With the NHL season starting next month, there is much to look forward to between now and opening night. The Vegas Golden Knights have several things up in the air at the moment pertaining to their roster that they need to square away.
Management made it clear with the departure of Marc-Andre Fleury, that they felt the need to prioritize creating cap space. While the team and fan base are sure to miss the reigning Vezina winner. It’s the departure sidelining of notable role players and bottom-six forwards that posed the biggest problem for team management.
Out with the old
With Vegas struggling to play with a full roster throughout the season due to their cap struggles, management likely wished to avoid that problem going forward. Prompting them to make several moves in order to do so.
Though trading away a player like Marc Andre Fleury was a major blow to the Golden Knights. Management parted ways with players such as Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek as well, for the same reason. However, with both forwards having been major bottom-six fixtures for the past four seasons, they needed to be replaced.
GM Kelly McCrimmon announced back in July that Alex Tuch would miss the beginning of the season due to shoulder surgery. Because of this, Tuch and his $4.75 million contract was placed on Injury Reserve. Though his contract doesn’t currently count against the salary cap, his absence from the team needed to find a player to replace him.
Who is likely to replace them?
Management left Will Carrier as the last member of the trio that used to comprise the fourth line after losing Reaves and Nosek. Vegas had a very effective fourth line prior to this past offseason. Though they were not prolific goalscorers, they were an aggressive checking line that caused problems for the opposing team in the offensive zone. They were valuable minute munchers and had a knack for drawing penalties. Vegas sought to replace them during the offseason with their newly acquired cap space.
VGK management are likely going to guarantee spots in the lineup for Mattias Janmark, Evgenii Dadonov, and William Carrier. That means there are only three spots remaining for the several players that are still available. The players management is most likely going to consider for those spots are Nic Roy, Nolan Patrick and Keegan Kolesar.
Roy showed in the postseason that he deserves to be playing on the team, scoring nine points in 19 games in a bottom-six role. He is a strong two-way player who has shown to be a reliable presence on the ice.
With how consistently he found himself in the lineup last season, Kolesar is likely to make his home at right wing on the fourth line. Though he is capable of playing center as well. He made it apparent last season, that his playstyle was complementary to that of the fourth line. He is a physical presence and is strong at both ends of the ice.
Management is likely to give Patrick the last spot due to his experience, draft pedigree and relationship with Kelly McCrimmon. He is probably going to center for Mattias Janmark and Evgenii Dadonov on the third line. This means the fourth line is likely going to consist of William Carrier, Roy and Kolesar.
There are several options within the organization that could replace Vegas’ recently departed players. Of the players Vegas obtained during the offseason, many of them are likely to appear in the lineup at some point this year.
The bottom six for the Vegas Golden Knights are going to look completely different to start this season. They will now contain several new players and have a completely different feel to them.
Featured image courtesy of Chase Stevens and the Las Vegas Review-Journal
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