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Cassidy Tips Hand on Forward Lines; Who Replaces Smith?

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Coach Bruce Cassidy after 9/30/23 Preseason game. Photo credit VHN Chris Gawlik

Coach Bruce Cassidy opened the first day of training camp where last season’s forward lines left off.

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Paul Cotter got the first opportunity to replace Reilly Smith. Cassidy mentioned he started with last season’s lines for familiarity. It was a good way for the players to get their timing back.

Brendan Brisson has been the story of the Vegas Golden Knights training camp. The 21-year-old scored his second goal of the preseason on Friday night. Has Brisson done enough to separate himself from others competing for a roster spot? Not so fast.

“No, I think Pav (Pavel Dorofeyev) has a resume here right now. There’s a little bit of that trust from a coach. I think Bris (Brisson) is showing well.” Cassidy to Vegas Hockey Now’s Chris Gawlik.

That is a big statement from coach Cassidy. Does that mean Cassidy does not trust Brisson? The answer is yes, to a degree. Dorofeyev only has 20 more games of NHL experience than Brisson. The experience gap between the two is not that big.

Cassidy does feel Brisson has been more noticeable than Max Comtois and was quick to mention that Comtois has been improving as the games went on.

Cassidy was asked directly about the candidates to replace Smith.

“It will be Dorofeyev and Cotter first. They were the guys that played the most for us last year. We brought in Max Comtois on a tryout that we feel has some upside. We’ve had some good young players play well for us. But they need to go play in Henderson and get better and be ready when they are called upon.” Cassidy after Friday’s preseason win.

This affirms that Cotter vs. Dorofeyev is the key battle for Smith’s spot on the third line. Cassidy has greater trust in what those two accomplished last season in Vegas. Comtois seems to be falling out of contention for a roster spot on opening night.

It will be interesting to see how Brisson responds to most likely starting the season in Henderson. Cassidy’s comments Friday night are keeping Brisson honest about his game. Has Brisson done enough so far to make the roster? It is getting harder to argue against as training camp progresses.

Brisson is on a two-way contract and does not have to clear waivers once he gets called up. It makes sense starting Brisson in Henderson and letting him continue to work on his game. It is a safe assumption that Brisson is the first winger that gets called up.

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