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First of all thanks for the huge response to our request for mailbag questions. These columns only work if we have questions and VGK fans came through with a ton. If you're subscribed to receive texts from the Golden Knights, you had an opportunity to submit questions here.

We picked as many as we could answer and put together this package. Hope you enjoy it.

Fan Question: The uncertainty ahead is well documented, but what can we be excited about looking ahead to next season?
Gary Lawless: Next year’s roster will be of championship caliber and will open the season following a five-month break to get rested and healthy. In the words of GM Kelly McCrimmon, “we’ll be humbled and hungry.”

Fan Question: What is the biggest change or adjustment that needs to happen in the offseason to regain Stanley Cup Championship form?
GL: Health. This team needs to play together consistently to gain chemistry and that requires health. VGK management does everything under its control to ice a contender. Health is the great equalizer and outside of anyone’s control.

Fan Question: As our core team begins to get older, what are the plans for the future development of the team to remain competitive?
GL: The additions of Noah Hanifin and Tomas Hertl at the trade deadline make the core younger and extend the contender window.

Fan Question: How do you see the future of this team given they have traded away many future assets as far as rebuilding for the future?
GL: I find this narrative interesting. The team has an average of 29.3 years which puts them in the middle third of the league. Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, Shea Theodore, Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Nic Roy, Keegan Kolesar, Ivan Barbashev, Brett Howden, Michael Amadio, Paul Cotter, Pavel Dorofeyev, Adin Hll and Logan Thompson are all regulars in their 20s. Vegas has lots of runway with this group and GM Kelly McCrimmon has proven adept at adding players along the way in a variety of ways. Some teams lose on purpose to rebuild. Vegas, as well as teams like Dallas and Boston choose to try and consistently win.

Fan Question: What would you say to those who think that Alex Pietrangelo is declining after a bad playoff series?
GL: I would say he had an organ removed just prior to the playoffs and battled injury all season.

Fan Question: Which Pacific Div. team is our biggest rival now, and which Central Div. team as well?
GL: A smart hockey man always tells me – “every team in the NHL is our rival.”

Fan Question: We all know we are in cap trouble so what is in your honest opinion the best way for the team to remedy this?
GL: This team has aggressively managed the cap, in both the past few flat cap seasons, and it will do so moving forward as the cap escalates.

Fan Question: Any new hockey rules we fans should be aware of?
GL: I would hazard a guess that delay of game via puck over the glass will be getting looked at.

Fan Question: Based on how McCrimmon has been leading the team, do you believe that Vegas will need to go through a rebuild someday? Seems like he is good at identifying when someone should move and the always revolving team makes me wonder if that’s something that will ever even be needed.
GL: I think you answered your own question. They won the Cup last year and this roster is a contender for seasons to come.

Fan Question: Which young gun from the Silver Knights do you think will make the biggest breakthrough for VGK next season?
GL: Opportunity is earned and we’ll see if there are any players ready to make the leap. With that being said Brendan Brisson, Kaedan Korczak and Lukas Cormier would be on a list of possible contributors.

Fan Question: How many players were struggling with injuries during Round 1?
GL: Bruce Cassidy is on the record as saying nine players had surgeries this season which impacted the team all season and into Round 1.

Fan Question: With nearly identical members from the Stanley Cup champions in 2023, is it fair to assume that teams have begun to figure out Vegas' strategy and does that mean VGK needs to transition to a different play style in the next couple years to remain competitive?
GL: No. More teams are trying to emulate how Vegas plays. It’s about execution not style.

Fan Question: Was it the defensive side or offensive side of play that held them back in the first round?
GL: Offensive. They didn’t find their gear.

Fan Question: Given that McCrimmon stated this was the best team we had and yet the team was eliminated first round, do you consider this season a failure?
GL: I consider it a missed opportunity.

Fan Question: In what ways will the team look different? What trades can be done to keep Jonathan Marchessault?
GL: Both Jonathan and Kelly McCrimmon have stated they want to try and make a deal. If they can reach an accord, what that looks like, will determine a lot of the answers you seek.

Fan Question: Who have been the three most influential people during your career?
GL: Buzz Currie, Michael Farber, Steve Dryden

Fan Question: I know it's too early to think about this but what are your personal favorite road cities?
GL: Montreal, NYC, Toronto

Gary, what do you like most about covering the Vegas Golden Knights?
GL: The games, VGK staff, Las Vegas, hockey, everything.