The longest wait for hockey in franchise history is finally over. Training Camp is here, preseason is this weekend, and Opening Night is just Reilly Smith days away.
The Golden Knights have brought a roster of 40 forwards, 19 defensemen, and eight goalies to camp and as they pair it down over the course of the next three weeks many questions will be answered by Bruce Cassidy and the new coaching staff.
Who are the four primary centers?
For the first time ever, the Golden Knights have a clear 1C. His name is Jack Eichel, and no matter where he’s listed on the lineup sheet, he’s the focal point in the center of the ice for Vegas. But after Eichel, it gets a little murky. William Karlsson will clearly take one of the other three center spots, but the question is whether that will be as #2 or #3 behind Chander Stephenson.
Stephenson has shown terrific chemistry with Mark Stone over the past few years and it could easily be something Cassidy leans on at least early in the season. If that’s the case, Karlsson drops to #3, and Nic Roy, Brett Howden, Jake Leschyshyn and a few others would be fighting over the final spot.
It may take a week or so for this to sort itself out in camp, but eventually, Cassidy will have to tip his hand and it’ll go a long way towards our full understanding of how the rest of the lineup will shake out.
Which forward finds his way into the top-six?
It’s possible the group of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Chandler Stephenson make up VGK’s top-six. However, the premise of splitting up the Misfit Line, which Cassidy seems set on doing, and the expectation of Stephenson playing as a center leaves a hole in the lineup.
The most obvious fit for that hole would be newcomer Phil Kessel who has scored like a top-six winger his entire life. But, it’s possible with his age and suspect defensive abilities, Cassidy may opt to go another direction. Is it the leftover center of Roy or Howden, does a grinder like William Carrier or Keegan Kolesar grab the job, or will a dark horse like Sakari Manninen arrive?