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Bruce Cassidy Details His Ideal Minute And Role Distribution Among Forward Lines

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Every coach at every level in the sport of hockey wants to balance minutes equally across the entire lineup. In a perfect world, the coach could just sit back and roll four lines keeping everyone fresh and ready to play at the highest level in their next shift.

But, the NHL is not a utopia and the divide between high-end players and everyone else often causes an imbalance of ice time.

I don’t know that you should have guys up in the 20’s (minutes) that are forwards. Are you getting maximum value out of them if they are over 20 every night for 82 games? We’ll see how that plays out and how the guys who are used to that manage that. If they can pull it off and give you maximum play then I’ll change the way I think. -Bruce Cassidy

Same goes on the flip side.

We shouldn’t have anybody under 10 minutes a night. If this team is functioning as we see it, I think that 4th line would be closer to 12 minutes because they are going to play against good people, get D-zone starts, and play on the PK. -Cassidy

Historically, VGK have used their 3rd and 4th lines in checking roles, but often would see their usage sheltered with offensive zone starts and/or favorable matchups. Cassidy wants his 3rd line of William Karlsson, Brett Howden, and Michael Amadio to operate as a strong defensive line with the 4th line also taking some of the most difficult minutes.

That’s defending, that’s penalty kill, the hard minutes. We have to be careful with guys over the course of the year because of fatigue, injury, and maybe age. -Cassidy

The challenge for Cassidy though will be the abilities of the players in the bottom-six in regards to holding up to the rigors of what he called “stressful minutes.”

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Four Prerequisites For VGK To Win The Pacific Division

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For the first time in a long time, the Golden Knights enter the season without a clear picture of exactly where they stand in the Pacific Division. There’s an easy argument to be made they remain among the top contenders but it’s also not hard to point to the offseason as a reason why they may not.

Let’s stay on the positive side today and take a look at what must happen for the Golden Knights to raise their third divisional banner in six years. If Vegas hit every one of these marks, they’ll not only stroll into the playoffs, but they’ll win the Pacific.

Brett Howden, Nic Roy, or someone else with fewer than 100 career points scores 60 points

One of the biggest questions for the Golden Knights this season is depth. While they have a host of NHL-quality players slotted to play in the bottom-six, there aren’t many proven scorers among the lot. Howden and Roy are the clear favorites to take the massive step forward, but names like Paul Cotter, Brendan Brisson, Sakari Manninen, Jonas Rondbjerg, or a few others could make the leap as well.

For the Golden Knights to truly operate as a dominant force in the division, they’ll need an unexpected boom in scoring from someone. It doesn’t matter where in the lineup it happens either. If the player does it on a line with Jack Eichel or Mark Stone, it will leave a more established scorer to bolster the third line. Or, if it happens on a third or fourth line, Vegas will be able to load up their top-six.

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Nic Roy Told To “Be Ready For Everything” In Terms Of His Role Under Bruce Cassidy

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Any time a new coach enters the fold roles are bound to change. It can mean different things for different players as the new coach implements his systems and figures out how each of the pieces fit together.

For the recently rich re-signed Nic Roy his role is likely to change while very much staying the same as a year ago.

It’s a little early to say but it could be really anything as of right now. -Nic Roy

Last year, Roy played all over the Golden Knights’ lineup for Pete DeBoer. From playing as a center for Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to playing on Jack Eichel’s right wing to centering a fourth line of Jonas Rondbjerg and Mattias Janmark, Roy did it all.

Along the way, he potted 15 goals and 24 assists helping earn him a hefty raise and a long-term contract to stay with Bruce Cassidy and the Golden Knights through 2026-27.

Roy’s versatility is one of his best strengths but it also has him heading into Training Camp without a true home in the lineup.

(Cassidy) told me to be ready for everything. If he needs me at winger that could be something that happens. Or he might need me in a more defensive role on the third line or a more offensive role on the second line or something like that. -Roy

It’s not out of the question to suspect Roy could start as high as the first line as a winger. With Cassidy expecting to break up the Misfit Line of Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith, it’s likely one of the two wingers heads up to play with Eichel, leaving the other side potentially open for Roy. Or maybe Roy slots in as a second line center in Karlsson’s place among the Misfits. Or he could find himself on a fourth line in a lineup utilizing Eichel, Karlsson, Stephenson, and Roy all as centers.

It truly is possible for Roy to land anywhere in the 12 spots among the Opening Night starting lineup.

It’ll be up to Roy to turn his role of Swiss army knife into something more concrete. Depending on where he starts, succeeding in that place will solidify his position in the lineup. Last year, while the numbers were solid, Roy never quite took hold of any of the roles he was placed in, which led to him playing on 23 different line combinations.

Cassidy will take his best shot at creating the perfect lineup on October 11th when the Golden Knights head to Crypto.com Arena. For Roy, wherever he slots into that lineup, he’ll have to prove he’s the best (insert role here) player the Golden Knights have. If he does, he has a chance to fill that role for the next five years.

NIC ROY SIGNS 5-YEAR EXTENSION AT $3 MILLION AAV

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McCrimmon Shares Four Ways VGK Can Make Up For Lost Offense

When the Golden Knights pulled off the blockbuster trade to acquire Jack Eichel, it became clear they would have to do some serious work to on their salary cap. That work is now complete and it has resulted in the departures of Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan.

The trio of players shipped out accounted for 42 goals last season with Pacioretty missing more than half of the year due to injury. Also, while still unsigned, it’s possible Mattias Janmark and his nine goals exit Vegas as well. That’s more than 50 goals leaving the organization without a single new player being added to the fold (at least to this point).

So, how do they make up that offense?

That question was posed to GM Kelly McCrimmon at today’s press conference and his answer was essentially four-pronged. Let’s go through each of them.

“We anticipate a healthy lineup will put more offense into our lineup”

McCrimmon specifically singled out Stone, but the larger point is that without virtually every important player on the team missing significant time, as we saw last year, there will be an influx in scoring.

Stone, Eichel, Karlsson, and Smith will all likely generate more this coming year than they did last year. Between them, they scored 51 goals and tallied 128 points in 2021-22. The career averages of those four players calls for something closer to 98 goals and 245 points. Throw in Martinez, Howden, and Hague and there’s room for even more.

It’s pretty clear that if the team is significantly healthier, scoring will go up.

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2022 VGK Free Agency Tracker

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A roundup of all the signings, rumors, and rumbling surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights as free agency opens in advance of the 2022-23 season.

*This article will be updated throughout the day as more information rolls in.*

  • The Golden Knights have traded Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan to the Carolina Hurricanes for future considerations. (Source: @DarrenDreger & @PierreVLeBrun)
  • A handshake agreement is reportedly in place with Reilly Smith on an extension worth $5m AAV for three years. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • The deal is expected to be completed today. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • The deal is complete. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have extended qualifying offers to Nic Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Jake Leschyshyn, Brayden Pachal, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Nic Roy (Source: Golden Knights)
    • Roy and Kolesar are each arbitration-eligible. Both will likely file. Each can still sign extensions before their scheduled arbitration dates in August.
    • Jonas Rondbjerg has re-signed a three-year deal with an AAV of $766,666. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Brett Howden was not extended a qualifying offer by the Golden Knights, however, reports indicate a deal is being worked on to keep him in Vegas. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • Howden has extended with the Golden Knights for one-year at $1.5 million. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • VGK did not extend qualifying offers to Ben Jones, Dylan Ferguson, or Jack Dugan. All become unrestricted free agents today.
  • Daniil Miromanov signed a two-year extension to remain with the Golden Knights with an AAV of $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Sakari Manninen, a 30-year-old Finnish winger who has been playing in the KHL. He scored the game-winning goal at the World Champions and won a gold medal at the Olympics. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • VGK confirmed the signings on Manninen and Spencer Foo, each for $750,000. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Sheldon Rempal has signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Golden Knights. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • The NHL AAV is $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • VGK have signed goalie Michael Hutchinson to a one-year, two-way contract. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Byron Froese has signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)

Simplified Salary Cap Tracker

  • VGK are approximately $6,452,500 UNDER the salary cap with a 17-man roster (10 F, 7 D, 2 G)
    • Eichel, Stone, Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, Stephenson, Carrier, Amadio, Patrick, Howden – $43,012,500
    • Pietrangelo, Martinez, Theodore, McNabb, Whitecloud, Hutton – $25,700,00
    • Lehner, Brossoit – $7,325,000

**This is an inexact salary estimation designed to give a rough outline of how much cap space the Golden Knights have to operate with. For exact up-to-date salary cap information, visit PuckPedia.com.**

GM For A Day: Jason’s 2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights

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Our week of hypothetical managing rolls on. Today, it’s my (Jason) turn to play GM for a Day, and we’re going a little calmer than Ken’s plan.

I have no choice, I’m going for it now. There was an order given six seasons ago and I agreed to it. So, it’s time to deliver.

Vegas’ current roster has enough talent up and down the lineup but it hasn’t fully succeeded. However, under the right conditions, the Golden Knights can defeat almost every team on any given night. Sure, changes will be made but for the most part, I’m going to use what I already have.

TRADE – Alec Martinez traded to the Detroit Red Wings for a 2022 4th round pick.

On Tuesday I predicted the Golden Knights front office would aggressively try and unload Alec Martinez’s contract. It’s rare, but I’m in agreement with VGK’s FO. Detroit is a team that’s maturing, has cap room, and could use some veteran leadership. As the Golden Knights have done in the past with Brad Hunt, sending Martinez to Detroit would be looking out for the player as well. It’ll hurt to some capacity to lose the almost 35-year-old but Vegas opens cap space and replenishes a 4th round pick. It’s not ideal but I’d rather shed defense in order to keep my offense intact. My only fear is the Red Wings management asking for a sweetener.

Look, I’m not a miracle worker but my task is to win the Stanley Cup this year, not in 2028. With that in mind, immediately after trading Martinez I’m picking up the phone and reassuring Max Pacioretty he’s not going anywhere. It’s time for a heart-to-heart. Like Brad Pitt said to the actor playing David Justice in the movie Moneyball, “I want to milk the last ounce of baseball you got in you.” The same goes for Pacioretty. He’s on an expiring contract seeking another lucrative deal, and I need goals. I’m looking for 70+ games and 30+ goals from Pacioretty next season. In the end it could work out well for both parties.

It’ll be no secret, the pressure is on Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and yep, Jack Eichel. When a player signs a contract worth $10M annually he’s also agreeing to accept the pressure that comes along. I anticipate Eichel to play like a ten-million-dollar center this season and I expect him to get the most out of his teammates. He may not wear a C but this will be Eichel’s team. It’s just a matter of when. He wasn’t an original Misfit but The Creator’s demand of winning a Cup in six seasons applies to the top center as well. To keep the trio of Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Jack Eichel together, someone else will need to go.

TRADE – Laurent Brossoit and a 2022 7th round pick to Dallas Stars for 2023 5th round pick

Brossoit’s contract was another example of overspending on an unnecessary need. Vegas had Robin Lehner’s backup already yet overpaid for an underwhelming, established goalie. The Golden Knights didn’t get enough from Brossoit last season to continue to carry his salary. Since 2020, the Golden Knights have severely overpaid their goaltenders and last offseason the club was forced to sell off a Vezina winner for nothing. I’m going to follow suit by shipping out Brossoit, and like Vegas’ front office I’m not concerned with the return.

I’ve successfully managed to get underneath the cap without tearing apart the team. Now, it’s time to examine what I have left on the books.

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Predicting The Golden Knights Offseason (Ken’s Picks)

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The Cup has been awarded which means the offseason has officially begun. The Golden Knights have already started shaping their roster, most notably with the news of a Reilly Smith extension, but they still have a lot of work to do.

This week we are going to go through a series of articles giving our thoughts on how we’d like the offseason to shake out and how we think it will ultimately go down for the Golden Knights.

Today we start with my (Ken) predicted roster. This is what I expect the Golden Knights to do this summer.

Nic Roy – Re-signed for 2 years at $2.75m AAV

As I detailed in a previous article, Roy is in line for a fairly significant raise. I expect him to file for arbitration but sign a contract prior to the hearing. The Golden Knights will utilize their excellent signing of Chandler Stephenson to set the market on Roy and eventually settle on the same number. It’s a nice bump for Roy, it keeps him in line to hit unrestricted free agency at the age of 27, and it doesn’t break the bank on VGK.

Keegan Kolesar – Re-signed for 1 year at $1.3m

Like Roy, Kolesar’s arbitration rights will earn him a bit more than he’s made in the past. However, I expect a short deal as the Golden Knights look to maintain some flexibility moving forward. Kolesar doesn’t have much to prove as it’s pretty clear the player he’s going to be, so he’ll look to cash in and $1.3 million is a decent payday for him.

Nic Hague – Re-signed for 1 year at $874,125

I truly believe Hague should refuse to sign the qualifying offer and hold out from training camp and ultimately regular season games in an effort to maximize his contract. But, I don’t think he’ll end up going down that road as the risk of the Golden Knights never blinking is far too real. (Read more about the situation here) So, I think he’ll take the qualifying offer and play one more year on a cheap deal before he looks to cash in next summer, which I believe he will to the tune of north of $3 million per year.

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Recent Contracts Helping To Set The Market For Arbitration Eligible Nic Roy

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The Golden Knights are already in salary cap hell. Currently sitting $200,000 short of the league’s upper limit, Vegas has just 19 players under contract making up a roster valued at $82.3 million.

That’s without UFA’s Reilly Smith and Mattias Janmark, without RFA’s Nic Roy, Keegan Kolesar, Brett Howden, and Nic Hague, and with just five players that can be buried in the AHL without any salary leftover.

No matter how you slice it, the Golden Knights are in quite a pinch for cash, and there are a lot of difficult decisions coming up.

Yes, I just copy/pasted the same three paragraphs from yesterday’s story on Nic Hague because they work perfectly for this one on another Nic, Nic Roy.

Roy turned 25-years-old in February and quietly (at least for me) turned in a season that will earn him a fairly significant pay raise.

In his second full season in the NHL, Roy shattered his career-high in every statistical category and did so playing mostly in a third line role with a rotating cast. He averaged just over 16 minutes a night which ranked 8th among everyday forwards in the Golden Knights lineup.

Despite the role, Roy posted 39 points, good for 6th most on the team, chipped in 3.5 point shares, the 6th most among forwards, and scored 15 goals, also good for 6th overall. He took nearly 1,000 faceoffs, played 78 of the 82 games (missing two for illness), and was a key contributor on both the power play and penalty kill.

He enters this offseason on an expiring contract as a restricted free agent (RFA) with arbitration rights. The qualifying offer for Roy will be just over the league minimum ($750,000) which will inevitably force the French-Canadian centerman to activate his option to file for arbitration.

So, what will that number look like?

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108 Forward Line Combinations In 2021-22 For Golden Knights

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In the Golden Knights’ 82 games this season, they used a total of 108 different forward line combinations. 23 forwards, Dylan Coghlan, and Daniil Miromanov comprised the 25-man group contributing to them.

In 52 different instances, a forward line was used just a single time. This included wacky combinations like Pacioretty-Kolesar-Stone, Baertschi-Leschyshyn-Janmark, Krebs-Patrick-Dadonov, and Rondbjerg-Brooks-Kolesar. It doesn’t include the seven times the Golden Knights used just 11 forwards and were left with only three full lines to start the game.

On the flip side, there were just four line combos that were rolled more than 10 times. They were Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith, who saw 40 appearances together, Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone who got 22 games as a line, Janmark-Roy-Dadonov and Janmark-Roy-Kolesar who were used 12 and 11 times respectively.

In other words, very rarely would players see the same linemates over an extended period of time. And most of the time, it was unique to see the same three guys on a line in back-to-back games.

Here’s a rundown of how many different lines every VGK forward (including the two defensemen) played on this season.

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