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What Do The Golden Knights Lines Look Like When Fully Healthy?

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William Karlsson Vegas Golden Knights forward

Acquired this past Thursday in a blockbuster deal, Jack Eichel is the newest member of the Vegas Golden Knights. Unfortunately, he will be out until at least 2022 with a neck injury which he will need artificial disk replacement surgery. The surgery, which is likely happening Friday in Denver, will keep Eichel on the IR for the time being.

He joins Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Zach Whitecloud, William Karlsson, and Nolan Patrick as Golden Knights players on the injured reserve. It is no secret that the Golden Knights have dealt with a tremendous amount of injuries early on in the 2021-22 season.

But what will the Golden Knights look like when they are fully healthy?

Vegas Golden Knights Fully Healthy Projected Lines (Top-6)

Max Pacioretty- Jack Eichel- Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith

The gut reaction that everyone is having with Eichel coming to the Golden Knights is that he will center the first line between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Stone and Pacioretty are first-line players and prior to the two players going down, the Golden Knights top line featured them in between Chandler Stephenson.

While Eichel, Stone, and Pacioretty will all likely return at different times I think it is safe to say that Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer will certainly try this superstar first line.

This new first line, comprised of high-caliber NHL players, is the result of three major NHL trades and it just goes to show how determined Kelly McCrimmon and the Golden Knights are to winning a Stanley Cup in the near future.

The second line is easy to put together too. That is, again, when everyone is healthy. The ‘misfit line’ of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith will no doubt reunite once Karlsson comes back from injury.

Vegas Golden Knights Fully Healthy Projected Lines (Bottom-6)

Mattias Janmark- Chandler Stephenson- Evgenii Dadonov

William Carrier- Nicolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar

Lines one and two are pretty much locks, lines three and four are where things start to get interesting. Adding Jack Eichel gives DeBoer so much more flexibility and depth at center. Chandler Stephenson is one of the most underrated players in the NHL and is still leading the Golden Knights in scoring. He will make a great third-line center. Nicolas Roy who has also impressed can serve as the team’s fourth-liner center. The rest is up in the air.

Last night I wrote about how the depth players for the Golden Knights need to step up and this is a prime example of why. Outside of Stephenson and Roy, the Golden Knight’s offensive depth has been lackluster. Mattias Janmark (1), Brett Howden (1), William Carrier (2), Keegan Kolesar (2), and Evgenii Dadonov (4) have fewer points than Stephenson combined.

Barring an NHL trade to get the Golden Knights under the salary cap, I think the third line is where Dadonov and Janmark fall as of now. But there will have to be some sort of deal made, and it could potentially move out one of these underachieving forwards who make a decent amount of money.

That leaves the fourth line open to Howden, Carrier, Kolesar, and Nolan Patrick as primary candidates for the job. We still have no idea what is going on with Patrick and even though this is a thought exercise to see what the Golden Knights will look like “fully healthy” I still have little faith in Patrick to remain off the IR. So Carrier and Kolesar will serve as the fourth-line wingers.

Vegas Golden Knights Projected Fully Healthy Lines (After Potential Trades)

Max Pacioretty- Jack Eichel– Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault- William Karlsson- Reilly Smith

Mattias Janmark- Chandler Stephenson- Keegan Kolesar

Brett Howden- Nicolas Roy- Jonas Rondbjerg

But what’s this? A call from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly? He is stating that the Golden Knights are far above the salary cap if these lines were to become a reality!

Nice try. If the forward lines above were to happen and assuming the defensive pairings will stay the same, the Golden Knights would be roughly $7 million over the NHL salary cap. If the Golden Knights decide not to ‘Kucherov’ the situation by keeping one of their stars on LTIR to circumvent the NHL salary cap, they will have to make an NHL trade.

Evgenii Dadonov seems like the most likely candidate to do so with his underproductive start to the season and his $5 million cap hit. But even that will not be enough. For the sake of this discussion, I shipped off both Nolan Patrick $1.2 million and William Carrier $1.4 million and even then the Golden Knights were barely underneath the salary cap. 

The Golden Knights will be forced to cut a handful of players from the roster once guys like Eichel, Stone, Karlsson, and Pacioretty return to the lineup. Whether that be through sending them to the minors or trading them away, the Golden Knights lineup will look vastly different than it does now in a couple of months.

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