In keeping with the franchise’s Las Vegas home, the Vegas Golden Knights, through owner Bill Foley, have tended to do things big. The presence of Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo represents the club’s tendency to chase big name talent and marquee free agents. This year’s season-opening Stanley Cup banner raising, meanwhile, upped the ante (pun intended) in terms of their penchant for Vegas-appropriate showmanship.
However, not everything the franchise does has to necessarily operate in the vein of ‘go big or go home’. Even in a season where the team’s highest-paid stars are thriving under the microscope of a title defense, there has been room for both Brayden McNabb and Michael Amadio to thrive while playing under the radar.
A Vegas original, McNabb actually ranks a close third to Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson on the franchise all-time games played list (450, compared to 462 for the other two). This season, he currently ranks as just one of eight Golden Knights to see action in all 30 games, as well as one of four to average over 20 minutes per night of ice time.
Despite all that exposure, McNabb is at his best when he isn’t being noticed – which happens to be most of the time (unless he’s doing this). He arguably ranks third on the club’s defensive depth chart behind Pietrangelo and Theodore (and would likely stand higher on many other blue lines), but hardly counts among the team’s most recognizable names or faces.
In typically quiet fashion, this season has McNabb on track for a career-best offensive performance on top of his usual stellar defensive play. While 11 points in 30 games represents a pretty modest sum, it puts the stay-at-home defenseman on track to surpass his career-high of 24 points, earned all the way back in 2014-15 as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
Amadio has maintained gainful NHL employment as a depth forward, suiting up for four different franchises over seven seasons and finally hitting 100 career points last week on a goal against the St. Louis Blues. There is substantial value to a player who offers reliable, consistent minutes and serves as a net-positive on the ice (he currently boasts a plus-10 plus/minus rating) while counting for less than $800,000 against the cap.
This year, Amadio is offering even more than that. His five goals and 15 points currently matches the point total of high-paid stars like Jonathan Huberdeau, Tage Thompson and, perhaps most notably, former teammate Reilly Smith.
Amadio has served as a major part of replacing the Vegas original who was dealt to Pittsburgh in the offseason, often moving up the lineup in support of the struggling Ivan Barbashev. That versatility marks a fairly low-key but critical element of what makes the Golden Knights so successful. He and other secondary depth forwards like Brett Howden have the ability to fill defensive-minded bottom-six minutes, but also keep up with more skilled linemates in the top-six.
While you won’t see many McNabb or Amadio jerseys on the backs of fans at T-Mobile Arena, their teammates, coaches and management are well aware of what they bring to the table.