When the Golden Knights traded Colin Miller it appeared to leave a massive void in right-handed defensemen. With Miller in Buffalo, it left the Golden Knights with just one right-handed defenseman on the NHL roster, Deryk Engelland. Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, and Nick Holden all shoot with their left hand.
However, that’s not to say the Golden Knights don’t have players who can play on the right side. In fact, Gerard Gallant confirmed a pair of them he likes on that side.
From what I remember (Schmidt) played real good on the right side last year so that’s where he’s going to play again this year. When he plays good over there that’s where you want him to play, where he plays his best hockey, similar to Shea Theodore. -Gallant
He did leave a bit of room for leeway though.
But I’m not saying they can’t play the left side in some situations. Just in case that happens I don’t want you to come back to me and say “why are you playing him over there?” It changes, but they both play well on their off-side. -Gallant
Here’s where things get tricky. The two best rookie defenseman through two weeks of camp have been Dylan Coghlan and Zach Whitecloud. Both are right-handed and both play primarily on the right side.
Last year, Engelland played 72 of 72 games on the right. Schmidt played 40 of his 62 on the right while Theodore played just 21 of his 80. But, late in the year, Gallant made the switch pairing Theodore with McNabb and Schmidt with Engelland swapping Nate and Shea. His comments on Monday indicated that he likes both on that side, leaving just three left-side spots available.
On Sunday night the Golden Knights came out strong and cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. In their second preseason game, Vegas traveled to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche with a completely different lineup.
Vegas forward Valentin Zykov opened up the scoring on a weird, puck pinball play off of his stick and past the Avalanche goaltender. Vegas and Colorado both went scoreless on their power plays, however it was notable that forwards Alex Tuch and William Carrier play some minutes on the penalty kill.
Early in the 2nd period veteran scoring forward Brandon Pirri made it a 2-0 game on an accurate high slot shot. Tomas Nosek and Nate Schmidt were given assists on Pirri’s first goal of the preseason. The Golden Knights fought off an Avs two-man advantage midway through the period, but failed to score on their two-man advantage. The 2nd period ended with Vegas up two.
Young defensive prospect Nic Hague scored the Golden Knights third goal of the night, and center Nicholas Roy added the team’s fourth :46 seconds later. Pirri would add his second and the Golden Knights second Power Play goal of the contest to stretch the lead 5-0. Goaltender Garrett Sparks gave Vegas a strong performance stopping all 23 shots on goal by Colorado to secure the shutout.
The (2-0) Golden Knights will get back to action on Thursday night in Los Angeles. Vegas’ third exhibition game will begin at 7:30P against the LA Kings. (Recap by Jason)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche preseason game at Pepsi Center.
Nate Schmidt played on the left in this game, but Gallant said he’ll play on the right in season. If that’s the case, what’s it mean for the rest of the lineup?
The difficulty for veterans playing with rookies in preseason games
No one sent the Golden Knights the memo that you aren't really supposed to hit in the preseason. They are laying bodies on guys every chance they get. Colorado seems to be keeping their wits about it, many teams won't.
Since becoming a part of the Golden Knights organization, a plethora of rookie defensemen have gone through a lot preparing for their moment. Development camps, training camps, preseason games, and an AHL regular and postseason, it’s all been done to develop them to pass the test when the time comes.
For Zach Whitecloud, he’s been studying for this training camp to win this open job since the moment he signed his contract with the Golden Knights.
During the broadcast of one of the rookie games in Irvine, VGK Insider Gary Lawless told the story of the first time Whitecloud attended a game as a member of the Golden Knights. He sat in the press box as a healthy scratch and before the game began asked Gary for a piece of paper and a pen. Over the course of the next two hours, Whitecloud went on to fill up both sides of that sheet with an abundance of notes.
I wanted to make sure I was taking notes of what the defensemen were doing, what the different calls were, where forwards would be in what spots, just in case if I were to be put into a game in an emergency situation I knew where I could put pucks because I hadn’t gotten my reps. -Whitecloud
He was literally acting like he was sitting in a college lecture, writing down notes so he could prepare for the upcoming test. Since then, he’s played in an NHL game, he’s gone through a full professional season in the organization, and he’s back for training camp looking to take the leap he’s dreamed of since he first put on hockey skates, to become a full-time NHL player.
Last year coming in it was my first full camp with the team and going through that process and navigating that was a learning experience. -Whitecloud
This year, he’s no longer here to learn.
You always want to compete at your 100% level. If you aren’t doing that, you are wasting people’s time. You are wasting management’s time, you are wasting your teammates’ time, you are wasting the fans’ time if you aren’t competing 100% to go in and earn a job. -Whitecloud
One problem. Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jake Bischoff, and Jimmy Schuldt have all been studying for the test too.
The Golden Knights won their first preseason game of the 2019-2020 campaign with a mix of veterans and rookies. Vets like Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith took the game over mid-first period and led the Knights to an easy 6-2 victory.
Things weren’t always that easy for Pacioretty, Smith or other VGK players. Just like their younger teammates, they had to adjust to the speed and the high competition level at their first NHL camps.
I was in New York, and it was tough. -Jonathan Marchessault
Marchessault participated in several NHL team camps but his first was with the New York Rangers. Where he got to share the ice with one of his favorite NHL players.
Marian Gaborik. I remember I was playing on a line with him. Hell of a player. Growing up he was one of my favorite players. It was fun to see him out there.- Marchessault
When Pacioretty attended his first NHL camp, it was like the Wild West.
The game got off to a slow start with neither team shooting much in the first five minutes of the game. Arizona struck first on a goal by defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin. A fired up Max Pacioretty got Vegas right back in the game on a breakaway snap shot past Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill. Arizona took the lead again but Pacioretty scored his second of the 1st period for a 2-2 tie after 20 minutes of action. Pacioretty continued to shine as he found Cody Eakin on a nice feed in front of Arizona’s net. Vegas took the early 2nd period lead 3-2.
The game continued to be the Max Pacioretty show, as he scooped a rebound and slipped it past Hill for a preseason hat trick. Vegas took a 4-2 lead after two periods.
The final period featured a beautiful backhand goal from veteran Reilly Smith. As he normally does, Smith created a turnover which he jumped on and scored on a breakaway. Brayden McNabb added an empty netter and the Golden Knights cruised to their first preseason win the 2019-2020 season 6-2. Veterans Pacioretty, Eakin, Smith and McNabb did all the scoring for VGK. Malcolm Subban stopped 26 saves for the win.
The Golden Knights get back on the ice Tuesday in Denver for their second preseason matchup. Game starts at 6. (Recap by Jason)
Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes preseason game at T-Mobile Arena.
First NHL camp stories from Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and Malcolm Subban
The difficulty for veterans playing with rookies in preseason games
Ken’s Three VGK Stars *** Max Pacioretty ** Nick Holden * Dylan Coghlan
Now that is what we want to see from Cody Glass. Terrific job putting the puck down, sets up Coghlan and Pacioretty cleans it up for the hatty. Great stuff from both youngsters.
When the Golden Knights hit the ice tomorrow for their first preseason game of the 2019-20 season, there will be a few familiar faces to most Vegas fans, but there will also be a lot of new ones too.
The team currently has 29 forwards, 17 defensemen, and five goalies available in camp. Ryan Reaves has been ruled out with an injury for what we expect to be a majority of camp but should not roll into the regular season, and Shea Theodore was described as behind in his conditioning due to his offseason procedure which leaves him unavailable for the first week or two.
That means the coaching staff has 51 players to select from when making their 20 man roster to ice on Sunday afternoon. Historically (which means the last two years), the Golden Knights go very young in their first few games. Dylan Ferguson was the goalie for each of the preseason openers and multiple rookies played both at the forward and defense. Here’s a look at how they lined it up each of the first two seasons.
By rule, the NHL requires each team to ice at least eight veterans in every NHL exhibition game. (We believe the Golden Knights were issued an exemption in their first preseason game in 2017-18 as there are only three veterans in that lineup.) That’s why you see names like Pacioretty, Marchessault, Karlsson, and Holden mixed among a mass of players who have yet to make their NHL debuts.
What is more interesting though is the experimentation that goes along with the preseason. Last season, the Golden Knights tried a rash of different bottom-six options. In fact, through all seven games, they never played a third line that matched the one they used on Opening Night.
In 2017-18, the Golden Knights did not roster a single line that played together in Dallas for the franchises first game.
Gerard Gallant did, however, use the entire preseason last year to cement his ideas for the top six. Marchessault and Karlsson played five preseason games together and were matched up with their linemate Reilly Smith in four of the five (Smith didn’t play the other game). Pacioretty and Stastny found themselves on the same line for four of the five games Max played and all four of Paul’s. They rotated between Tuch and Haula on their wing, with Haula eventually winning that spot as Tuch was injured in the final preseason game.
Young defensive prospect Kaedan Korczak was one of the top performers from last weekend’s Rookie Showcase in Irvine. The defenseman played against other prospects that were three, four, even five-years older, and it was an eye-opening experience for the 18-year-old.
I got my first taste of pro hockey. First game I felt pretty comfortable. Ten minutes in, I kind of got my feet wet and felt it out. -Korczak
The Golden Knights’ 2019 2nd round draft pick had no problem keeping up with the “pros” and felt confident on the ice among other, more mature prospects.
Once I got comfortable I began to add layers to my game. Overall, I felt pretty good.-Korczak
Korczak was happy to get in some action at the rookie tournament, but he’s mostly looking forward to Golden Knights training camp. Where he’ll get to skate with NHL veterans.
His plan is to soak it all in, observe how Golden Knights players build a routine to maximize their skill level.
How they handle themselves away from the rink. The small habits that aren’t seen by anyone. Putting in extra time in the gym, stuff like that.-Korczak
Nate Schmidt told us last season eating right and getting plenty of sleep was a key to be successful in the NHL. Korczak quickly found that to be the case for himself and his peers.
Very, very important. I learned that too since I’ve been here. All of the guys are in their rooms by 9-9:30p. We’re all getting our rest and come prepared ready to go.-Korczak
It’ll be interesting to watch Korczak compete in camp against, and with established NHL players. With his size, skill, and maturity it’s possible the youngster will develop quickly enough to skate for Vegas in a few seasons.
The Golden Knights finished the Rookie Showcase in Irvine winless and looking rather listless for a majority of the three games. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament in terms of individual players. I wrote up recaps from Games 1 and 2 earlier, this one is a bit more of a recap of the whole weekend, but includes Game 3.
The standout of the entire weekend was Dylan Coghlan. His offensive game popped consistently no matter the situation, and he was one of the most responsible defensemen in his own zone. He personally scored three of the team’s seven goals and registered a beautiful primary assist on another. There’s still a long way to go, and rookie games probably hold the least weight in comparison to full training camp and preseason games, but Coghlan’s performance in Irvine will absolutely play a part in the final decision as to which defenseman stays with the team when camp breaks in a few weeks.
Paul Cotter did well to start the process of cementing himself as a pro. He was one of the few Golden Knights to play with an edge and it led to him being in the middle of a lot of the team’s best offensive plays. He still has a lot to prove over the next week or two before he’s sent out of camp and either to the OHL or the AHL, but those three games were a giant leap towards Chicago.