Pavel Dorofeyev figured he’d be playing on opening night, in Henderson, on Friday. Instead, the 20-year-old Russian forward finds himself in the lineup for the Vegas Golden Knights on their opening night today.
Dorofeyev will wear No. 16 when the Golden Knights host the expansion Seattle Kraken, which is making its NHL debut as well. Dorofeyev did not play in any of Vegas’ seven NHL preseason games.
The Golden Knights had a rash of injuries to their forwards during the preseason and perhaps they were hoping that one or more of the injured players would be available, thus not necessitating bringing up Dorofeyev. But Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden are starting the season on injured reserve, William Carrier remains in concussion protocol and Mattias Janmark is still in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
In addition, Patrick Brown was placed on waivers Sunday and claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers, so that option disappeared. It left general manager Kelly McCrimmon and his hockey operations staff to figure out how to be compliant with the salary cap. Dorofeyev, whose salary is $925,000, was apparently the solution along with forward Jack Dugan, who also makes $925,000.
According to capfriendly.com, those moves have the Knights cap compliant.
“You’d have to ask Kelly and those guys,” DeBoer said of the decision to bring Dorofeyev up. “But it’s my understanding there some cap gymnastics involved, long-term injury and getting us close to a number as you can.
“Obviously, you’re asking why is he up here when he didn’t play any exhibition games and someone else isn’t? It’s in the math department upstairs that I have no idea on.”
How much Dorofeyev plays tonight against the Kraken remains to be seen. He is going to be on a fourth line comprised of Keegan Kolesar, normally a winger, and Dylan Coghlan, normally a defenseman. Kolesar can play in the middle and Coghlan has some experience as a forward. He had a hat trick last year against the Minnesota Wild playing up front. Those were his first NHL goals.
“I’m excited to see him,” DeBoer said of Dorofeyev, who was not made available to the media after the team’s morning skate at City National Arena. “He has a good record, had a good year with the organization last year, has some skill.”
In 24 games with Henderson last season, Dorofeyev scored nine goals and had four assists. In five playoff games with the Silver Knights, he had a pair of goals. He did skate with the Golden Knights in training camp before being reassigned to Henderson. Now, he gets his chance on the team’s opening night against the NHL’s newest team in front of a national television audience on ESPN.
“However a young guy gets in the lineup, it’s an opportunity for him to make a statement,” DeBoer said.