The Golden Knights came into this season touting “the deepest forward group in team history.” Due to a rash of injuries, that depth will be put to the test quickly this year and may ultimately determine the fate of the Golden Knights’ fifth season.
With Alex Tuch sidelined until at least January and Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty seemingly joining him with serious injuries, the options are starting to look limited on Pete DeBoer’s lineup choices.
Eventually, he’ll get Nic Roy, William Carrier, and Mattias Janmark back, but even then, it’s challenging to come up with a lineup that will truly strike fear in an opponent.
Here’s the most likely solution Vegas could turn to.
The Misfits return to the top of the lineup and will have to carry a massive load both offensively and as the clear best defensive line of the four. The good news with this group is there isn’t a major weak spot. Sure, there would likely be games where certain lines struggle, but as long as the Misfit Line produces, they should be able to survive.
The next option is to swap a Dadonov and Kolesar in the middle-six to try and build an offensive line and a defensive line.
This roster is a bit more similar to the first season, but it would be asking a lot of Krebs, Patrick, and Dadonov to score on a nightly basis.
Either way, with the toughest matchups every night, the trio of Smith, Karlsson, and Marchessault may not see the same success they did in 2017-18. Balancing the lineup could be necessary, which may roll out this way.
This group certainly would be a bit trickier to defend against, but there are question marks up and down the lineup. Without a single line with any history together, it’s a lot to ask for all four lines to find chemistry quickly.
And of course, all of this is assuming there’s not ever another player missing out of this group of 12 fowards. If they lose one more, even for a game or two, they’d have to turn to one of the rookies (Leschyshyn, Rondbjerg, Dugan, Dorofeyev, Elvenes) or a more veteran option (Quinney, Baerstchi).
In the end, if it does indeed turn out to be true that both Pacioretty and Stone are out for months, rather than weeks, the Golden Knights may be forced to make a trade to keep the season afloat.
They have a pair of high-end prospects performing well in other leagues, Brendan Brisson and Ivan Morozov, plus they have another 1st round pick from 2021 in Zach Dean and a full collection of picks in 2022.
They’ll never find a true replacement for Stone, Pacioretty, or even Tuch, but looking at how the lineup may have to roll out, and understanding just how thin it stands with the injuries already sustained with 80 games still left on the schedule, pretty much anyone can help.