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4 Golden Knights Ready To Breakout

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

Just about every player to step on the ice for the Golden Knights this season will have already fulfilled their goal as a hockey player. Now, they are all working together to do it again. Individually though, there’s room for improvement for many players on the Vegas roster. With a few departures and an 82-game season in store, there will be opportunities for many Golden Knights, especially the younger ones, to take a step forward. Here are four candidates who could be in store for breakout seasons.

Brett Howden

Howden’s career high in points in a season is just 23 and he scored only 13 for the Golden Knights last year. Of course, his contributions in the playoffs ramped up significantly after he found himself as the third wheel on a line with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson. Howden scored five goals (including an OT GWG in the WCF) and added five assists for 10 points in 22 playoff games.

This year, he’ll likely start the season right back in that same spot on the second line and might even find his way onto a power play unit. Howden’s skill set clearly matched up well with Stone and Stephenson which should equate to a lot more playing time than he’s seen in the past. Last season he averaged just 13:04 per game. That number jumped by almost a minute per night to 13:59 in the playoffs. It’d be easy to project him to play closer to 15:00 a game this season as long as the chemistry holds with his linemates.

He’s never reached double-digit goals nor has he eclipsed 25 points in a season in his career. He has a great chance to do both, and potentially much more, this year.

Nic Hague

Hague played a huge role in the Golden Knights’ run to the Stanley Cup as he and his partner Zach Whitecloud solidified what proved to be the best defensive unit in the NHL. Hague was called upon multiple times during the season to step up into an elevated role and the same should be expected this year. The difference this season though is that he’ll be much more accustomed to playing harder minutes which should allow the full complement of his game to shine through.

Eventually, age is going to catch up to Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, and Alex Pietrangelo, or at the very least it will begin to slow them down. Hague is going to be the recipient of pretty much all of the extra time that will come from that happening. The scoring numbers certainly may go up (his career highs are five goals and 17 points), but more importantly, his role as part of a dominant defense will increase. If he continues to do the job as he has, his status among the blueliners in the league will strengthen.

Jiri Patera

If there’s one thing we know about the rigors of an NHL season, especially for VGK, it’s that it takes more than two goalies to run the full race. Patera is unlikely to make the roster out of camp but there will come a time when either Adin Hill or Logan Thompson are unavailable and his number is called.

In his two appearances last season, he was solid, earning two wins and stopping 65 of 70 shots on goal. That experience should have him prepared to really seize his next opportunity. The Golden Knights appear set in the net as it stands right now, but things in the crease can change awfully quickly.

Brendan Brisson

Prior to winning the Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights had made six selections in the first round. Just one of those players remains with the organization, it’s Brisson. For the first time since being picked in 2020, Brisson will be given a legitimate chance to make the Vegas roster out of camp. The 21, going on 22, year-old has proven time and time again that his shot is an absolute weapon. However, he has been unable to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s able to do enough off the puck or defensively to earn NHL minutes.

At Development Camp this summer, he showed flashes, and now with a full training camp, he could very easily claim the open forward spot. Even if he can’t win the job straight out of camp, Brisson’s NHL debut will likely come this season. Once he gets it, his power play prowess alone could cement him in the lineup moving forward.

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29 Comments

  1. Pistol Pete

    Ken you have never been bullish on Pavel Dorofeyev though I sensed you came around when he got 7 goals in a 10 game stretch last season and got that absolutely sick SO goal to keep us in the game vs. MIN and overall contributed to that season closing run. Ever since I saw his first season goals production in Henderson I have been bullish. I would be amazed to see Brisson edge him out,
    out of camp. Besides, Brisson is a center making it all the more challenging for him. We’ll see. Agree with your points on the other guys just not when it came to not including Pav in the mix.

  2. Pistol Pete

    Of course if you think he’s already “broken out” compared to say Howden I would agree to a point. Including the three games in December, Pav did 9 pts (7 G/2 A) in 18 games vs. Howden’s 13 (6 G/7 A) in 54 games. Howden did have breakout performance in the playoffs though, netting 5 G/5 A in 22 games well above his career average.

  3. Pistol Pete

    I am bullish on Brett though. Playing on that line 40 points would not amaze me. Possibly more if he stays healthy. He’s heavy, tall and is not afraid to mix it up with anyone.

    • Emmanuel

      Howden is a fringe NHLer, even the “breakout playoffs” was on an 82 game pace rather mediocre. If he has a saving grace its that the next 3 years will be his prime years so if he has a 20G 30A season it will be by 2026.

      • Howden plays hard each and every shift he is on the ice….maybe every player does that or is supposed to do that….but he always does….and is one of the first to stick up for his teammates…’fringe’ player….hardly!!!!

      • Miles

        this is a terrible take and appears that you didn’t actually read the article. Howden/Stone/Stephenson were on fire and as Ken said their skill sets really mesh. if Howden keeps his place on that line his production can continue.
        look at Amadio, I thought he was one of the worst players in the NHL two seasons ago and sticking him on Stone’s line he exploded into a point machine. Howden is even better and can get even better.

        • Emmanuel

          If…If…If…

          Yes I did read the article. So the line was effective for about a 1/4 of a season that probably doesnt translate to a full season. You can plug anybody in BH place and they will be all around better.

          By the way, “plays/works hard” & “has the intangibles/is a leader” is a red flag whenever used.

          Just saying there’s better options on the roster…..
          ….but the next 3 years will be the best BH will ever be so I can see why theyre taking a flyer on him….

  4. Sorvino

    I am extremely excited at the progression of Nic Hague and what I think he ultimately may become.

    • Pistol Pete

      Still quite a few good years remaining for both Petro and McNabb and even more for Theo. D corp looks real solid even after Martinez is gone which I assume will be 2024-25. Pachal, Korczak and Miromanov are all NHL ready (defending more a question for Miromanov than the other two). Oh and the smaller Lukas Cormier. If he can be physical enough he may be the best of the lot and he’s not all that much smaller than Cale Makar.

      • Harper

        I think the third pairing of Nic Hague and Zach Whitecloud showed growth this year.

        • TS

          Hague really came to life last season..
          He started using his size to control oppone ts. Zach was a bit slow to recover fully after his Injury, but he got his MOJO back by season end.
          Really like the duo together.

    • knights fan in minny

      the 3rd pair of hager and cloudy really grew last year

  5. Jailbird

    Howden is quickly turning into one of my favorite players. He aggressive and gritty. Pavo showed some of his skills and once coached up to be a 200 footer could be great. Cotter is a curious player. Well liked by the team and has a great shot, he needs to be more consistant all over the ice. He could develope into a force.

    • Pistol Pete

      Cassidy noted last season that Dorofeyev was handling his defensive assignments well. He’d have to be brain-dead (he’s not) to not grasp the importance of his 200 ft. game when it comes to getting him on the roster and keeping him there. Eichel will be serving as a model of that for all the forwards which is a very good thing.

  6. Jailbird

    All Jack needed was a coach to show him how to use his talent for 200 feet and teammates that really like the guy!

  7. I was definitely not impressed with Pavo initially when he first came up…then the explosion and I was like who in the world is this guy….but then like how it is in football or baseball…once he became more than a novelty…teams were able to be prepared for him and all of a sudden he disappeared as quickly as he appeared….of course…i am a Cotter guy…have been since the first 2 goals…and then the exasperation Deboer never gave him an opportunity when our goal scoring went dry 2 years ago…he is a guy that wants to learn….and given a chance he will be a valuable regular in our lineup!!

  8. Skip

    It’s nice to see youth come up and take spots. The Knights have earned their “next man up” reputation with absences. Whitecloud and Hague developing matters because the defensive core of Pietrangelo, Martinez, and McNabb are aging.

  9. knights fan in minny

    so peaceful on here

  10. Rashaad

    Is GW North trolling? Is that what it is called. If he was laughing us for losing to Edmonton then I guess it is trolling but what is the term for what he is doing? It seems as though he is making fun of us for winning the cup???

  11. Pistol Pete

    Barbs-Jack-Marchy
    Howie-Stevie-Stoner
    Pav-Karly-Amo or Cots
    Carrier-Roy-Koley

    Petro-Marty
    Nabber-Theo
    Hager-Whitey

    Hilly
    Thompson

    Possibilities: Roy on the Karly line, Brisson centers the 4th.

    • Jose

      I know it makes sense to split Jack and Stoner especially since they make the other players on their lines look so much better but do you remember how great Eichel and Stone looked playing on the same line from Game 7 until Game 26 when Eichel got hurt.

      • Miles

        Do you remember how great the entire lineup was in the postseason even with Stone and Eichel split up?
        I would rather have 4 great lines than 1 great+ and 3 stagnant ones

      • Pistol Pete

        That is true they did look good but Stone works magic on Stephenson. That combo simply must stay and as you point out it makes a truly strong top nine. And to round it off, Carrier-Roy-Kolesar is about the best 4th line in the NHL.

        Biggest question is will Dorofeyev be up to replacing Smith? He has a shot. Compariing their AHL numbers, Smith though fewer games is around the same points average with the goals edge going slightly to Dorofeyev. Smith is not a huge point getter but he’s excellent 200 ft and can kill penalties. Biggest question will Dorofeyev’s defending measure up playing the PK? Not at first but he’s potentially a bigger scorer than Smith and though he’s a ways from being a PK’er he should be able to handle his 5 on 5 defensive responsibilities. Cassidy had some positive comments on that last season.

  12. Rashaad

    I’ve thought about it more and I don’t want to be mean but I think GW North is simply stupid. The Oilers had 1 1/2 forward lines working, suspect defense and ABSOLUTE HORSECRAP goaltending. His disappointment should really be focused on so many other things like the Oilers front office (not building depth around McJesus and Draisatl), the Oilers coaching (where did they find that clown and why did Skinner keep starting after looking like garbage against LA and Vegas)

    Is GW North seeing the Oilers window closing rapidly on him. McDavid and Draisaitl have three and two years respectively left on their contracts. Why would they resign? They have done their part and must sick of the Oilers management.

    • Pistol Pete

      McDavid and Draisaitl have no hope of winning a Cup at Edmonton not until the FO and coaching changes.

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