Checking In on the Exes

How these former Golden Knights are faring in their new homes

Jun 13, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith (19) hoists the
Jun 13, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith (19) hoists the / Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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This summer, the Vegas Golden Knights seemed committed to keeping the band together, as best they could anyway. They re-signed Ivan Barbashev, Adin Hill, Brett Howden and Pavel Dorofeyev to carry over as much of the nucleus of last season's Stanley Cup-winning roster as possible.

However, given the club's level of success achieved and pre-existing cap concerns, it was never going to be feasible to keep everyone. Most notably, that meant parting ways with Vegas original Reilly Smith, but the club also had to bid farewell to the likes of Laurent Brossoit, Jonathan Quick, Phil Kessel and Teddy Blueger.

At 21-7-5, the Golden Knights haven't exactly suffered in their absence, but it's still worth checking in on how these five men - each of whom now have their name engraved on the Cup - have fared away from Vegas:

Reilly Smith

Ranking third all-time in goals and points and fifth all-time in games played for the franchise, Smith has clearly left his mark on the Golden Knights since being acquired from the Florida Panthers to ensure that Vegas chose Jonathan Marchessault in the Expansion Draft (yes, that really happened).

That value wasn't properly reflected in what was essentially a salary dump trade this past summer, as Smith was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 2024 third-round draft pick. Vegas needed to clear cap room in order to re-sign Barbashev, four years younger and coming off of a stellar postseason.

Reilly Smith, Ivan Barbashev
Reilly Smith and Ivan Barbashev / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Incredibly, Smith and Barbashev have recorded the same middling stats (eight goals and 16 points) thus far to match their identical $5 million cap hits. Barbashev has played in three more games, but Smith is getting roughly 90 more seconds of ice time per game in Pittsburgh.

Laurent Brossoit

Who knows, maybe there's some alternate universe wherein Brossoit doesn't get injured in Game 3 of the club's second round series against Edmonton and goes on to be the playoff hero in net instead of Hill. In real life, however, Brossoit's Golden Knights tenure ended on the sidelines, an unfortunately fitting finish for a player who saw action in just 35 games over two injury-marred seasons.

A free agent this past offseason, Brossoit settled for a one-year, $1 million deal to return to Winnipeg and back up Connor Hellebuyck. The BC native has been solid in his role, sporting a 4-3-1 record with a 2.50 goals against average and a .911 save percentage through eight games thus far.

Phil Kessel

Still a fan favorite as one of the most entertaining personalities in the game, Kessel remains unsigned despite still wishing to play at 36 years of age. In fact, recent reports have suggested that we might see Phil the Thrill get some action in the Swiss league while he works towards an NHL comeback.

If this is the end of the line for Kessel after 1,286 games and 992 points, then he will go out as a champion after earning his third career Cup. However, don't rule out one more chase with a playoff contender who could still use a guy who managed to pot 14 goals in limited duty a year ago.

Jonathan Quick

Who had Quick as the most successful Golden Knights cast-off from a season ago? With no disrespect to the two-time Cup winner and 2012 Conn Smythe Award recipient, few could've anticipated that he would bounce back so well with the New York Rangers after a disastrous 2022-23 season split between the Los Angeles Kings and the Golden Knights (16-15-6 record, 3.41 GAA, .882 SV%).

Jonathan Quick
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Now with the Blueshirts and backing up Igor Shesterkin, Quick looks like a new man. The 37-year-old is currently sporting a 9-0-1 record with a 2.09 GAA and .926 SV%, making good on a bargain $825,000 contract. While he didn't make much of an impact in Vegas (he only saw action in 10 games), Golden Knights fans can take some schaudenfreude-driven joy in knowing that he won just as many Cups with them as with the Kings (one apiece).

Teddy Blueger

It would be hard to blame you if you had forgotten that Blueger was part of last year's Cup-winning Golden Knights squad. The 29-year-old Latvian forward got into just 19 regular season games (four goals, eight points) and just six more in the postseason (one goal, two points). He was basically acquired by Vegas from the Penguins at the trade deadline - ironically for the third-round pick they would regain in the Smith deal - as forward insurance that they ultimately didn't really need.

Credit to Blueger, though, for landing on his feet rather nicely. He stayed in the Pacific Division, landing a one-year, $1.9 million prove-it deal with the rising Vancouver Canucks. Representing the team that currently stands as the Golden Knights' biggest divisional challenger, he has four goals and eight points in 19 games while centering Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland on the third line.

Even with their varying degrees of impact and tenure from their time with the Golden Knights, these five men are all a permanent part of history as members of the franchise's first Cup-winning team.