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Knights mailbag: Who will be the starting goalie in 2025-26?

Updated July 10, 2024 - 11:07 pm

The NHL news cycle is coming to a halt with most free agents of note signed.

The Golden Knights should be quiet for a while after holding their annual Battle 4 Vegas charity softball game against the Raiders at Las Vegas Ballpark on Saturday.

Still, there are questions fans want answers to as they approach the dog days of summer. Here’s a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:

(Send questions via X to @GoldenEdge and @DannyWebster21, or via email to dwebster@reviewjournal.com)

@MrEd315: What might be left for Golden Knights management to address or tweak to this roster this offseason?

Danny Webster: The Knights never truly stop working.

One area where there could still be a move is the blue line. The Knights have eight defensemen with Kaedan Korczak expected to be in the NHL full time. They could stick with that group, which would be one of the NHL’s deepest. Or they could move a defenseman for forward help after all their free-agent departures.

Shea Theodore could be one candidate given he’s entering the final year of his contract and plays on the right side like Korczak. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud, a right shot that was a healthy scratch at times last season, may be another option. But it’s not a given the Knights will do anything given the success both players have had.

@LlloydDobler69: With the opening at first-line right wing, is Nicolas Roy a candidate? Brett Howden can center the fourth line.

Roy is good enough to play higher in the lineup, but moving him off center doesn’t make much sense.

He plays better down the middle than he does on the wing. His presence gives the Knights one of the best collections of centers in the NHL.

Howden can fill in at fourth-line center but he could also start at fourth-line left wing next to Roy and right wing Keegan Kolesar. The competition for the open spot on Roy’s line should be one of the more interesting battles of camp, along with the one for the first-line right wing spot next to center Jack Eichel.

@Fraser_Vees: Who is the starting goalie in 2025-26?

This is a fascinating question for the Knights.

Both of their NHL goalies next season — Adin Hill and Ilya Samsonov — are on expiring deals.

There’s pressure on Hill to prove he can stay healthy over a full campaign. Lower-body injuries have plagued his Knights tenure, even though he played in a career-high 35 games last season. Samsonov needs to prove he can bounce back after a poor showing in Toronto last year.

The Knights will have cap space next summer to use on a goalie of their choosing. But their options might be limited. The ideal scenario would be Hill playing well enough to warrant an extension. Otherwise, the Knights will hope the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin or Ottawa’s Linus Ullmark hit the open market instead of signing deals with their current teams.

@rmccarthyy11: If the goalie situation doesn’t work out, do you think (general manager) Kelly McCrimmon (trades) Hill or Samsonov for a better option?

A deal can’t be ruled out. But an upgrade could be hard to come by.

Ullmark might be available if the Senators struggle. Another option may be Anaheim’s John Gibson, though the Ducks could be reluctant to trade him to a division rival.

The Knights’ best bet is hoping their current duo performs well.

James Arthur: Why should fans feel confident in management after not re-signing any of their free agents?

It’s hard to argue with the Knights’ results the last seven years.

McCrimmon and president of hockey operations George McPhee aren’t perfect. They’ve had moves that haven’t worked out.

But the Knights have the second-most playoff wins (57) in the NHL since their inaugural season. They also won the Stanley Cup a summer ago. They’ve been one of the league’s most successful teams by almost any metric under McCrimmon and McPhee.

The Knights, despite their free-agent departures, should remain one of the best teams in the Western Conference next season. They have question marks and need some young players to take a step forward. But they’ve found ways to stay competitive throughout their history. It’s hard to argue they won’t find a way again.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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