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A Deep Dive into the Golden Knights Roster One Week Into Free Agency

Golden Knights roster

There is an understandable sense of unease among Vegas Golden Knights fans regarding the roster after the first week of free agency. The team lost two of their top six all-time in goals and assists within the span of a few hours. To settle the unease, let’s take a look at the roster as it’s currently constructed. See where things stand before the hockey gods get restless and start shaking things around again.

Diving into the Current Vegas Golden Knights Roster

Still (Mostly) Solid Like Vibranium Up the Middle

C: Jack Eichel
    Tomas Hertl
    William Karlsson
    Nicolas Roy
    Mason Morelli
    Tanner Laczynski

The centre position has been either solid or elite level three lines deep for the Golden Knights. If healthy, Jack Eichel and William Karlsson are close to a shoo-in to score 30 goals. With Tomas Hertl heading into his first full season as the number two centre, there probably won’t be a big drop on offence. His bad +/- rating (an average -16 since 2019-20) sticks out like a sore thumb, something Bruce Cassidy and his staff are keeping an eye on. That and whether his disappearing act after Game One of the Dallas Stars series was a blip or a bad omen.

Nicolas Roy is an interesting wild card as the number four centre. He’s the least flashy one with only 110 points combined (42 goals, 68 assists) since the 2021-2022 season. But the 245 hits he posted in that same time frame shows his crucial value toward another deep playoff run for the VGK. Especially as more teams go for forwards with more grit.

The Wings Remain Wild, Like the Buffalo

RW: Alexander Holtz
         Mark Stone
         Brendan Brisson
         Keegan Kolesar
         Grigori Denisenko

LW: Ivan Barbashev
         Pavel Dorofeyev
         Victor Olofsson
         Brett Howden
         Zach Aston-Reese
         Jonas Rondbjerg

Bad Dad joke aside, where the centres could be defined as solid, there is a fount of potential that permeates the wingers on both sides. Pavel Dorofeyev is a prime example of this. He scored 13 goals last season in just as much time on ice (13:15), mostly on the third line. A full season on a line with someone who wasn’t snakebit in net- 20-25 goals seems well in reach for him this season. 

There’s also Victor Olofsson, who signed a one-year deal a few days ago along with Zach Aston-Reese. His +/- is just as not great as Hertl’s (-15 on average career). Also, he fell off the map scoring wise after the Holidays last season (outside of a three goal blip in March). But he nearly scored 30 goals the season beforehand, and is now playing with a former teammate…where does that sound familiar?

Cracks in the Blueline, but with Glimpses of Sunlight Peering on the Horizon

D: Noah Hanifin             Alex Pietrangelo

     Brayden McNabb      Shea Theodore

     Nicolas Hague           Zach Whitecloud

     Ben Hutton                Kaedan Korczak

     Christoffer Sedoff     Dysin Mayo

There was a lot to worry about when it came to the blueline for the VGK this past season. They were 11th in goals against (243), 16th in PK% (79.3%). Individually, there was a dip in on-ice production from far too many players for a team with Stanley Cup dreams. Especially from the number one defenceman Alex Pietrangelo who scored under 10 goals for the first time since coming to Vegas in 2020. A return to a top 10 operation defensively is both needed for the ultimate goal, and not out of the question for this team.

Brayden McNabb is turning into a brilliant defenceman so far. Noah Hanifin is coming onto the first full season of his big 8-year deal, with all the skills he showed at times with the Calgary Flames. And there’s solid youth like Kaeden Korczak who has the chance this season to become a really good bedrock-type D-man. Also, there’s the anecdotal assumption that Theodore and Pietrangelo won’t be as bad as they were…right?

A Dependable Goaltending Tandem Changes Into Something…Hopefully About the Same

G: Adin Hill
     Ilya Samsonov
Jesper Vikman
Akira Schmid

There’s not much to worry about Adin Hill at this point heading into the new season. Even with the dip in GAA and SV% last season, on average, it wasn’t far from what he’s posted as a goalie. The only worry is how he’ll react to being given the proverbial keys to the net. Given his postseason resume, there’s enough to hang hope it’ll end well for the VGK. As for the number two and newest denizen of the Vegas Golden Knights, Ilya Samsonov

There’s no way to definitely predict what’ll happen because much of this will lie in the Russian netminder’s mental state. He’s in a good place? He’s likely a strong candidate for the Masterton Trophy. Also, the team is going to be much more even defensively with the rest of the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. If he’s not? There’s Jesper Vikman and Akira Schmid. Or Jesper Vikman and Akira Schmid become the Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark of Henderson. 

Main Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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