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While Filling One Age Gap, The Golden Knights Have Created Another

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Due to the nature of the Expansion Draft, one of the ongoing challenges the Golden Knights have had to work through is dealing with what’s been coined “the age gap.”

We didn’t have the ability to draft (players with birth years) 1998, 97, 96, 95, or 94. We had no players available to us in those age groups. -Kelly McCrimmon

They were able to acquire a few via trade, but in Vegas’ first season they had just four regulars who were born between 1994-1998, which at the time would have made them 21-23 years old. A year later that number remained at four but there were two different players involved.

At the time, it wasn’t that big of a deal because the majority of the group was hitting their prime, somewhere between the ages of 24-30, but it was always clear what was coming on the horizon if the gap was not addressed.

So, over the course of the previous four seasons, the Golden Knights have worked hard to bulk up that group. The kingpin is 1996-born Jack Eichel (which cost a fellow 96 in Alex Tuch). Vegas also have Shea Theodore, William Carrier, Nic Roy, Zach Whitecloud, Keegan Kolesar, Michael Amadio, Dylan Coghlan, and Logan Thompson in that group. (They’ve also cycled through Dylan Sikura, Jake Bischoff, Valentin Zykov, Gage Quinney, Jimmy Schuldt, Stefan Matteau, Brendan Leipsic, and Oscar Dansk who all played NHL games.)

Trades, free agents, waivers, and diamonds in the rough have helped the Golden Knights find a group that will play next season between the ages of 24-28.

Now, you look at our team today and the players that we have in those age groups are very important. Those players are really important in (developing our identity of rolling four lines), they are really important in a salary cap world. They are good players. They help our team win. That to me is critical in your team having that depth and developing that identity that you want to see. -Kelly McCrimmon

There’s one problem. In the quest to fill one age gap, the Golden Knights have created another one, and one that is of even more significance “in the salary cap world” as McCrimmon puts it. The 94-98 group are no longer on their entry-level deals, meaning they are all being paid something close (or more) than their market value. Meanwhile, the younger group is still bound by the ELC system which caps out at less than $1 million.

Vegas is void of difference-makers under the age of 24. They’ve traded away a total of five 1st round picks from the 2017-2019 Drafts and have found mainly depth pieces in the later rounds.

The Golden Knights got 97 games worth of players under the age of 23 a year ago and nearly half of it can be credited to Jake Leschyshyn who filled in amicably but registered just six points in 41 games. The sub-23 group tallied just six goals and 14 points in those 97 games. If you add another year, there are a few more players in the mix, including Nolan Patrick, Brett Howden, Dylan Coghlan, and Nic Hague. The sub-24 group amassed 274 games, but scored a measly 24 goals and 68 points or one point every four games.

Contrast that with a few of the teams remaining in the playoffs right now. The New York Rangers got an incredible 545 games from sub-24’s totaling 59 goals and 199 points. That’s continued in the playoffs where they have 11 goals and 34 points from youngsters. Colorado got 28 goals and 86 points from Cale Makar (born in 1998) alone. Their sub-24 group played a total of 345 games scoring 180 points. In the playoffs, the Avs have gotten seven points from sub-24 players not named Makar in their nine playoff games. And Carolina got 293 games, 75 goals, and 180 points from their players under the age of 24. That’s as many goals per game (.25) as the Golden Knights got points per game, in nearly the same number of games.

Vegas’ endless pursuit to fill the gap between 1994-1998 has kept them competitive and among the group of teams with a chance to win the Cup each of the past five seasons, but to win it in 2022-23 or beyond they are going to need much more from the 1999-2003 group.

While there are plenty of players under VGK control in that age range, not many are expected to contribute at a high-level next season. Here’s the list of skaters…

1999 Born
Maxim Marushev, Nick Campoli, Ben Jones, Brandon Kruse, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Zach Hayes, Brayden Pachal, Paul Cotter

2000 Born
Peter DiLiberatore, Ivan Morozov, Connor Corcoran, Ryder Donovan, Pavel Dorofeyev

2001 Born
Kaedan Korczak, Layton Ahac, Marcus Kallionkieli, Mason Primeau, Brendan Brisson

2002 Born
Noah Ellis, Jesper Vikman, Lukas Cormier, Jackson Hallum, Daniil Chayka

2003 Born
Zach Dean, Carl Lindbom, Artur Cholach, Jakub Demek, Jakub Brabenec

It won’t be easy, but if the Golden Knights truly want to win the Stanley Cup next year, they are going to have to get something from this group. Or, more likely, find a way to add to it in a significant way in the next four months.

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19 Comments

  1. Jackson Hallum vote here.

    “Going for it” with experienced, and oft injured, high quality players has risk. Vegas is tasting this dish.

    • Aaron

      I watched him play a lot in the USHL this year. It’s early, but I’ll go out on a limb and say he never plays an NHL game. He’s amazing to watch when the puck is on his stick, but looks lost when it’s not. Doesn’t play a lick of defense either.

  2. knights fan in minny

    stormy on nhl network right now vava voom

    • Dawn

      My vote is bring in the younger, skilled/experienced players that have been drafted already, such as Brendan Brisson. They’re new and fresh to NHL so they’re even more eager to win and succeed and they’re not breaking the bank yet! Brisson rocked at University of Michigan, 2022 Olympics, USHL, etc. He appears to be an up and coming force of nature!!!

  3. THE hockey GOD

    MacKinnon?
    McDavid?
    MacKinnon?
    McDavid?

    tough decision

    • knights fan in minny

      you already did this your shtick is getting old time to retire

    • Not really Thg pretty equal – that said over all l think McDavid tops the list. He is like having an extra player on the ice

      • THE hockey GOD

        McDavid it is, let’s see if he gets job done. Mathews is OUT. MacKinnon AVS did not get job done last nite, but still in driver seat.

  4. Tim

    When you trade away 5 first round picks and who knows how many second round picks it has to hurt your player pool. You can only develop so many depth players which we seem to have in excess. Example Jake L. as Ken said 6 points in 41 games isn’t going to get it done. Now he was a second round pick in 2017 so by now you’d expect more out of him but it ain’t happening. We have an abundance of this type of player basically AHL material. I’m hoping maybe Brisson can be a bright spot but time will tell.

  5. THE hockey GOD

    LT hasn’t played in awhile, but Canada advances

    Thu, May 26, 2022, 3:19 p.m.

    TAMPERE, Finland — Drake Batherson scored 43 seconds into overtime, powering Canada to a 4-3 comeback victory over Sweden in the quarterfinals at the world hockey championship Thursday.

    Sweden jumped out to 3-0 lead midway through the second period with goals from Carl Klingberg, William Nylander and Max Friberg.

    Ryan Graves sparked Canada’s comeback with a goal 1:21 into the third, and Pierre-Luc Dubois and Matt Barzal — playing on his 25th birthday — scored 30 seconds apart later in the period to force extra time.

    Nylander was called for tripping 25 seconds into overtime and Canada was quick to capitalize on the man advantage, with Batherson sending a sharp-angle shot in behind Swedish goaltender Linus Ullmark from the bottom of the faceoff circle.

    “Obviously being down 3-0 going into the third period was not what we planned, but we were able to get that goal early in the third,” said Batherson. “I was frustrated that I took a penalty, and to be honest I thought we were going to have a hard time coming back, but we never gave up.”

    Barzal and Dubois both assisted on the game-winning goal.

    Chris Driedger stopped 16-of-19 shots for Canada and Ullmark made 38 saves for Sweden.

    “(Ullmark) was outstanding, and he deserves a lot of credit for his performance. We tried not to get frustrated and instead we were determined in the third period to get pucks into the net,” said Canadian coach Claude Julien. “The first goal gave us some life, and we just tried to give ourselves opportunities to score. We felt really good about our game from the second period on, and the goal from Graves got our confidence up.”

    Canada will face the winner of a quarterfinal matchup between Switzerland and the United States in the semifinals on Saturday. The medal games are set to be played on Sunday.

    • Herby

      LT did not play well at all. Most of the goals he got where top shelf.
      His position in net is simply too low.

      Next season everybody will have figured this out.

      VGK should get Denis Malgin. WC Top-scorer after 7 games. Still young, cheap and if he gets a chance in line 2 or 3 he can contribute. Exactly the player the VGK need to get some cap relief. I am sure he will make his comeback in the NHL

  6. Peter Byrne

    Adam Kuntner suffers from mysophobia .

  7. THE hockey GOD

    rolling four lines is over rated
    and
    not really “an identity”

  8. Arnold Rothstein

    FLAMES WERE

    ROBBED !!!

    *but they weren’t going to win series anyway

    ATB

    • knights fan in minny

      how the hell do you win with a 40 year old keeper

      • THE hockey GOD

        Gump Worsley, the man, the legend, the lore .

        Worsley was lured from retirement by the Minnesota North Stars to play in tandem with Cesare Maniago; he starred for parts of five more years, retiring at the age of 44 after the 1973–74 season. His best season with the North Stars was 1972, where he was second in the league with a 2.12 goals-against average. Named to play in the 25th National Hockey League All-Star Game, Worsley was the second goaltender to have won 300 games and lost 300 games, after Harry Lumley. This feat was later accomplished by several other goaltenders.

        Worsley was known for his wry sense of humour and various eccentricities. Early in his career with the Rangers, regularly facing 40–50 shots a night, he was asked: “Which team gives you the most trouble?” His reply – “The New York Rangers.” Accused by Rangers’ coach Phil Watson of having a beer belly, he replied, “Just goes to show you what he knows. I only drink Johnnie Walker Red.”

        Worsley was vehemently opposed to wearing a mask. He was the second-to-last professional hockey goaltender to play without a mask. Andy Brown of the Indianapolis Racers was the last, the following season—wearing a mask in the last six games of his career. Asked about why he chose to go without, Worsley told reporters: “My face is my mask.”

        Worsley was also well known for his fear of flying. On November 25, 1968, en route to Los Angeles, he suffered a nervous breakdown after a rough flight from Montreal’s Dorval Airport to Chicago. It has been reported that a stewardess upon landing came over the PA system and said that if passenger’s wished to claim refunds for dry cleaning they should submit receipts. Gump apparently quipped “Does that include underwear?” Subsequently, he received psychiatric treatment and missed action. It is said upon emerging from retirement to play for the North Stars he was assured, as Minnesota was in the central part of the continent, the team traveled less than any other in the league.

        • Original 6 ✅

          @the Hockey God. Great story. Those were some tough old birds in those days. Bobby Hull use to talk about stories on the train. I can listen to him for hours !

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