The Golden Knights NHL roster is very good. With a top-six that can compete with anyone, as a complete forward corps as there is, and a defensive group that may not be filled with huge names but has always gotten the job done, there’s not much space for additions in the offseason.
However, the depth of the organization disappears the moment you look outside of the NHL. After a trip to the Calder Cup Final a year ago, the Wolves watched their three leading scorers walk out the door in July 2019. That left a bit of a void in the AHL scoring department which led to 21-year-old AHL rookie Lucas Elvenes to lead the team in scoring.
The Wolves had just one player, Brandon Pirri, who averaged more than 0.85 points per game. Compare that to both 2017-18 and 2018-19 when they had five in each season.
The Golden Knights didn’t receive a ton of production out of those players at the NHL level, but the luxury of having multiple scoring options in the AHL is certainly something they should always be striving for. A few weeks ago we projected the 2020-21 Henderson Blank Blank roster and came to the conclusion that there will need to be at least two new forwards on the roster. George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon should be looking for guys who have proven they can score at the AHL level and have the potential upside to slide into the Golden Knights roster and have an impact. Here are a few potential candidates to fill those holes.
Previous Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
For the life of me, I can’t figure out how this guy hasn’t gotten more of a shot at the NHL level. In his first season in the NHL, he played just 15 regular season games with the Predators, but when the playoffs rolled around, he became a permanent member of their run to the Stanley Cup Final. He played 16 playoff games, scored two goals, including one in the Final, and registered three assists while averaging just 12 minutes per game.
Since, he’s bounced around quite a bit spending time with Anaheim, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Toronto. In his stops with the Ducks and Oilers, he put up 27 points in 53 games in the NHL. However, he just hasn’t ever seemed to stick. He registered 44 points (20g, 24a) in 55 games with the Toronto Marlies good for second on the team in both goals and points this season.
He’s a great skater with excellent speed, is a strong forechecker, and has shown the ability to score on the biggest stage.
Silver Knights Blank Blanks have a hole in the top-six in the AHL, and Aberg is the perfect fit to fill it. Plus, the potential upside he can bring to the NHL roster makes him a player the Golden Knights absolutely need to look into when he hits free agency this summer.
Previous Organization: Nashville Predators
The diminutive center has been a thorn in the Wolves’ side scoring eight points in nine games against Chicago. He’s had limited success at the NHL level with 10 points in 33 games for the Predators. He’s definitely not expected to be a big-time scorer as his style is much more defensive-minded, but when he’s been given a chance he’s been productive in a bottom-six NHL role.
At just 5’10”, he registered 43 hits in 27 games with the Predators and put up 23 blocks to go along with it. He played in the Sharks system while DeBoer was the coach in 2016-17 after signing his first AHL contract. He went on to play in Buffalo’s system for a year on a PTO before signing his first two-way deal with Nashville in 2018. Now, as a UFA, he’d be a great fit to fill a bottom-six AHL role and step into the NHL as a role-player where needed.
Previous Organization: San Jose Sharks
Brodzinski played just three games in the NHL this season, but they were all for DeBoer. He posted one assist in those three games despite averaging about seven minutes per game.
He went to the AHL and fared pretty well scoring 14 goals and gathering 16 assists in 44 games. He’s played NHL games in four different seasons amassing 12 points in 57 games.
Brodzinski is right-handed power forward weighing in at 208 pounds and standing 6’1″. The Golden Knights have seen quite a bit of him having played for the Sharks and Kings. There’s a familiarity with DeBoer and he’s produced consistently in the AHL.