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Forward Depth Has Become An Issue

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights forward lineup is about as potent as any team in the NHL. They have two bonafide first lines, a third line that includes another top-six quality player, and a fourth line that should continue to get the job done.

No matter how Gerard Gallant opts to run out his 12 forwards, they’re going to be good. After that first 12 though, it gets thin, and quickly.

A lot can change between now and October 2nd, but as it stands, the most likely forwards to be in the lineup against the Sharks are as follows.

Centers

William Karlsson
Paul Stastny
Cody Eakin
Tomas Nosek

Wingers

Reilly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault
Mark Stone
Max Pacioretty
Alex Tuch
Brandon Pirri
William Carrier
Ryan Reaves

That leaves this group as the 2019-20 reserves.

 18-19 GPCareer GPCareer GoalsCareer Points
Valentin Zykov2840613
Nicolas Roy6700
Tyrell Goulbourne21100
Curtis McKenzie0991023
Patrick Brown02812
Cody Glass0000
Gage Quinney0000
Keegan Kolesar0000
Reid Duke0000
Jake Leschyshyn0000
Lucas Elvenes0000
Ben Jones0000
Jonas Rondbjerg0000
TOTAL361851738

That group of 13 players played a total of 36 regular-season games with Zykov accounting for 28 of them. In the entire Golden Knights forward reserve group, there are 17 goals and 38 points and just 185 career games.

Let’s compare that last season.

 17-18 GPCareer GP*Career Goals*Career Points*
Oscar Lindberg631973059
Ryan Carpenter52641119
Daniel Carr38941434
Tomas Hyka101013
Stefan Matteau86437
Curtis McKenzie7991023
Brandon Pirri222860202
T.J. Tynan0300
Brooks Macek0000
Gage Quinney0000
Keegan Kolesar0000
Reid Duke0000
TOTAL180757129347
*Career totals are calculated to that point, so they do not include 2018-19 stats

Both Pirri and Lindberg each had more career games played, more goals, and more points than the entire 2019-20 reserve list!

Here, let me put that into one chart so you can see the staggering difference between the Golden Knights’ depth in 2018-19 compared to 2019-20.

 19-20 Reserves18-19 Reserves
Players1312
Prior Season GP36180
Career GP185757
Goals17127
Points38347
# of Players who played last in NHL season37
Players w/ NHL experience58

To make matters worse, five of the 2019-20 reserves are under the age of 21, and it’s probable that only Cody Glass has a realistic shot of playing significant minutes.

Glass making the roster would push a player like Tomas Nosek to the reserve list, which would add 152 games, 16 goals, and 33 points (almost more than the entire reserve list combined). However, no matter how you slice it, the Golden Knights are running thin.

They can probably survive one injury, but two or three could be a massive issue. Last year, the Golden Knights were missing at least one forward in all 82 games, they were short multiple forwards in 77, and were missing at least three in 20 games.

If that happens again this year, the Golden Knights are in trouble. Unless they find another Ryan Carpenter on the waiver wire… or better yet, three.

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16 Comments

  1. Mark

    We know how our top guys can play. It’s time to give Glass his shot. He’s not 18 anymore. If he’s not playing alot this season, Gallant and McPhee must not think alot about him, that’s for sure. He’s been in Chicago enough. Same for Shumldt, Whitecloud and the 20 something’s in our AHL affiliate Chicago. Those guys having nothing to prove at that level. Give them their shot or trade them, IMOP.

    • Mark

      Carrier is a bruising presence, just plays at 1000% at all times. He will go down at some point, he’s 24 or 25, he and Reaves keep the order. Reaves is durable, they are a great presence on Line 4.

      • David

        Yeah, Carrier is definitely missing time again this year. Perfect spot for Roy. I’m interested in seeing him get some action.

  2. Bent Hermit

    It might be a matter of starting to give some of the young guys time in the NHL. At some point they have to play some of their drafted young guys and see what they have.

  3. Mike St Germain

    I don’t think it’s an issue unless 2 players in same position get injured (eg, centers). Top 6 injuries: LW is replaced by Pirri, C by Eakin or Glass, RW by Tuch. Resulting L3 replacements: RW by Roy (not Reaves), C by Nosek or Glass, LW by Zykov. Leave Carrier & Reaves on L4. Center replacement depends on whether Glass starts season on VGK and on L3 or L4.

    Injuries to two of any top 6 forward position (LW, RW or C) would be catastrophic for any team.

    • David

      That’s a good point. Any injury to the Top 6 can see a third liner slide in. With two very good lines, I think we could see a significant decrease in 3rd line minutes if injuries pile up.

  4. Mark

    Carrier is a bruising presence, just plays at 1000% at all times. He will go down at some point, he’s 24 or 25, he and Reaves keep the order. Reaves is durable, they are a great presence on Line 4.

  5. DOC

    Don’t quite see the logic in the column. None of the guys that are not on this years reserve list, compared to last year, would be considered “scorers”. Yes, less “NHL” exp. on this years list, but that’s not automatically a negative. They haven’t been given their NHL chance yet. ANY team would have a rough go of it, if they lost two top six forwards. Something you can never predict. We have great talent in our forwards, the core of our team. My concerns remain in the defensive end. IF we ARE thin anywhere, that would be the area.

  6. Ron C.

    Just because a player doesn’t have experience doesn’t mean to much to me. Either one of those reserves could come up and surprise everyone. Just because experience is lacking doesn’t mean anything to me.

    • I’d be fine with that if a bunch of them were highly touted guys. They aren’t. For the most part they are guys who have been in hockey for years and never make it or are 20 year old 4th round or later picks that aren’t ready.

  7. Tim Fink

    They say their’s one defenseman spot open well since they brought in Jimmy Shumldt you can bet he wins the job. That leaves everyone else to get overcooked in the AHL. This is the price of having a good team early. Next year which will be our fourth year we should have some younger players finally make it. The amount of drafts choices we’ve had and will have in 2020 and 2021 we may be the first NHL team to support two AHL teams. We have the Wolves and maybe we’ll have a team out west in either Reno or Salt Lake it wouldn’t surprise me.

  8. Walt Tkaczuk

    Maybe a cheap 40 year old one year insurance policy….Patrick Marleau? Just ask Marner and Matthews about his value as a teammate. Line #3 = Marleau LW, Glass C, Tuch RW. Line #4 = Eakin and whoever. Pirri, Zykov, Nosek, Roy, and others….who cares.

  9. Richard Evans

    Why some people should not used numbers. Here is where analytics fail. This column confuses “thin” with “inexperience.”

    There is a huge difference between the two. Trying to make numbers mean something they do not show is unfortunately a problem with many who try to use stats to make a point.

    The Golden Knights have an inexperienced reserve forward group. There is nothing here to know if it is thin unless you have a much better understanding of their CURRENT availability level. That is something these numbers cannot show.

    • I thought this was a much better way to say it than to go through and show how every reserve forward is not good and has very little upside. Aside from Cody Glass, there’s not a single forward who has a legitimate future as a Top-6 forward and there are barely even guys who have the ability to score. You can call it inexperience, but there’s a reason for the inexperience, especially for the older guys. The fact of the matter is, there no longer is an Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Carpenter, or Brandon Pirri to lean on. These guys haven’t played a lot of games because they aren’t good. If you want numbers for that, I’m certainly willing to provide those too.

  10. Dave Pros

    I can’t believe how little credit is being paid to an excellent group of player the Knights have in the AHL Chicago Wolves!
    Believe it or not some of those guys know how to win.
    There are some intangibles that go into the mixer and create a championship team, that don’t show up on the scoring sheet.
    Quantify a ticked off attitude that had many players playing above their prior level of performance because their prior team let them go to a newbie team in Vegas.
    I beg to differ with Ken Boehlke the Wolves have at least one other NHLer.
    There is little to no talk about winning leadership available yet the Vegas affiliate Wolves have a co Captian (leader) that has been an integral/necessary part on every highly successful team he has played for, his name is on the Calder Cup. He has Captained or co-Captained teams that have won their league’s divisional championships numerous times, been in the final Cup series with Vegas and Dallas, been an All Star twice, and Rookie of the year but, most importantly brings an intangible winning quality, a spark that championship teams have that sets them above all the other teams, a player that turns adversity into opportunity, a protector of teammates, a crowd favorite. The Bruins have Marchand, the Ducks have Kesler, the Hawks had Shaw (and realized how he “sparked” the team) and now brought him back. The Knights have Curtis McKenzie.
    Except for an illegal, suspension producing, blindsided hit by Kucherov that immediately put Dallas’ upcoming star in the hospital, McKenzie (now fully recovered) would already be a top 6 forward on any team.
    Just look at the success teams he has played for have achieved, and what is their common denominator?
    Come on Knights, bring Curtis back to the NHL where he belongs!
    The fans and his teammates will appreciate it.

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