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Golden Knights Analysis

Golden Knights Selection Of Wingers Currently Top-Heavy



Mark Stone Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

Welcome back to a mini-series here at Vegas Hockey Now, where we look at the Vegas Golden Knight’s current depth chart in specific positions. This series will examine the Golden Knight’s goaltending, centers, defensemen, and wingers. This can help us get a feel for what moves if any, general manager Kelly McCrimmon could make in the remainder of the offseason. Today, in the final installment of our series, we will look at wingers. Phil Kessel, Paul Stastny, Evan Rodrigues, Sonny Milano, and Johan Larsson are all on the market.

This list will look at wingers overall and not limit them to what side they play on. Some centers and even a defenseman will be discussed as well.

We saved this one for last as it is perhaps the biggest area of need for the Golden Knights after recent trades have shrunken their depth at wing. Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, Evgenii Dadonov, and now Max Pacioretty have all been traded out. Mattias Janmark also walked in free agency.

Top Line- Mark Stone

I wanted to keep both Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith together on the same tier. So that means Mark Stone is on the top line status alone. Outside of Smith and Marchessault, I could not justify having any other of the Golden Knights wingers in this tier, which is a problem.

The good thing is that the VGK still have Mark Stone. The 30-year-old captain is looking to bounce back from an injury-ridden season where he only played 37 games in 2021-22. He had back surgery in May, and his status will play a massive part in the Golden Knight’s overall upcoming season. We still have yet to see what he can truly do alongside Jack Eichel.

Top Six- Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault

Both original Golden Knights, Smith and Marchessault, are money-in-the-bank performers for the Golden Knights when healthy. Marchessault led the team in scoring this past season with 66 points and a 30-goal season. Smith had 38 points in 56 games before a knee injury took him out for the remainder of the season.

These two have extremely generous cap hits as they both make just $5 million. They are the definition of misfit players and work perfectly alongside William Karlsson. But things start to drop off when it comes to the Golden Knights wingers in the third and fourth lines.

Top Nine- William Carrier, Michael Amadio

Both William Carrier and Michael Amadio are strong, gritty forwards who play a bottom-six role and chip in goals from time to time. They are solid players with great work ethics but are an expansion draftee and waiver claim at the end of the day. Combined, they scored 20 goals last season.

The Golden Knights are lacking the secondary scoring that other contending teams in the NHL have with Pacioretty and Dadonov gone. The Tampa Bay Lightning have a projected third line of Nick Paul, Ross Colton, and Vladislav Namestnikov. Heck, even the Seattle Kraken projected third line of Jared McCann, Yanni Gourde, and Joonas Donskoi is better than the Golden Knight’s.

There is still time for McCrimmon to patch some of these holes, but certainly not enough cap space for him to do it.

Fourth Line- Sakari Manninen, Keegan Kolesar

If McCrimmon is able to add a scoring forward to his team, that would bump one of, if not both, Carrier and Amadio down to the fourth line, where they would be much better off. Currently, the Golden Knights depth chart, from the way we look at it, has Keegan Kolesar and newbie Sakari Manninen on the fourth line.

Kolesar is awaiting a new contract and has an arbitration date set for August 10. Similar to Carrier and Amadio, Kolesar doesn’t jump off the page as a scoring bottom-six winger as he helps the Golden Knights in other ways. On the other wing, I struggled even to find a player that was NHL-ready to put into the lineup. Manninen will have to do for now.

Switching Over

Don’t worry; I heard you screaming into your computer screens, saying that certain players could switch over from center and play wing. I made a separate section of this post dedicated solely to these players as a result. The way I see it, anyone not named Jack Eichel could have a shot at playing the wing this year. That includes Chandler Stephenson, Nicolas Roy, William Karlsson, Brett Howden, and Nolan Patrick.

Out of these options, I think Karlsson and Stephenson are best kept at center. Someone like Howden or Patrick could give up being a center and get regular minutes on the wing. However, this could be a slippery slope and tarnish some of their development (just look at what the Montreal Canadiens did to Alex Galchenyuk).

Putting Roy on the wing has some risks as well. He played a select amount of games on the right side when injuries occurred in 2021-22. A lot will depend on his new contract.

AHL Depth

Jonas Rondbjerg, Sheldon Rempal, and Spencer Foo are in the AHL as depth pieces that have slim chances of emerging into top-six NHL forwards. But these three could be called upon with injuries. Rondbjerg recently signed a contract extension after he appeared in 30 games with the Golden Knights last season and had six points. Rempal and Foo are free agent signings.

There is another player that the Henderson Silver Knights have that technically could be an option and a desperate one at that. Daniil Miromanov

Solid Prospects

Guys like Rondbjerg, Rempal, and Foo will not be playing alongside Eichel and Stone this upcoming season. But there are a few players in the Golden Knights system, not in the NHL, that could have the opportunity to do so. If there was ever a time when the Golden Knights needed prospects to make the NHL, now is the time as they are weak and wing and have no cap space.

Brendan Brisson, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Paul Cotter all have the possibility of doing this in 2022-23. Brisson is the frontrunner as the Olympian and former Michigan Wolverine. But both Cotter and Dorofeyev have him beaten to the NHL as both have made their NHL debuts. The battle will be on in training camp.

Everybody Else

Areas of Need

So yeah, it’s clear that the Golden Knights are in need of some wingers.  Keep in mind that this depth chart is assuming the team is fully healthy, which we know is a rarity with the Golden Knights. What happens if Stone, Smith, or Marchessault go down? If only this team had someone like Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, Mattias Janmark, Alex Tuch, or even Peyton Krebs.

We will be taking a look at potential suitors for the Golden Knights wings in the next coming days at VHN. One man stands out above all the rest…

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 covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now and writes for the Boulder City Review-Journal. 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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I would of kept Pacioretty,Tuch, and Krebs instead of trading for Eichel. They could sign James Neal too for probably league minimum as well

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