Signing A Second Goalie: Finding the Perfect Match with Cap Space in Mind

After an abrupt end to the 2018-2019 hockey season, the Vegas Golden Knights must now turn their attention to the 2019-2020 year and focus on structuring their team. There are quite a few players whose contracts are up, and they are now either unrestricted or restricted free agents. One of those players just so happens to be Golden Knights back-up goalie, Malcolm Subban.

Subban has definitely had some excellent games, such as his first ever career shutout on March 21st against the Winnipeg Jets. He has been there for the Golden Knights in times of need, but do his numbers warrant a possible contract extension?

The 25-year-old Toronto native was a 2012 first round draft pick for the Boston Bruins. For a couple seasons, he was playing with Providence of the American Hockey League. In 127 AHL games, his record was 56-45-19 and he boasted a .918 save percentage. He was certainly a promising prospect.

His first NHL game was played in the 2014-2015 season. He played one game which resulted in a loss, and he only managed to save three of the six shots against him. His save percentage for that season was .500, but remember, he only played one game. We can cut him a little slack there.

He did not see any ice time in the following season, but did return for one game in the 2016-2017 season. In that game, he had saved 13 of the 16 shots against him. Though the game was recorded as a loss, his save percentage jumped to .813. We’re getting there.

Vegas claimed Subban from waivers with hopes he would back up Marc-André Fleury, and he did just that when Fleury fell to a concussion in October 2017. For the season, he would play 22 games and only allow 55 goals from the 614 attempts, putting his save percentage at .910! He would also record 13 wins (his first NHL victory coming against his former team), 4 losses, and 2 overtime losses.

This season, things look only slightly different. Subban played one less game, but the win-loss record changed drastically to 8-10-2. Out of 612 shots, 60 squeaked past him and into the net, bringing his save percentage down to .902.

Several fans were up in arms this season over the decision to play Subban so much. Though his save percentage varied minimally, the fact that his win-loss record fluctuated so much made them weary of his goaltending capabilities. Surely Vegas could have called someone up from the Chicago Wolves, such as Oscar Dansk or Max Lagacé?

They could have, and with Subban being a Restricted Free Agent, they still very well may.

Just for comparison, let’s take a look at these goalies and how they stack up to Subban. First up, 25-year-old Swede Dansk. Since being acquired by Vegas, he’s played a total of four games with the team. But during his time with them, his save percentage was a whopping .946, with a goals against average of 1.78. Now those are numbers we can rally behind!

AP Photo/John Locher

His save percentages with the Chicago Wolves are impressive as well. In 20 games played during the 17-18 season, his goals against average was 2.44, with a save percentage of .918. He’s played 40 games in the 18-19 season so far, and he’s got a percentage of .913. Cooling off a little, but he’s still hot!

Then there’s Canadian Lagacé , who is up for unrestricted free agency himself. After being obtained from the Dallas Stars in the 17-18 season, he played 16 games with the Golden Knights. His numbers aren’t quite as impressive as Dansk’s, as he only managed a .867 save percentage against Dansk’s .946. Perhaps the number of games played is a factor?

Though, he only played one game with Vegas in the 18-19 season. His goals against on that game were four, and his save percentage was .871. We’re going the wrong direction here.

His save percentage for the Chicago Wolves improved, however. In 17-18, he managed a .905 save percentage over 23 games. That increased in 18-19 to .914 with 33 games played.

With these numbers, the Golden Knights do face a conundrum. They need to sign a goalie who can hold his own and be a suitable back up for Vegas’ brick wall Fleury, and there’s only so much salary cap space.

Do they try to pursue something with Subban, who has been with them since the beginning and has come through in a pinch? Maybe they go after Lagacé, who has shown improvement within the last two years in the AHL? What about Dansk, who’s .91 SV% and above could blow even some NHL goalies off the ice? Or…is it possible that the Golden Knights have a completely different goalie in mind?

What do you think? Will it be Subban who stays, will the AHL pups get called to the big league, or should the Golden Knights pursue a different goalie? Give us your thoughts in the comments.

About Crystal Hollibaugh

Crystal Hollibaugh is a Communications Specialist, writer, and blogger who loves feeding waterfowl and painting waterfalls.