Note: This article features transactions directly related to the acquisition of all players who appeared in at least one game during the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup run or who played in at least 35 games during the 2022-23 regular season.
The Vegas Golden Knights are just six days removed from hoisting the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. After last Tuesday’s 9-3 rout against the Florida Panthers, the Golden Knights are champions of the National Hockey League.
But it took a lot to get to this point.
The Golden Knights have been the most aggressive organization in the NHL over the last six seasons. At times, Vegas’ actions were ruthless, including the handling of the Marc-Andre Fleury debacle that resulted in his contract getting moved to Chicago without so much as a heads up.
Max Pacioretty also was a victim of a harsh cap dump one year later, and the cancelled Evgenii Dadonov trade was yet another example of Vegas’ unorthodox navigation of the murky waters of salary cap hell.
But less than a week ago, the Golden Knights reached the end goal; all the moves that were made over the last six-plus years with the sole purpose of building a championship roster ultimately paid off.
The price of winning is a hefty one, and it has seen the Golden Knights deplete their resources to acquire bigger and better assets.
For example, of the six players the Golden Knights have drafted in the first round in the last six years, five have been traded, including all three from Vegas’ first draft: Cody Glass (No. 6), Nick Suzuki (No. 13) and Erik Brannstrom (No. 15). Brendan Brisson (No. 29 overall in 2020) is the only first-round draft pick the Golden Knights have not dealt.
But six of the original Golden Misfits from the inaugural roster remain, and many other players can be traced back to the 2017 expansion draft that laid the foundation for the team that eventually went on to claim the all-elusive win No. 16 of the postseason.
The path to victory is a long and windy road, but here’s a breakdown – in chronological order – of how Vegas acquired and retained each piece of the roster that won the 2023 Stanley Cup.
Vegas expansion draft: June 21, 2017
William Carrier – Expansion selection (Buffalo)
The fifth player announced in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft was William Carrier, who was the Golden Knights’ selection from the Buffalo Sabres. The Golden Knights received a 2017 sixth-round pick from Buffalo in order to select Carrier. Vegas used that sixth-round pick to draft goaltender Jiri Patera (No. 161 overall), who won both of his starts for the Golden Knights this past season.
Carrier played a significant role in Vegas’ 2023 playoff run as part of a ferocious and productive fourth line. That line set the tone early in Game 6 against Dallas, and Carrier’s game-winner opened the scoring in the series-clincher that helped Vegas return to the Stanley Cup Final.
William Carrier has the Golden Knights on the board in Game 6! 🕺 pic.twitter.com/VOhzOsVaHW
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 30, 2023
Carrier signed a two-year, $1.45 million contract (AAV: $725,000) in July 2018 and is entering the final year of a four-year, $5.6 million deal (AAV: $1.4 million).
Jonathan Marchessault – Expansion selection (Florida)
The Golden Knights picked up the eventual-Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Marchessault in the expansion draft; he was the selection from the Florida Panthers, the same team he and the Golden Knights knocked off in five games last week. The Misfit Line mainstay finished tied for first in goals (13) and second in points (25) in this year’s playoff run and was excellent on Vegas’ top line with Jack Eichel and Ivan Barbashev.
Marchessault signed a six-year, $30 million extension in January 2018; he will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Reilly Smith – Trade: Expansion draft (Florida)
As part of a compensation package to entice Vegas to use its expansion draft selection on Marchessault, the Panthers traded winger Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights in exchange for a 2018 fourth-round pick (No. 123). In other words, the final deal was Marchessault and Smith for a fourth-round pick.
In a twist of fate, it was Smith who scored last week’s game-winning goal in the Cup-clinching game against the same Panthers team that gave him away. Smith recorded 14 points in 22 games during Vegas’ postseason run.
— Jillian Wagner (@JillianSydney) June 14, 2023
Smith signed a three-year, $15 million extension last summer; he is signed through 2024-25.
Brayden McNabb – Expansion selection (Los Angeles)
McNabb was the ninth selection to be announced in the expansion draft and was in the audience that night; in fact, he was the first player to appear on stage in a Golden Knights jersey. McNabb tallied four assists in 21 games in this year’s postseason and finished third on the team with 54 blocks.
McNabb signed a four-year, $10 million deal (AAV: $2.5 million) on November 29, 2017 and re-upped for three years at $2.85 million last January. He is signed through 2024-25.
William Karlsson – Expansion selection (Columbus)
William Karlsson played an integral role for Vegas during its Stanley Cup run as arguably the best player on the team through the first three rounds. He finished the playoffs with 11 goals, including the game-winner in Game 4 against the Panthers, and was instrumental in shutting down the opposition’s best players throughout the postseason.
IT'S A *WILD* SATURDAY KNIGHT!!! 🤠 pic.twitter.com/7YXfsz3J0N
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 11, 2023
To ensure that the Golden Knights would select Karlsson in the expansion draft, the Blue Jackets sent Vegas a 2017 first-round pick (No. 24) along with a 2019 second-round pick (No. 50); in exchange, the Golden Knights also took on the contract of David Clarkson, which carried an AAV of $5.25 million.
The Golden Knights flipped that 2017 first-round pick (No. 24) to Winnipeg and agreed to select forward Chris Thorburn (a pending unrestricted free agent) in exchange for the Jets’ 2017 first-round pick (No. 13) and a 2019 third-round pick (No. 82).
That No. 13 overall pick from Winnipeg was used by Vegas to draft Suzuki, who was then used in the Pacioretty trade. The Golden Knights traded the 2019 third-round pick (No. 82) along with a 2019 second-round pick (No. 48) to San Jose in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 41), which they used to draft defenseman Kaedan Korczak.
At the end of Karlsson’s breakout season in the inaugural campaign, he signed a one-year, $5.25 million contract. The following summer (June 24, 2019), he signed an eight-year deal carrying an AAV of $5.9 million; he is signed through the end of 2026-27.
Shea Theodore – Trade: Expansion draft (Anaheim)
The Anaheim Ducks traded Shea Theodore to Vegas in exchange for expansion draft considerations (i.e., so Vegas would select defenseman Clayton Stoner). This was one of the Golden Knights’ biggest coups in the expansion draft, as Theodore turned out to be a No. 1 defenseman and a key piece of Vegas’ blue line.
Theodore struggled to find his offensive game in this year’s postseason but scored a dazzling goal at an opportune time in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He led the Vegas blue line with 13 points in the playoffs.
WOW THEO JUST WOW 🥵 pic.twitter.com/rXO1o4HZUg
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 4, 2023
Theodore agreed to terms on a seven-year extension back in 2018 that has him locked up through the end of next season at an AAV of $5.2 million.
Other player acquisitions
Keegan Kolesar – Trade: Columbus (June 24, 2017)
As part of the expansion-draft trade with Tampa Bay that sent Nikita Gusev to the Golden Knights, Vegas also acquired the Lightning’s 2017 second-round pick (No. 45) and Pittsburgh’s 2018 fourth-round pick. The Golden Knights used the 2017 second-round pick (No. 45) from the Bolts to acquire Keegan Kolesar from Columbus.
Kolesar scored a goal and an assist in Game 6 against Dallas and finished the postseason with two goals and five points in 22 games.
a key goal!!! 🔑 pic.twitter.com/40pUO7a6ch
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 30, 2023
He led the team with 79 hits, including the check on Matthew Tkachuk that effectively knocked him out of the series.
Kolesar has signed two contracts since arriving in Vegas; the first (Oct. 19, 2020) was a two-year, $1.45 million deal, and the second (Aug. 5, 2022) carried an AAV of $1.4 million; he is signed through the end of 2024-25.
Nicolas Hague – Draft: 2017 second round (No. 34 overall)
Nicolas Hague was the fourth draft selection in Golden Knights franchise history and was the only drafted player in the Golden Knights’ lineup in the Stanley Cup Final. Hague and Zach Whitecloud teamed up as a stellar “third pairing” for the Golden Knights that outperformed that designation by miles.
Hague remained cool, calm and collected throughout several physical series and even laughed after getting sucker-punched on multiple occasions. That attitude reflected Vegas’ focus and mental fortitude as a powerhouse on its way to Stanley Cup glory.
Hague just straight up laughing right in Domi’s face while he throws a tantrum lmao pic.twitter.com/e5qJ9lj1ic
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 24, 2023
Hague chased Stuart Skinner in Game 5 against the Oilers with a Haguerbomb from the point.
But most notably, he scored Vegas’ second goal in the first period of Game 5 against the Panthers, finding twine less than two minutes after Mark Stone gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
WHAT A START FOR VEGAS 😱 pic.twitter.com/uuXvlzgBG9
— NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) June 14, 2023
Hague tallied three points in the final two games of the Florida series and finished the playoffs with two goals and six points in 22 games.
He signed a three-year, $2.775 million contract in 2017 and is in the second year of a three-year deal that carries a $2,294,150 cap hit.
Zach Whitecloud – Signing: Free agency (March 8, 2018)
Whitecloud was signed as a free agent out of college in 2018 (AAV: $1,491,667), signed on for two more years at $725,000 in 2020 and most recently signed a six-year, $16.5 million extension that has him locked up through the end of 2027-28 at an AAV of $2.75 million. After his performance in this year’s postseason, that contract is looking more and more like an absolute steal.
Whitecloud and Hague played a crucial role as a dynamic duo, taking on tough defensive minutes, contributing offensively and thriving in all situations. In 320:49 of 5-on-5 ice time, the two were on the ice for 20 goals for and just eight against in the playoffs, including a 10-3 edge in high-danger goals.
Whitecloud scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 against the Panthers.
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 4, 2023
Paul Cotter – Draft: 2018 fourth round (No. 115 overall)
As part of the Gusev trade with Tampa Bay, the Golden Knights received Pittsburgh’s 2018 fourth-round pick. The Golden Knights used that fourth-round selection (No. 115 overall) to draft Paul Cotter in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Though Cotter did not play in this year’s Cup run, he played in 55 games during the regular season, scoring 13 goals and 18 points as a versatile option up front for head coach Bruce Cassidy. He had a particularly memorable performance against Boston when Eichel was out of the lineup, scoring two goals as part of the top line with Chandler Stephenson. The Golden Knights handed the Bruins their first home loss of the season in Cassidy’s first game back in Boston.
first shot in his first game on the first line 🎯 pic.twitter.com/JtayatL2zP
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 6, 2022
Cotter is entering the first year of a three-year deal that carries an AAV of $775,000.
Mark Stone – Trade: Ottawa (Feb. 25, 2019)
One of the biggest transactions in Golden Knights history was the acquisition of Stone from the Ottawa Senators at the 2019 trade deadline. The deal involved Vegas landing Stone (who later signed an eight-year, $76 million extension on March 8, 2019) as well as forward Tobias Lindberg for forward Oscar Lindberg – Vegas’ expansion draft selection from the New York Rangers – along with defensive prospect Brannstrom and a 2020 second-round draft pick (No. 61).
That 2020 second-round pick was acquired in a post-expansion-draft trade with the Dallas Stars that sent defenseman Marc Methot (originally Vegas’ selection from Ottawa, ironically) to the Stars in exchange for goaltender Dylan Ferguson and the No. 61 pick.
Brannstrom was the third player Vegas selected in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He went 15th overall and was considered a top defensive prospect at the time of the Stone trade, though he has yet to live up to the initial projections.
Stone became the first captain in franchise history. His return to the lineup after missing the final 39 games of the regular season following his second back surgery in under a year provided a considerable boost to the team; starting in Game 2 against Winnipeg, Stone played a pivotal role for the Golden Knights in their Cup run.
He scored a hat trick in the Cup-clinching game against Florida and finished the postseason with 11 goals and 24 points.
THIS IS WHY HE WEARS THE C!!!!!!!!!!!! 😤 pic.twitter.com/SrZPpbvIOr
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 14, 2023
Nicolas Roy – Trade: Carolina (June 27, 2019)
The Golden Knights acquired Roy as part of the Erik Haula trade in the summer of 2019. Roy was coming off an impressive performance in the Calder Cup Playoffs and was expected to provide depth at the center position. He was somewhat of a throw-in in the deal, but he quickly became much more. Roy finished the 2023 postseason with three goals and career-bests in assists (eight) and points (11).
ROY, YOU KING! 👑 pic.twitter.com/p2JtIQk4fO
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 6, 2023
The rest of the Haula trade involved a conditional 2021 fifth-round pick (No. 155 overall), which Vegas later traded to Detroit to move up 53 spots in the 2021 draft; the Golden Knights used that pick (No. 102) to draft Jakub Brabenec.
Roy signed a five-year, $15 million extension in August 2022 and is signed through the end of 2026-27.
Brayden Pachal – Signing: Free agency (Sept. 20, 2019)
Defenseman Brayden Pachal was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and later named captain of the Henderson Silver Knights in January, 2022. In 10 games with the Golden Knights this season, Pachal recorded two assists. He played in Game 5 against Winnipeg, logging 11:45.
Pachal is a pending restricted free agent after his one-year, $750,000 deal expired at the end of this season. Before that, he signed a three-year, $2.295 million (AAV: $765,000) deal in 2019.
Chandler Stephenson – Trade: Washington (Dec. 3, 2019)
What could be considered the best trade in Golden Knights history was the one that landed Stephenson in exchange for a measly 2021 fifth-round pick (No. 158 overall). At the time, the Capitals had a surplus of players and made the mistake (or, in Vegas’ case, the favorable decision) of forwarding Stephenson. Stephenson was originally drafted by George McPhee and instantly became a top-six star for the Golden Knights. He finished fourth on the team with 10 goals and 20 points in the Cup run, which included a two-goal performance in Game 4 against the Panthers.
Stevie makes it look easy 👏 pic.twitter.com/ilV73ttoN9
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 11, 2023
Stephenson scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game 2 against Dallas and recorded multi-point efforts in four of five games against the Jets, including two goals in the Game 5 win that helped Vegas advance to the second round.
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 21, 2023
Stephenson signed a team-friendly four-year, $11 million contract (AAV: $2.75 million) in 2020 that will expire at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.
Alec Martinez – Trade: Los Angeles (Feb. 19, 2020)
Prior to the 2020 trade deadline, the Golden Knights moved two second-round picks – No. 60 overall in 2020 and No. 49 in 2021 – to Los Angeles in exchange for defenseman Alec Martinez. Martinez scored a critical goal in Game 5 against the Panthers to cap off arguably the best shift in Golden Knights history.
ALEC MARTINEZ IS JUST INSANE IN THE PLAYOFFS 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bwpp94hQLK
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 14, 2023
He leads all active defensemen in goals in the Stanley Cup Final and has been a rock-solid shot-blocking machine for the Golden Knights. He led the NHL with 244 blocks in the regular season and was first in the category in the playoffs with 57.
The Golden Knights signed Martinez to a three-year, $15.75 million contract (AAV: $5.25 million) on July 28, 2021; it will expire at the end of next season.
Logan Thompson – Signing: Free agency (July 13, 2020)
Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon coached Logan Thompson for two seasons when he played for the Brandon Wheat Kings, which ultimately led to their reunion in Vegas. Thompson went 21-13-3 with a 2.65 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts during 2022-23 but saw his first season as the No. 1 goalie cut short due to injuries. He may not have helped the Golden Knights during their Stanley Cup run, but he was excellent during the regular season, which earned him his first trip to the NHL All-Star Game.
Thompson is in his second contract with Vegas, which carries a $766,667 cap hit through the end of 2024-25.
Alex Pietrangelo – Signing: Free agency (Oct. 12, 2020)
The Golden Knights made a major splash when they landed the top free-agent defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo in the 2020 offseason, signing the Stanley Cup champion and former Blues captain to a seven-year, $61.6 million (AAV: $8.8 million) deal to stabilize Vegas’ back end. The Golden Knights had to move the contracts of Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt to accommodate the move, but it proved to be an essential factor in Vegas winning the Stanley Cup.
Pietrangelo didn’t have a truly standout performance because the blue line was solid as a group, though he did finish second among Vegas defensemen with one goal and 10 points (trailing Theodore by three points). He missed Game 5 of the Edmonton series after getting a one-game suspension for a two-hand chop on Leon Draisaitl but led all Vegas skaters in average ice time (23:25) and led the back end in shots (44) and power-play points (3). He finished second on the team in blocks (55) and was a key leader on and off the ice.
His goal shortly after the expiration of a power play in the second period of Game 3 against the Stars silenced the crowd and solidified Vegas’ stranglehold on that series.
THIS IS ***4*** YOU, VEGAS!!! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/EpmjA22UZV
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 24, 2023
Brett Howden – Trade: New York Rangers (July 17, 2021)
The Golden Knights traded Nick DeSimone – acquired in the three-way trade with Chicago and San Jose that brought Mattias Janmark to Vegas – as well as a 2022 fourth-round pick (No. 111) to the Rangers for forward Brett Howden. Howden skated with Stephenson and Stone for the majority of the postseason; he scored five goals and 10 points in 22 games, including the overtime game-winning goal in Game 1 against Dallas.
Wasted no time on tonight's overtime winner. 😅
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 20, 2023
Howden recorded two goals and four points in five games against Florida, including two goals in Game 2. Though Stone made the exceptional play, it was a gorgeous finish by Howden to give Vegas a 4-0 lead and chase Sergei Bobrovsky.
Mark freakin' Stone. What a play. pic.twitter.com/j8EBVOaPCZ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 6, 2023
Howden signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal last offseason; he will be a restricted free agent once again this summer.
Laurent Brossoit – Signing: Free agency (July 28, 2021)
On the first day of free agency in 2021 – one day after the Golden Knights jettisoned Fleury and his $7 million cap hit to the Blackhawks – Vegas made two quick moves that, ironically, erased that cap space almost immediately. One was acquiring Dadonov from Ottawa; the other was signing goaltender Laurent Brossoit, who was brought in to serve as Robin Lehner’s backup.
Brossoit agreed to terms on a two-year, $4.65 million contract (AAV: $2.325 million); he had 82 games of NHL experience with the Jets and Oilers (the two teams he faced in this year’s playoffs), but the signing felt like a bit of an overpay, especially given the severe action taken the day before.
However, two years later, the true irony is just how much that move paid off. Brossoit played a key role for the Golden Knights down the stretch, going 7-0-3 in 10 starts and giving Vegas a chance to win every time he was in net. Statistically, he outperformed all Vegas goaltenders despite the small sample, posting a 2.17 goals-against average and. 927 save percentage. He played very well in the Golden Knights’ first-round comeback against the Jets, where he won four straight games. He then won his fifth consecutive contest to help Vegas take a 1-0 lead against the Oilers despite Draisaitl’s four-goal outburst.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) April 28, 2023
But Brossoit suffered an injury in Game 3 that knocked him out of the playoffs.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) May 9, 2023
In the end, he finished the postseason with a 5-2 record; his 3.18 goals-against average and .894 save percentage don’t tell the whole story, as he gave up nine goals in the first two games of the Edmonton series alone. It was before Vegas had adjusted to the Oilers’ power play, as six of those nine goals were scored on special teams.
But Brossoit played very well despite being just a “backup” and was a pleasant surprise at the end of the regular season, ultimately winning the starter’s gig over Jonathan Quick.
Ben Hutton – Signing: Free agency (Oct. 28, 2021)
Ben Hutton was signed to a one-year, $750,000 contract in 2021 and signed a two-year extension March 5, 2022. Hutton has played 89 games with the Golden Knights over the last two seasons, scoring six goals and 21 points in that span. He played in Game 5 against Winnipeg as well as in Game 5 against the Oilers, where he filled in for the suspended Pietrangelo. Vegas won both games with Hutton in the lineup.
Michael Amadio – Waivers: Toronto (Oct. 30, 2021)
The Golden Knights claimed Michael Amadio off waivers from Toronto in 2021. Prior to his time in Vegas, Amadio had 16 career goals in 176 games; in 2022-23 alone, he scored 16 in 67 games and has recorded a total of 27 goals and 45 points in 120 regular-season games with the Golden Knights. He scored five goals and 10 points in 16 postseason games this year, including the game-winning goal in double overtime in Game 3 of the Winnipeg series, which proved to be a critical win in Vegas’ run.
IT'S ALL OVER‼️
— NHL (@NHL) April 22, 2023
The Golden Knights signed Amadio to a two-year deal carrying an AAV of $762,500 through the end of 2023-24.
Jack Eichel – Trade: Buffalo (Nov. 4, 2021)
In one of the biggest blockbuster trades in recent memory, the Golden Knights swung for the fences and acquired the former second overall pick and superstar center from the Buffalo Sabres. It was a complicated trade, particularly given Eichel’s $10 million cap hit, but the move landed Vegas its first legitimate No. 1 center and played a monumental role in helping the Golden Knights lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Eichel was forced out of Buffalo but seemed to adopt the Misfit identity in Vegas. In his first full season with the Golden Knights, Eichel led the team in goals (27) and points (66), recording 66 points in 67 games and finishing the regular season on a nine-game point streak (1-11–12).
To land a player of Eichel’s caliber, the Golden Knights had to part with some significant assets. This included forwards Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs along with Vegas’ 2021 first-round pick (No. 16 overall) and a conditional 2023 second-round pick (No. 64). In return, the Golden Knights received Eichel as well as a conditional 2023 third-round pick (No. 77). The conditions on both picks protected top-10 selections and therefore didn’t prove to be relevant.
This deal can be traced all the way back to the expansion draft, as Tuch was a gift-wrapped asset from then-Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, who gave the Golden Knights a former first-round pick in Tuch plus a future 29-goal scorer in Haula, who was later part of the trade that brought Roy to the desert. As part of the expansion-draft deal with Minnesota, the Golden Knights agreed to select Haula and gave up a 2018 third-round pick (No. 92) in exchange for Tuch (the No. 18 pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft).
Krebs was Vegas’ first-round selection (No. 17 overall) in 2019.
Though Tuch was fantastic for the Golden Knights over the years (accruing 61 goals and 139 points in 249 games), he never had a stable top-six role behind the Misfit wingers and Stone. Even so, he was a dynamic power forward who appeared to be part of the core of Vegas’ future before being the key piece in the Eichel deal.
Despite losing Tuch, the Golden Knights benefited greatly from the move given Eichel’s staggering performance in this year’s run. One of the highlights of his magnificent playoff run was the pass he made on his first shift after getting rocked by Tkachuk. At the time, the goal stole the momentum back from Florida and helped the Golden Knights take a 2-0 series lead.
you can't stop him, you can only hope to contain him 😤 pic.twitter.com/tWQoSa2j4w
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 6, 2023
Eichel’s play was sensational throughout the playoffs, and he was fully committed to playing a 200-foot game.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) May 4, 2023
His play below the goal line was especially crafty, and he willed his teammates to a comeback in Game 2 against Dallas after the club recorded just 10 shots through 40 minutes.
What a pass from below the goal line from Eichel to Marchessault. This game is tied 2-2 pic.twitter.com/xByduEfDUY
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 21, 2023
He led all Vegas forwards in blocks with 30, 10 more than the second-place Karlsson. The Golden Knights outscored opponents 21-8 with Eichel on the ice, he finished first in the NHL with 26 points in the playoffs and was a true candidate for the Conn Smythe. He tallied three assists in the Cup-clinching game, which was one of three multi-point efforts in the Final for the former Hobey Baker Award winner. Eichel recorded five points in five games against Winnipeg, nine points in six games against Connor McDavid and the Oilers, four points in six games against the Stars and eight points in five games against Florida.
Eichel has never lost a playoff series (4-0).
Phil Kessel – Signing: Free agency (Aug. 24, 2022)
The Golden Knights signed Phil Kessel to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last summer. He was one of three players to play all 82 games in the regular season, and he set the NHL’s ironman streak with his 990th consecutive game on Oct. 25 against San Jose. He scored his 400th career goal that night and chipped in 14 goals and 36 points during the regular season. Kessel tallied two assists in Vegas’ Game 2 win against the Jets but served as a healthy scratch after the first four games of the first-round series. He is now a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
Adin Hill – Trade: San Jose (Aug. 29, 2022)
With the long-term injury to Lehner and Brossoit recovering from offseason surgery, the Golden Knights needed to look elsewhere for a backup. They settled on Adin Hill, whom they acquired for a 2024 fourth-round pick. Though Thompson was the starter, Hill had a fantastic season and obviously stepped up to deliver a masterful run in the playoffs.
Hill finished the postseason with an 11-4 record along with a 2.17 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and two shutouts. He finished first in goals saved above average (12.4) and second behind Bobrovsky with 13.13 goals saved above expected. Hill was in the running for the Conn Smythe, and there’s no way Vegas would have reached the finish line without his extraordinary play.
Hill became the first goalie in NHL history to win 10 playoff games without playing in the first round. His most notable save was the Braden Holtby-esque paddle stop on Nick Cousins in Game 1 of the Final, but he made countless crucial saves to carry Vegas to the Stanley Cup.
😱 ADIN HILL 😱 #StanleyCup
— NHL (@NHL) June 14, 2023
JAWS. ON. THE. FLOOR. ⛰ pic.twitter.com/MorzUPnYa6
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 28, 2023
Ivan Barbashev – Trade: St. Louis (Feb. 26, 2023)
To land Barbashev, the Golden Knights traded prospect Zach Dean to St. Louis; Dean was Vegas’ 2021 first-round draft pick (No. 30).
Barbashev proved to be a perfect acquisition ahead of Vegas’ Cup run. He finished fifth on the team in scoring with 18 points in the postseason, scoring a key goal on the power play after Jamie Benn’s egregious hit on Stone in Game 3 against the Stars.
49 is doin fine 🔥 pic.twitter.com/VO4ayfoOJ5
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 24, 2023
The Golden Knights scored more goals at 5-on-5 with Barbashev on the ice (25) than any other player. He also delivered some massive hits and was exceedingly valuable in Vegas’ deep run.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) June 6, 2023
Teddy Blueger – Trade: Pittsburgh (March 1, 2023)
The Golden Knights acquired Teddy Blueger from the Pittsburgh Penguins to solidify their center depth and add a strong penalty-killer and faceoff specialist for the playoffs. Blueger only played in six postseason games for the Golden Knights but helped Vegas eliminate the Edmonton Oilers and jump out to a 3-0 lead against the Stars. He finished the postseason with a goal and an assist.
Da ba dee da ba di pic.twitter.com/F6w2WpsswD
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 20, 2023
Jonathan Quick – Trade: Columbus (March 2, 2023)
The Golden Knights faced a plethora of injuries in the crease throughout the season, and the circumstances were dire ahead of the trade deadline, prompting McCrimmon to pull the trigger and land Quick.
Quick had been unceremoniously dispatched from the Kings but was rescued by the Golden Knights, who moved goaltender Michael Hutchinson and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Blue Jackets to get the deal done. Columbus retained 50 percent ($2.9 million) of Quick’s cap hit.
Though Quick didn’t actually see any ice time in the playoffs, he served as the backup for most of the run and was another experienced veteran in the locker room. He did play a key role in helping the Golden Knights secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, however. He wrapped up his Vegas stint with a 5-2-2 record along with a 3.13 goals-against average and .901 save percentage as well as one shutout. Considering Vegas won the Pacific Division by one point, the 12 points Quick helped Vegas earn proved to be critical.
Of course, this list doesn’t include all the coaches, staff and other members of the organization that contributed to the Cup run, most notably Cassidy, who was hired on June 14, 2022 and who was absolutely essential to Vegas’ Cup victory.
He was influential from the start, and by the end of the postseason, he had constructed a virtually unbeatable lineup that was firing on all cylinders.
He also understood this team, this city and this franchise, which he demonstrated by starting five original members of the Golden Misfits in Game 5.
Though McCrimmon and McPhee (with the guidance of Bill Foley) built the team, Cassidy made sure the Golden Knights were the last team standing in 2023.
Statistics courtesy of Evolving-Hockey, Natural Stat Trick, Cap Friendly and NHL.com.