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Who Is Vegas’ Most Indispensable Player?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This week ESPN chose one player from each NHL team that they deemed indispensable, the “Worldwide Leader” made a surprising choice for the Golden Knights’ most vital performer.

Most indispensable: Chandler Stephenson

We may not have pegged Stephenson as the Golden Knights’ top-line center or leading goal scorer when the season started. But here he is, having a terrific year. He’s averaging a point per game and the most ice time of any Vegas forward. On a team that stumbled out of the gate, Stephenson has been an irreplaceable player helping to keep the Golden Knights afloat.-

It’s hard to argue Stephenson’s value this season. The seven-year veteran is having a career season, leading Vegas in points, shooting percentage (50 shot minimum), and faceoff wins. Overall, Stephenson has been essential to the team’s turnaround since their early 1-4 start.

As a point-per-game player, the highly productive center anchored the top six when Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and William Karlsson were on the mend. In the games that his two linemates were absent, Stephenson emerged as Vegas’ go-to for much-needed offense. Since the season began the Golden Knights are 7-3 when he scores.

As steady as Stephenson has been, ESPN is way off. Here are players more indispensable than Stephenson.

Alex Pietrangelo

Most Golden Knights fans are in agreement that Pietrangelo became Vegas’ most impactful player since last postseason. The former captain led his new team in postseason time on ice, shots, power play points, and is second in total points behind William Karlsson. In 31 appearances this season, the Golden Knights are 13-4 when the defenseman registers a point. Since the postseason, much of Vegas’ offense flows through the experienced defenseman.

To be fair to the critics, Pietrangelo is frequently on the ice for goals scored by the opposition, but it’s inevitable when he skates 25+ minutes per game. The alternate captain has been on the ice for 32 even-strengthened goals which is 9th worst in the NHL. However, Pietrangelo is 4th best in the league for being on the ice when his team scores. You know which Golden Knight follows Pietrangelo in those columns? You guessed it, Stephenson.

On Ice Even-Strength Goals For

  1. Pietrangelo 38
  2. Stephenson 38
  3. Hague 37
  4. Theodore 31
  5. Smith 29

On Ice Even-Strength Goals Against

  1. Pietrangelo 32
  2. Stephenson 28
  3. Hague 28
  4. Smith 25
  5. Marchessault 25

I understand deep stats overwhelmingly disregard the 31-year-old’s impact so this comes down to a simple eye test. Pietrangelo is more indispensable.

Max Pacioretty

Since his return, the Golden Knights have posted a 9-4 record and have climbed from third place in the Pacific division to first in the Western Conference. Pacioretty was a major reason for Vegas’ ascent. The 33-year-old registered a point in nine straight games and scored 10 goals in seven consecutive games. Pacioretty’s offensive impact significantly changed Vegas’ confidence and their outcomes. In a game where goals mean everything, I’ll take my chances with the guy that has scored 316 of them.

Mark Stone

The captain is as irreplaceable to the Golden Knights as any player is to their team. Stone provides the signature two-way play Vegas is known for, plus he brings energy and emotion. It’s been a difficult three months for Stone, missing a total of 14 games but his production hasn’t really dipped. In fact, his points per 60 are up 1.21 PPG from his career 0.90 PPG average. With him in the lineup, Vegas is much more difficult to contain and to create offense against. Sure, Vegas’ highest-paid player (until Eichel plays a game) has hurt his club with a lack of offensive production in big moments. However, when Stone is in the lineup the Golden Knights have the ability to win 4-3 or 2-1. Stone gets the nod.

Points Per Game Average

  1. Max Pacioretty 1.31 PPG
  2. Mark Stone 1.21 PPG
  3. Chandler Stephenson 1.03 PPG
  4. Jonathan Marchessault 0.86 PPG
  5. Reilly Smith 0.79 PPG
  6. Shea Theodore 0.77 PPG
  7. Alex Pietrangelo 0.71 PPG

Robin Lehner

This shouldn’t be a controversial choice but it may be. Some will point to Lehner’s inflating Goals Against Average (3.03) this season or that he has 0 shutouts in 24 starts. But keep in mind the outspoken Swede has only lost 15 regular season games since being traded as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup in 2020. Now, it’s Lehner’s team and without him, Vegas would be forced to rely on backup goaltenders. This isn’t the same Jennings Trophy combo as last year and there is no rotation. The pressure is on one guy and he’s embraced that responsibility. For that simple reason alone, Lehner is much more vital to a Cup quest.

The Misfits

A case could be made for all three being more indispensable than Stephenson is to the Golden Knights. On top of being full-time top-six forwards, Karlsson and Smith are two of the best penalty killers in the league and would be hard to replace. Offensively, without Marchessault, the Golden Knights would struggle averaging three goals a night. After his two-goal game last night, the OGK is on pace to score 40+ goals. I’m not willing to miss out on that.

Goals Per Game Average

  1. Max Pacioretty 0.75 GPG
  2. Jonathan Marchessault 0.57 GPG
  3. Reilly Smith 0.33 GPG
  4. Mark Stone 0.32 GPG
  5. Stephenson 0.31 GPG

While this may seem like an unnecessary jab at Stephenson it’s merely a discussion about his contributions this season. It was pointed out that he’s been on the ice for almost as many total goals as Pietrangelo. And that his shooting percentage is higher than both Pacioretty and Marchessault’s. There’s nothing to take lightly, Stephenson is a major reason why the Golden Knights have sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. He’s been an unexpected source of consistent offense that Vegas desperately needed this season.

There’s one last factor. Stephenson may be indispensable now, but what about after Jack Eichel makes his Golden Knights debut?




Goalie Interference – Episode 12


  1. George L.

    To me, most indispensable means blue collar reliable player. Numbers mean one thing, but effort means another.

    My most indispensable player is William “Wild Bill” Karlsson.

  2. The Real TS

    It is clearly Kolesar, simply because LVGK needs diversity after they dumped Reeves over his skin color

  3. Faustino

    So this article had me thinking about the Eichel trade: Smith seems the most expendable due to the pending UFA, and I do agree he’s valuable to the team. I didn’t see Shea in this article, which makes me think would Theo make more sense to dump over Smith to preserve the forward group, or do all predictions move forward and Shea states locked up for however longer his contract is worth?

  4. Henderson One

    Jason raised an interesting question regarding the return of Jack Eichel to the roster. I ask this august group. What will the VGK do to get under the CAP? Will they use IR until the playoffs or what. $10 million is a lot to lay off.
    Also are Stone and Pacioretty becoming injury prone and less available to the team?

    • I worry about Stone the most. He had played injured, took time off to heal, but is again hurt. I feel he seems the most vulnerable of the team. Would hate to lose him at playoff time, so it might benefit him, and the team, if he took the extra time to heal properly NOW, so he can be strong at playoff time.

      • THE hockey GOD

        I hear ya, really , REALLY, I do. I feel your pain too.

        • Thanks to you for support. I REALLY am a decent person. Been in Vegas 45 yrs, Reno-raised. Been around a bit, never followed hockey until our Knights arrived. Yes, I’m learning the game…seems my imposter has problems with that. At LEAST I have the ability to LEARN. Again, thanks to you. And others, who defended me! REALLY.

          • TS

            And I posted enough personal information on here to allow readers to learn all kinds of things about me! Where I live, where I used to live, photos of me, my status with Transparent Nevada, etc etc!

            Im so happy to be part of the dumbest fanbase in sports history!

      • The Real TS…REALLY

        Stone is sooooooo cute! I’d miss him the most!

    • rgangue

      Great question will the new Taxi Squad rules save Vegas and Tampa Bay for that matter again?

  5. THE hockey GOD

    The poll is in. The most indispensable poster is Tim, by far. Followed by , well there are number tied for second . The dispensable poster, well is gone. That would be Doc. Next up on the list is that person with multiple personalty disorder; goes by name of Paulie/Alex/ the not real TS. Needs therapy, lots of it.

    • knights fan in minny

      needs to be knocked up side his mush head

      • Alex

        Uh, you’re the racist scum bag who buried the grandparents out back behind the triple wide….

        This bunch is truly the dumbest fan base in sports

        • knights fan in minny

          thats right nig nog i am racist your just a piece of shit

          • The Real TS…REALLY

            Is it “your” or “you’re”? I’m trying to learn

        • knights fan in minny

          if i did live in a triple wide it would beat the cardboard box you live in loser get to your thugging loser

  6. Blitz

    Good to see Tuch playing again. Strange to see him in another uni.

  7. Daryl

    As soon as I saw RL on the list I knew exactly who wrote this article. With all the possible players to mention, RL would be dead last.

    I also disagree with Petra, but I can see why he would make that argument. Maybe Petra just tries too hard. He’s a great players but he makes some really stupid decisions at very bad times. I don’t consider TOI as a determine factor. And without looking it up, I’d say he shoots more than any other player on the PP.

    I actually agree completely with the morons at ESPN. Although Stephenson is t a 1C he’s had an amazing season and without him, this team wouldn’t be in 1st place. His speed and play has elevated those other mentioned players. You take him out of the game and those other players’ stats would drop significantly

  8. sb

    No doubt. Stephenson has raised his game and it appears – a brief 30 games this year – that’s he’s filled the skates of a Number 1 center. But be cautious on that. He needs to do this for a couple of years, not just 30 games. There always seems to be this debate about who’s Number 1 – Stephenson or Eichel. I don’t see this as a problem but as a tremendous asset to have both guys. Isn’t the goal to have a team loaded with high-end talent? We’ve witnessed in the past just what a hole it leaves whenever Pac, Stone or Stephenson misses games. That line is so much less effective. But with having Eichel, anyone of those three going down is easily filled by Eichel. Trading for Eichel, adding him to the Team, was an excellent move. VKG has Tampa depth now.

    • Tim

      sb, come on as much as we all like Stephenson Eichel if healthy is more in the class of Mckinnon a step down from McDavid that goes under the classification of NC No Contest, Stephenson will be the third line center with Dadonov and probably Roy. The Misfit line will stay together there just playing to good together.

      • Daryl

        I don’t know…. with the way Stephenson is playing right now, and with the doubts of how Eichel returns, I wouldn’t place Eichel over Stephenson just yet

  9. knights fan in minny

    what the hell patch with wrist surgery this is getting out of hand


    • Daryl

      I wonder what the indefinitely actually means. I also wonder if this was an old injury and he decided to have surgery now so that it could clean room for Eichel and have him still return for the playoffs???

      Sounds like a little dirty TB trick

      • Actually Daryl I wouldn’t be surprised but rather sad as he was having a pretty good year. TB opened the door to this kind of thing and I am frankly surprised the NHL allowed it to continue.

        • Daryl

          From what I’ve been told, the NHL I trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Not sure how they plan on enforcing it though. Maybe a 2nd opinion from an independent doctor? I can see a team stretching an injury a week or 2 but not a month or 2.

          • Daryl – in TB’s case wasn’t he out all yr until the play- offs? They could limit the # of days in the LTI status but that would turn into a musical chair deal of in and out and in. I am not even sure an Iindependent opinion would work. There’s a obviously a loop hole in the system. Look at the eichel situation he got what he wanted to do with his body which I feel is probably right – if it didn’t work out that’s his problem – surprised contracts don’t take that into consideration. Thses players have a life after hockey and who’s to say the team doctors are correct. Contracts could be written to avoid an eichel situation.

  11. Galdom

    Sucks that Pacioretty is out. I guess as long as he’s back for the playoffs it’s not too bad. The guy is a health freak and treats his body like a temple but he keeps getting hurt. Very unfortunate. I guess there is the Eichel
    benefit part

  12. Henderson One

    Agree that it sucks. Both he and Stone appear to be injury prone and seem to have a throat problem in the playoffs. Hope they both get healthy and overcome prior poor performance in playoffs.

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