Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon went all out on Friday on Stanley Cup Finals media day.
On the eve of the team’s second Stanley Cup Final appearance in five-year history, McCrimmon said the Golden Knights roster today is the best ever.
« No disrespect to the freshman team, but we felt we caught lightning in a bottle, » McCrimmon said. « We think we’ve built our best team. »
The 2022-23 season has been a huge rebound effort for Vegas, which completely missed the playoffs for the first time last year. The Golden Knights won the Pacific Division with a 51-22-9 record, with 111 points and a plus-43 goal differential. Compare that to 2017-18, where Vegas had 109 points and a plus-44 goal differential. So, statistically, the two seasons were extremely close.
But from a roster-building perspective, it’s a very different look for Vegas than when George McPhee ran the show five seasons ago. This team was seen as a bunch of misfits, trying to prove that their former teams made a big mistake by letting them go. They worked hard and although they ultimately lost to Washington, it was a noble effort.
This time around, there’s a bit more high-end talent. The 2018 team was led by 78-point leading scorer William Karlsson and 75-point producer Jonathan Marchessault. They are both still there today and would have been 1-2 again this year. But the current roster includes Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo and Chandler Stephenson, who has emerged so prominently over the past two seasons.
« Our goal is to win, » McCrimmon said. « Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. »
Vegas will open the Stanley Cup Final against Florida on Saturday in Vegas. Regardless of who wins the Cup, it will be their first in franchise history, which will add to the intrigue. That’s exactly how Vegas took on Washington in 2018. But this time around, they’re hoping for a much more positive outcome in their favor.