numbers aren’t pretty for the veteran Quick, but what’s in front of him is undoubtedly a big-time contributing factor as to why.
Additionally, I’m not crazy enough about anyone you mentioned to advise moving on from Quick right now. Be patient.
That’s also tough to predict. In recent years, the NHL has become so tandem heavy it’s hard to keep up. But I’ll throw you some options to consider: Corey Crawford (35 per cent), Mike Smith (28 per cent), Aaron Dell (16 per cent) and Juuse Saros (10 per cent). Again, this time of year, every waiver wire goalie will come with flees.
Proceed with caution. Honestly, you’re better off taking a flier on a younger goalie like Saros, Georgiev or Mackenzie Blackwood as opposed to a veteran one.
You’re not serious. For those who are unaware, I’ve had a longstanding rivalry with New York Islanders fans. Great troll job.
Like you, I’m super curious to see where Justin Williams slots in. If anything, this creates internal competition. That’s always good. I’m siding with Erik Haula (contract year) and Martin Necas (rookie breakout) to be the stronger long-term options for the rest of this season.
Also, Williams is 38. He’s missed half of the season. We’ve got to be realistic in what he can offer, right?