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Golden Knights Playoff Roster And Lineup Projections

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whenever the league gives the green light to go ahead with the 24 team playoff format that was unveiled earlier this week, the Golden Knights are going to have some tough decisions both in roster and lineup construction.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league is expected to allow teams to have 28 skaters on their active roster along with an unlimited number of goalies. Normally, the entire AHL squad is available to any team still remaining in the NHL playoffs, but with the pandemic restrictions, the league likely wants to keep the numbers down.

So, let’s start with the 28 skaters that I project will make the cut for the Golden Knights.

Locks (21) (13 F, 8 D)

William Karlsson, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson, Nick Cousins, Nic Roy, Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek, William Carrier, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Jon Merrill, Nick Holden, Zach Whitecloud, Deryk Engelland

This is the roster Vegas was expecting to go into the playoffs with had the league continued with the regularly scheduled season. Assuming health when the league is ready to return, there’s no way any of these 21 won’t be listed among the Golden Knights allotted 28.

AHL Locks (3) (2 F, 1 D)

Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, Nic Hague

When I set out to do this I actually expected this group to be a little larger, but the group behind these guys is so large, McPhee and McCrimmon can really go a lot of different ways. Will they load up on defensemen because they have a little bit more of a variety of styles? Will they go with more veteran players to be safe? Or will they put a bunch of kids in the mix so they get a taste of “playoff” hockey? No matter which way they choose, these three will be among the 28 selected.

Bubble (4) (3 F, 1 D)

Lucas Elvenes, Keegan Kolesar, Patrick Brown, Jake Bischoff

The most difficult choice was between Bischoff and Coghlan. It came down to the fact that Bischoff is the best combination of experience and reliability the Golden Knights have among their AHL defenseman. Coghlan is much more of an offensive weapon, but without a single NHL game under his belt, it’s a tough ask to put a defenseman on this roster and expect a debut to be made on the biggest (albeit weirdest) stage in hockey.

Elvenes put in a terrific AHL season and was likely held back for development purposes rather than talent. So, without any other place to develop, he’ll be on the playoff roster. I went with Kolesar because he’s the perfect fill-in if the Golden Knights in the event they lose Reaves or Carrier. Personally, I don’t need the “enforcer” type player on the ice, but the organization has shown they prefer to have it, so having Kolesar as a failsafe is likely the way they’ll go. The last one was between Brown, Gage Quinney, and Reid Duke. It mostly came down to experience in this one. Patrick Brown appeared in 8 games in the NHL playoffs last year with the Hurricanes. That’s more than the rest of this list combined has played regular season NHL games (and almost if you count preseason games too). He’s a safe, reliable option that has positional flexibility. In the end, that’s enough to make the cut.

**In the event Cody Glass is available, he absolutely would take Elvenes’ place. However, with his injury previously expected to keep him out until September, it’s unlikely the Golden Knights would attempt to force him back onto a playoff roster in late July.**

Ok, now that we have our roster, it’s time to make the starting lineup for the first game of the round-robin. Here’s my projection as to how they’ll roll it out.

Lineup

Pacioretty-Karlsson-Stone
Marchessault-Stastny-Smith
Roy-Stephenson-Tuch
Carrier-Cousins-Reaves

McNabb-Schmidt
Martinez-Theodore
Holden-Whitecloud

Fleury

Tomas Nosek ends up being the odd-man-out to start the round-robin. While Nosek was in the lineup for every game Pete DeBoer coached, I expect he’ll ultimately choose Cousins, Roy, and Reaves, over Nosek. Roy was just too good before the pause to have lost his spot when play resumes. DeBoer certainly had a bit of a hand in bringing in Cousins at the deadline and Cousins is the type of player coaches love to have in semi-meaningful games to bring the intensity up a notch. DeBoer loved the Carrier/Reaves combination, trusting them to start pretty much every game he coached, I think he’ll go back to that as well.

The only other tough choice was in the goal. The Golden Knights have remained loyal to Fleury publicly despite bringing in a potential replacement at the deadline. They’ll want to continue proving that loyalty by giving him the nod to start the round-robin. However, that leash is going to be short, and he certainly won’t play all three games before the real playoffs start. It will remain Fleury’s job to lose, but don’t expect it to take much for him to lose it.

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29 Comments

  1. Daryl

    I’m jujitsu happy 5 wi’llll be on the roster so he’ll be able to add his name to the Cup when Vegas wins it all

    • Daryl

      I’m just happy 5 will be on the roster so he’ll be able to add his name to the Cup when Vegas wins it all

  2. DOC Williams

    I have rarely ever agreed 100% with Ken, especially concerning the lines. So I was all prepared to tear down his projections, for mine. A week or so ago I listed my lines on twitter. They were exactly the same as Ken’s here. There just doesn’t seem to be any other combinations that make sense. As far as the AHL “locks” & “bubble” players mentioned, I don’t see any of them actually playing in one of these game … barring injury! I also said and believe, because of the layoff, you would go with flower at the beginning. But I believe you would see both playing early, until one of them “takes charge”.

  3. Tad

    I too am jujitsu happy!

  4. Ron Burgandy

    What about Lehner??

  5. THE hockey GOD

    it’s a dumb playoff set up, the teams getting the byes will be at a significant disadvantage, you heard it here first. Plain stupid.

    • How many of the 8 teams in the round-robins do you think will lose their first round matchups?

      • Patrick Harrington

        I’ll go out on a limb and say 2. In reality it’ll come down to match ups and what happened leading up to the games.

      • the angry Hockey GOD

        Every single team that shows that they have gotten their timing back, at expense of those that have not, will win decisively against those teams that have been given a bye. I don’t care how talented a “bye’ team is. If they have to start a round robin against teams that have already played 3 to 5 games, they will be at a significant, if not insurmountable, disadvantage. Especially in today’s “BETTMANS socialism style of hockey where teams that do well or build good teams get punished for doing so ‘ thus making every team nearly equal to every other team on every given day (Salary caps, draft pick lottos, and schedule manipulation. I still remember the outcry when the 2009 schedule for SC finals came out with the RED WiNGS getting shafted by having to play two back to back on home ice against a clearly inferior Pittsburg Penguin team (and Malkin starts a fight at end of game 2, and doesn’t get penalized as the rules call out for doing so) , for the first time EVER in SC FINAL history. Just because they were SATURDAY AND SUNDAY games, Bettman bowing down to the almighty DOLLAR)

        it is paramount and imperative that the teams that are getting a bye, play some games.

        Hockey is a timing game, it’s much like baseball. I remember in 2000s the Detroit Tigers were heavy favorites to win the World Series against a clearly inferior St. Louis Cardinals team. A team they trounced during their regular season series. The TIGERS cruised through the AL playoffs. Had a 7 day break, while the CARDS battled it out. The Tigers lost in WS mainly due to their flailing in the early games trying to get their timing back, and never recovered. Same is true for hockey. It’s a hand / eye coordination game at a very high and fast skill level.

        This bye set up is going to kill teams that don’t get to play any games. Unless I am mistaken, they (top tier teams, top four) will get a bye and not play a game in “in qualifying rounds” . Here is what is stated “The top four seeds in each conference will receive byes from the “Qualifying Round” and will play a round-robin for seeding purposes for the usual first round of the playoffs (16 teams). If these games go to overtime, it’ll be regular-season overtime rules. If there is a tie in points at the conclusion of the round-robin, percentage points from the regular season will be used as a tiebreaker” What does “will play a round robin for seeding purposes mean” ? Does that mean while teams 5-16 play, teams 1-4 will not play. If that is the case, then this set up is completely screwed. It gives significant advantages to those teams that have played games over those teams that have not played games. Mark my words, whoever thought this up doesn’t know a thing about hockey. That person would be BETTMAN. The most hated man by fans in NHL.

        These teams getting BYES need to play games before entering the tournament. And TWO WEEKS is not enough time “to get ready”. Who said that ? GMGM, I mean exGMGM. He will be eating his words , if this ridiculous scheme comes to fruition.

        • sam

          Are you stupid? The teams with a bye are playing 3 games, and against very good teams. And if the NHL makes the right decision, those 3 games will be extremely important, by seeding the best team against the worst to come out of the play-in, and so on. So I don’t know where you’re getting your misconceptions from.

    • DOC Williams

      There we go … the hockey DUD weighs in. And yes, we heard it here first … “Plain Stupid”. Oh man, too easy!

      • THE hockey GOD

        just another no added value comment by a man who worships Don Rickles, you add nothing here. Your insults are old and pathetic, like you. Move on. Seek therapy. Wake me up when you make a note worthy comment, about ANYTHING.

        • Daryl

          The teams getting a bye are playing games so when its their turn to play a playoff game they will have a couple games under their belt…. not sure what your ate even talking about.

          Sounds like you ate6 still upset Detroit lost to the Pens

    • B-Rad-Lee

      If the opening round is best of three, there is no advantage/disadvantage

  6. Tim

    Ken your roster is solid one change I’d make would be Dylan C. over Jake B. younger with much more upside.

    • I would too but I don’t think the team will. Was going for a projection of what I think they’ll do not what I would do.

      • Tim

        Ken as you said unless we have a rash of injuries they won’t play anyway so bringing Dylan and Lucas up to get the feel of the big time is a no brainer. They can show Pete what they can add to the team in the future.. Cody Glass needs to recoup until next year. Can’t wait until tonight I’ll bet channel 3 get’s the highest ratings of the week for the Silver Golden Knights show it’s it’s not the Silver Knights I think we’ll all be shocked.

      • Tim

        Ken as you said unless we have a rash of injuries they won’t play anyway so bringing Dylan and Lucas up to get the feel of the big time is a no brainer. They can show Pete what they can add to the team in the future.. Cody Glass needs to recoup until next year. Can’t wait until tonight I’ll bet channel 3 get’s the highest ratings of the week for the Vegas Silver Knights show if it’s not the Vegas Silver Knights I think we’ll all be shocked.

      • Tommy

        Based on what the team will do, Gage Quinney over Lucas Elvenes. Assuming Elvenes is already in Sweden and knowing the AHL season is over, does not make sense to bring him back to the States while Quinney is already in your backyard.

  7. Coyote

    I still don’t like breaking up Smith-Wild Bill- Marchy. I would switch Wild Bill and Stastny, but DeBoer sees it differently than I do. Thoughts?

    • They simply haven’t been as dominant the last two seasons as they were the first. The line of Karlsson, Stone, Pacioretty is the best Vegas can make and one of the best in the entire NHL. They are incredibly skilled offensively and maybe even better defensively. Nothing not to like about getting your best players all on the ice together.

    • DOC Williams

      I think DeCoach has the right idea moving Wild Bill with 67 & 61. A dynamite line!!!!!!

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