One was signed before the Expansion Draft, another was selected in the Expansion Draft, and the third was acquired at the trade deadline. Tomas Hyka, Tomas Nosek, and Tomas Tatar combined to play 97 games for the Golden Knights in 2017-18 in which they scored 12 goals and tallied 12 assists.
Aside from a few magical moments from Nosek and a couple solid postseason efforts from Tatar, the trio of Tomases were nothing but role players for the Golden Knights in their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
In 2018-19, that should change.
By letting David Perron and James Neal leave via free agency and signing just one NHL-caliber forward, George McPhee has signaled that he believes the team has enough fire-power already within the organization to pick up the 90 points he let walk out the door.
That’s where the Tomases come in. All three should have expanded roles as Tatar is expected to move up the depth chart to become a second line winger, Nosek has a legitimate shot at making his way onto the third (or even second) line and any production out of Hyka would be a bonus compared to the Brendan Leipsic era.
Tatar is a perennial 20 goal scorer but never hit his stride after coming over from Detroit at the deadline. He’s almost certainly going to be placed in a more offensive role, likely playing with some combination of Erik Haula, Paul Stastny, and Alex Tuch. Tatar posted a 94.0 PDO in his 20 game stint with the Golden Knights, a full five points below his career average, and the worst on-ice shooting percentage for and on-ice shooting percentage against numbers of his career. These are heavy indicators that as poor as Tatar appeared, it’s probable he’ll bounce back. (If you forgot what PDO is, click here) He’s the not-so-secret weapon. A weapon the Golden Knights can’t afford to have struggle again.
Tomas Nosek is the wild card in the Golden Knights plans for 18-19. As a “fourth” line winger and a high-level penalty killer, Nosek was only on the ice for 11:00 per game. The options are endless for Nosek with the roster turnover though. A case can be made for him to fit on any of the second, third, or fourth lines. In the event he’s bumped up the depth chart, he’d likely be in for a majorly expanded offensive role plus a lot more ice time. Both combined should lead to more production from a player that has shown an ability to put the puck in the net when the opportunity presents itself. Nosek is the semi-secret weapon as he was solid in his role, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The final Tomas is the secret weapon, Tomas Hyka. Think back to when the Golden Knights were at their absolute best. It was a time when the third line was producing plenty of goal scoring chances, but not finishing too many of them. Leipsic filled the role of the diminutive forward who complimented the bigger Tuch and defensive specialist Cody Eakin. The problem was, Leipsic couldn’t put the puck in the net, scoring just two goals in 44 games and shooting at a 2.9% clip. Hyka won’t have that problem if he’s the man for that job. Hyka posted 15 goals and 33 assists in the AHL and looked promising during his time in the NHL. With another much more reliable center defensively in Stastny, the Golden Knights have room for an offensive first, speedy, forward, and that might just be Hyka. Other options are Brandon Pirri, Daniel Carr, or Curtis McKenzie. Either way, the third line wing position was one of the few letdowns last season. This year Vegas has options, even if they aren’t horribly familiar options to the rest of the NHL.
All in all, as crazy as it sounds, Tomas, Tomas, and Tomas could be the keys to the Golden Knights matching, or even improving upon, their incredible inaugural year. It’s asking a lot out of players who haven’t really shown it in Vegas, but that’s a story the Golden Knights are used to, and we all know how that worked out a year ago.