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Eichel’s Debut Gets Closer This Week

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

It’s expected that Jack Eichel will make his arrival this week to officially join the organization. Since his successful neck surgery two months ago Eichel has been showing positive signs of rehabbing and doing light on-ice workouts. Now, it’s time for the Golden Knights training and coaching staff to prepare for his much anticipated Golden Knights debut.

Jack’s rehab has gone real well. We’re getting closer to two months since he’s been rehabbing. We’ll get him to Vegas sometime in January. Confident he will be in the lineup this season. -Kelly McCrimmon on ATTSN intermission on 1/2/22

While it’s impossible to predict where Eichel’s performance level will be, his presence alone will create more challenges for an opponent. We know the obvious reasons why Vegas’ front office made the trade; rare talent, center depth, adding another playmaker, improving the power play, but Eichel will help in dozens of ways. Here are three he will impact immediately.

Flexibility

With Eichel in the lineup, the Golden Knights will be considered one of the deepest teams down the middle. Rank them how you want but Vegas’ depth of William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, and Nic Roy to center the bottom three lines will frighten any postseason team.

I can write down all the line combinations and dream all the dreams I want to as a coach about what we could look like, and yet we know this game changes every day. It’s a bit of a fruitless exercise to try to (look ahead). -Pete DeBoer, VGK coach

Considering what we’ve seen from Stephenson this season, the coach will have no problems slotting him on as third-line center if necessary. With Stephenson anchoring the bottom six the Misfits would remain intact and allow DeBoer more options throughout his lineup. The addition of a highly-skilled center like Eichel might shift the lineup but it’ll undoubtedly improve it.

Mutual Respect

After making the blockbuster trade for Eichel the Golden Knights are officially a star-studded lineup. Adding an elite center to a roster with Max Pacioretty, Alex Pietrangelo, Mark Stone, and Shea Theodore, the Golden Knights are essentially starting an All-Star team every night.

Prior to the trade most NHL organizations would consider the Golden Knights a higher echelon team. Stone, Pacioretty, Pietrangelo, and the Misfits are a handful but Eichel creates a new element of fear. However, some contending teams aren’t phased because of Vegas’ past postseason scoring droughts.

Without Eichel, the Golden Knights offense averaged a seventh-best 2.79 goals in the playoffs. Making it even more difficult for themselves, Vegas was dead last in power-play percentage. Insert Eichel on the top line and top power play unit and those postseason numbers should elevate. And eliminate opponents.

Regular Season Boredom

Let’s face it, we’re spoiled. Since their inaugural season in 2017-18 the Golden Knights have the fourth-best record in the NHL. They’ve never been in fear of missing the postseason and they’ve played entirely in a weak division. In the end, that equals up to a 196-108-25 franchise record. That’s a lot of wins and not much drama. It makes for dozens of expected outcomes against dull opponents. Do I need to remind you about all 21 regular season games against the Coyotes?

Eichel’s arrival adds a touch of drama to the mix, good drama. Vegas fans are ecstatic about the trade but many worry. Will he return to form? Will there be additional roster moves? Will there be chemistry issues throughout the lineup? Will his impact put Vegas over the top?

Those questions are why we follow sports as closely as we do. We need some drama, we need a little anxiety. Ignore your therapist, there’s nothing wrong with adding more unnecessary stress to your life.

Chances are the slick centerman will quickly become most effective on the Golden Knights weakest unit. More room on the ice for Eichel should result in more postseason power play goals. Those crucial missed opportunities that cost Vegas a chance at the Stanley Cup Finals should be corrected.

By all accounts, Eichel is the most naturally gifted player on the roster and he’s only 25. At some point in the future, he will become the face of the franchise, an alternate captain, and maybe even the captain himself. It’s possible the championship years are just beginning.

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25 Comments

  1. John W

    Nice read.

    Jason, did anybody hear back from the people at Cap Friendly about the acquiring a LTIR contract strategy?
    (Came up here last week or so, in regards to picking up Kessels contract). Thanks!

    • Mike StG

      John W, that was me, referencing The Fourth Period report that Vegas was considering a deal with Anaheim. Haven’t heard anything since, but I wonder that given how well ANA is doing this season if maybe they decide NOT to make a trade that would help Vegas to keep their roster intact.

      I don’t think Cap Friendly was going to respond to anything. But they apparently published something about how such a trade might have to be structured. I looked through their site and didn’t see anything. But maybe it’s on their Twitter account.

    • Galdom

      I’m sorry John W, I emailed the question out to cap friendly but they didn’t reply.

  2. Richie-Rich

    Let’s be honest about this. Reilly Smith is likely going to be sent packing off to the east someplace. He’s a free agent at the end of this year. Get something for him because VGK won’t be able to afford to give him a raise. His numbers are good, but not great.

    With that said, who else is going to have to be let go in order to have Eichel play during the regular season or is the LTIR really still an option? You would think the NHL would crack down some on using that tactic after TBL misused it.

  3. Tim

    Who goes and who stays that’s the 64 thousand dollar question. The obvious choice is Dadanov playing OK but not overwhelming. What I’d do to get rid of the drama is resign Reilly Smith now and put him at ease. We need to keep the Misfit line together for at least two more years. Jack Eichel if healthy and if his surgery holds up he’ll be a big addition.

    • John W

      Hard to disagree on the Dadanov comment, but is he marketable? Would we have to pay to move him?

      • Mike StG

        John W – on Dadonov, so you have to give up a pick or prospect to move him. If you can keep the current roster relatively intact then who cares? The team is stacked with talent for the next 4-5 seasons. They’ll have more draft picks every year.

    • Mike StG

      Tim – agree 100% that they should re-sign Reilly. Maybe not now, as they would lose any leverage on trades they might have to make to clear cap for Eichel.

      But maybe they agree to a deal in principle with Reilly beforehand, and then ink it after making the necessary moves to activate Eichel.

      • Blitz

        One would hope there is at least talk between the FO and Smith to get early feelers going. I think Smith is super valuable, but probably not sure worth *more* money than his current contract (5m). If he thinks he can pull an extra million else where, fine, but he will give at least a portion of that back in taxes. So staying here for the same value or even a small cut may be worth it to him. I think it will come down to whether he *wants* to stay or not. He looks comfortable in Vegas, but what do I know. Maybe he doesn’t like the coaching staff or FO etc. It may not happen this year, but no question somebody is going somewhere next season. It’s exciting and terrifying from a fan standpoint.

  4. Jake

    Evander Kane on the fourth line. Cup!

    Buddies with Eichel, Lehner, and loves PTB, might even listen to him.

    • NedRyerson57

      Yeah, Vegas is the the perfect spot for a compulsive gambler.

    • LVsc

      I’ll bet (pun intended) that he ends up in Toronto or Edmonton.

      But yes, it was reported that 6 teams are interested in him…..
      Tor, Edm, Fla, Car, Tampa, AND the Vgk

      • Blitz

        I don’t like Kane…at all, but he has talent. I feel the team already sent most of the positive personalities packing. Bringing in the neg personality may not be a bad thing any more. If and only if you can get B+ talent on a near league min salary, I think you do it.

  5. Jake

    Check Fire! PDB

  6. THE hockey GOD

    Jesse Granger
    @JesseGranger_
    ·
    3h
    Robin Lehner is changing lives.

    Whether through personal conversations with people struggling with mental health, using his platform to raise awareness or giving hope to those going though similar battles to his own.

    His impact, told by those affected-

  7. Tim

    Yes I’m for keeping Reilly Smith The Misfit line think as one and that’s hard to replace . If patch could stay on IR until the playoffs that would solve all our problems. How can anyone say when he’s healed and ready to play just saying. The playoff pairings would be the following.
    Misfit Line
    Stone-Eichel-Patch
    Janmark-Stephenson-Dadanov
    Carrier-Roy-Kolesar-Howton
    Petro-McNabb
    Theadore-Martinez
    Whitecloud-Hague-Hutton-Coghlan
    That would be a Stanley Cup Lineup.

    • Michael

      I’d prefer to switch Stone and Janmark in this scenario.

      Stone-Stephenson-Dadanov
      Janmark-Eichel-Patches
      Misfits

      This creates three awesome lines, allowing big minutes for those guys while keeping balance and maintaining Chandler’s great play.

      Who cares what the 4th line ends up being? I prefer Kolesar-Roy-Patrick personally.

    • Danny Gallivan

      only one problem…the goaltending is subpar

  8. Josh

    Once everybody is healthy, not taking into account salary cap/trades:

    Stone-Stephenson-Dadonov
    Marchessault-Eichel-Pacioretty
    Smith-Karlsson-Roy
    Janmark-Patrick-Carrier

    Thoughts?

  9. Josh

    Once everybody is healthy, not taking into account salary cap/trades:

    Stone-Stephenson-Dadonov
    Marchessault-Eichel-Pacioretty
    Smith-Karlsson-Roy
    Janmark-Patrick-Carrier

    I think that would give us two elite lines with third being really good. Anything is really good that doesn’t include Kolesar lol

  10. Josh

    Once everybody is healthy, not taking into account salary cap/trades:

    Stone-Stephenson-Dadonov
    Marchessault-Eichel-Pacioretty
    Smith-Karlsson-Roy
    Janmark-Patrick (Or Howden)-Carrier

    I think that would give us two elite lines with the third being really good. Anything is really good that doesn’t include Kolesar lol
    Thoughts?

  11. LVsc

    VGK play a home game on Feb 1

    guess who the opponent is?

    that’s right, the Buffalo Sabres

    Jack is back vs his old team?

  12. LVsc

    The Vgk waived Lucas Elvenes, and he was claimed by the Anaheim Ducks.

    Very interesting, I wonder if that was part of the deal to acquire the contract of Ryan Kesler, the LTIR missing link.

    • Blitz

      I would say not part of a deal. When you put a guy on waivers you don’t really choose where they go. So other team could have snatched him up instead. If this was a cap relief deal it would be some kind of straight trade. Or in this case might be “trade Elvenes to Anaheim for future considerations”. I think it is just a case of Elvenes being a decent prospect and ANA probably needs a decent prospect. I thought someone said Elvenes wanted to go back home. Maybe ANA talked him out of it and took him. Who knows (certainly not me, I am just tired of working for today and like typing)?

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