There is no doubt that the Vegas Golden Knights need to add some more firepower to their bottom-six unit, and they could look to free agency to achieve that mission.
Prior to the National Hockey League going on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vegas Golden Knights ranked 13th in the NHL in Goals For Per Game (3.15).
As elite and as loaded as their top-six forward group is, the Golden Knights lack some depth and firepower in the bottom-half of their lineup and that reared its ugly head on occasion in 2019-20.
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Granted, both William Carrier and Ryan Reaves continued to provide an offensive punch from the fourth-line, while Chandler Stephenson blossomed offensively for the Knights following his early-season trade from the Washington Capitals.
However, the Golden Knights need to bolster their scoring depth in the off-season if they want to climb the mountain and ultimately win a Stanley Cup.
Step forward Sam Anas.
While not a household name or a blockbuster option, the polished forward is a pending UFA who is coming off a huge year in the American Hockey League.
Let us explain why Anas could be a useful pickup for the Vegas Golden Knights…
Anas’ Stellar Year
Sam Anas will probably be a new name to a lot of our regular readers, unless you are a minor-league savant of course.
However, Anas could be on the cusp of breaking into the NHL after a monster year for the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League.
An Undrafted Free Agent, Anas entered his fourth year as a pro in 2019-20 and carved out his best year ever.
Through 63 games for the Wild in the AHL, Anas put up 20 goals and 50 assists for 70 points, thus setting new career-highs in assists and points.
Such lofty accomplishments earned Anas the John B. Sollenberger Trophy, awarded to the AHL’s leader in total points.
— AHL (@TheAHL) March 26, 2020
It was worthy recognition of what was a stunning year for the 26-year-old, who unfortunately won’t get the chance to lead a talented Wild team into the Calder Cup Playoffs after the AHL was forced to pull the plug on the 2019-20 season last week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, with the NHL pressing ahead with plans to salvage their season, Anas could get a first-ever call-up to Minnesota Wild who could find themselves in the postseason if the NHL goes ahead with a proposed 24-team Playoff format.
Should that happen then it will be another opportunity for Anas to put his name in the shop window ahead of his pending free agency, with a number of NHL teams no doubt already keeping tabs on the right-shot.
A Good Fit For VGK
One of those teams with interest in Anas should be the Vegas Golden Knights given their need for secondary scoring.
In addition to Anas’ career-year in 2019-20 the versatile forward also put up 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 60 games in 2018-19, in addition to 61 points (26 goals, 35 assists) in 70 contests the year before.
Plus, Anas isn’t just a one-trick pony.
After missing time in 2018-19 after undergoing hand surgery, Anas really worked on his game and honed his craft.
He became more consistent but also polished up his all-round game, logging big minutes in all situations while being responsible in his own zone.
Anas also played a big role on the power play with seven goals and 35 assists on the man advantage for the Iowa Wild this year, while the forward could slot in on the penalty kill too.
Granted, there are two main caveats at play here in that Anas hasn’t got a single game of NHL experience to his name, while he does lack size at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds.
But, what Anas lacks in size he makes up for in heart and skill and he’s about to reach his peak as a hockey player.
Plus, yet to make his NHL debut, Anas would be a cost-effective role player for the Golden Knights and he would probably sign a two-way minimum contract, which would work given Vegas’ cap constraints.
Furthermore, with the likes of Tomas Nosek and Nick Cousins both pending free agents this off-season and not guaranteed to return for the 2020-21 season, Anas could slot in on the fourth-line and provide an offensive punch while continuing to round out his game.
In a worst-case scenario, Anas could begin the year in the AHL if he’s not NHL-ready and spearhead a talented forward group for the new Henderson franchise.
All in all though, the Vegas Golden Knights need to add one or two more depth scorers to the bottom of their lineup and 2019-20 AHL points leader Sam Anas could be an intriguing wildcard option.