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Golden Knights Must “Churn” Roster In Order To Stay Good For Now And Later

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are into offseason number three as they prepare for season number four. In season three, they began to work in some younger players like Nic Roy, Cody Glass, Zach Whitecloud, and Nic Hague, but the playing time was limited and the roles were certainly reduced.

As they move forward, especially with the cap staying flat, the Golden Knights must find more ways to save cap space by getting larger contributions out of younger players.

You can’t sit still. There’s a balance between having a real strong nucleus that gives you a chance to win but there’s also the importance of having enough churn that you give opportunities for new players. -Kelly McCrimmon

The question that will be answered this offseason is just how much “churn” is enough.

The Golden Knights prospect system has a heap of players that appear to be ready to break into the NHL. From the four that did in 2019-20 to Jack Dugan, Lucas Elvenes, Peyton Krebs, Jonas Rondbjerg, Dylan Coghlan, and Jimmy Schuldt the options are certainly there for Vegas.

Every one of the players mentioned carries a cap hit of less than $1 million, which means replacing just about anyone in the everyday starting lineup means cap savings.

But, how much is too much? Especially when considering the Golden Knights are a clear Cup contending team and have aspirations of lifting it in the very near future.

In 2019-20, when the Golden Knights were pushed up to the salary cap limit, they pretty much always had at least two entry-level contracts on the NHL roster. It started with Hague and Glass, then morphed into Roy and Whitecloud as the season went on and into the playoffs.

I’d guess that Roy and Whitecloud have become permanent members of the NHL roster moving forward and any of the other six players mentioned could easily make a case as well. But there has to be a spot for them and at the moment there don’t appear to be many open.

That’s where this offseason comes into play and why Vegas fans should be expecting at least a bit of a shakeup, if not a mega one, in the Golden Knights standard 18-man starting roster. McCrimmon and McPhee not only want to see what they have in the system, but they’ll need to get production out of these younger players if they want to continue to improve their team without the advantage of a rising salary cap.

Expect to see at least one player from the top-six to head out and a high probability of one of the six starting defensemen from the Dallas series no longer in steel grey and gold come opening night of season four.

Churn is normal every offseason, but the Golden Knights are ripe for a bit more than usual with the collection of factors the front office is up against in this one. The cap is at the top of it, but also a seven-game scoring drought that ended a promising playoff run, and a new coach behind the bench for his first offseason.

The Golden Knights will remain a very good team, and one most will project to win the Pacific Division once again when play gets underway. However, don’t expect that team to look too much like the one that just exited the bubble in Edmonton.

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33 Comments

  1. Buckeye63

    The question you didn’t answer was who do you really think goes? We all know Merrill, Nosek, and DE are goners.

    • We need to see them make the first move. We know Fleury is likely out and I suspect Pietrangelo is in assuming he hits the market. If those both happen, a lot more dominos will fall. Literally everyone not named Stone or Theodore is at risk of going.

    • Daryl

      I wouldn’t be too sure on those 3 although more than likely… De and Merrill are both better than any option on D coming up. Without looking it up I don’t know what Merrill would cost but Engo is only $700.While I do agree all 3 will be gone I think it depends on what happens with the other players. If anything they could keep Merrill over the other 2.

  2. Tim

    You’ve got to give the Splash Brothers credit our expansion team and what they accomplished bar none was the greatest first year of any team in any sport.
    Did there heads get to big and thought they were invincible with many moves in the next two years. We gave so many early draft picks away to get so so players Martinez comes to mind two second round picks, Tatar three picks, Patch players and a second round pick,
    I worry that once again with no one being safe will they trade Krebs or Glass like they did Gusav without seeing him play. Kelly talks about bringing up some young talent then they sign Holden for two more years. Are our younger defensive men that bad that resigning Holden was necessary it makes me wonder.
    Watching the finals do you really think we have the same talent? Stamkos is hurt but Point and Kuch would eat us for lunch there light years ahead of our forwards. Tell me how their power play is so effective and ours is a joke. Obviously it has to be coaching. In closing we’ve got a nice competitive team but this year was our chance to make the finals and we blew it. I don’t see us making it again unless we get better center play so I’m hoping the kids like Glass, Krebs, Evelens, and Dugan can make us younger and faster.

    • I think you are right. I think they closed their cup window this year and screwed the chemistry they had that was making them a special team. I am speculating, but I don’t think they will be any better than average, and they need to churn a lot to get players that will buy into PDB. The players know now that there is no loyalty to anyone from front office. And yes it is a business but they made some ruthless moves and they just looked so desperate to me. The west was not very strong, and we played a couple very soft teams to start the bubble.
      I don’t see them competing for a cup for a long time unless the have major overhaul, now that they have changed coaches and decided to make moves with zero regard of how they would affect team chemistry at critical time of year. They might be great next year and compete for the cup and I will have been way off base. But I think this has potential to go down as one of the worst front office moves or in history. And complete horrible timing, and thinking that better or more expensive players could make up for team cohesiveness and chemistry.

      • Mike StG

        Chris & Tim – you guys sound pretty pessimistic. You are talking about the team that just went to the conference final and was out scored 9-8 in total goals over 5 games, right? Tim, don’t worry about Glass & Krebs. They’re solid in Vegas’s future plans. Now if Glass could just stay healthy for more than 10 or 15 games without suffering an extended injury then maybe he can develop into the player they hoped he would be. Krebs looks really good and I think he has a higher ceiling offensively than Glass. Elvenes and the 2 Russian kids look promising as well. Keep your chin(s) up. There are some good hockey times ahead guys! :).
        PS – wait until they actually turn into the Sens or Sabres to be depressed.

        • Mike you make me smile, thank you. I know you addressed the above to Tim and Chris but you are beginning to sound like Doc Hockey. Glass and Krebs are solid l assume you have that on good authority! How can you be so certain l said before Glass seems a little injury prone – l hope that’s behind him for his sake. I would bet it’s a concern of the Knights so l am not certain how solid that makes him. Even your optmistic view stated if he can stay healthy. It is also of no value they were only out scored 9 to 8 : whether 1 or 10 they lost pure and simple That’s like Lehnet being a vezina trophy finalist the results are the same.

          • Mike StG

            Hd – haha! I was just try to talk them off the ledge. They sound ready to take a flying leap. My concerns about Glass besides health revolve around his lack of self-confidence which he expressed more than once in the rookie camps. I just think that as stubborn as they were in refusing to trade Glass they seem to be all-in on him, but that’s obviously no guarantee. And I think Krebs had such a huge upside that they’ll keep him too. Who knows? Only The Shadow! lol

    • Daryl

      I hate to agree with you Tim…. I really think this was the year VGK had to make a move. Their Division is so bad they will probably make the playoffs but will be a first round exit. If they played in any other Division I say they wouldn’t even make the playoffs

    • Tyler Durden

      “Obviously it has to be coaching. In closing we’ve got a nice competitive team but this year was our chance to make the finals and we blew it.”

      The coaching staff wasn’t the ones who were afraid to crash the net, it was the soft players on this team.

      This team didn’t blow it in the WCF, they got their asses kicked by Dallas in 5.

      • Daryl

        Tyler…. But it was the offensive style that PDB utilizes. He determines how the offensive players play. You can’t say it’s the players fault for not crashing the net when he has them playing away from the net

        • Mike StG

          Daryl – I think it’s more than that. As JFresh’s analysis (re: Shea) pointed out Vegas’s forwards tend to be effective scorers in transition, but not in cycle game where net front play Is crucial for deflection and rebound goals. PDB had said in 2 post game interviews in DAL series that they needed to get in front of the net. They need to add players like that if they want to be effective in cycle offense. VAN exposed the weakness and DAL exploited it. We needed Corey Perry or Joe Pavelski. I’m thinking Bobby Ryan could be that player for us if he’s willing to take a lower salary after the OTT buyout. If not him it needs to be that type of forward, or they’ll need to change their offensive style back to transition.

        • Tyler Durden

          You have to show us PDB’S playbook before anybody can believe you know his coaching style. And you can’t say these players, who have been playing since they were small children, don’t know how to crash the net and that is what wins in the playoffs.

          • Daryl

            You don’t have to see his play book… Just look at his previous teams and how he changed the iffe se as soon as he got to VGK. And it’s not a matter of crashing the net when your player is playing along the corner… He can’t always get to the net to crash it. Yes players like Stone and Reaves should have done a better job when closer to the net but you have to get them there first. It’s also a reason we didn’t have as many goalie screens b/c they are spread further out. I’m not the only one in here who says this, there about 5 or 6 others

          • Mike StG

            Tyler, Daryl is right. Just watch Vegas play and you can see the difference in the offensive scheme. You might find this analysis by JFresh interesting. It goes into Vegas’s offensive system as it has evolved under PDB as well as how Shea’s play is impacting team scoring.

            http://sinbin.vegas/interview-jack-from-jfresh-hockey-on-shea-theodores-puzzling-impact-on-the-golden-knights-inability-to-score/

    • Tim

      Guys you’ve all made such good points on this particular post. Seems like were all on the same page. I don’t think anyone is being pessimistic just realistic. Lets look into some of these players and remember the coaches aren’t stupid they watch these kids every day where we don’t have a clue.That being said a few observations supposedly Cody Glass has worked on gaining weight and getting stronger. Gary Lawless had mentioned Payton Krebs would be up sooner then later. Jack Dugan is a wild card lead the nation is scoring not sure he’s ready but at 22 he may be more advanced. Lucas Evelens lead the Wolves in scoring not sure why he wasn’t invited into the bubble. The two Russian kids are signed through 2022 with the KHL maybe if we bring them both over and they bunk together they may feel more comfortable and would actually come over. So yes their is optimism but at the same time their have been many mistakes made which we all know and don’t have to go into again. I am totally against Alex Pietrangelo at the cost and term sounds good now but talk to me in 3 years. I’m hoping they resigned Holden to trade him he’s cheap and someone may give us a draft choice for him. I’m still standing by my prediction that Stantsy, Marshy, for sure and maybe McNabb, and sorry to say Fleury will be gone.

      • Mike StG

        Tim, you make a lot of good points. I had read that Glass was beefing up. Maybe that (plus playing his natural position at C since Eakin is gone) will help his game. At wing he had to play on the boards and was outmuscled often. Krebs either has to stay in junior or join VGK so that’s a hard decision given that McPhee likes to overcook prospects. Another year in junior almost seems pointless for him, but if he’s on VGK he won’t progress unless he plays regularly. I like Dugan as well and saw him play at the Fortress Invitational in Dec. Being 22 and well developed physically, and a physical player, I’d think we could see him midseason if he does well with HSK. I’m with you that Piet is a luxury we can’t afford. Since they didn’t win the cup losing Stastny is risky – Glass will have to step up into 2C probably, or maybe Krebs. Then they need to figure out where Roy lines up. If they trade Marchie then I guess Krebs could play wing w/Reilly & William. It kind of goes back to transition vs cycle. By swapping Stastny with Karlsson PDB made both top lines cycle because Stastny slows the game down, and Karlsson’s speed isn’t really effective when paired with Stone & Patch. When PDB would put Karlsson back with Smith & Marchie he basically had both – transition & cycle. I think that was more effective. On Holden, I think they’ll probably keep him as 3rd pair with Zach or any other young player that may come up from HSK. He can skate pretty well (better than Deryk), has a decent shot and can mentor the kids. Maybe they trade him at the end of next season if Hague or Coghlan are brought up. Personally I don’t think the player moves have been mistakes, and the point of obtaining a bunch of picks in the expansion was to be able to use them later as they actually did. And you can’t really fault them for trying to upgrade the inaugural team to win now after getting so close in Year 1. What has slowed their prospect development was the fact they had a winning team out of the gate. In 2018 they would’ve picked 31st and 2019 had #16 or 17. If they were a crap team we would have been a lottery team both years, and maybe we’d have gotten Jack Hughes or Dahlin. I’m happy it worked out as it did, and remain optimistic. My concern is whether PDB will adjust his offensive scheme to best deploy the talents on the roster.

        • Tim

          Mike a lot of good points I agree with almost all except the part about mistakes. I keep saying this but I can’t get it out of my head. First David Perron was not offered a contract signs 4 years with the Blues averages 60 points the last 2 years. We could have signed him for 4 million and obviously wouldn’t cost us any draft picks. Back to Tatar 3 draft picks and did zero for the Knights. Trade him Nick.s a second rounder plus Tatar and the 3 picks we gave to get him how can that not be a terrible trade. So Perron who plays every night at 4 million or Patch at 7 million who gets dinged up more then most? I’ll never get over those stupid deals it has cost us dearly.

          • Mike StG

            I think you need to get over the Tatar deal. First he had term (2 or 3 yrs) and a consistent history of 20+ goal seasons. He fit the mold of Vegas’s transition offense. Gallant wouldn’t play him, plus we found out later that Tatar was not fully recovered from an injury he suffered earlier in the season. If you remember Reilly was injured and missed several weeks, as did Perron. To add some scoring depth given they were making the playoffs was the right move. And with Perron, who Gallant benched for part of the playoffs, there was not only injury but some other issue between them. I loved David but still think Patch is overall a better player. He had 32G this year, was almost a PPG player. His production in G & pts has been higher in the 2 year period than DP and he had less penalty minutes. Plus he’s a better defender. No telling how much better Patch’s scoring would have been if he played with Ryan O’Reilly at C. As far as injuries, if he gets dinged up some it’s because he lays some pretty big hits and is actually forechecking and defending.

        • Mike S my man – good morning – the magic words -“whether PDB will adjust his offensive scheme to best deploy the talents on the poster”. I would bet you read the post by an XShark fan – I believe it was April – get rid of PDB. Now I know from your posts you are big on past performance as a gauge to future potential performance – Lehner comes to mind. Given that criteria PDB past performance certainly isn’t great as pointed out and shown again in this years play-offs – do you think he is the solution to get Vegas the Cup?? His past performance certainly doesn’t say so and I seriously doubt that he is. I know we agree on the need for some net screening – if I am not mistaken that falls pretty much on the centers 10 and 16 on Dallas stick out today and demonstrated last night against Tampa – you mentioned Glass was outmuscled along the boards I know you realize if outmuscled there in front of the net assuming he gets there he doesn’t have a chance so that doesn’t equate to a solution either. I think we agree PDB line arrangement during the play-offs hurt us versus being the solution. Getting front of net presence is more important than a guy like Piet for 8 to 9 million. Going to be interesting.

          • I am certain you know poster means roster. Slip of the fingure

          • Mike StG

            Hey Hd – although I’m not keen on the cycle offense, a strictly transition game can also be thwarted. I think the combinations they had at the end of last season were really good – Stastny-Max-Mark line & Karlsson line. What they lacked was a 3rd line that could produce, which they now have in Roy-Tuch-xx. I’m not sold on PDB, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s not a very good coach. He took two teams to the cup final, and the last 2 years made it to the WC final. I do like some of the things he’s changed (PK) and not changed (man-to-man defense). I agree on Glass not being a great option net front but if you put him with Max&Mark that should be potent. Glass is great on PP with his passing ability and vision. BTW, Perry is a winger (as is JVR who plays a similar role in PHI). If they trade Marchie maybe they replace him with someone like Bobby Ryan. There aren’t any really good Top 6 centers available and several teams are in the market for one so they’ll be at a premium. As far as past performance, that obviously isn’t the only factor. With players there is also their future potential or lack thereof. So, they didn’t give Neal a 5 yr deal, or Perron 4 yrs. Or Fleury more than 3 yrs. Next 3 weeks are going to be fun! Let’s go!!!

          • Tim

            hdbiker good thoughts. Pietrangelo 17 goals 36 assists nice year but over 8 million for 7 years what are they thinking. As they say where there’s smoke there’s fire so it will probably happen unless Toronto who would love to have him and a local kid beats us out.

          • Mike StG

            Hd & Tim – we’ll latest today is that BOS is looking to trade the rights for Torey Krug and Vegas is in the mix. Man I honestly don’t understand it. Besides not being really good on the defensive side why would we need another PP quarterback at 7-7.5M?? Do we really need two Shea Theodores? To be frank, other than playoffs this is the most fun time of year for me. 🙂

  3. Mike StG

    Ken (and all you fine posters on his articles) – Bobby Ryan just cleared waivers in the buyout of his contract. If Vegas could land him at a reasonable cost do you think he would be a good option to improve Vegas’ offense in front of the net?

    • I think they should absolutely put in a call to see if he’s willing to play for next to nothing. But I’m not going much over $1 million for him and I think he’ll end up commanding more than that.

      • Tim

        Ken now were bottom feeding going after Bobby Ryan not sure what he has left in the tank but hasn’t he always had hand injuries that nag him?

        • Mike StG

          Tim, they need another power forward who can get in front of the net. With PDB’s change to cycle offense teams set up defensively and collapse to the middle leaving mostly outside shots. We needed a Corey Perry (in case you’ve watched the last few cup final games) or Joe Pavelski.

    • Daryl

      At this point I’ll take a scrub if he can set up in front and cause problems

    • Daryl

      I’m with you on Krug…. If we didn’t have Theo then I would be all for it but we don’t need another for the reasons you stated

  4. A VGK Fan

    im surprised no one has talked about Statsny…I dont think he contributes as much as his price tag is worth. I think Nosek contributes more overall and is much cheaper. With Glass coming back into the fold, Statsny can go and so will his 6.5 AAV. that ALONE will open up alot of windows.

    im secretly hoping we keep MAF and Panda, and only let go of merril, Engo, and cousins. along with statsny. everything else can work after that

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