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Internal Upgrade Options For 2021-22 Golden Knights

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Over the past couple of seasons, we’ve started to see a bit more of an influx of younger players into the Golden Knights’ lineup. From Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague taking up permanent spots on the blue line to Keegan Kolesar, Nic Roy, and Cody Glass pushing for their places in the bottom six, Vegas has been looking to inject more youth into a roster that’s growing increasingly older each year.

With a clear need for upgrades, especially offensively, the Golden Knights promised to “turn over every stone” this offseason in a search to make this team better, get them over the hump, and bring Las Vegas the Stanley Cup. One such stone they may be wise to search under is the prospect pipeline.

The surprise addition of Kolesar to the opening night roster and him sticking with the club for the entirety of the 2020-21 season proves the team is willing to give a young player extended time at the NHL level if deserved. Unlike most young players though, his situation was complicated by the waiver process in that he was not exempt like most other VGK prospects. Placing him on waivers would be exposing him to be lost to another team for nothing, a risk the Golden Knights clearly were never comfortable taking.

This season, another young player is in a similar situation. 23-year-old Dylan Coghlan heads into this offseason as a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, the same spot Kolesar was in a year ago. Coghlan is due to be extended a qualifying two-way one-year offer worth $750,000 at the NHL level. Without much negotiating power, that offer is likely to be signed by Coghlan. However, this season, unlike the last, Coghlan is no longer waiver-exempt. Thus, if the Golden Knights want to place him in the AHL, as they did on multiple occasions (using the taxi squad) last season, he would be required to clear waivers.

Like Kolesar’s situation a year ago, Vegas may see Coghlan as a valuable enough piece that they will not be willing to expose him to waiver, especially with a 32nd team entering the league.

Coghlan played in 29 games last season for the Golden Knights scoring three goals (all in the same game) and adding three assists. He’ll represent an affordable option that has shown some offensive upside and could grow into a bigger role on what is expected to be a revamped power play.

Aside from Coghlan, every other potential significant contributor to the Golden Knights’ lineup in 2021-22 is waiver exempt. That doesn’t mean they can’t force their way onto the roster though, as Cody Glass did each of the last two seasons.

The most probable prospect to break through to the NHL this season is Peyton Krebs. Krebs showed well in his limited time at the end of last season before suffering a jaw injury that ended his year. He’s a dynamic offensive player that uses first-step acceleration and hockey-IQ to generate chances for himself and others. As the Golden Knights look to add offense, they may be wise to leave a spot on the roster open for Krebs.

Behind Krebs is a group of three 2017 Draft picks that could use training camp to push their way on (or back on) to the NHL roster. Cody Glass, Lucas Elvenes, and Jack Dugan have all produced strong offensive numbers at the AHL level. Glass fell out of favor with Pete DeBoer late in the season in 20-21, but certainly has shown enough flashes of talent to put himself in the picture again in 21-22. Elvenes posted monster numbers in 2019 for the Chicago Wolves and followed them up with decent point totals in 2020 for the Henderson Silver Knights. Dugan’s first professional season was successful averaging nearly a point per game through the AHL regular season and playoffs. With a strong training camp and preseason, any of them could force a tough decision for the coaching staff and front office.

Again, all four of these players remain waiver-exempt, so their inclusion on the opening night roster may be connected to the salary cap as much as their deservingness to be on the team, but as the season goes on, each certainly has a chance to make an impact this season.

Over the first four years of the franchise, the Golden Knights have experienced almost nothing but success. But, their ability to use the pipeline to advance the top of their roster has been limited compared to many other teams around the league (see Montreal). With Coghlan’s waiver-exempt status running out, the 2017 Draft picks heading into their low 20’s, and another 1st round pick ready to go, this may finally be the year we see significant impacts from young offensive talent.

If the Golden Knights are serious about winning the Cup, they may need it.

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32 Comments

  1. Richard Santomauro

    Vegas has some great young talent that can help both offensively, defensively and in goal. So that’s the good news.

    Martinez is a big question mark. VGK definitely would like to keep him.

    The goalie situation has been strange ever since they picked up Lehner. Regardless of what happens, VGK has 3 very good goalies in Fleury, Lehner and Thompson. I just think Lehner has too many off ice issues and bad history.

    Smith’s status and the CAP makes him obviously bait. But, historically it has been Smith who has done the most damage to opposing teams short handedly, and is key on the PK. Tough call to make. If VGK deals they would be better off looking for a quality young AHL player and a 1st and 2nd round pick. Trading Smith and others for an aging and medically suspect Eichel is high risk.

    • ulf

      agreed that Eichel’s medical condition should prevent an acquisition (which isn’t really possible given his salary and what VGK could give up anyway), but his age certainly isn’t an issue. He’s 24 years old, which would make him one of the youngest players on VGK’s roster! Most of the ones the team is counting on are 28 or older (31+ in a few key cases)…time’s a ticking with this squad…

    • sb

      Eichel’s age is a problem? Are we talking about the same guy named Eichel? 24? That’s an age problem?

  2. ulf

    This is where the VGK will struggle in coming years. Early success is great, and The Owner was very clear on going for a Cup in 6 years. If this doesn’t happen in that time frame, we’re in for a rebuild.
    The core group is fine but not elite (with one or two exceptions), are already on the old side, and there’s an underwhelming list of prospects remaining in the farm pool.
    If the strategy was to buy a Cup quickly, that’s very hard to do in this league.

    • That makes a great case for Eichel at the right price!
      Moving Fleury and using whatever in return as part of the package for Eichel gets you within $3M. Waive Reaves? And we’ll be giving up someone n in the Eichel deal. Then we’re there.

      It’s time for the young forwards to ALL get full auditions this year.

  3. trading for eichel will be the dumbest move made by GM or Kelly

    • Richard Santomauro

      Eichel’s injury and cost is prohibitive and too risky. Agreed. Dumbest move.

      • Pistol Pete

        Sorry but I don’t think the FO is dumb including the moves for Lehner and Petro although both have had some early issues but not final ones. If they go for Eichel there will be plenty of brainpower and above all experience going into that decision IMO vs. amateur ones here. Also analytics keeps getting bigger and more relevant for Eichel type situations.

        • Richard Santomauro

          One slam into the boards and Eichel’s neck snaps in two. I mean, come on man, the guy is talking about fusing his effing vertebrae!

          No effing way.

          Too risky.

          • Pistol Pete

            Then the FO will pass on acquiring him if that is the medical prognosis going forward. My point isit’s hard to seeing them being do dumb as to not weigh the risks. Let’s face it, you and I don’t have access to the real facts on his neck and the long term implications of a fusion or even if it will be done.

        • Richard Santomauro

          The fact that there is even discussion about fusing neck vertebrae is reason enough alone to fully check it out AT THE VERY LEAST.

          You have to weigh the risk versus paying this guy tens of millions in a long term deal and then have him completely fall apart. Nope, too much risk.

    • THE hockey GOD

      welcome to the jungle BLAKE

  4. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Hey KEN!

    What happened to Jason’s GM for a day?

    You got him locked in a closet somewhere?

    Afraid he was going to out do you?

    Hmmmmmmm?

    • THE hockey GOD

      hey Doc
      as co GMGM, or is it now GM
      Jason , your big sponsor , is waiting for your input

      get to it big dog, we all know Jason anointed you as the ‘one’

  5. Blitz

    It was nice to see Krebs this last year, although the out come sucked. I think with ice time he will be a good/great player. He needs to add some man strength etc to compete with adults. I thought he got thrown around alot in his short time, but I also think that is to be expected.

    So a question: why didn’t we see Lucas Elvenes and Jack Dugan last year at all? It is always claimed that these guys, with Krebs, are the cream of the young guy crop. Yet, no games for them last year, however other guys rotated in and out. I don’t live in vegas or watch HSK so I don’t really understand where these guys are at in their game, but hear they are doing well at the farm team level. I would think you would give each a game or two just to see where they are, at the NHL level, and to give them a taste to know where to take their game. Any one know the answer to this?

    • Richard Santomauro

      Cody Glass got his confidence crushed by Coach DeBoering. Glass has a lot of upside, but DeBoering had zero patience for him. Dylan Sikura and Patrick Brown both played extremely well but yet we kept the same old same old line 4 with Reaves. Had Sikura and Reaves played on line 4 all year we would have won the President’s Cup. I think that Glass could be eventually grow into a line 2 or at some point even a line 1 center.

      Krebs is going to be a star. I went to several HSK games here in Vegas and there are several players with potential ready to come up and play on lines 3 and 4. Logan Thompson is outstanding and has all the moves of Fleury in net. He’s big, fast and has great hands. He’s got a great goalie IQ as well.

      Elvenes and Dugan should be given a shot, and we have 2 6ft 4in defenseman, Hayes and Dahlstrom, who should be given a test run.

      • THE hockey GOD

        glass was hurt in off season, and that had NOTHING to do with coach, if Glass had played well the coach would have used him. Glass played tentative and needs to get his confidence back. Coach played him at times on no1 line and on no. 1 pp. I don’t see that as confidence buster. HE got ever chance, he was not in dog house. There just were better options available.

        Now you can see Sikura passed him up late in season, but he was playing a whole lot better in AHL than GLASS at the time. Was that AHL coach’s fault too

        He’s a young kid, he will bounce back.

        I also think his off season weight building program took away some of his speed. That combined with his injury put him behind the 8 ball. I expect a bounce back season.

      • Pistol Pete

        Agree with all that. Sorry to seem so defensive on the Eichel matter. I just don’t see VGK FO as being historically incompetent. I guess that’s what makes me defensive. THis team has done very well for itself as an expansion club and it has a lot to do with the FO. Easy to criticize decisions in hindsight, decisions that are not fully mature in terms of final outcomes. I mean if Petro fails to live up to career performance standards in Vegas than that will be a move that failed, but after just one season it’s not yet determined.

    • Tim

      Blitz, a good question. I watched all 10 televised games of the Silver Knights and a lot of the scoring was done by our older continent. Jack Dugan, Lucas Evelens from the class of 2017 were up there in points. I liked Pavel D. the Russian kid looks pretty good and were all hoping Krebs can make the team but on offense after that not much more. The defense the same way we have a few potential players but we’ll have to wait and see. Thats why first you don’t want Eichel because of injury, second you see our talent pool it would strip us of the few good ones we have, and the 10 million cap hit should be the final blow.

  6. THE hockey GOD

    Zach Hyman LW, Toronto Maple Leafs
    Zach Hyman appears to be heading towards the free agent market on July 28, according to Pierre LeBrun.

    LeBrun added that this obviously subject to change, but it looks like Hyman could be playing for a team other than Toronto for the first time next season. There is still a “sizeable gap” in the positions of both sides at the moment with free agency just two weeks away.

    • THE hockey GOD

      Cap Hit: $2.25 million.
      2018-19: $2 million.
      2019-20: $2.5 million.
      2020-21: $2.5 million.
      2021-22: UFA

      • Brent T

        If this is about Hyman you might want to do some more reading.

        He wants 7-8 years @ 5M+

      • Andy

        “turn over every stone” – literally and figuratively, with a capital “S”.

  7. THE hockey GOD

    except of a suspect, yet improving, Reaves cut out, the farm system has produced
    nothing but better than average D men.

    Still no better than average forwards. The only one they drafted, and really didn’t develop, was Suzuki. And we all know they traded him.

    What ever happened to that first guy they drafted? What was his name, John Wayne, or something. The Duke, or was it the duck? Duke Reid, that is it. Still in the minors. Then there was Jake Bischoff who saw some NHL action. Haven’t seen him play in awhile.

    Jimmy schuldt looked good at times, will he be back ?

  8. Tim

    THG, believe me many misses in the draft the ones you mentioned are just a few of the professional AHL players we have. Gage Quinney just another so so AHL player.

  9. knights fan in minny

    i like the wennberg fellow the things i have read about him the next few weeks will be interesting hope they hang on to martini

  10. Bent Hermit

    Since the salary cap, cup wining teams have had home grown talent playing key roles on the team. The VGK has yet to have a player they have drafted and developed play in the top 6 forwards or top 4 dmen. Theodore might be the exception because they kind of finished his development. It would nice to see them move a few guys to open up some space for the young guys to step in. Trading guys like Smith and McNabb would open up a couple of spots. They could sign a guy like Bonino that could be the veteran C on a 3rd line with 2 rookies. The biggest thing is see what they have with these young guys before trading them. They are in one of the weakest West divisions in a long time why not take advantage of it. Who knows maybe they have a young guy that can make a big difference. If not they got some cap space and assets they can make a deal at the trade deadline to fill any holes.

  11. knights fan in minny

    i was reading a diffrent site and they said vegas interested in palmeri are you guys hearing that in vegas

  12. FG

    If ever there was a year to play young players, it is this year. If you enjoyed the division bumslaying last year you’re going to love the upcoming year! At least they will get to play all the teams. Coghlan appears to be on the roster but may be trade bait. However, there’s not much room on the right side of the defense, but he’s an upgrade at 4RW. . Play the young guys that you mentioned and see what you got. Then when the trade deadline comes fill in your holes. And feel free to trade Reaves and Carrier.

  13. sb

    None of these recent blogs address nor solves VGK one big problem – fixing the PP. The PP isn’t fixed by anything that takes place on the 4th line. The PP isn’t fixed by adding a “mucker” to the 4th line as one suggested nor by adding a mediocre center for the 3rd line. I am in 100% agreement that the 4th line should be all graduating AHL’ers like Glass, Krebs and Dugan – at $700k/player cap hit. The fix is bringing in a puckhandling 60 assist center for the first line and moving Stephenson to the Tuch/Roy line. What center can put up those numbers and possibly be available? Eichel, Kopitar and Malkin. What’s the goal here? To just keep making the Playoffs or winning the Stanley Cup? To win the Cup, Vegas must take a big leap forward to defeat Tampa. Think about it: Dallas and Montreal absolutely shutdown Vegas. Tampa mauled Dallas and Montreal to win two Cups. Vegas is one giant step behind Tampa and most of Tampa’s players are returning for 2021-22. A major addition is needed.

    • Richard Santomauro

      Eichel is a huge medical risk. He won’t come cheap!

  14. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    JASON JASON JASON !

    Did Ken disappear him???

    Maybe there never WAS a Jason. Just Ken’s alter ego?

    ha ha

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