Before the Vegas Golden Knights finalize their roster for the start of the 2019-20 season, general manager Kelly McCrimmon spoke about the status of the team Monday afternoon.
Each NHL team must have a 23-man roster that is compliant with the salary cap by 2 p.m. PT on Tuesday and McCrimmon said the Golden Knights will have no trouble fielding a team that operates within those parameters. As he reflects on training camp and the preseason as a whole, McCrimmon is pleased with how the team has prepared for its third season of NHL hockey.
"We're excited to be preparing for opening day on Wednesday," McCrimmon said. "We're really pleased with our camp and the competitiveness we saw not only from players trying to make our roster but also from returning veterans looking to hold their places."
As the roster for Wednesday's home opener against the San Jose Sharks takes shape, the team will have to work around some early injuries that will affect who makes the team right out of camp. McCrimmon confirmed that Alex Tuch won't be available for the first game of the season and Cody Eakin is day-to-day so his ability to play will be determined.
With some opportunities to play on opening night available, McCrimmon said he's proud of young players like Cody Glass, Jimmy Schuldt and Nic Hague who have stuck with the team all the way through camp. Though decisions still have to be made on where they'll start the season, the growth of young players in the organization has resulted in competition for roster spots from the team's prospects. With respect to Glass, McCrimmon said his play has impressed the coaching staff as Vegas' first draft pick from 2017 hopes to make his NHL debut this season.
"Cody has just continued improving," McCrimmon said. "Looking back three years ago, it's been a really steady progression from Cody. He had the opportunity in preseason to show his strengths and the things he's good at. He's earned a lot of respect from the veteran players and the coaches have had the opportunity to see his game."
During their four preseason home games, the Golden Knights drew increasingly large crowds which culminated in a franchise preseason record of 18,131 in attendance Sunday evening when Vegas hosted San Jose. McCrimmon sees the team's success on the ice in just two seasons as a driving factor for the record crowds coming to T-Mobile Arena for exhibition contests.
"We're really excited that our attendance has broken records in the last two games of the preseason," he said. "I think it's reflective of the excitement that surrounds our team."
With a full 82-game slate ahead of them, the Golden Knights are ready to dive into the 2019-20 season and make another run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As the team looks at each game on the schedule, McCrimmon has a saying to remind the players how good each team is and how tough every game is meant to be.
"I had a guy tell me last year, if you're going through the schedule looking for an easy game and you can't find it, you're probably it," McCrimmon said. "It's a hard league to win and we're respectful of every team."