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Although they’re only heading into their fourth season as a franchise, a lot has changed for the Vegas Golden Knights and they have come a long way since their arrival to the NHL. Including their remarkable Inaugural Season, which saw them win Division and Conference Championships en route to a disappointing Stanley Cup Finals loss, VGK has made it to the postseason each year and established themselves as one of the top teams in the Western Conference. It was not done without criticism, however, as many top experts remain critical of VGK for not having that one key piece to raise them up to the level they need to be in order to really compete with the League’s top dogs.
One of the biggest, and probably most surprising, changes to come recently was the mid-season firing of head coach Gerard Gallant and hiring of Pacific Division rival San Jose’s former coach, Peter DeBoer. Although the second half of their season was eventually shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coach DeBoer was still able to lead his new team to some relative success by way of another division championship. While they ultimately lost to the Dallas Stars in the Conference Finals, DeBoer was able to quickly implement some new gameplay strategies and earn the confidence and respect of the players and many of the fans.
Following a February trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that saw the departure of back-up goalie Malcom Subban and the arrival of Robin Lehner, many critics immediately stirred up hypothicals surrounding the standing of current starter, Marc-Andre Fleury. As the post-season arrived, many people were concerned with how Coach DeBoer would be able to juggle two superstar goalies, each deserving of ice time. Unfortunately for all parties involved, it wasn’t enough to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals and the Golden Knights were once again let down by their inability to generate effective opportunities coming out of their zone. This led to one of the biggest signings in VGK’s short history: a seven-year deal with All-Star defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo. With Nate Schmidt, who was sent to the Vancouver Canucks, now gone, Pietrangelo will certainly have his work cut out for him as the team looks to him to fill that void.
From goalie drama to coaching troubles to durability, everybody has shared their opinion on what they feel are the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to reach that next tier of greatness. With the (shortened) upcoming season set to begin in just a couple of weeks, we’ll soon find out if any of the changes made in the offseason and leading up to it will enable the Vegas Golden Knights to secure their first Stanley Cup.