Much has been made about the total number of defensemen under Vegas Golden Knights control and how it may affect trades, waivers, scratches, and more. But there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s time we point it out.
The Golden Knights have 14 defensemen under contract (including Nate Schmidt). One of them is Erik Brannstrom, who we expect to head back to Sweden rather than stay with in Vegas with the NHL club. Of the 13 who are staying in Vegas or Chicago, a whopping three shoot right handed.
Now, don’t go freaking out too much, teams have utilized defensive pairings of two left handers before, but the handedness (that a word?) of the players on the roster may be able to give us some hints on what may happen in the future.
Colin Miller, Deryk Engelland, and Chris Casto are the three right handed blueliners. Miller was likely to be among the top two pairings no matter what, but this basically confirms it. It’s Engelland and Casto that make things a bit more interesting.
We’ve always assumed Engelland would be either a third line defenseman or even a healthy scratch as his strongest talents lie in checking, fighting, and general badassery. However, being right handed may be his ticket to significant minutes at least early on in the season for the Golden Knights.
That brings us to Casto, a player initially expected to have a guaranteed ticket to Chicago. He’s spent the last three seasons in the AHL with the Providence Bruins including last year when he played in all 16 playoff games. An undrafted free agent signed by Boston in 2013, he’s yet to appear in an NHL game. He’ll be competing with the likes of Luca Sbisa, Jason Garrison, Clayton Stoner, Jon Merrill, and Griffin Reinhart, but the fact remains he’s got a “hand” up on the competition.
Finally, remember the name Matt Dumba? The 22-year-old budding superstar from Minnesota the Golden Knights passed over for Alex Tuch and Erik Haula? Yeah, you guessed it, he’s right handed too. Whoops?
Camp is still about a month and a half out, and roster movement is likely before we reach October 6th, but the fact remains, one side of the boat is a bit heavier than the other, and it may be an issue down the stream.