We’ve discussed countless times the future of the NHL roster including free agents such as Robin Lehner, Ryan Reaves, Deryk Engelland, and others, but the look of AHL roster is a different story.
With the minor league affiliate moving to Henderson, it’s likely that we’ll all want to be a little more familiar with the everyday roster than many were when they were in Chicago. So, I decided to look at all three positions and attempt to project who will be on the AHL roster when the league starts up the 2020-21 season. Then, at the end, I take a stab at guessing the first lineup the Silver Knights roll out when they step on the ice for the first time at Orleans Arena.
(Also, since this is a projection article, I’m using the name Henderson Silver Knights. Of all projections in this article, that’s the one I’m most confident about getting right.)
Bold = Projected to be on roster
* = Signed AHL contract
Under Contract: Jonas Rondbjerg, Jake Leschyshyn, Lucas Elvenes, Brandon Pirri, Paul Cotter, Ben Jones, Patrick Brown, Tyrell Goulbourne
RFA: Reid Duke, Gage Quinney, Keegan Kolesar
UFA: Curtis McKenzie, Valentin Zykov, Tye McGinn*, Jermaine Loewen*
Unsigned: Jack Dugan
There aren’t too many question marks surrounding the group of forwards that will be with the Silver Knights next season. There are eight forwards under contract and most are expected to at least start the season in the AHL. Elvenes is the one that may potentially push in camp to make the NHL roster, but with the logjam of forwards currently on the Golden Knights, Elvenes’ waiver-exempt status likely means he’s wearing silver instead of gold when camp breaks. Pirri is an interesting case with the team moving to Henderson. One of the biggest benefits to the Vegas organization to Pirri was the fact that if he’s not in the NHL, he’s in Chicago, closer to his family. He has one year left on his deal, so he doesn’t have a ton of power, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he politely asks for a trade, one Vegas would likely grant.
The RFA class is an interesting one as all three have been recalled to the NHL during their time with the Wolves and Quinney and Kolesar both made NHL appearances. No reason to let any of the three of them walk. Don’t really see a place on the NHL roster for any of them straight out of camp though.
Dugan is a bit of a wild card as we would have expected a contract to have been signed by now if he were indeed ready to leave college. There’s no rush with the sports world paused, so it still could get done any day (which I expect to eventually happen), but every day that passes has to make you wonder a little more if he’s headed back to Providence. In the end, he’s a pro player, and he should be a Silver Knight next season.
That’s 12 forwards meaning they’ll have to supplement the roster with at least a few more. Of the four UFAs, it’s most likely that Loewen and McGinn continue with the Vegas system, but I can’t say that with a ton of confidence as neither have ever been signed by Vegas, both were signed by Chicago. With Vegas now in charge, it’s hard to project the loyalties to those two players. I’d expect McKenzie and Zykov to both try their hands elsewhere. So, expect to see the Golden Knights to scoop up at least two free agents that they intend on placing on waivers to play in the AHL.
Under Contract: Nic Hague, Brayden Pachal, Jake Bischoff, Dylan Coghlan, Zack Hayes*, Jake McLaughlin*
RFA: Jimmy Schuldt, Brett Lernout
UFA: Jaycob Megna
Unsigned: Connor Corcoran, Xavier Bouchard
This group is pretty well set with the exception of the two unsigned guys who wrapped up their CHL careers (Corcoran and Bouchard). Schuldt should get a two-way qualifying offer which will keep him in the fold. Lernout certainly could get another offer, but there are a lot of defensemen in the mix especially with the new AHL contracts signed recently.
The Golden Knights are on the clock with both Corcoran and Bouchard. The normal calendar would require Vegas to offer contracts to each by June 1st if they were to retain their rights, but with the league paused that date may change. No matter when it is though, they’ll have to make up their minds on both. Either offer an entry-level contract (three years, two-way) or forfeit their rights. I expect Vegas to sign Corcoran and release Bouchard.
Signed: Dylan Ferguson
UFA: Garret Sparks, Oscar Dansk
Unsigned: Jiri Patera, Jordan Kooy
The only goalie I can reasonably project to be on the Silver Knights next season is Ferguson. He turns 22 in September and got a chance to play an AHL game while spending most of the season in the ECHL. He’ll likely assume the backup role at the AHL level with Patera and/or Kooy playing in the ECHL pushing to take his spot.
As for the starting role, it’s likely going to come from off the board here. There’s really no reason for Sparks to stick around.
Oscar Dansk presents quite a tricky dilemma for both sides. On one hand, Dansk has proven he’s a quality AHL starter and may be in line for a back-up NHL job. For Vegas, they’ve got to solve their NHL job first. If they believe that’s Dansk, he’ll sign in a heartbeat to take that job, which continues to leave the AHL job open. The more likely scenario is that the Golden Knights will want competition for the backup role at the NHL level meaning they’ll find another free agent goalie to come in. Whoever that may be, it’ll be between him and Dansk to win that job with the other heading to the AHL. However, if Dansk doesn’t like his chances in that competition, he may choose to leave the organization completely. Thus, I expect the Golden Knights to re-sign Oscar Dansk to a short-term one-way deal and plan on making him the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury when next season begins.
As for the starter in the Silver Knights net, that means a completely new face. Alex Lyon, Andrew Hammond, Jon Gillies, or someone of that type makes sense. A clear AHL starter with minimal NHL experience to step in if there’s an injury or if Dansk can’t get the job done.
Silver Knights Projected Opening Night Lineup