The Golden Knights are going to have to overpay veterans to stick around and be forced to give opportunities to a lot of kids, but it could make for a scrappy team come 2019-20.
Welcome to 2020 Vision, our new feature taking a look at how the roster of each NHL team may look three seasons from now when the 2019-2020 season begins.
Over the next month we’ll profile one team, in alphabetical order, each day and project what their roster (12 forwards, six defensemen, two goalies) will look like.
There were some ground rules for this exercise. We didn’t allow any blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but we did make assumptions about teams re-signing their own UFAs and RFAs.
Therefore, this isn’t intended to be a fantasy-like look at the league in 2019-20. Instead, since this is part of the THN Future Watch family, it’s meant to be a realistic, best-case-scenario projection for each team based on players already under contract, and prospects in their system.
You’d think it would be fun to speculate on the future of the Golden Knights, but Vegas actually has the most challenging depth chart of all. That’s because expansion teams often have very transient rosters for the first couple of seasons as the team figures out an identity. Players that don’t fit are shed, while players that don’t want to be part of what can be a long build will leave on their own accord.
So in a best-case scenario for 2019-20, Vegas probably has to overpay a couple of veterans to hang around (for the sake of argument, we’ve gone with Jason Garrison and David Perron). Of course, opportunity is a huge benefit in Vegas, which is why we believe Jonathan Marchessault will stick around – especially because he could very well lead the team in scoring either this season or next.
And while the Knights won’t rush their youth into the NHL, don’t be surprised if their trio of 2017 first-rounders are handed a bit more responsibility than they might be ready for in 2020. For instance, you’d probably love Cody Glass as your No. 1 center in 2021, but he might have to take the reins earlier. And the sooner Erik Brannstrom is ready on the back end, the better.
GOT IT: Vegas will have excellent goaltending both now and into the future. By 2020, it’s very possible that Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard are straight-up platooning and that’s a great advantage for the team. Youth will be a boon, especially if Vegas grabs some other high picks in upcoming drafts, but the table was set with the 2017 first round and the deals that landed Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore.
NEED IT: Vegas will be weak at center this year and it will likely be a sore spot until Glass takes the throne – and that’s if he takes it, because we are projecting on an 18-year-old here. Continuity will also be key, as roster turnover must be kept to an acceptable level so the team can gel over the years.
CAP WATCH: Vegas will have no problem getting under the ceiling. Holding on to talent might be an issue early on, so there will be some overpays, but that’s OK because the Knights got to plan out their cap picture from scratch – they learned from everyone else’s follies before them.
BOTTOM LINE: The 2020 Golden Knights will likely be a scrappy team that flirts with the playoffs before fading, but they will provide hope. The building blocks for success will be there.
Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Arizona Coyotes | Boston Bruins | Buffalo Sabres | Calgary Flames | Carolina Hurricanes | Chicago Blackhawks | Colorado Avalanche | Columbus Blue Jackets | Dallas Stars | Detroit Red Wings | Edmonton Oilers | Florida Panthers | Los Angeles Kings | Minnesota Wild | Montreal Canadiens | Nashville Predators | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | New York Rangers | Ottawa Senators | Philadelphia Flyers | Pittsburgh Penguins | St. Louis Blues | San Jose Sharks | Tampa Bay Lightning | Toronto Maple Leafs | Vancouver Canucks
Up next: Washington Capitals