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Karlsson, Howden, Amadio Line Expected To Fill Defensive Role While Also Chipping In Offensively

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the first day of Training Camp the trio of William Karlsson, Brett Howden, and Michael Amadio have been together as a line.

Wednesday night they got their first opportunity to play in a preseason game together and it went quite well. Karlsson and Amadio each scored goals, all three players posted a Corsi of at least 70%, and in a little more than 11 minutes of ice time together they did not allow a single shot on goal against.

I think they all have good hockey IQ and good offensive instincts. They are all centermen by nature so they probably speak the same language when they are talking about plays way from the puck. -Bruce Cassidy

Last year Karlsson, Amadio, and Howden played a total of 51 seconds together. However, there were two pairs including these three guys that did see significant action together. Howden and Amadio shared the ice for 127 minutes while Amadio and Karlsson played together for 172.

Now, with all three coming together, they’ll look to capture something new, and do it while filling a much more defensive role for the team.

They are going to need to be responsible if they are put in that role. We know Karlsson can do that but the other two guys that’s a bit of a challenge for younger guys. Here’s your role on the team, can you handle it? Can you check good players and still create offense? So we’ll see how that plays. -Cassidy

As Cassidy alluded to, Karlsson remains one of the better defensive centers in the NHL and will surely make any line he’s on competent enough in the defensive zone. But, if the Golden Knights want to get to where they intend on going, they will need Howden and Amadio to take strides defensively.

The goal of most third lines, and Cassidy doesn’t seem any different, is to steal minutes from the opposing top-six to free up favorable matchups for Vegas’ top two lines.

That means this group will be seeing consistent shifts against the likes of Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Anze Kopitar. And that’s just in October.

Karlsson has joked that he’s found a new group of Misfits with a pair of players who have been overlooked for good portions of their short NHL careers. It may sound a little funky and overly optimistic now, but one game in, they look the part.

Paul Cotter And Sakari Manninen Making Early Push For Roster Spots

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights came into training camp without much uncertainty in the lineup. Sure there are guys who could solidify roles on different lines or pairs, but the 18 skaters expected to be on the ice for Vegas when they head to Los Angeles are pretty set.

That being said, there are a few guys in camp trying to challenge that sentiment, and through just a few days, they are doing it.

The first of those is Paul Cotter. The former 4th round pick saw minimal action in the NHL a year ago, but he made the most of it scoring twice in seven games.

In his first preseason game, he scored again, and drew high praise from the new head coach.

He was our best player. Not because he scored. He had three good looks. The offensive side was really good. He tracked and finished at least three checks, took good angles, and eliminated guys from the play. -Bruce Cassidy

For the first time in his career, Cotter is no long waiver exempt, which makes the decision even more difficult on the Golden Knights. If he can continue to do the things that impress Cassidy, he’ll likely pique the interest of other coaches around the league making him dangerous to place on waivers.

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Cassidy Unveils First Lineup And Explains How He Arrived At It

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

It’s just the first day of Training Camp, and each of the top three lines participated in separate practices, but Bruce Cassidy had months to consider line combinations and there’s certainly something to be said about the first ones he rolled out as head coach of the Golden Knights.

Following the three practices, Cassidy took to the podium to discuss his thinking on setting the lines for the first day of camp.

We want to get players that can play to their strengths, mesh with other people but still get a good combination of guys that can make a play, guys that are willing to get to the net to open ice, guys that are able to hold on to pucks low in the o-zone and how they compliment each other. There’s a lot that goes into it. That’s how we started and we’ll go from there. -Cassidy

The lineup looked like this.

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5 Questions To Be Answered As VGK Start Training Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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?

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All Eyes On Kessel After Yandle’s Retirement

(Photo Credit: @VegasGoldenKnights on Instagram)

NHL defenseman and current Iron Man Keith Yandle retired yesterday after 17 seasons in the league. The 36-year-old holds the record for playing in the most consecutive games (989) in NHL history. Yandle’s stretch lasted from March 26th 2009 until March 29, 2022. As impressive as his Iron Man streak is, it shouldn’t stand as the record for very long.

Just eight games into the 2022-23 season VGK forward Phil Kessel is expected to break Yandle’s streak. On October 24th, Vegas fans will witness history when Kessel ties the record. The next day in San Jose, the newest Golden Knight should play in his 990th consecutive NHL contest.

What’s interesting about Kessel breaking the record in a Golden Knights sweater is the lack of connection to the fans and the city. The right winger played 982 in other uniforms so we’ll see how the Vegas faithful react when Kessel ties and passes Yandle. They may mimic the night Sharks forward Patrick Marleau broke the record for most NHL games played. Some fans at T-Mobile Arena were excited to see league history unfold, others only cared about the score. Much like Marleau’s record, the Iron Man streak isn’t a Golden Knights franchise accomplishment.

You know it towards the end of the year when you’re signing young guys and getting free agents out of college that they’re gonna give them a chance to play. You’ve got to respect that out of the business side of it, what they’re trying to do here. –Keith Yandle, retired NHL defenseman in April 2022

One reasonable question to ask going into this season is how many games will Cassidy give Kessel to extend his record? There may come a point where the new coach considers scratching the veteran for younger bodies. Assuming Kessel’s performance doesn’t dip, we should expect him in the lineup every night. Especially, if the Golden Knights are struggling offensively.

Back to Philly, there was no doubt Yandle hurt the Flyers performance last season. The Philadelphia Inquirer chronicled moments throughout 2021-22 when the organization could/should have sat the struggling defenseman. When the decision was made to bench and end the Iron Man streak some players were upset with management. Others understood that it was time for the team to come first.

I’ve seen it at different times, where sometimes older players can be sort of jealous. I don’t want to say that they are trying to sabotage the young players, but certainly they feel threatened by them. And Keith has been absolutely nothing but supportive, professional with those guys. –Mike Yeo, former Flyers coach in April 2022

Assuming both sides spoke about the Iron Man streak while they were negotiating a contract, Kessel should have plenty of games to pad his stats. Not only will he break the record early on, but the forward’s next goal will also be his 400th. However, there could come a time that Cassidy will need to re-examine his lineup, especially if the team is off course. We have all heard about the coach’s reputation for putting players in their place so it’ll be interesting how Kessel’s minutes or appearances play out. Hopefully, at that point, the team will approach Kessel and have a conversation about the direction of the club.

Heck, that conversation may never happen if Phil the Thrill is tallying a point a game. Either way, we know the Iron Man-to-be will come ready to play.

Nolan Patrick Appears Likely To Miss Entire 2022-23 Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Injuries. They’re story that have followed former #2 overall pick Nolan Patrick for longer than anyone would have ever wanted.

It goes all the way back to his early days in the Western Hockey League. It started the very first year after he was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings. While playing with the Winnipeg Thrashers in 2013-14, Patrick was summoned to join the Wheat Kings due to a rash of injuries the team was having. However, a shoulder injury kept Patrick from heading to Brandon.

The following year, 2014-15, Patrick missed 17 games of his rookie season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He was able to play every game in his second season in Brandon but underwent surgery for a sports hernia after year concluded. That same injury lingered into the 2016-17 season as Patrick missed nearly half the season with complications from the surgery.

Then, after being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick stepped right into the NHL as 19-year-old and managed to pot 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games. He missed just nine games his rookie year and ten the following. Things took a turn for the worse after his second season though.

Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder that was described as “not related to hockey,” but instead something that was hereditary. This caused him to miss the entire 2019-20 season. He appeared close to returning prior to the COVID shutdown in March 2020, but when the league started back up, he was not on the Philadelphia roster.

That meant 650 days had elapsed between NHL appearances when Patrick stepped on the ice again for the Flyers on January 13th, 2021. He was in the lineup for 52 of the next 56 games, only missing a few after taking a puck to the ear from a teammate’s shot.

Next, he was traded to the Golden Knights, where the hope was that he’d get a brand new start in the NHL. Unfortunately, Patrick suffered an upper-body injury on October 22nd in Vegas’ fourth game of the year. He returned to action just as the calendar turned to 2022, missing 30 games along the way.

A little more than a month later, Patrick took a nasty hit to the head from Nathan MacKinnon. This was described as a concussion and kept him out for a little less than a month. Finally, on March 24th, Patrick left the game against the Predators in the 1st period and did not return the rest of the season.

This summer, the update on Patrick from Kelly McCrimmon was focused much more on Patrick’s well-being off the ice.

I talked to Nolan a couple of weeks ago and there’s no significant progress. He’s got a couple of things that they are working with our medical team they are going to look at doing to hopefully move this along. When these injuries linger you really have to boil it down to just life stuff. Just get to the point where everyday life starts to feel normal again. Then, when you get to that point you can talk about what lies ahead. I think right now focusing on hockey is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Some stability with day-to-day is what we are shooting for first and then we’ll see what happens after that. -McCrimmon on July 14th, 2022

A few days ago, on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman expounded.

I had heard a rumor in the summer that Nolan Patrick was going to retire and I was told that’s not the case. Nolan Patrick has a salary for this year of $1.2 million, so there’s no point in him retiring as he has a salary to collect. I don’t really want to editorialize other than I wish him the best, but I think there are a lot of people who would be surprised to see him play this year, and they wonder about his future as well. Hopefully, everything works out for him. -Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Obviously, the most important piece of all of this is the health of the player at hand. No matter the ramifications for the team on the ice, no one ever wants to see a player’s life impacted off it.

That being said, it appears the Golden Knights will have to plan on not having Patrick available any time this year, and possibly never again. Patrick’s contract expires at the end of this season when he becomes a restricted free agent.

Stock Up, Stock Down: 2022 Rookie Faceoff

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

The Golden Knights rookies finished off the annual Rookie Faceoff tournament in San Jose with a record of 1-1-1, winning on Friday against Arizona. Most VGK prospects participated in two games with a few hitting the ice for all three. Goalie Jesper Vikman started the second two games while Isaiah Saville played the first and came on halfway through the third.

We’ll have a full update to the SinBin Prospect Rankings towards the end of main training camp, so for now let’s just highlight a few guys whose stock is rising and a few whose stock is falling.

Stock Up

(Photo Credit: Scott Strande, Ice Time Southwest)

Artur Cholach

Prior to this tournament in his time with the Golden Knights, the 6th round pick was most known for representing Ukraine at the most recent Draft. After this tournament, he’s should be known much more for what he does on the ice than where he’s from off it. Cholach looked like a dominant shutdown defenseman in all three games. Each of the first two games he was paired with an offensive-minded defenseman and he held down the fort as his partner ventured forward. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s positionally sound.

Ben Hemmerling

The most notable aspect of Hemmerling’s game this weekend was his motor. Quite simply, he never stops. You can find him busting his butt all over the ice trying to make the next play no matter how far away he is from the puck. There’s still a ways to go in his offensive game, but the groundwork is there. Playing against him has to be such a pain.

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Stone Shares Laugh With Eichel Over Tight Jeans

Since 2005, league policies mandate NHL players to wear business suits before and after games. Some would argue it’s a dated policy, but the skaters abide and agree to dress as CEO’s on gameday. The Golden Knights have certainly made a fashion impact since their arrival, starting with their custom inaugural season threads several players donned throughout 2017-18. Center William Karlsson infamously accepted his Lady Byng award wearing a jacket lined with the Golden Knights emblem. Only a handful of players could have pulled it off on national TV like the 29-year-old Swede did.

This week at Lifeguard Arena, captain Mark Stone was asked by Sportsnet which teammate was the most fashion-forward on VGK’s roster. In years past, Karlsson, Ryan Reaves, and Alex Tuch were anointed as the freshest in the Golden Knights locker room, but that honor has now been passed down.

Hmm, good question. Got to give it to Eichs. –Mark Stone to Sportsnet

It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Jack Eichel has the swankiest suits on the team. After all, the number one center has a high profile around the league and the extra scratch he carries around in his wallet.

He does have the best style. He has the best suits that’s for sure. –Stone to Sportsnet

Beyond the compliments from Stone, you can catch a glimpse of two teammates’ building a connection. For only having played together for a handful of games, the Golden Knights’ two biggest weapons appear to have formed a nice bond. Hopefully, it will set up for success in the regular season and playoffs.

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Rookies Will Give First Look At Bruce Cassidy’s System This Weekend

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

New coach, new system. That will be the main focus of the Golden Knights training camp when it opens next week. It’s not just the NHL-level players that are being drilled on the ins and outs of how Bruce Cassidy likes his teams to play hockey though. The Golden Knights plan on running the system as soon as in the rookie games in San Jose this weekend.

You’re not going to see his system midseason form, just like you probably won’t see that in the first or second exhibition game, it’s going to take some time and reps. But yes we are trying to implement some of the teaching points and some of the language he uses. We’re going to try to implement it as much as we can without it being too much. -Wil Nichol, Director of Player Development

The Golden Knights rookies, including first round picks Brendan Brisson and Zach Dean, and a few other NHL hopefuls like Kaedan Korczak and Ivan Morozov will play three games this weekend at the Sharks’ brand new practice facility.

Vegas’ first game is tonight at 4:30, then they take the ice again tomorrow at 2:00 and Monday at 12:30.

There’s a new system, so we needed to go over that. Especially for the guys who will more on to the main camp, we kind of need to know the system, so there was a lot of learning today. -Zach Dean

Cassidy’s system calls for keeping pucks to the outside, limiting high danger chances, and making zone entries difficult by stacking the blue line. Also, the hybrid zone defense is a bit of a change from the high-pressure overload style the Golden Knights are used to. But, both Nichol and Dean said it’s not a radical change from what they have been doing.

In the end, it’s hockey. You have the system, but you have to read the play as well. It’s not overly different, it’s a little bit, but you still have to play hockey and read the play. -Dean

Things like pressure points, where you pressure and where you don’t are the main difference. -Nichol

Typically, rookie games are a bit frantic, so it’s likely not going to be the best indicator of exactly how the systems will look when they are operating at peak form. Nonetheless, it is the first opportunity to start seeing some of the differences and keeping an eye on how VGK’s future adapts to them.

Feisty Golden Knights Head Into Camp With Similar Misfit Energy

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season the Golden Knights missed the playoffs. This offseason they traded away Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan and watched Mattias Janmark leave in free agency. Then, they found out starting goalie Robin Lehner will be out for the season after undergoing double hip surgery.

The combination of all of this has many believing the team not only is no longer a true Cup contender, but wondering if they are even a playoff team at all anymore.

The Golden Knights captain has taken notice of these opinions.

That’s fine. People can think what they want. After spending the summer in Canada, you wouldn’t believe how often I was told how bad we were. It’s great. I like that. All of a sudden we’re David instead of Goliath. It’s alright. I believe in this team. I believe in the guys, I believe in the leadership. –Mark Stone to Gary Lawless on NHL.com

So has the presumptive starting goalie.

It was too long of an offseason for us, and I think we’re hungry. The whole hockey world is doubting us right now, so we’re looking forward to getting back at it and showing people wrong, proving people wrong. It’s similar to how my career is, everyone has always pushed me to the side. I like it for our group, like I said we’re going to come out hot and hopefully prove a lot of people wrong. –Logan Thompson to Fox 5 Las Vegas

Even Jack Eichel got in on the action, seeing himself listed at #41 on NHL Network’s top 100 players list.

Obviously, I haven’t put a lot on tape over the last two years so I’m not going to argue with that. Do I think I’m the 41st best player in the NHL? No, but I don’t care about their rankings. –Eichel to Gary Lawless on NHL.com

It appears the Golden Knights are officially past the woe-is-me stage and are into the fiesty, almost angry, prove-you-wrong phase many non-playoff teams go through.

Vegas isn’t used to missing the playoffs and they really aren’t used to entering a season anything other than the Pacific Division favorites and Stanley Cup favorites.

They are neither this year and it appears to have struck a nerve with the roster. To a degree, it’s similar to the first season when the team banded together under the Misfits moniker. That team had an axe to grind with every team in the NHL and they made it their mission to embarrass as many as they could. This team seems to have its anger more pointed towards the rest of the world, which could be even more powerful.

The Golden Knights are confident in themselves and they are confident enough to take on all those who challenge them head-on. Now they need to do what the Misfits did and transfer that energy to the ice.

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