The far right corner of the Golden Knights’ locker room at City National Arena, closest to the team showers and the training hall, had only one occupant in the first four seasons of the season. ‘team.
This place is now up for grabs. Goalkeeper Marc-André Fleury is no longer with the Knights after an offseason trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, and his absence will be felt early in training camp on Wednesday.
“(Fleury) has been the heart and soul of our team and our organization,” left winger Jonathan Marchessault said on Monday at the team’s annual charity golf tournament at Bear’s Best Las Vegas. “It’s going to be different, but it shows how unstable the hockey world is. No one is safe there. You need to be on your guard and give your best every night.
The Knights left Fleury this offseason after winning the NHL’s Vézina Trophy for the league’s best goaltender. The 36-year-old has shown he still has a lot of hockey in him, but the team already has a younger, cheaper option on Robin Lehner’s roster.
The 30-year-old is no slouch himself and was Vézina’s finalist in 2019. Lehner teamed up with Fleury last season to win the Jennings Trophy for the lowest goals against for the second time in his career. .
“Robin is obviously a great goalie, a great person and a great teammate,” said defenseman Brayden McNabb. “We are lucky to have him. We have all the confidence in the world in him.
The Knights have decided the time has come this summer to hand their net over to Lehner and trade Fleury, who is under contract for one more season with a cap of $ 7 million. This has allowed the team to bring in right winger Evgenii Dadonov, a goalscorer who will look to bolster an attack that has faltered in the last two playoffs.
The compromise is the hole left in the fold and the locker room. The Knights have never started a season without Fleury. Wednesday, they will find out what it is.
“I feel very lucky (to have been able to) play with him for the little I did,” said defenseman Nic Hague. “He’s a guy that I grew up watching him win his cups. Just a good guy. He always had a smile on his face. He loves what he does. It will definitely be a little different not having him with him.
McNabb was shown on the Allegiant Stadium video panel with teammates Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone and Shea Theodore in the Raiders’ win over the Ravens on September 13. He said he would be at other football games before, including a Super Bowl, but the atmosphere that day was different.
“It was definitely my favorite game and experience by far,” McNabb said. “It was a great game. It made me a Raiders fan so that’s the best part.
Marchessault said it would be “a little odd” to host another franchise expansion in the NHL this season in Seattle, four years after the Knights’ debut. He added that he looks forward to the opener against the Kraken on October 12 at T-Mobile Arena, which will air on ESPN.
“I’m just looking at their roster, and it’s like us the first year,” Marchessault said. “You cannot not be ready for them because they will be ready. They will work and that’s what (we did) the first year. We took a lot of teams by surprise.