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Creating an All-Time Golden Knights Line-Up

June 6, 2019, 2:49 PM ET [25 Comments]
Jeff Paul
Vegas Golden Knights Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Although they have only been in the NHL for two seasons, the Vegas Golden Knights have had a decent amount of roster turnover thus far. Upon their inception, the league held an Expansion Draft in which the Golden Knights were able to select one “unprotected” player from each club. At this point in time, before free agency hits, 14 players remain on the team that were selected in the draft.


George McPhee (USA Today Sports)

Due to his wizardry, Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee swung trades before the draft, for other crucial players and draft picks and the team has been very successful. Impact players acquired via trade at the Expansion Draft include defensemen Shea Theodore, Jake Bischoff, and forwards Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch. Not all players selected in the draft and acquired thereafter, were able to remain with the team or in some cases, appear in a single game.

Looking back on the past two seasons, one thing is clear. The Golden Knights have been blessed with a wide array of talented players. Big name players have both left and joined the club over that time which got this writer thinking. Just how great of a team could the Golden Knights ice, with access to all current and former Golden Knights players.

Obviously, that is not possible, due to the salary cap and the ways in which the players have come and gone. Tomas Tatar and Max Pacioretty would never be on the same VGK roster, as they were swapped for one another, but it would be fun to imagine. I like fun, so let’s imagine what an All-Time Golden Knights roster would look like. The only players used in this exercise will be those who have appeared in at least one regular season game with the team, with no additional restrictions. Without further ado, here is my (way-too-early) All-Time Golden Knights line-up, featuring one player donning the captain’s C.

Forwards



First Line



LW - Jonathan Marchessault (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Florida Panthers)

(USA Today Sports)

Marchy, as affectionately known in Vegas, is a prototypical top-line winger. He can skate with the best of them, possesses a great wrist shot, and can open up the ice for his linemates (just ask William Karlsson and Reilly Smith). His puck possession and vision are vital to the team’s success as he has been one of the top point producers each of his two seasons with the team.

C - William Karlsson (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Columbus Blue Jackets)

(USA Today Sports)

Wild Bill is a very good two-way forward that surprised all of Vegas, including team management, when he scored 43 goals and 78 points during the 2017-18 season. He followed that season up with a 24 goal, 56 point campaign, the two best seasons of his career.

RW – Mark Stone (Acquired: Trade Deadline 2019, Ottawa Senators)

(USA Today Sports)

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Reilly Smith, but Mark Stone is just sensational and he looked damn good playing for Team Canada in the IIHF Worlds, on the wing opposite Marchessault, with Pierre-Luc DuBois at center. Replace DuBois with Karlsson and you have the making of one of the best lines in all of hockey. Stone can do anything asked on both ends of the ice and would compliment the other two perfectly.

Second Line



LW – Max Pacioretty (Acquired: 2018 Off-Season, Trade with the Montreal Canadiens)

(USA Today Sports)

A shoot-first forward, Pacioretty has one of the best track records of all current and former VGK players. He has five, 30-goal seasons to his name and scored 22 in his first season in Vegas, while battling injuries. He is a great option on the second line and a steady source of goal scoring.

C – Paul Stastny (Acquired: 2018 Off-Season, UFA Signing)

(USA Today Sports)

The elder statesman of the team, Stastny provides a calming influence, with elite playmaking ability. He is the perfect compliment to Pacioretty, as he enjoys passing off to his wingers. With 455 assists in 874 career NHL games, Pauly Walnuts has established himself as an elite passer and team leader.

RW – Alex Tuch (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Trade with the Minnesota Wild)

(USA Today Sports)

Tuch is a freak of a player, fitting into the new style of the power forward who can skate as well as he plays the body. Standing 6’4, the 23-year-old is an imposing force on the ice, with silky smooth hands. His two seasons with the Golden Knights represent his first two full NHL seasons and he has produced great numbers out of the gate (35 goals, 54 assists, and 89 points in 152 games). Under contract for the next seven seasons, Tuch will be a big piece for the Golden Knights moving forward.

Third Line



LW – CAPTAIN David Perron (Acquired: Expansion Draft, St. Louis Blues)

(USA Today Sports)

Currently, Perron is playing in the Stanley Cup finals with the same St. Louis Blues team that left him unprotected in the 2017 Expansion Draft. His third stint with the team has been as successful as his first two, due in part to his leadership and puck possession. Perron has an uncanny ability to control the puck in tight spaces, finding teammates open for good looks. He has been missed in Vegas and remains a fan-favorite.

C – Erik Haula (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Minnesota Wild)

(USA Today Sports)

Haula, the man who broke the internet with his silhouette while in the hallway waiting to congratulate his teammates, was a big loss for the Golden Knights in the 2018-19 season. He went down after just 15 games with a season-ending knee injury. In the previous season, he showed his elite goal-scoring potential (29 goals) and all-around solid game. When healthy, he is as solid as it gets.

RW – ASSISTANT CAPTAIN Reilly Smith (Acquired: Expansion Draft: Trade with the Florida Panthers)

(USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest gifts to the Golden Knights got was acquiring Smith from the Panthers, simply because he made too much money for Florida. He is a pillar of consistency who forechecks like a mad man, can put the puck in the net, and helps out on both special teams units. He has recorded 60 and 53 point seasons thus far in Vegas and will be a treat to watch until his contract runs out after the 2021-22 season.

Fourth Line



LW – Cody Eakin (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Dallas Stars)

(USA Today Sports)

Going a little out of position here, due to the pick to play center, Eakin would slide to the left wing, providing some scoring punch on the fourth line, without sacrificing defense. Eakin is a swiss army knife of sorts and could give the Golden Knights more of an offensive fourth line, as opposed to the grinder look employed in their first two go-arounds.

C – ASSISTANT CAPTAIN Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Philadelphia Flyers)

(USA Today Sports)

Bellemare is the perfect option at fourth-line center. He is not too proud to play a defensive-minded game, refers to faceoffs as “an art”, and has been one of the best penalty-killing forwards on the team in his two years here. Bellemare is an affordable Unrestricted Free Agent this summer, but the Golden Knights could bring him back, in a character move. He’s a big presence in the locker room and on the ice.

RW – William Carrier (Acquired: Expansion Draft, Buffalo Sabres)

(USA Today Sports)

Carrier is a wrecking ball on the ice, who also possesses scoring touch, potting eight goals last season, while hitting anything and anyone in sight. In a move similar to Eakin’s inclusion, Carrier could fulfill the defensive role needed on line four, without being completely ineffective offensively.

Defense Corps



First Pair



Brayden McNabb (LA) and Nate Schmidt (Washington)

(USA Today Sports)

These men spent most of their time in Vegas on the same pairing and have been far and away the best look on the blue line over the past two seasons. Inexplicably, Deryk Engelland took McNabb’s spot with Schmidt in the second half of this past season, but McNabb’s great stay-at-home game really allowed Schmidt to capitalize on his offensive, puck-moving skillset.

Second Pair



Luca Sbisa (Vancover) and Shea Theodore (Trade, Anaheim)

(USA Today Sports)

Sbisa’s time in Vegas was an injury-riddled one, but when healthy, the 2013 first-round pick brings all of the intangibles you’d want in a blue liner. Sbisa hits, fights, and plays well in his own end, which would allow Theodore the freedom to move into the offensive game as he pleases. Similar to Schmidt, Theodore plays very well in the offensive end, possesses a great shot, and serves as a reliable power play quarterback. Sbisa serves as an upgrade over his longest-tenured defense partner in Deryk Engelland.

Third Pair



Jon Merrill (NJ) and Colin Miller (Boston)

(USA Today Sports)

These two men are far and away the two most misunderstood players on the Golden Knights’ roster. Merrill was seen as little more than a healthy scratch/sixth defenseman after his first season away from New Jersey and Miller has been the new subject of fan and apparently coaching’s ire. Miller possesses the hardest shot on the blue line and is a real asset on the power play. Expectations based off his 2017-18 season (10 goals, 41 points) may have something to do with fan displeasure over his three-goal, 29 point follow-up. Even still, Miller and is booming, right-handed shot provide value to any NHL club.

Goalies



Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) and Malcolm Subban (Waivers 2017, Boston)

(USA Today Sports)

No explanation needed. These two have been the most solid duo for the team, beating out Calvin Pickard, Maxime Lagace (AHL), and Oscar Dansk (AHL).

Power Play Units



Pacioretty – Stastny – Stone
Marchessault – Miller

Haula – Karlsson – Smith
Perron – Theodore


Penalty Kill



Bellemare – Eakin
McNabb – Schmidt

Stastny – Stone
Sbisa – Merrill


As they stand now, the Golden Knights have Nikita Gusev (RFA) incoming and Tomas Nosek (RFA), Ryan Carpenter (UFA), Brandon Pirri (UFA), Karlsson (RFA), Bellemare (UFA), Engelland (UFA), and Subban (RFA) left to resign or replace. Their salary cap situation is a challenging one this summer which makes this cap-free scenario even more fun. Trades and departures are bound to come this off-season, due in part to the $23 million cap hit on the Stastny line. Stay tuned to see what McPhee will do in his final season as the official GM of the Golden Knights.

If you’d like to join in, we’d love to see your All-Time VGK rosters!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter throughout the summer for Golden Knights news, analysis, and updates.
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