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If Healthy, The Golden Knights Have Tons Of Lineup Options

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are getting healthy at the perfect time, again. Both goalies are available, Tomas Hertl is starting to gel, Nic Roy is back from his knock, Chandler Stephenson has the new dad energy, and Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo, and William Carrier appear to be right around the corner.

Having a healthy group would leave head coach Bruce Cassidy with an embarrassment of riches at all three levels and a bunch of incredibly difficult decisions to make. If everyone is indeed healthy and available for Game 1 of the playoffs, he’ll have 15 legitimate NHL forwards, eight bonafide defensemen, and two goalies with a strong case to be the starter.

The lineup options truly are endless. Today though, I will give you two different lineups of 12 forwards and two separate sets of defense pairs to show the merits of some of the many combinations.

1st Line

Option A: Barbashev-Eichel-Marchessault

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This top line was dominant in the playoff run last year and had carried a lot of that momentum through the regular season this year. They score at a consistent rate and they are strong enough in possession to limit some of the potential defensive deficiencies that could arise. On paper, it doesn’t always look like the perfect line, but on the ice, it has proven to be just that time and time again against the best competition in the league.

Option B: Dorofeyev-Karlsson-Stone

Combining the two best defensive forwards on the time with a young gun who has shown he has a natural knack for finding the back of the net could be the perfect mix for a VGK top line. What will make this line so dangerous is their ability to not only take on the most defensive responsibility against the opposition’s best players but also to soak up a majority of the defensive zone starts. It doesn’t matter where Stone and Karlsson’s shift begins, it’ll probably end up with puck possession when it’s over. Karlsson’s speed and Stone’s vision will generate transition chances and Dorofeyev will be a nightmare to deal with as a “third wheel” who can score in bunches.

2nd Line

Option A: Stephenson-Hertl-Stone

This is a top line on most teams in the NHL and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if it overtook the dominant top line in this same lineup. It would be difficult to take the puck away from them and having two guys willing to get to the front of the net will highlight Stephenson’s passing. Cassidy loves having two players who can win faceoffs on the same line to give him a little more freedom to deploy them in the defensive zone. With Stone’s defensive prowess along with Hertl and Stephenson, there would be no concern about sending this group over the boards against McDavid, Robertson, or Pettersson.

Option B: Stephenson-Eichel-Amadio

With the 1st line being able to take on a ton of the defensive responsibility, Eichel could be given tons of extra offensive zone starts. In the O-Zone, Stephenson’s unselfishness will help Eichel generate even more looks on goal, and Amadio played the role of “get to the net” guy quite well with Karlsson and Reilly Smith last year. This line should be an absolute nightmare to break the puck out against as well. Eichel and Stephenson’s speed will force quick plays along the walls and Amadio’s excellent stick should be able to pick off plenty of those errant passes. In reality, this is an offensive-minded 3rd line, but I just didn’t have the heart to list Eichel on a 3rd line.

3rd Line

Option A: Dorofeyev-Karlsson-Amadio

This group has played 13 games together this season and has seen heaps of success. Despite not being the classic line-driving center, Karlsson has been able to help generate looks for both Dorofeyev and Amadio that they’ve finished. They are excellent at keeping possession in the offensive zone and Amadio adds just enough net-front presence to keep the defense honest. Defensively, Dorofeyev has steadily improved and Amadio might be the best winger along the walls to take advantage of Karlsson’s acceleration out of the zone.

Option B: Mantha-Hertl-Marchessault

Imagine being handed a lineup sheet and this is the 3rd line of the team you are facing in the 1st round of the playoffs. The reigning Conn Smythe winner will be handed the keys to the castle in the offensive zone with a giant man almost always standing directly in front of the goal and another big body lurking off to the side to clean up the trash. Hertl is strong enough in the circle to feel comfortable deploying this line in the D-Zone but using them against bottom-six opponents in the O-Zone would be the aim.

4th Line

Option A: Carrier-Roy-Mantha

Any time Nic Roy is the 4th line center the “identity line” of the Golden Knights seems to be more effective. With Mantha down with this group they would lose quite a bit of that physical identity but would gain the one thing they’ve always been missing, a legitimate scoring threat. Mantha has proven to be strong on the puck which would lead to this group being nearly impossible to stop from cycling it in the offensive zone. They probably aren’t getting you a goal a night, but there’s no question this group would score more than the standard 4th line VGK have rolled out the last few years.

Option B: Barbashev-Roy-Kolesar

Have fun going back on pucks in the defensive zone against this line. As good as Carrier has been at the bruising forecheck, Barbashev can be even better at it. Sure, we’re using the talents of a guy with 40+ points in a slightly different way, but it would be so terrifying to play against them that it’s worth it. Roy and Barbashev should be able to generate enough in-zone offense and Kolesar is sneakily dangerous off the rush if they can create some transition chances coming out of the D-Zone.

Option A

Option B

Now to the back end.

1st Pair

Option A: Hanifin-Pietrangelo

The moment Noah Hanifin got to the Golden Knights you could tell Cassidy saw him and Pietrangelo as a dominant top pair. They weren’t able to get a ton of reps together (5 games), but there’s no doubt they can be exactly that for Vegas in the postseason. There’s not a situation or opposing line you wouldn’t feel completely comfortable playing them against. VGK have had great defense pairs in the past, there’s no question though, this would be the best one they’ve ever iced in a playoff game.

Option B: McNabb-Pietrangelo

This season the best defensive-defenseman on the team has been Brayden McNabb. With a first round matchup against a team that is going to have a dominant top line, it would be nice to have a pair of trusty veterans playing together to neutralize them. Imagine being Connor McDavid and having to see McNabb, Pietrangelo, Stone, and Karlsson all on the ice every time you enter the offensive zone.

2nd Pair

Option A: McNabb-Theodore

Like many of the forward lines above, this pair has worked for a long time, so it’s probably getting a little galaxy-brained to split them up. I’d continue explaining why this pair works, but you’ve seen them together for more than 200 games, so you probably already get the picture.

Option B: Hanifin-Whitecloud

It’s exciting to think about what this pair might be able to bring in the offensive zone. Whitecloud has excellent offensive instincts but he isn’t always able to show them off because he’s typically deployed down the lineup. When Hanifin is on the ice, we often see different looks because of his size and skating. Whitecloud is the perfect fit to complement him by knowing how to fill in the gaps as Hanifin prods for scoring chances. They are both good skaters so they’ll be good in transition, there’d just be a bit of concern in the D-Zone considering the unfamiliarity.

3rd Pair

Option A: Hutton-Whitecloud

It may look a bit odd on paper to see Ben Hutton in the lineup while Nic Hague and Alec Martinez are riding the pine, but he’s been the most consistent performer of the three left-handed players so he has earned the nod. Losing Hague’s length is disappointing but Hutton has been a far better decision-maker this season which should help Whitecloud in an area he’s struggled a bit as well.

Option B: Hutton-Theodore

The most important aspect of having Theodore listed on a 3rd pair is that it will guarantee at least one of Pietrangelo, Hanifin, or Theodore is on the ice at all times. There would be question marks about the defensive reliability of Hutton and Theodore playing together, but the idea of 60 minutes of having an elite offensive defenseman on the ice is too good to pass up. It would probably be wise to give these two a majority of their starts in the offensive zone, but they are both experienced enough that it shouldn’t be a complete disaster if they do get stuck in their own end.

Option A

Option B




Who Will VGK Play In The First Round?


  1. Emmanuel

    Im not sure Whitecloud is top 6……Id go with Hague.

    As for the F why not assemble the best defensive F’s as the top line?

    Roy – Karlsson – Stone

  2. knights fan in minny

    good problems to have i dont know what folks see in mantha he needs to be more physical its playoff time i dont think h has enough speed you guys that go to the games see more then i see on tv

    • A Fan

      I agree with Minny on both comments. Roy needs to stay in the middle and Mantha just isn’t very physical for a bigger guy. I’m curious to see how Cassidy will use him in the playoffs. I would be surprised if Mantha is here next year.

  3. NAM

    The Mantha-Hertl-Marchessault would be an awful line. Marchy loses the puck a bunch each game, usually when contested across the blue line and into the offensive zone. Mantha and Hertl are both on the slow side and would have poor ability to help the puck going back the other way in transition. Outside of Marchy shooting into Hertl, at the net, this line would be a bad idea, but I do still appreciate the exercise.

    I have been down on Whitecloud for a few months now, but must say paired with Hutton, who has been good, the pair looks like a great playoff 3rd pair. I am not however, convinced Petra and Hanifin will be a success. Petra is the alpha dman. Hanifin has been great when in the lead role as well, with the Hague as the ahhh…bottom…LOL. On paper it is a hell of a pairing to put Petra and Hanifin together. In practice can it work?

  4. JB

    Barby wasn’t overly physical UNTIL the playoffs, where he was a beat! Maybe Mantha will turn up the physical play in the POs? If not he’s useless. If Will is ready, then I don’t see why the fourth line with him, Roy and Kolly wouldn’t be the start in game one? Also am I needs to be in the mix somewhere!

    • JB

      Should have said beast. Last line Ammo.

    • NAM

      I’ll defend Mantha (a little bit) and say he has shown better and better each game. He has had some really crafty good setups for Doro. Is good on the walls and protecting pucks. Has even stood big in scrums (if that means anything). IF he has a playoff level to go to it might be good.

    • Sb

      Martha has never been a physical player. He is a big man who does not play a big man’s game. He is what he is.

  5. Troy

    Martinez is money in the playoffs. Hate to see him get healthy scratched over Hutton and/or Whitecloud.
    Can’t want for you to analyze the goalie situation. For my two cents, it’s Thompson.
    Nice work Ken

    • knights fan in minny

      maybe martini is being rested i think he will be in the line up

  6. ThG

    woulda coulda shoulda article

    lines with good chemistry play together for a long time, doing a mismash of line combo’s is shotgun approach, or like playing a game of jacks. In playoffs you can’t afford to use this approach as it could cost you a game. I agree and see no reason to split hague and hannifin. Whitecloud has been playing better recently after having an injury. Marty brings an X factor, would like to see him on PP.

    Meanwhile in real world :

    Biden to Iran , don’t do it
    Iran, “fuck Joe Biden, we are wiping Israel off face of earth”

    Iran, opps, everyone found out about it, please don’t retaliate. Iran
    running away. Meanwhile the Houdi, Yemen, Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon
    all fire missiles at Israel. Iran “thats it don’t hit us back, don’t escalate it”.
    Huh ? What ? Iran just escalated it.

    Jihad Joe, I mean Genocide Joe ” Israel don’t do it”

    Isreal “fuck Joe Biden” Iran is done, toast.

    This is what happens when elections are stolen by a feckless old blowheart. Joe even once said he didn’t support segragation, I can’t repeat what he said against black people, but it was pretty bad. So when it was convenient for Jihad Joe, I mean
    Genocide Joe to be racist. He was. He also said some pretty bad things about women. This guy bends with whoever the party says or does. Party above country.

    Make no mistake if the other guy was in the WH, the Abraham accords would be
    in and world wouldn’t be on fire. Stolen elections have consequences.

    • Smart Voter

      Someone drank the Kool-aid. Can’t Spell HATRED without Red Hat ! You’re welcome back to reality when you give up believing lies and Conspiracy.

      Lock the Orange Man Up, and Go Knights !

      • knights fan in minny

        the don is not getting locked up your tds is showing how is that veggie joe inflation going

      • ThG

        death to america hate comes from the neo nazi fascist scum of your own party members, they were blocking bridges in CA yesterday, get a clue of what hate really is. libtard indoctrinated with tds

    • nooodles

      wtf is ur problem lmao

    • YouHave BDS

      Get a fuckin life dude

      • knights fan in minny

        do you have any of those scumbag illegals living with you the ones veggie joe cars about more then americans

  7. JB

    Preds lose again. We win last two we pass them. Brings Vancouver back in play as our first round game.

    • Sb

      Martha has never been a physical player. He is a big man who does not play a big man’s game. He is what he is.

  8. RD

    Sit Theodore. He is a turnover get caught up the ice nightmare! Can’t afford to not play defense in the playoffs. Please trade him this summer. We can get a return and save cap space. He can’t stay healthy all year anyway.

    • knights fan in minny

      are you drunk

    • JB

      Actually I have similar thoughts on Theo. About his defensive liability . He really is horrible as a d-man in our zone. Yes he contributes on offense but I’m afraid of what he would cost us defensively !?

  9. Ghost Malone


    I would love to have Hertl as 2C but I think he and stone on the same line would get killed matches up against any sort of speed. Not sold on mantha but I think he can flourish with stones passing. 3rd line has a lot jam of left sticks but I still think it works. Cotter and Amadio draw out of Carrier is healthy

  10. RD

    It’s always good to have a drinking buddy who actually knows hockey. Theo is a total defensive liability!

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