Examining The Vegas Golden Knights Third Line

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The Vegas Golden Knights lineup is one to watch for. As captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely, the shuffling of the lines has been all over the place. Overall, the team has had production from the majority of its lines, but one line that needs improvement is the third line.

The Vegas Golden Knights Ever-Changing Lineup

Overall the Vegas Golden Knights lineup is a solid group. Up front, the team has three lines they can count on for production. The top line of Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson is one of the best in hockey. The “Misfit Line” of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson is as good as any. And for a fourth line, it is as good as the Misfit line.

The top line ranks 12th in the league in expected goals percentage (61.2%), the Misfit line has 58.3%, and the fourth with 53.8%. Each line has managed to produce double-digit goals as a line, and dominate possession. However, as good as these lines have been, the team is truly lacking an impactful third line in its lineup.

The Third Line

Earlier in the year, Bruce Cassidy switched up his lines and moved Stephenson to the wing. As mentioned above that paid off tremendously. However, the team is lacking a third line that is of high impact. Given numerous injuries throughout the season, the shuffling of the deck has happened often. Among all line combinations playing 20 minutes for the bottom six, nothing has stuck and the impacts have been small. The lines mentioned above have a positive impact and produce. Cassidy has an issue on his hands as the third line is not nearly as impactful.

Throughout the course of the year, there have been two sets of third lines that have seen time together for more than one game. One is Paul Cotter, Phil Kessel, and Michael Amadio. Swap out Amadio and we’ve seen Brett Howden in the mix. Here’s how they fared together and why there is an issue on the third line. 


This trio played 33 minutes together and spent the majority of the time chasing the play. They had an expected goals percentage of 44%, and a subpar Corsi For of 38.29%. Not only did they not possess the puck, but they failed to generate anything. The one thing they did manage to do is generate eight high-danger chances. But one goal is not ideal as a third line.


This line combination did not work out to be any better. They had a worse Corsi For (29.79%), and a brutal xGF% of 19.82%. However, they managed to only log 19 minutes of ice time together. But it further justifies that no matter what Cassidy has done for a third line, the results are not there, and it is something that needs to be addressed.

The Current Third Line

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Ideally, you want to see Stephenson on the top line but given he can play centre you now see him anchoring a line of his own. Injuries have thrown things out of wack. But the line of Stephenson, Carrier, and Kessel has been the best combo. This is the third line they have used more recently. Given how great Stephenson has been this year is why the line had success. They have a 66.7 xGF%. The possession is much greater as they have a CF% of 54.76%. They dominated the high-danger areas and got a goal from the area as well. Together they’ve spent 20 minutes, and it’s one of the better third-line combos that Cassidy has had work well for him. However, since he has moved Stephenson once before I am sure he ideally would want him back on the top line where success has been shown. But until changes are made, this is not a bad place to start. 

How To Fix It

As much as the recent third line has worked, it leaves another problem for the club. As great as Stephenson is centring that line, he is more effective on Eichel’s wing. With captain Mark Stone out indefinitely, Eichel has not had much chemistry with his wingers and his production has dipped because of it. Moving Stephenson back up to the top line is ideal, but the club must shift their priority to fixing the third line.

With Stone headed to LTIR, the cap space is plentiful to make additions. Elliotte Friedman has recently discussed the Golden Knights being a team that could look into Noel Acciari and Ivan Barbashev. Both would serve as physical elements to the bottom six, but also production-wise as well. Getting a bottom-six centre would do wonders as well and give Cassidy more deployable options.

Overall, this is a lineup issue, but given the state of the third line, it needs to be fixed. The team will also be looking toward a bigger fish to pair alongside Eichel as well. But fixing the third line is an absolute must. 

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