The Golden Knights have been fortunate thus far this season in regards to injuries. At any given time they’ve never been without more than two forwards, missing only Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin at various times.
Of course, health is important for any team, but it’s especially crucial for the Golden Knights due to their lack of depth in the minor leagues.
Thus far, just three forwards have made both NHL and AHL appearances in the Vegas system. Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, and Nic Roy have only six points despite racking up 25 combined games. Between the entire trio, they’ve yet to find the back of the net in the NHL.
Meanwhile, at the AHL level, those same three forwards have tallied six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in just 22 total games. And, aside from 20-year-old Lucas Elvenes, Pirri and Zykov rank as the top scorers on the Chicago Wolves, and Roy comes in 6th. They are the best the system has, and we’ve already seen what they can (or can’t) do at the NHL level.
I raised this concern during the offseason after the Golden Knights watched four of their top-six AHL scorers leave for other teams or leagues.
Luckily, it’s yet to bite Vegas as they haven’t been forced to dip into that depth. Of course, the addition of Chandler Stephenson pushes everyone down one rung on the ladder, but it’s still a serious issue.
Brandon Pirri had a hot run with the Golden Knights last season and certainly stands as a the best fill-in option, but beyond him, there’s not much there Vegas can rely on.
Elvenes is playing in his first professional season in North America, and is thriving, but he’s likely not cut out for the NHL grind yet. Zykov is playing with Chicago now, but the chances he ever returns to Vegas remain slim after his PED suspension. Then there are Gage Quinney, Curtis McKenzie, Tye McGinn, and Nic Roy. Roy was the clear front-runner of the group, and in his seven-game stint with the Golden Knights, offense wasn’t a word that came to mind.
35% into the season, it hasn’t mattered. Hopefully, it doesn’t in the remaining 65% either.