The banner does not get raised for a few days and injuries are starting to pile up for the Vegas Golden Knights. Should fans be concerned and what is plan “B” as the veterans continue to drop?
Zach Whitecloud: Whitecloud suffered an upper-body injury on Sept. 25 against the Colorado Avalanche. Coach Bruce Cassidy labeled Whitecloud as week-to-week. It is unlikely Whitecloud will play in the opener and it could be a while until the 26-year-old returns to action.
William Karlsson: Karlsson has what Cassidy describes as a “minor injury that they do not want to become a major injury.” Cassidy expects Karlsson to be ready for the opener.
Alec Martinez: Martinez will miss the final preseason games due to an upper-body injury.
A Stanley Cup meant for a short summer for the Golden Knights. A short summer filled with parties and possibly fewer days in the gym.
There is a bit more youth to this year’s roster. Ivan Barbashev is five years younger than Reilly Smith. Pavel Dorofeyev and Paul Cotter are over a decade younger than Phil Kessel. By season’s end, the Golden Knights will have nine regulars in the 30 and over club.
The Golden Knights will need better injury luck than the last two years to make a run for a consecutive Stanley Cup.
Plan “A” is the same lines that won the Golden Knights the Stanley Cup last season. The only exception is Pavel Dorofeyev or Paul Cotter replacing Smith.
What is plan “B?”
The Golden Knights have a fair amount of reinforcements that can contribute if needed. Brendan Brisson has had a solid camp and might be ready to take the next step. When called upon, Brayden Pachal and Kaedan Korczak were serviceable in their 10 games for the Golden Knights last season. Ben Hutton is the Swiss Army Knife of the defense, he can play with anyone and in any situation. This could be Dorofeyev’s breakout season. Cotter has looked great in training camp and is ready to elevate his game.
If injuries can stay isolated to one offensive and one defensive player at a time, the Golden Knights will be fine. The trouble comes when multiple forwards or defensemen are out at the same time. The Golden Knights can get by in small pockets with multiple forwards or defensemen out at the same time. Is someone like Brisson or Dorofeyev ready to contribute at a high level should Jonathan Marchessault or Mark Stone miss extended time? Is Pachal or Korczak ready to play 30 or more games to replace Whitecloud or Martinez?
We will most likely find out. The house has not won in the game of injury variance over the last two regular seasons.