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Krepps: William Carrier on The First Line Shouldn’t Be as Surprising as It Is

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William Carrier Vegas Golden Knights

With Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone both out once more for the Vegas Golden Knights, the team has had to take some unique approaches in filling out their lineup. A result of this is Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer placing William Carrier on the team’s first line for practice Monday morning.

Carrier started playing on the Golden Knight’s first line in Sunday afternoon’s game against the Winnipeg Jets after Nolan Patrick was sent down in the lineup. With Pacioretty and Stone still being expected to miss time for the Golden Knights, it looks like Carrier will get a substantial shot on the first line for the time being alongside Evgenii Dadonov and Chandler Stephenson.

William Carrier Isn’t A Top-Line Player, Is He?

Now I know what you are thinking. Will Carrier does not jump off the page as a first-line player and he will no doubt be the first to be bumped down in the lineup once players return. But if you have been watching the 27-year old forward closely this season you will tend to notice his offensive upside.

Carrier seems to get at least one or two good chances a game where he drops his shoulder and uses his size and speed to cut to the net. Textbook power-forward play. His ability to finish is what is costing him though as the winger only has four goals and five assists for nine goals in 27 games this season.

In terms of advanced stats, Carrier has a 54.9% Corsi rating, an expected goals-per-sixty of 0.81, and an expected points-per-sixty of 1.82. These are all great numbers, but at the end of the day, the nine points in 27 games are all that matters.

So what does Carrier need to break free, and can he even perform at a top-line level?

Bottom-Six NHL Carrer

Carrier has spent the majority of his career as a bottom-six forward. His career average in ice time sits below the ten-minute mark at only 9:52. After being drafted in the second round of the 2013 NHL Entry Level Draft by the St. Louis Blues, Carrier signed with the Buffalo Sabres.

It was there where he played his first NHL season and then was claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. He has since played the past five years with the Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights’ Trust In William Carrier

Looking way back at the list of available players for the Golden Knights from the Sabres in 2017 Carrier was not the consensus overall pick. Other names like Derek Grant, Zach Bogosian, Dmitry Kulikov, Andres Nilsson, and Linus Ullmark were all available at the time.

We could play the hindsight game all day but for Carrier, it is clear that the Golden Knights saw something in him as he had only played 41 career NHL games at the time of his selection.

Carrier is signed to a four-year contract that pays him $1.4 million against the NHL’s salary cap up until 2024-25. For a team that is looking to always shed salary cap money, you would think Carrier would have been moved on from by now. Instead, the Golden Knights still have him as a valued member of their forward corps.

Reunited With A Former Teammate On The Same Line?

The Golden Knights will need to free up cap space somewhere and that could possibly mean two things for Carrier. The first one is the obvious with Carrier potentially getting moved, but the second is much more interesting and might pay dividends for Golden Knights heading forward.

Say Carrier is able to embrace his role on the first line these next couple of games with Stephenson and Dadonov. Having skilled players to play with gets him a couple of goals and his confidence up. Once Jack Eichel comes back the Golden Knights make a trade and a player or two at forward free up a spot on offense. Maybe he gets a shot with a player that he played in Buffalo with in 2016-17?

Hypothetical Vegas Golden Knights Lines

Carrier- Eichel- Patrick/Janmark

Pacioretty- Stephenson- Stone

Marchessault- Karlsson- Smith

These lines allow for the misfit line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith to stay together as well as the top line of Stone, Stephenson, and Pacioretty to reunite. Eichel may not have the best linemates on the team, but seeing as to some of the players he played with in Buffalo, these linemates are more than acceptable.

 

Lastly, let’s throw it back to one of the coolest goals in Golden Knights history.

Welcome to your new home for Vegas Golden Knights breaking news, analysis and opinion. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and don't forget to subscribe to VHN+ for all of our members-only content the entire Vegas Hockey Now crew plus an ad-free browsing experience.

Owen Krepps is the new beat writer covering the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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