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Krepps: Golden Knights Lack of NHL-Ready Prospects Becoming a Major Concern

The Vegas Golden Knights are having organizational depth problems, especially at forward. This makes you wonder how much better the team could have been if it had held on to some of its prospects and draft picks.

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Seeing Jakub Brabenec sign an entry-level contract today is a good step in the right direction.

But outside of Kaedan Korczak, the Vegas Golden Knights currently don't have any NHL-ready prospects. This is typical for teams who are trying to contend for the Stanley Cup. But the Golden Knight's depth, especially at forward, is hurting without young skilled players.

Lack Of Skilled Youngsters

Young forwards brought in via trade, waivers, and through the draft are present in the Golden Knights organization. But guys like Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Ronbjerg, Brett Howden, and Michael Amadio have not been the answer for the Golden Knights.

Combined, these players have five points in 47 games, play an average of 10:00 minutes a game, and are frequently been benched alongside Phil Kessel in close games during the third period. Simply put, they are not trusted by head coach Bruce Cassidy.

One Bright Spot

Paul Cotter, while not entirely consistent, has been exactly what the Golden Knights need. He has four goals and six points in 19 games, as well as a game-winning goal and a shootout-game-winning goal. 

He's fourth on the team in hits with 55 behind just Keegan Kolesar, Will Carrier, and Brayden McNabb.

Three Line Team

The Golden Knights have been a three-line team since the beginning of the season. The play of the top six has, for the most part, been solid, and the fourth-line play of Kolesar, Carrier, and Nicolas Roy has been excellent.

"(Will) Carrier, and (Keegan) Kolesar, I have no issue at all, and Nic Roy, they play their game. Some of the other guys around them have to be a little more consistent and help us win… It is up to me to build that. So we're going to continue work on it," said head coach Bruce Cassidy.

The third line continues to shuffle players, and now that injuries are starting to hit the team, a lack of skilled young forwards on the team is becoming even more apparent.

“The third line has had players on and off it. They haven’t found an identity yet, and I will share the blame for that, it’s my jon to create one for them and their job on the ice to work together, communicate together, and find some common ground where they can call excel. That is still a work in progress and it may be for a while,” said Cassidy.

The Ones That Got Away

I hate to play Captain Hindsight, but the way the Golden Knight's current forward group is laid out, you have to wonder how much the team could benefit from having some of the young forwards that they traded away in their current lineup.

Nick Suzuki, who was traded in the Max Pacioretty to Vegas deal, is easily the biggest name here. He's now the captain of the Montreal Canadiens and is leading their rebuild with 29 points in 26 games this season. He was a first-round pick by the Golden Knights in 2017.

Magically inserting Suzuki on the Golden Knights' current roster would extraordinarily benefit the team.

However, I don't think Suzuki becomes the same player if he stays within the Golden Knight's organization. And while he's gone, Max Pacioretty gave the Golden Knights four great years of hockey. While Suzuki is the biggest name here, I don't think this is a total loss for the VGK like many think.

Peyton Krebs and Cody Glass have not hit their ceilings yet in the NHL. Krebs was a necessary part of the Jack Eichel deal and has just four points in 21 games with the Buffalo Sabres this season. He's still just 21. For Glass, he's out with an upper-body injury and is still trying to breakout as a true NHL'er. He was traded one-for-one for Nolan Patrick, who is out for the season with the Golden Knights due to an upper-body injury.

These are the obvious names we all know. But there are two more I want to point out. The pick that became Alexander Texier was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Keegan Kolesar. Texier is a solid young depth forward with the CBJ, currently in the NHLPA's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. The Golden Knights also traded a 2018 first to the Detroit Red Wings in the Tomas Tatar deal, which became Joe Veleno, a good young forward.

These names are on top of all of the numerous picks and prospects the Golden Knights have already traded away that are still developing. It's hard to predict which players will turn into NHL'ers, but the odds greatly increase the more often you trade away picks and prospects.

What's Next

Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon is caught in a loop. His team does not possess cheap depth players like Ross Colton, Michael Bunting, Anton Lundell, or Logan O'Connor. If want to add these types of players they will either have to wait for prospects like Zach Dean and Brendan Brisson to develop into NHL'ers (which is not guaranteed) or continue to trade away picks and prospects for players via the NHL Trade Market.

With a veteran team eyeing down a Stanley Cup, it's not very hard to speculate on which path the trade-happy McCrimmon will likely take. So with that being said here are some of our picks for potential trade candidates for the Golden Knights this season. 

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