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Learning More About VGK’s Free Agency Depth Signings

The Golden Knights made waves at the opening of free agency, but not exactly the way they usually have. This year, rather than seeking out the blockbuster trade or being in on the biggest free agent, Vegas’ only trade was a salary dump and their remaining action on the market was mostly AHL depth pieces.

However, if we’ve learned anything in the past, what may look like a depth add in July could become a crucial player in a playoff run.

The Golden Knights added five such players, all on contracts valued at exactly the NHL minimum. Let’s learn more about them all.

Spencer Foo

As an undrafted free agent playing in the NCAA, Foo first attracted the attention of the Golden Knights during his monster third season at Union College in 2016-17. He scored 26 goals and added 36 assists in 38 games in the ECAC. Vegas ultimately lost the race to sign Foo in the summer of 2017 as he inked an entry-level deal with the Calgary Flames.

Foo played just four NHL games in his rookie season and they still stand as the only four he’s played in his career. He did score twice in those games including one against the Golden Knights in the final game of the 17-18 regular season.

After that stint in the NHL, Foo spent his entire second professional season in the AHL with Stockton. He then departed for the KHL, playing for these China-based Kunlun Red Star, where he’s been each of the last three seasons, and has posted 76 points in 154 games.

Foo played in the Olympics in 2022 and scored China’s first-ever goal in men’s Olympic ice hockey.

He’s a strong skater who loves to live in front of the net, has a good hockey IQ, and a knack for scoring goals.

Sakari Manninen

The only one-way contract the Golden Knights handed out was to this 30-year-old Finnish KHL standout. Manninen was measured at 5’6″ when he played in the Olympics this past winter, however, he has been listed at 5’8″ in both the KHL and now NHL.

Manninen has been a goal-scorer and a point-collector at every level he’s played at. Most notably, he led the 2019 IIHF World Championships in points and netted the game-winning goal to help Finland win the 2022 competition. He scored four goals at the 2022 Olympics and notched two in the 2018 Games in South Korea.

He had been tearing up the KHL, producing at nearly a point-per-game pace for the past three seasons with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, but walked out on the league the moment Russia invaded Ukraine.

He’s an above-average skater who holds the puck much better than most his size and has a deadly shot, especially on the power play.

Byron Froese

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Pronounced “freeze,” Byron was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 4th round of the 2009 Entry Draft, one pick before Ben Chiarot. The 31-year-old signed in Chicago but never made an NHL appearance with the Hawks. He bounced between the AHL and ECHL for his first four seasons before receiving his first NHL call-up in 2015 and scoring his first goal the same year.

Froese has played 116 NHL games for the Maple Leafs, Lightning, Canadiens, and Flames, scoring just six goals and 11 assists. His AHL stats are much stronger, as he’s produced at more than a half-point-per-game with 247 points in 400 games over 12 years.

He scored one goal and added nine assists in 10 playoff games for the Stockton Heat last season and shredded the Silver Knights in the regular season scoring 4 goals and 4 assists in 6 games.

He’s a strong physical center that scores most of his points by standing directly in front of the goalie.

Sheldon Rempal

An undersized (5’10” 165) right-handed winger, Rempal is still looking for his first NHL goal, having made 11 appearances over a three-year span with three different teams.

Rempal dominated the AHL with the Abbotsford Canucks last season scoring 33 goals and registering 69 points in 55 games. He was undrafted playing in the BCHL before heading to Clarkson University for two seasons. His first NHL contract came with the Los Angeles Kings in 2018. He was not tendered a qualifying offer at the end of his entry-level deal which saw him sign two-way contracts with the Hurricanes and Canucks.

A gifted offensive player his game has lacked the speed necessary to play at the NHL level.

Michael Hutchinson

Once upon a time, Hutchinson was in the running for Rookie of the Year in the NHL, ultimately finishing 8th in Calder voting in 2014-15 (Aaron Ekblad won, Mark Stone got 2nd). Since he’s become the classic journeyman goalie bouncing from team to team between the NHL and AHL.

Vegas will become Hutchinson’s 5th NHL team in the last six seasons, having started more than eight games in a year just once (2019-20 with TOR). He has started against 29 of the NHL’s 32 teams but has never made an appearance against the Golden Knights.

He struggled last season allowing six goals on 42 shots in two games with the Maple Leafs but has posted a career .905 save percentage and 2.79 goals against.

A big goalie, Hutchinson is prone to going into butterfly early to close off the bottom part of the net and allow his size to cover the top. Like Logan Thompson (and prospect Isaiah Saville), he catches with his right hand.

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34 Comments

  1. Blitz

    It would be nice if somebody from the new ranks could step up and flat out take a roster spot. We need a scorer for the 6th forward spot. Was hoping one of the many young guys, with all the ice time, last year would surprise us. They played ok, NHL level hockey, but no one really shined. Maybe it was Deboer’s system or how he used them etc. Maybe they needed the off season to work on what they learned. Don’t know, but I am left thinking the batch from last year tops out with a 4th line ceiling. C’mon give us a shooter, no whammies.

  2. I ALREADY like Manninen! #1 His character. ( his decision to leave Russia speaks for him). #2 His confidence & ability to compete at the PRO level w/o benefit of sheer size and stature as a factor. Marchy comes to mind. A firecracker! And HEY, Marchy won’t be the SHORTY any longer!!

  3. Ken

    I remember Manninen from the Olympics. He’s a spark plug and will bring some excitement and non stop engine!

    • KEN: YEAH!! I remember just how QUICK the team was that first season– the guys left a LOT of teams in the rear view as they stormed down the ice. But other teams have mostly caught on and caught up. Manninen could definitely be a ” Sparkplug” for the team!
      Also, watching Stephenson glide down ice from 0-100 in, like 3 seconds, is a thing of perfection…
      SPEED was our calling card as a new team, and it STILL should be!

  4. I like this Finnish guy, he looks game and produces. What’s disturbing is because we are so top heavy, these guys could make the difference between losing a playoff spot and getting one. Depth is such a key. Like I said it’s the under 2 million dollar guys and Eichel that will be the difference. It’s make or break with them.

  5. knights fan in minny

    what is the word on the street in vegas are they going to ink stasny good 200 ft player good defensively? good on the pk can give you some offense

    • Blitz

      The team is already heavy at center so I would think not, but I would like to see him back. In my opinion if Roy cost is too high then you let him go and bring in Stastny. I am guessing cost will be similar. Stastny is a better player IMO, though Roy is young and still improving.

    • Love Stastny, love him. This move could help !

      • knights fan in minny

        some guys when they get near to the end of their career money is not biggest thing i could see a mill 5 playing where he lives could be a big thing don’t know if he has drawn any interest from other squads

  6. knights fan in minny

    i would guess stasny would sign cheap i have heard he lives in vegas i don’t know if that’s true or not

  7. Blitz

    Looking at these other Pacific teams getting better and improving. Not so sure where Vegas will end up this year, even in the division. I was assuming ahead of SJ and SEA, just by default, but just realized Seattle picked up Oliver Bjorkstrand this week. Big fan of his play. That is a good pickup. Their forwards look pretty good and Beniers is an absolute beast. They are improving.

    VAN started coming around the end of last year. CGY got worse but stopped the leak with Huberdeau and even Weegar, they will be right there. LA improves with Fiala. EDM is still good. I don’t really have a feeling one way or another with ANA. Lose Getzlaf, gain Strome, but have a crap ton of cap space.

    Going to be interesting to see where it goes this year. My bar is set pretty low for the VGK. I don’t expect success like years past, but will welcome any positive surprises and if they can keep it interesting. Any longer term injuries to the top five forwards is going to be magnified without any depth.

    I hate the offseason. I need some sports.

  8. THE hockey GOD

    anyone who ” walked out on the league the moment Russia invaded Ukraine.” is ACES in my book. I bet he run and took a plane, train , or automobile.
    Fuk
    Putin and the horse he road on.

  9. original 6✅

    KFIM. always with the negative waves Moriarty always the negative waves

  10. Original 6✅

    i’m happy with everybody. life’s way to short to get in a twist. my love for hockey is what i enjoy. not people bickering of stupid stuff. i wish everyone would focus on knights and even if u don’t agree don’t be rude it’s just a game.

    • AGREED, Orig 6! Hope you read my post to you the other day…my point ALSO! We ALL share love of HOCKEY, and the other garbage is just that– GARBAGE. PEACE!

  11. What about Morozov or is he in a different category?

    • He is a VGK draft pick from 2018. Certainly has a chance to make the roster at some point during the year but I wouldn’t expect it to happen straight out of camp.

  12. Tim

    The signing of these 4 or 5 unknowns is fine with me they’ve scouted them because we don’t have a clue. The problem is by doing this there basically saying there’s not much help down on the farm. By drafting or signing free agents if it makes your team better so be it.
    I’m in the corner of bringing Paul Stansty back good guy and I think he still has game. He may come cheap but he may also want a 2 year contract so time will tell. I just hope we field a team that’s competitive plays hard and stays away from injuries as much as possible. I still don’t see us making the top 3 in the Pacific which probably means no playoffs. I see Edmonton and LA one two and a host of teams fighting for that third spot. I think the three bottom teams will be Seattle, Anaheim, and San Jose so when we play those three teams we need to rack up the points no excuses. Forget the no puck luck, we just didn’t have our legs tonight etc. In any sport you make your own luck and forget the excuses we’ve done enough of that.

  13. FBI

    nice post Ken

  14. Henderson's Finest

    I watched Spencer Foo when he was in Stockton. Not impressed. But Froese (actually pronounced “phrase”) is a hard nosed player who will be a good addition to the Silver Knights and can jump in for a few games at the NHL level. He was the Heat captain, so wonder if he gets the C in Henderson.

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