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An Idea On How To Deploy The Bottom Six When Cody Eakin Returns

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not the way anyone envisioned it coming to be, but the 3rd line of William Carrier, Cody Glass, and Alex Tuch was formed three games ago. In those three games, the Golden Knights have earned points in each and won two on the road.

They’ve also received three goals and five assists from that line. They’ve created eight scoring chances in 26 minutes of play and have a 54% Corsi.

But where they’ve been best is in the eye test. Since the Golden Knights have been a franchise, they’ve never had a 3rd line look as good as Carrier, Glass, and Tuch have looked over the past three games. Tuch is driving offense, Glass is controlling the defensive end, and Carrier is winning puck battles helping set up the cycle to spend time in the offensive zone.

Tuch has returned to the right-wing, Glass to his natural center position, and Carrier is playing with the most offensive talent since he’s been a Golden Knight. It’s not the perfect line, but it’s certainly an upgrade on what they’ve gotten throughout this season with Cody Eakin as the center.

Tuch scored just one goal in 10 games with Eakin. He has three with Glass and Carrier. Glass has just three assists in 23 games playing with Eakin. He has two in three games with Tuch and Carrier.

However, the fourth line hasn’t looked quite the same without Carrier. Ryan Reaves has struggled without Carrier recording just five hits in three games while Carrier was on the 3rd line. Tomas Nosek still appears to play better as a center than a winger. And Stephenson scored the goal, but doesn’t quite seem a match for Nosek and Reaves.

Eakin remains out week-to-week with an upper body injury, so the decision on where to put him when he returns is not imminent, but after just three games on the road, it might be time to start considering where else he might fit.

The key question moving forward will become usage. Eakin has averaged about 15 minutes of ice time each season with the Golden Knights. That’s normal for a 3rd line center with penalty-killing duties. But, if he finds himself relegated to the 4th line, his TOI will likely drop under 10 minutes per game as has been the case for Reaves in 66% of games this season. That also means relying more heavily on Glass, something Gerard Gallant has not shown a willingness to do. (He’s played more than 14 minutes in less than half his NHL appearances.)

Vegas has never used an interchanging line system throughout an entire game, but they may want to consider it when Eakin is ready to return. With Glass, Eakin, Carrier, Reaves (or Nosek), Tuch, and Stephenson, there are multiple combinations that can be deployed depending on the situation.

Rather than lay out the standard two lines and roll them over, they could be mixed and matched depending on draw location, score, matchup, and stamina. Here are just a few of the logical trios that could be made out of that group.

Carrier-Glass-Tuch
Stephenson-Eakin-Reaves
Tuch-Eakin-Glass
Carrier-Stephenson-Tuch
Tuch-Stephenson-Glass
Carrier-Stephenson-Reaves
Carrier-Eakin-Stephenson
Stephenson-Glass-Tuch
Stephenson-Eakin-Tuch
Stephenson-Eakin-Glass

There are checking lines. There are scoring lines. There are defensively focused lines. There is even a line with three centers. There are penalty kill guys, power-play guys, big guys, thin guys, skilled guys, bruising guys, fast guys, you name it, a line can be made to deploy in any situation.

The biggest benefit of an interchanging bottom-six though is time management. As opposed to sacrificing minutes to Eakin or Glass, they can share them while Stephenson and/or Reaves see theirs decreased.

Plus, it could cause matchup problems for opposing teams as the versatility of the Golden Knights bottom six would be endless.

Simply returning to playing Glass and Tuch out of position to force Eakin back into the role he’s used to doesn’t make sense considering the current roster. With the versatility of Carrier and Stephenson, the offensive firepower of Tuch, and the fact that Glass is a significantly better player as a center than a winger, there has to be an alternative.

Rotating them as a group of six as opposed to two groups of three might just be the answer.

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13 Comments

  1. Jason

    I like Stephenson. Feel like he could play on all 4 lines. Good in the puck. I would love to move eakin but i dont think anyone would take that cap hjt without a sweetner.

    • more trades

      they don’t need any sweetener to trade Eakin, cuz he is a UFA this summer….at the deadline his cap hit would be only about 1/4 of 3.8, or less than a million. . The team is better off without him, as the last couple weeks have proved.

      between Eakin and Holden they are wasting $6 mill in cap space for 2 bums.

  2. DOC Williams

    Ya know Ken … I love all the info you give us and help the fans understand certain rules & moves etc…. And normally I agree with your posts. In this case I don’t share in your “idea”. WHY? It’s simply confusing and doesn’t promote giving these “new” lines a chance to gain experience & gell somewhat. As you know I have promoted the idea of the Carrier-GLASS-Tuch line for weeks. We now have THREE well balanced lines. As far as a 4th line … lets not try making them something other than what there job IS! I really don’t see a spot for Eakin (unless another injury forces him back into lineup). Gotta give the new guy some games to see what he really will offer. We NEED the thought of Reeves out there, to keep the other teams “honest”. Nosek is a guy not real talented, but perhaps the hardest worker, game after game. If you want to throw Eakin in at center of 4th line & see what the new guy would do on wing, then ok. I just think we need to roll with these lines for a while now.

  3. Mike G

    I really believe they would like to move Eakin at the trade deadline. The problem is his trade value is at rock bottom right now.
    They have to find a way to get his production up. It’s not because they are in love with Eakin, it’s all part of a bigger plan to get better at the trade deadline

  4. Bent Hermit

    I hate to say it but Glass is probably heading to the AHL. I know this is not going to be a popular post but I think bring Stephenson on the team opens the door to send Glass down. GM/KM have nickel and dimed the cap all year so when they have a player that can be sent down I believe they are going to do it. Gallant has shown that he is unwilling to put Eakin on the 4th line. Tuch has played a lot better on the right wing with Carrier on the left wing. So moving Tuch back to left and Glass on the right is not really a option. So with Gallant being unwilling to move Eakin and Tuch playing great on the right the only option is the 4th line, in the press box or being sent down for Glass. Glass would have to play extremely great to keep from being sent down or another forward getting hurt.

  5. Chase

    Why not trade Eakin sooner rather than later? The earlier he gets traded the less cap space we use? Isn’t that more valuable than any trade value he might be able to add until the trade deadline? It’s too bad because he’s been a meaningful part of the franchise to date, unfortunately his place is different this year and the money is a huge deal.

  6. DOC Williams

    Can’t agree at all with the thought that Glass is going to be sent back to the AHL. (anytime soon, if at all) WHY? When they finally have him in his natural position! He’s a playmaker and all the guys love this kid!!! He’s not going anywhere.

  7. Seth

    I think this is a good idea if these lines start to fizzle out. Plus I don’t think it’s a bad idea to give players a nights off for rest throughout the season. There is no reason that all of these players shouldn’t be comfortable playing with one another. They should be mixing up lines in practice for crazy injury situations anyways, and to see different ways to exploit certain match ups as stated.
    I don’t see Glass getting sent down to the AHL. Can’t see how that would benefit him. Maybe if he needed a confidence boost, like the MLB does by putting veteran players in hitting slumps on spring training teams. It looks like his confidence is fine.

  8. Tim

    I like Nosek he gives 110% every time he’s on the ice and he can play center or wing. Carrier, Glass, and Tech look the best on the third line in my opinion. I like Reeves, Stephenson, and Nosek on the fourth line which leaves Eakin out and Holden another disposable part. George and Kelly will figure it out and right now our most pressing problem is a quality D-Man.

  9. DOC Williams

    I totally agree! The Knights need to concentrate on a QUALITY “D” man to trade for. It’s a must need now and even more for any type of playoff run!!! I have no idea WHO that would be or how the numbers need be worked out. How about it Ken, any thoughts?

  10. Barry

    I read a piece yesterday claiming Sami Vatanen, defenseman for the Devils would be a great fit for the Knights, considering his speed, scoring ability, puck distribution, etc. AND that NJ would most likely be moving many pieces this year for obvious reasons.

  11. Tim

    I see Columbus is dropping like a rock. Could we pry Seth Jones away from them. They went for it last year and all three stars left and they got zero in return. With our abundance in draft picks could we make it happen.

  12. CP

    Ken, you are literally manipulating facts to fit your narrative here. If you expect people to take your writing seriously, leave the bias out of your content.

    Your facts of the third lines 3-game production are completely misleading:
    1) “They’ve also received three goals and five assists from that line.”
    – This is not true. Yes, Tuch has scored 3 goals but the first one was while he was on the ice with #81 & #9, the second one was on a powerplay, and third one while skating with #81 & #9.
    – Tuch has 3 assists in those games. 1 on the powerplay, 1 while skating with #81 & #71, and 1 while skating with #20 & #92.

    2) The two assist by Glass: 1 on PP, 1 while skating with #89 & #81

    So as you can see here, the line as a unit has not scored a goal in this three-game span. You’re counting PP points and points while skating with other players as 3rd line production but when you talk about when they are skating with Eakin you don’t factor in their PP points or while skating with other players. Can you see the problem here? You are literally manipulating facts, essentially lying, in order to fit your narrative.

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