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A Look At Golden Knights Depth Roster

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights /

Organizational depth in the NHL opens the door to long-term success. It creates internal roster competition and gives a management staff young and inexpensive options which are crucial in a salary cap world.

Once a roster is properly stocked and seasoned and prepared to content - things can get expensive and GMs need contributing players on entry level contracts. Effective drafting and developing is critical if a franchise wants to stay near the top of the NHL for a lengthy period of time. 

Perhaps the greatest challenge for Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee is balancing the need to be immediately competitive in a new marketplace while at the same time exercising patience with a draft and develop plan.

Most draft and develop plans require a number of years of losing to stack up high end draft picks which have the highest odds of translating into NHL caliber players.

McPhee, however, used last summer's expansion draft to build a Stanley Cup contender and to begin the process of building organizational depth.

The result is an NHL roster which has already been to a Stanley Cup and burgeoning depth at the prospect and minor league level.

Here's a look at McPhee's quick work:

Currently, Vegas has five players who were used regularly as NHL centers last season which is considerable depth. Things get a little bare at the AHL level and then strong again at the prospect level with players such 
William Karlsson - with 43 goals and 78 points last season, the 25-year-old Swede established himself as a No. 1 center. (43G, 35A, 78TP)
Paul Stastny - veteran playmaking center signed in free agency. (16G, 37A, 53TP)
Erik Haula - a burner with scoring touch. (29G, 26A, 55TP)
Cody Eakin - veteran with defensive instincts. (11G, 16A, 27TP)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - a leader, competitor and PK leader. (6G, 10A, 16TP)
Signed Prospects/Minors
Cody Glass - elite skill in a long package. (36G, 65A, 102TP in 64 games with the Portland Winterhawks)
Nick Suzuki - power skater and an excellent shooter. (42G, 58A, 100TP in 64 games with the Owen Sound Attack)
Ben Jones - two-way competitor getting better all the time. (30G, 49A, 79TP in 68 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs)
Jake Leschyshyn - was a value pick in the 2017 draft due to injury, lots of upside (18G, 22A, 40TP in 64 games with the Regina Pats)

Jonathan Marchessault - 30-goal man developing his two-way game. Top line player. (27G, 48A, 75TP)
Reilly Smith - underrated two-way player. Elite defender who can score. Rare player. (22G, 38A, 60TP)
Tomas Tatar - consistent 20-goal man who will feast on Stastny's dishes. (20G, 14A, 34TP)
William Carrier - young and strong. (1G, 2A, 3TP)
Ryan Carpenter - competitive player. (9G, 5A, 14TP)
Alex Tuch - young power forward with large upside. (15G, 22A, 37TP)
Tomas Nosek - reliable with the chance to be more. (7G, 8A, 15TP)
Ryan Reaves - effective big man who can fight and play. (4G, 6A, 10TP)
Signed Prospects/Minors
Tomas Hyka - great skater who has the chance to score in the NHL. (15G, 33A, 48TP in 50 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Keegan Kolesar - big winger still learning the game. (5G, 8A, 13TP in 44 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Reid Duke - solid skater who has been hampered by injury (0G, 0A, 0TP in 14 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Brandon Pirri - a 20-goal man at one point in his career - might just need another chance (29G, 23A, 52 TP in 57 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Stefan Matteau - useful depth winger (15G, 12A, 27TP in 50 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Lukas Elvenes - getting better all the time (5G, 11A, 16TP in 28 games with Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite League)
Nikita Gusev - a star in the KHL but still under contract there (22G, 40A, 62TP in 54 games with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL)

Brayden McNabb - great stick, physical and effective defender (5G, 10A, 15TP)
Shea Theodore - on the cusp of greatness (6G, 23A, 29TP)
Nick Holden - newcomer will fight for work (4G, 13A, 17TP)
Jon Merrill - still improving, great teammate (1G, 2A, 3TP)
Nate Schmidt - nice balance of offense and defense (5G, 31A, 36TP)
Deryk Engelland - poised veteran (5G, 18A, 23TP)
Colin Miller - still improving with great feet and a booming shot (10G, 31A, 41TP)
Brad Hunt - offensive upside (3G, 15A, 18TP)
Signed Prospects/Minors
Nic Hague - 6-6, streaks of mean and offense (35G, 43A, 78TP in 67 games with the Mississauga Steelheads)
Jake Bischoff - solid middle of the lineup player (7G, 16A, 23TP in 69 games with the Chicago Wolves)
Zach Whitecloud - strong skater with the drive to win (4G, 15A, 19TP in 36 games at Bemidji State University)
Dylan Coghlan - points producer (17G, 46A, 63TP in 69 games with the Tri-City Americans)
Erik Brannstrom - lots to learn but even more potential (2G, 13A, 15TP in 44 games with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League)

Marc-Andre Fleuy - one of the best (29-13-4, 2.24 GAA, .927 SV%)
Malcolm Subban - flashes of brilliance in the understudy role (13-4-2, 2.83 GAA, .904 SV%)
Signed Prospects/Minors
Max Lagace - filled in admirably at the NHL level last season (VGK: 6-7-1, 3.91 GAA, .867 SV% / Chicago Wolves: 14-5-2, 2.84 GAA, .905 SV%)
Oscar Dansk - battled injuries last season but was strong when healthy (VGK: 3-0-0, 1.78 GAA, .946 SV% / Chicago Wolves: 13-3-1, 2.44 gAA, .905 SV%)
Dylan Ferguson - young and learning (24-28-3, 2.95 GAA, .907 SV% in 59 games with the Kamloops Blazers)

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