The Golden Knights have the next three days completely off, meaning no games, practice, and no media availability. They currently sit in 3rd place in the Pacific Division with 44 points in 39 games. That’s one point behind the 2nd place Sharks and one ahead of the 4th place Ducks.
There are a few topics I wanted to discuss but none of them garnered a full article. So, we cram them all into one and call it a day. Here we go.
Brandon Pirri Re-Assigned to AHL
Following the overtime loss to the Kings last night the Golden Knights re-assigned Brandon Pirri to the Chicago Wolves. In doing so they also took Max Pacioretty off IR.
Just looking at the moves, this would lead most to believe that Pacioretty will return Thursday and will be slotted back into his normal place in the lineup. That may happen, but it also may not, and Pirri might wind up right back on the 2nd line despite being re-assigned a few days earlier.
Per NHL rules, if a player clears waivers, which Pirri did on October 4th, they must play 10 games or be on the active NHL roster for 30 days before they are eligible for waivers again. Pirri was recalled to the Golden Knights on December 18th and played in games on the 20th, 22nd, and 23rd before being re-assigned on the 23rd. Thus, he’s played three games and spent five days on the roster.
By optioning him back to the Wolves during this three-day break, the Golden Knights still have six available games and 24 days before he must re-clear waivers. The clock is cumulative, so even if this stint with the Golden Knights is over, it restarts if he is called back up again.
What all of this is trying to say is that there’s a practical reason to send Pirri down to the AHL even if VGK intends to play him on Thursday. It may or may not happen, but unlike most situations when a player is returned to the AHL, this one does not necessarily mean his time with the Golden Knights is up.
Struggles Without Main Defensemen
It was well-documented how much the Golden Knights missed Nate Schmidt during his 20 game suspension. They went just 8-11-1 and were much closer to the basement of the Pacific than they were the top.
Over the past two games, they’ve gone 0-0-2 at home while missing Colin Miller due to an upper-body injury.
Deryk Engelland has missed six games this season, the Golden Knights are 3-2-1 in those games.
Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, and Nick Holden have played in all 39 games
When Miller and Schmidt are both in the lineup, Vegas is 12-4-1. When one or the other is missing they are 8-11-3.
Defensive depth is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed, whether that be via trade or by giving some of the young AHL prospects a chance. Either way, something needs to be done because no team makes it through the playoffs with just six defensemen.
Vegas has 13 players, including nine forwards that average 0:50 or more per shift. There are only 118 NHL skaters that average 0:50 or more
The Golden Knights have 10 players in the top 100 in the NHL in this category.
Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Tuch lead the team with 0:56 average per shift while Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, and William Karlsson all average at least 0:53.