Leading up to Saturday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets there were a lot of question marks on the Vegas Golden Knight’s roster. Max Pacioretty joined the team in practice and participated in line rushes. Mattias Janmark was absent.
Janmark has missed five games of the 2021-22 NHL season with injury and COVID-19 protocols. He missed the start of the season with a strong case of COVID-19. His conditioning has taken a hit as a result and the 28-year old forward went scoreless in his first twelve games.
But on Saturday night, Janmark was able to play and registered a career-high nine shots on goal. He scored his first goal of the season in the third period. It went on to be the game-winner for the Golden Knights.
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After an odd challenge for offsides, the goal stood and the Golden Knights went on to win 3-2. Both Janmark and Keegan Kolesar scored their first goals of the season for the VGK.
“Both were long overdue. I think both guys were squeezing it (their sticks) a little bit waiting for their first ones. So hopefully this opens the floodgates,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer on Kolesar and Janmark.
This is Janmark’s second season with the Golden Knights but combined, the forward has yet to play in even 30 games with the team. He was acquired in a three-way trade with the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks in April of 2021.
Janmark has proven to be a great bargain-bin find for NHL teams. His career-high in points came in his second year with the Dallas Stars as he scored 34. As a former third-round draft pick, the Swedish forward has 136 points in 366 career games played.
The Golden Knights signed Janmark to a one-year $2 million deal in the offseason. For Janmark this ‘prove yourself’ contract will do a great deal in determining his future in the NHL.
But as mentioned before the slow start to his season has tampered with his results.
“It has been kind of a struggle to start the year in a lot of ways. I think I have been trending a little bit better in the last week or so it’s for sure nice to get on the board. But every night want to keep doing the right things and just contribute to the team winning especially now with all of the injuries we have,” said Janmark.
Janmark’s currently shooting percentage is 3.2% below average but despite this, he owns a 1.06 expected goals per sixty. So the offense has been there for Janmark, but puck luck has not.
For the past couple of games, Janmark has been playing on a line with Nicolas Roy and Reilly Smith. With Pacioretty expected to return soon, Janmark could fall down to the third line which could affect his play as a result.
“It was kind of one of those games all night where I felt like the puck was coming to me a little bit more… I think I played with some good players too Roy and Smitty (Nicolas Roy and Reilly Smith). They are really with the puck making a lot of plays and staying close with each other,” Janmark told At&t Sportsnet postgame Saturday.
Consistency will be the biggest factor for Janmark. The Golden Knights are looking for depth scoring with all of the players they have out of the lineup due to injury and COVID-19. The depth has been tested as of late and it has risen to the occasion for the Golden Knights.
“We have won in all different kinds of ways but I think the common theme here has been different contributions from different guys,” said DeBoer.
When the team slowly but surely become healthy Janmark could find himself bounced up and down in the lineup even more. But there could be a chance Janmark could be shipped out of Las Vegas simply due to his salary cap.
With Jack Eichel now in the fold, Golden Knights are projected to be $7 million over the NHL salary cap when fully healthy. The Golden Knights will have to get creative with the NHL salary cap or be forced to make a trade.
Mattias Janmark and his $2 million cap hit could be something that general manager Kelly McCrimmon and company are comfortable with letting go. With Paul Cotter, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Jake Leschyshyn turning heads in the NHL, Janmark could potentially find himself in some NHL trade rumors.
For the time being, Janmark needs to continue to fight off these NHL trade rumors by playing hard and getting results like he did last night.