Sportsbooks had mixed reactions Thursday when the Golden Knights announced that goaltender Robin Lehner is expected to miss the 2022-23 season because he needs hip surgery.
The Knights’ odds to win the Stanley Cup shot from 12-1 to 18-1 at Station Casinos and might go higher, Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. But their price stayed the same at the Westgate SuperBook and Circa Sports, which already had the highest odds in the valley on the Knights at 20-1.
“This team’s a good team. It’s just not a great team,” Circa sportsbook manager Jeff Davis said. “As they stand today, the Golden Knights would be a favorite to make the playoffs. But if they face any adversity or injuries, that wouldn’t be the case.”
The Knights remained 14-1 at the Westgate.
“We were thinking of lowering their odds, as they now have improvement options with added cap space,” SuperBook vice president of risk Jeff Sherman said.
With Lehner out and veteran Laurent Brossoit recovering from offseason hip surgery, Davis said he expects Logan Thompson to carry a heavy early-season workload for the Knights.
“Lehner is better than Thompson, just from the perspective that Thompson has played only 20 NHL games, so we don’t know how he’ll handle the workload if Brossoit is still hurt,” Davis said. “If Brossoit misses a couple months, Thompson will play every single night outside of a back to back.”
Thompson, 25, went 10-5-3 for the Knights last season with a .914 save percentage and 2.68 goals-against average.
“It hurts their goaltending depth, but come early spring, Thompson and Lehner could be very comparable,” Davis said. “He (Thompson) has a long way to go to prove that. But given what he’s done at the professional level, in both the AHL and NHL, he hasn’t given me reason to believe he couldn’t be a good NHL goalie.”
Davis considers Brossoit an average backup goalie. But he said the Knights might be in trouble if they’re forced to give journeyman netminder Michael Hutchinson substantial playing time.
“When he was with Toronto for a few years, if he was in net as a backup, you would run to bet the opponent and the over because the number was going to fly,” Davis said.
Davis said the reason Circa had the highest price on the Knights was twofold.
“One, because they’ve kind of gone after every big name that becomes available and sign them to big money. That creates a cap crunch and makes building depth very difficult,” he said. “The top half of the forward group is really good. The bottom half not so much, so you have guys who are fringe NHLers playing close to meaningful minutes some nights.
“It’s a combination of that and the Pacific Division is really good. I think Edmonton is the second-best team in the Western Conference. Calgary is one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Kings made the playoffs and are full of young talent. And Vancouver isn’t out of the mix as a playoff team.”
The Knights are the 9-1 third pick at Circa to win the Western Conference behind the Colorado Avalanche (+205) and Edmonton (+535). The Knights are the 4-1 third choice at Station to win the Pacific Division behind the Oilers (+180) and the Flames (2-1).
The wild card for the Knights might be coach Bruce Cassidy, who replaced Pete DeBoer.
“He’s a very defense-first coach. That should help Thompson,” Davis said. “That’s the biggest strength of the Golden Knights. They’re pretty deep defensively.”
Stanley Cup odds
At Circa Sports
Up to 40-1
Maple Leafs +850
Golden Knights 20-1