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Photo Credit: NHL Rumors

Preview: Golden Knights vs Stars – 3rd Round – Game 4

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Tonight, the Vegas Golden Knights will try to even up the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars. VGK dropped a tough one in overtime on Thursday evening. Saturday’s game four is not entirely a “must-win” game, but it is close.

 

 

VGK vs Stars
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

 

Perhaps the biggest news of Friday was chatter of Robin Lehner having reached an agreement of sorts to stay with VGK long-term. The deal is estimated for five years at five million dollars per. What does that do to the VGK roster in the future? The salary cap is calculated to stay at $81.5M for the next two years. VGK is right around $76.5M in cap space spent, which leaves roughly $4.9M to work with.

 

 

Going into 2020-2021, the following players are unrestricted free agents: Tomas Nosek, Jon Merrill, Deryk Engelland, and Robin Lehner. Nick Cousins and Chandler Stephenson are restricted free agents. Marc-Andre Fleury is under contract through the 2022 campaign with a cap hit of $7M per. Is there a path for Fleury and Lehner to co-exist on the same roster while having a Stanley Cup contending team? That is highly unlikely unless VGK catches lightning in a bottle with their American Hockey League players.

Getting Fleury off the books would be paramount for VGK to have a competitive team. If the team can move Fleury, that would leave approximately seven million dollars to sign Cousins and Stephenson. They had a combined cap hit of $2.05M this season. I do not see VGK making an offer to Nosek and MerrillEngelland probably retires.

Back to Fleury, it would probably take some magic to move him while having another team take on his full contract. According to “cap friendly,” a maximum of 15% of a player’s contract can be retained. I do not see any buyers out there for a thirty-five-year-old goalie at six million dollars per year, especially one that has been benched multiple times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs throughout his career.

My feeling is that any trades involving Fleury also involve VGK taking on a bad contract. There are plenty of clubs out there in need of goaltending help, and Fleury has curb-appeal. Hopefully, that curb-appeal can lead to a team taking on his full contract while sending a couple of sweeteners in a trade.

 

Ok, back to the current season.

 

VGK vs Stars
Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

 

Lehner was a bit down on himself for the second Stars goal that Jaime Benn scored on Thursday night. Benn was able to beat Lehner five-hole from the left circle on a semi-breakaway. Lehner was in good position to make the save and moved very slightly to his right, which left a small opening for the puck to sneak through. I do not believe there will be much discussion about the game four starter. Expect Lehner to get the net in all crucial games for VGK.

 

 

Will we see Fleury again in the Western Conference Finals? I do not think so. Unless Lehner has an injury or shows fatigue, Fleury’s next action will (hopefully) be in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Tomas Nosek is doubtful for Saturday’s game per Coach Pete DeBoer. Nosek had what appeared to be an honest collision with a player from the Stars. Cousins almost certainly will draw back into the lineup. I expect that Cousins will slot into Nosek’s spot on line four. Maybe Saturday will be the triumphant return of the “Meatgrinders” line we heard so much about during training camp 2.0?

 

 

Reilly Smith has not logged a point in the Western Conference Finals. He has had several chances and usually is one of our best finishers. I am picking Reilly Smith to get two points or more in game four. In a game with this much importance, our best needs to be our best.

 

 

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars series and T.V. schedule:

 

Game 1 – Stars 1, VGK 0

Game 2 – VGK 3, Stars 0

Game 3- Stars 3, VGK 2 (OT)

Game 4 – Saturday – 5 p.m.  (NBC)

Game 5 – Sept. 14 – 5 p.m.  (NBCSN)

*Game 6 – Sept. 16 – 5 p.m.  (NBCSN)

*Game 7 – Sept. 18 – 6 p.m.  (NBCSN)

*If necessary

 

 

The Golden Knights magic number to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup remains at 7!

 

GO KNIGHTS, GO!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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