It may be the offseason but we aren’t short on talking points and storylines when it comes to the Vegas Golden Knights.
We are now one month away from the start of training camp and there is already a plethora of questions to answer when it comes to analysing what lies ahead for the Vegas Golden Knights in 2019-20. Will they be a Stanley Cup contender again? What rookie will win a roster spot on the blueline? Who, if anyone, will wear the “C” on their jersey next year? And will the top-six forward unit be as deadly and as potent as they look on paper?
We will try and answer all of those questions in the coming weeks but there is one decision the Golden Knights face that we want to focus on right now, and that is who will fill out the third-line now Nikita Gusev is gone?
Unless you were enjoying a deep sleep in the past week, you will be aware by now that Vegas took the gamble of trading Gusev to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a third round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and a second round selection in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
That move ensures the Knights are $1,025,001 under the salary cap ceiling of $80,474,999 for 2019-20 and, as a result, the roster as it is currently constituted is likely to be the one that steps out onto the ice on opening night on Oct, 2, when the San Jose Sharks visit Sin City.
However, Gusev’s departure leaves a rather sizeable void to fill on the third-line with Erik Haula having also been traded to the Caroline Hurricanes earlier in the offseason. It seems almost certain that Alex Tuch, who recorded 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 74 regular season games last year, will be a lock on the right wing with Cody Eakin acting as the pivot, so who will slot in on the left wing?
We’ve taken a look at the couple of options the Golden Knights have at their disposal with one an obvious choice, while we have also gone for a slightly out-of-the box contender to fill that left wing berth on the third-line. Let us begin…