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.
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.
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.
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.
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.