Training Camp is right around the corner, and while the Golden Knights depth chart is fairly set due to the sheer number of returning players, there are still plenty of guys who can use this next month to make their move into bigger roles this season. Players who put in excellent training camps are often those who are called upon first when the team experiences injuries or even just needs a shuffle in lines.
So, even though we can pretty much plot out the Golden Knights’ lineup for Opening Night right now, these players all have a chance to position themselves for larger roles on the team as the season rolls on.
The odds Dugan makes the roster out of camp are nearly insurmountable, but that certainly doesn’t mean he can’t show up and show out to move up the ranks once the waiver situation clears. In camp, the forward battle will be between guys like William Carrier, Brett Howden, Nolan Patrick, and Keegan Kolesar, but once the roster is set and the games get underway, there will be a pecking order as to who is called next in the event of an injury. Last year, Dugan was never even in the conversation and didn’t even see a sniff of the NHL. This year, it starts with Rookie Camp, the tournament in Phoenix, and then main camp. If Dugan can dominate against the kids and then make an impact in main camp as well as preseason games, he’ll certainly jump up the line in the “next man up” rankings. We know he has the scoring touch and he plays a style of game coaches love. Plus, he has a bit of a nasty streak in him which could be needed if the season isn’t going as planned early for the Golden Knights. A big month of September would go a long way for Dugan to earn his NHL debut, even if that doesn’t come until the calendar flips to 2022.
Obviously, Brossoit is not going to be challenging for the starter’s job, and of course, he already has the backup job locked down, but in the DeBoer era, the Golden Knights have not had a #1/#2 goalie situation. So, Brossoit’s performances in camp as well as the preseason games he’s given will lay the groundwork for how often the Golden Knights are willing to use him, which in turn means how much rest they can afford to give Robin Lehner. For Brossoit, it’s really more about holding serve as it is impressing. He has to be solid every step of the way and instill confidence that he can do the job as often as needed. If he has a tough camp and/or gets lit up in a preseason game or two, it very easily could lead to the Golden Knights leaning much more heavily on Lehner early in the season, especially with just two back-to-backs in the first 28 games. Going in, the plan is probably for Brossoit to see at least eight of those games. If he’s great that number could see double digits, if he struggles, they could easily give Lehner 25 of the first 28.
For Coghlan, it’s not even necessarily about upping his stock with Pete DeBoer and the VGK coaching staff. While that would certainly be nice, a great preseason and training camp could see him catch the eye of another team as well. Coghlan is no longer waiver exempt and the Golden Knights are likely going to be pushing right up against the salary cap once again. Coghlan’s job is to force the front office to keep him in Vegas. If he’s less than stellar, maybe they choose to try and slip him through waivers in early October, and then because of the 10 game limit, he might have a hard time turning 2021-22 into a true debut NHL season. If he’s great, the Golden Knights will have to make a tough decision, one that will likely result in Coghlan living on an NHL roster all season long.
Roy’s chances of winning a top-six center job on the Golden Knights are incredibly slim (there almost has to be an injury), but everyone knows Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson won’t both play all 82 games in those roles this year. Right now, Roy probably would be the first option to step in if either is missing or if they need to make a change, but the number of players nipping at his heels has grown substantially since the Golden Knights last played in June. Peyton Krebs, Nolan Patrick, Brett Howden, and maybe even Mattias Janmark could position themselves to be the first one called upon in this situation. Roy is not a flashy player and usually scores by making plays defensively that lead to quick offense, but in the preseason, he should look to unleash a bit more of his offensive game, especially when given roles inside of the top-six, which will happen frequently in September. He has excellent hands and is strong enough to use his body and give himself chances to score. If he has a massive preseason on the stat sheet, he’ll cement himself as the first one up when the inevitable time comes for a new top-six center.