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5 Questions To Be Answered As VGK Start Training Camp

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The longest wait for hockey in franchise history is finally over. Training Camp is here, preseason is this weekend, and Opening Night is just Reilly Smith days away.

The Golden Knights have brought a roster of 40 forwards, 19 defensemen, and eight goalies to camp and as they pair it down over the course of the next three weeks many questions will be answered by Bruce Cassidy and the new coaching staff.

Who are the four primary centers?

For the first time ever, the Golden Knights have a clear 1C. His name is Jack Eichel, and no matter where he’s listed on the lineup sheet, he’s the focal point in the center of the ice for Vegas. But after Eichel, it gets a little murky. William Karlsson will clearly take one of the other three center spots, but the question is whether that will be as #2 or #3 behind Chander Stephenson.

Stephenson has shown terrific chemistry with Mark Stone over the past few years and it could easily be something Cassidy leans on at least early in the season. If that’s the case, Karlsson drops to #3, and Nic Roy, Brett Howden, Jake Leschyshyn and a few others would be fighting over the final spot.

It may take a week or so for this to sort itself out in camp, but eventually, Cassidy will have to tip his hand and it’ll go a long way towards our full understanding of how the rest of the lineup will shake out.

Which forward finds his way into the top-six?

It’s possible the group of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Chandler Stephenson make up VGK’s top-six. However, the premise of splitting up the Misfit Line, which Cassidy seems set on doing, and the expectation of Stephenson playing as a center leaves a hole in the lineup.

The most obvious fit for that hole would be newcomer Phil Kessel who has scored like a top-six winger his entire life. But, it’s possible with his age and suspect defensive abilities, Cassidy may opt to go another direction. Is it the leftover center of Roy or Howden, does a grinder like William Carrier or Keegan Kolesar grab the job, or will a dark horse like Sakari Manninen arrive?

Can Kaedan Korczak secure a roster spot in Nic Hague’s absence?

It appears likely Nic Hague will indeed hold out of camp as he walks the tightrope of trying to cash in as a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. With him out of the picture, even just temporarily, it opens up a spot in the starting lineup for a blue liner. Obviously, Ben Hutton would be the leader in the clubhouse for that role after stepping in nicely last season.

But, there’s a prospect in the pipeline champing at the bit for his opportunity to grasp that spot. 6’3″ 205 pound 21-year-old Kaedan Korczak looks more than ready to push Hutton for that open spot. Korczak was dominant defensively both in Development Camp and at the Rookie Faceoff and he’ll likely have a chance to continue proving it early in camp and in the first bunch of preseason games.

The longer Hague is away, the more of a chance Korczak has to shove his way into the lineup on October 11th.

What will Mark Stone’s participating level be?

At the Golden Knights charity golf event Bruce Cassidy made it sound like Stone will participate in camp from the start. It is unclear however if he’s cleared for contact and how long he’ll be out there with the team.

Typically, Training Camp involves some physical drills and as it winds down there will certainly be an added emphasis on special teams. As a guy who plays on both special teams, we’ll have to see when and how often Stone is allowed to join the power play and penalty kill units and how deep into camp he’s allowed to take contact.

It still seems very likely that Stone will play on Opening Night in Los Angeles. What he does in camp should tell us if he’s going to be playing at 100% that night.

Can anyone upset the expected 12 forwards?

There are 12 forwards on the Golden Knights roster that played significant time in the NHL last year. It’s expected that all 12 of them will make the roster and be in the lineup at Crypto.com Arena on the 11th. But, can a Leschyshyn, Manninen, Cotter Rondbjerg, or even someone else make a case to send someone else through waivers?

Eventually the Golden Knights are going to need to get some production out of players they drafted and there are a whole host of them waiting to steal a spot in the lineup. It’s going to take a lot for any of them to do it, but with a new coach behind the bench, it absolutely can be done.

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20 Comments

  1. THE hockey GOD

    What up ? no one goes to VGK practices anymore the place was quieter than Grant’s tomb. I remember back in day the first day of practice was rocking , nearly full, with chants of go knights go. Today, I heard a brief, muffled, “let’s go Rangers”.

    Based upon today’s practice it looks like number one line is going to be , wait for it: Smith , Kessel, and Eichel. Or maybe line 2, with number 1 line waiting to be seen , but based upon above comments it will like be LW ? – Stephenson – Stone. Which relegates , or delegates as the case may be- no. 71 to line 3.

    But it’s a long way to opening day, and lot can happen.

    no. 2 is a mean A$$ BTW. just plain mean, reminds me of following song. junk yard dog.

    … And he’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
    The baddest man in the whole damn town
    Badder than old King Kong
    And meaner than a junkyard dog

    • Roberto

      I used to like it when practices were sparsely attended. Became a big autograph hound/goober fanboy thing, with those people using their picture folders to shove kids aside. With that the way it was, never went back.

      Hearing it’s back to those quieter days, may inspire a comeback. See some skating and smash an 805 or two. Not a bad weekday treat for those of us who are self employed.

  2. JV

    If Stone is skating with Stephenson and Marchy, Eichel is wasted. Who’s he going to center, Kessel and Roy/Smith?

    Marchy Eichel Stone
    Smith ( because there’s nobody else) Stephenson Kessel
    Carrier Karlsson Amadio
    Howden Roy Kolesar

    Oof, that’s a rough bottom 6

    Hague isn’t good enough yet to hold out.Make him sit out the season. Team won’t be any worse off without him.

    • THE hockey GOD

      @ JV
      I saw it at today’s morning’s practice. Kessel – Eichel – Smith.

      Whether it will last I don’ t know.

      I also think no. 81 (guy with long french name, hot head, short, that seems to somehow score 20 goals every year ) , no. 20 , and no. 61 (mark stone) are skating on same line.

      I don’t know where no. 71 is skating or with who or what, at today’s practice, yet.

    • Blitz

      I give it a 85% chance Eichel and Kessel are on the same line. How to mitigate the lack of defense is the real question. That is why out of the gate in training camp you see Smith with the two of them. That is a line with the best defensive wing, the best shooter, and the best distributor. Can Smith offset the lack of defense for the other two. Well that is why they are together in training camp to find out.

      • THE hockey GOD

        maybe coach will put whitecloud and their other best stay at home d man out there with them as a pair; who ever that other stay at home d man is. Because I can’t think of anyone right one other than no. 2 who can play defense. OH yeah, it came to me, McNABB . No 2 and no 3 on D with this line With Smith , no 2 and no3 that may help over come the other two lack of defense.

        • Blitz

          You could put Petro in back. He could creep up into the offense play and then watch several 2 or 3 on 1’s going the other way. Oh wait that was last year.

          Yeah d man pairings might be something to mitigate it as well. Stuff like this is exciting to see how it shakes out. I am ready for the season for sure.

          • THE hockey GOD

            🙂

            if I can count the times after the opposing team scored a goal with petro looking to rafters on my calculator, i would need to us the E button. For exponential notation.

  3. Blitz

    No where in this statement did Cassidy say he was going to breakup the misfit line:

    “I haven’t seen any of it. I have seen the line together against us and I’ve seen them watching playoff hockey over the years, so I’m fairly confident putting them together that they’ll find their chemistry. But is it the best fit for the team? You don’t just put a line together because it’s good for them. It’s got to be what’s best for the team. -Bruce Cassidy”

    So I am not sure why you keep saying stuff like: “…splitting up the Misfit Line, which Cassidy seems set on doing”. There is zero “set” anything. Cassidy said basically the same thing Peter said. They are going to explore all options. If he joined this team saying the misfits are definitely not going to be broken up no matter what, I would say we are doomed. Of course he is going to analyze everything and try everything, he is a good coach. If things aren’t working out or he needs a change, the misfit line will be put back together. Exactly what Peter did. It depends on all the variables. He is definitely not “set” on anything at this point.

    • “I would suspect we’ll move them around. They know how to play with one another so what you’ll probably see is them spread out a little bit early on and see how that works and if it doesn’t work you always have something you can go back to. We’ll probably start camp looking at them with other people. That would be my guess. Don’t hold me to that though.” -Cassidy

  4. Obvious

    The only thing to be answered are what are the 5 excuses that will be used each and everyday as the team underperforms

  5. Obvious

    Was there donuts and a motorized mall scooter for kessel?

    God forbid he would have to make the effort to walk on his own

    • knights fan in minny

      look the bitter dumb ass is back did you kick your dog today mr negative queen

      • Obvious

        Truth hurt bag licker?

        • knights fan in minny

          why are you so negative you must have all the answers for trhis team but your so afraid to say anything because you know nothing were you dropped on your head as a kid

        • knights fan in minny

          truth hurt you make no sense you dimwit dip shit

  6. knights fan in minny

    truth hurt you make no sense you dimwit dip shit

  7. Emmanuel

    The opening night line combos are going to be a real treat for the hardcore fans. Stone (possibly) being out will throw a wrench in the works.

  8. Jailbird

    Yea, the pre-season will be much more interesting this year. Just will be fun to see the boys back on the ice. Of course if they do well the naysayers will just say, it’s only exhibitions. If things don’t look so good, it will give them more to bitch about. Ha ha

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