The injury bug is not going to leave the Vegas Golden Knights alone this season. The top six defensemen Alec Martinez, Alex Pietrangelo, Nicolas Hague, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, and Zach Whitecloud have collectively missed 66% of the first 13 games. Whitecloud has not dressed this season which means the Golden Knights have not had their top six defensemen intact for a single game.
McNabb and Theodore are the only Golden Knights defensemen to dress in all 13 games this season. On the positive, Whitecloud was on the ice with the team last week and could return to the lineup this week against the Los Angeles Kings or San Jose Sharks.
Where would the Golden Knights be without Kaedan Korczak, Brayden Pachal, and Ben Hutton? At least one of the trio of defensive reinforcements has appeared in 66% of the games this season including multiple games in which they accounted for half of the Golden Knights defensemen in a game.
“It might have been one of our best defensive games of the year, if not our best.” Coach Bruce Cassidy after Sunday’s loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Golden Knights just had an outstanding defensive performance against a Ducks team on a long winning streak, and it was without Hague, Martinez, and Whitecloud. One can not help to think how good the Golden Knights’ defense will be when fully healthy.
“Silver Misfit” in Henderson
The Golden Knights are not the only professional hockey team in Southern Nevada off to a rocking start. The Henderson Silver Knights are 7-3-0 which tops the Pacific and is tied for second overall in the American League.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon may have found a new modern-day misfit in Grigori Denisenko. Denisenko’s path to the Golden Knights was an interesting one. The Florida Panthers waived Denisenko on Oct. 6. McCrimmon claimed Denisenko with the No. 32 waiver priority on Oct. 7. Denisenko was waived by the Golden Knights for the purpose of sending him to the American League on Oct. 8 which meant the Panthers could have claimed Denisenko and sent him to their American League affiliate. The Panthers, and the rest of the NHL, passed on claiming Denisenko making him 2023’s “Silver Misfit.”
In short, there were 61 chances for someone besides the Golden Knights to claim Denisenko in a 48-hour period.
Denisenko leads the Silver Knights with 11 points (4 goals). Could we see the 23-year-old with the Golden Knights later this season? Denisenko has played just 26 NHL games and seven points (0 goals). It would take an unfortunate set of circumstances for Denisenko to dress for the Golden Knights this season unless he performs at an astounding level. That is not to say Denisenko will not have a chance to make next season’s Golden Knights roster.
Stats updates: Sheldon Rempal has 10 points (6 goals), 38 year old Adam Cracknell has eight points (4 goals), and Brendan Brisson has six points (4 goals). Jiri Patera is 4-3-0 with a 3.07 GAA and .900 SV%.