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5 Questions To Be Answered As VGK Start Training Camp

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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?

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Short Camp? No Problem, VGK Says “We’ve Done This Before”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Ever been somewhere new thought to yourself, wait a minute, I think I’ve been here before. That’s exactly how the Golden Knights feel heading into this season’s incredibly short training camp at City National Arena.

Back in July, the Golden Knights opened what was called Phase 3 Training Camp on the 12th with their first real game on August 3rd. This time, camp got underway on January 3rd with the regular season opener just 11 days away.

It’s not quite deja vu, mainly because that camp led directly into the playoffs, but there’s definitely a been there done that feeling to this shortened camp.

We’ve done this before with the bubble camp and we really like how that camp went and prepared us to go into the bubble for the playoffs. How we played early in the bubble our camp gave us an advantage in our start there being able to go undefeated in our start there. -Pete DeBoer

After two weeks of camp in Vegas the Golden Knights headed to Edmonton where they dominated a preseason game against the Coyotes, then ripped through the round-robin beating Dallas, St. Louis, and Colorado to earn them the #1 seed.

Vegas scored first in three of the four games and looked surprisingly sharp for being off the ice for a few months right before it.

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What We’re Watching For At Training Camp

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights open on-ice Training Camp today as they prepare for the abridged 2021 regular season. Unlike a normal camp that is nearly a month-long, this one is condensed to less than two weeks with the season opener right around the corner on January 14th. 4o players will be in camp for the Golden Knights, 24 forwards, 12 defensemen and four goalies.

Here’s what we’ve got our eyes on as the Golden Knights get back on the ice.

Put The Thing In The Thing

Normally I wouldn’t care how often guys were scoring in drills or scrimmages during camp, but I can’t get my mind off the camp in July before the Golden Knights headed up to Edmonton and the bubble. That camp was marred with an inability to score basically up and down the lineup. At the time, we chalked it up to great goaltending, excellent defending, and rust from being off for a few months. Then, the Golden Knights caught fire scoring when they first got going in the playoffs. So, all seemed well. Of course, we all know how the year ended for Vegas and it brought me back to that camp. When I say the Golden Knights couldn’t score at City National Arena before they left, I literally mean there were 10 minute long drills where the puck would go in once, 20 minute long scrimmages where neither team scored, and one specific 2-on-1 drill I remember that went 0 for 31.

I want to see something different this time around. Marchessault, Pacioretty, Stone, Karlsson, Smith, Tuch, Theodore, Pietrangelo, put the puck in the net, please. Scoring draughts have been an issue for the Golden Knights for two seasons running and the time for it to stop is now, like literally today in training camp.

Goalie “Competition”

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Phase 3 Training Camp Roster Observations

Note: This picture is NOT from today’s camp. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights unveiled their roster of 18 forwards, 12 defensemen, and three goalies Saturday night.

Here’s the full roster.

Forwards:  Patrick Brown, William Carrier, Nick Cousins, Reid Duke, William Karlsson, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Nosek, Gage Quinney, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, Nicolas Roy, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone, and Alex Tuch

Defensemen: Jake Bischoff, Dylan Coghlan, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Nick Holden, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Nate Schmidt, Jimmy Schuldt, Shea Theodore, and Zach Whitecloud

Goaltenders: Oscar Dansk, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Robin Lehner

Vegas’ Phase 3 Training Camp roster didn’t come without a few surprises.

  • Krebs makes the initial cut

We explained a few weeks ago why we thought Peyton Krebs deserved a spot not only on the Phase 3 roster but also on the Phase 4 roster when the Golden Knights head into the bubble. Golden Knights management obviously agreed as he’s one of the 18 forwards set to take part in Training Camp this week at City National Arena.

He was around the organization for an extended period of time in the fall as he rehabbed his injury and we were all very impressed by his professionalism. He’s an elite young player that at worst is going to get great experience. It’s a chance for Peter DeBoer to see Peyton Krebs, which he hasn’t had that opportunity. To get through the playoffs there are going to be situations where you are going to rely on your depth and we wanted to see Peyton in this setting to evaluate him further. -Kelly McCrimmon

Krebs missed Development Camp, Rookie Camp, Training Camp, and exhibition games so it would make sense to give him a chance at recovering some lost time, but according to McCrimmon the decision was made because they believe he can help this team win playoff games now. That’s definitely an exciting statement for the 17th overall pick in the 2019 Draft.

Which brings us to our next topic…

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Out Of Shape Already?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been two and a half weeks since the Golden Knights last suited up. Their 3-2 overtime victory in Edmonton was their final game before the league pause.

You miss two weeks without doing anything, your wind goes, your legs go. They’re not nearly the same. Not like an NHL player needs to be. Two weeks is probably the most they can miss, and then it becomes a real hard struggle to get back in a hurry. -Pierre McGuire, TSN Montreal

Established players hit camp around the second week of September, and their first game isn’t until early October. That allows them plenty of time to get the rust off, build endurance, strength, and prepare for a lengthy 82-game season. Most, if not all, are ready to get back to work by camp because they’ve been training and playing scrimmages with other NHL’ers. I’m sure you’ve heard of Da Beauty League or the Comm Ave Classic.

Outside of injuries, players rarely spend two weeks or more off the ice during a normal NHL season. So why is it that easy for players to lose their condition after all of the hard work they put in the offseason and regular season?

Two weeks if they haven’t done anything. A lot of guys will tell you if you miss five days it’s tough to get it back right away. It takes two or three (games). Usually after two weeks players start to lose whatever they had built up to this point during the regular season. It becomes really difficult to get it back on the track. -McGuire

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2019 Training Camp – Photo Gallery

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Roster Update: 34 Players Remain In Camp

Update: Chris Casto cleared waivers on September 23rd. He should not have been counted in this list.

The Golden Knights made another round of cuts including sending training camp darling Tyler Wong out of camp to the Chicago Wolves. Others to be cut yesterday were Jake Bischoff, Keegan Kolesar, and two goalies Maxime Lagace and Oscar Dansk.

With just 10 days until the season opens in Dallas the Golden Knights are now left with 34 players in camp to fill out a roster of 23. In numerical order, here’s who remains in camp.

This group is starting to get small. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Brayden McNabb (INJ), Clayton Stoner, Deryk Engelland, Colin Miller, Jason Garrison, Griffin Reinhart, Brendan Leipsic (INJ), Jon Merrill, James Neal (INJ), Reilly Smith, Paul Thompson, Cody Eakin, Oscar Lindberg, Stefan Matteau, Shea Theodore, William Carrier, Marc-Andre Fleury, Calvin Pickard, Reid Duke (INJ), Tomas Hyka, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Luca Sbisa, Erik Haula, David Perron, Teemu Pulkkinen, T.J. Tynan, William Karlsson, Chris Casto, Brad Hunt, Jonathan Marchessault, Vadim Shipachyov, Nate Schmidt, Alex Tuch, Tomas Nosek

(No transactions have been announced for Mikhail Grabovski or David Clarkson, but neither has skated at City National Arena. Both are expected to be placed on injured reserve to begin the season.)

  • We’ve yet to see Neal practice with the team, but he was skating with Leipsic before practice yesterday.
  • Duke has been out since the second rookie game in El Segundo and is likely still in Vegas to get the best treatment on his shoulder injury.
  • McNabb blocked a shot in the preseason game on Sunday in Anaheim which kept him out of practice yesterday. He is expected to be fine and back in practice tomorrow.
  • Yesterday, Thompson, Tynan, and Casto were not on the ice at practice and are not in the roster tonight, transactions have yet to be announced.
  • If you take out the three who were missing yesterday plus Duke. That leaves us with 30 players.
  • Leipsic is expected to be healthy enough to play in the final preseason game or two so he’s certainly still in the running for a spot. Neal, on the other hand, is a bit more of a question mark. If he can’t go, we’re down to 29.
  • Without Neal, the breakdown is 16 forwards, 11 defensemen, and two goalies. The team is expected to keep 13 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies.
  • Check out our projected 23 man roster here.

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