The Vegas Golden Knights are staying in-house to replace injured starting goaltender Robin Lehner, who will miss the 2022-23 NHL season for double hip surgery.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon said Vegas will have a goaltending tandem of eight-year NHL veteran Laurent Brossoit plus Logan Thompson, who has played in 20 NHL career games.
“Laurent is a proven NHL goaltender that’s enjoyed a good career. In Logan Thompson, I think we’re all excited and intrigued by his talent, his upside and his competitiveness,” McCrimmon said.
They’ll be tasked with replacing Lehner, who was handed the crease last season when the Golden Knights traded Marc-Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. Lehner went 23-17-2 with a .907 save percentage in 44 games, but a shoulder injury prevented him from finishing the season.
McCrimmon said that Lehner had shoulder surgery as the season ended and then stayed in Las Vegas during the early stages of his injury rehab. About a month later, Lehner returned to Sweden and noticed he was having trouble with his hips. In the last week of July, Lehner came back to Las Vegas, where he had MRIs performed and analyzed by team doctors. He then saw specialists in Nashville, and the consensus opinion was that Lehner needed double hip surgery.
“The doctors really felt that he wouldn’t be able to get through a season,” McCrimmon said.
It was announced last month that Lehner would miss the entire 2022-23 season. He already has had one of his hips operated on, but there’s a 10-week lag between the procedures.
McCrimmon said the timing of that surgery “took away the possibility of being involved in free agency or, in a lot of respects, the trade market” to find goaltending help.
“I think that everybody expected us to find a goalie. Internally, we liked these two guys,” McCrimmon said. “We had a lot of conversations with our goalie coach, Sean Burke, and head coach Bruce Cassidy. I think these two [goalies] have earned that opportunity.”
Brossoit, who is 29 and joined the Knights last season as Lehner’s backup after the team traded Fleury, appeared in 24 games and posted a 10-9-3 record with an .895 save percentage. He is also recovering from hip surgery in May.
McCrimmon said that Brossoit’s rehab is “going really well” but that “I can’t tell you that he’ll for sure be ready for opening day.”
If not, the Golden Knights also have journeyman Michael Hutchinson in their system.
Thompson, 26, appeared in 19 games last season and posted a 10-5-3 record with a .914 save percentage. He was outstanding down the stretch for Vegas, going 7-1-3 after injuries forced him into a starting goaltender role.
The Golden Knights missed the playoffs by just three points, marking the first time the franchise failed to make the postseason since entering the NHL in 2017-18. They fired coach Peter DeBoer and hired Cassidy, who had been the head coach of the Boston Bruins.