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Team Reset

Golden Knights sign Karlsson as part of quiet offseason

Facing cap crunch, Vegas keeps roster largely intact

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / NHL.com Columnist

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Vegas Golden Knights:

The Vegas Golden Knights have not added key pieces this offseason. After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of their first two seasons in the NHL, they've worked to keep what they have already and made subtractions because of the salary cap.

The Golden Knights announced a general manager change effective Sept. 1. Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon, who would have been a top candidate for other GM jobs, will be promoted while George McPhee will remain president of hockey operations.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

They signed center William Karlsson to an eight-year contract on June 24 and defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one-year contract on July 23, while parting with defenseman Colin Miller and forward Erik Haula via trade and forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Carpenter via free agency.

"We are now a salary-cap team, which is where good teams end up," McCrimmon said. "We had William Karlsson left to sign as one of our core players going into the offseason. We were able to get that done. We've got the bulk of our roster under contract. We're looking forward to a full season of Mark Stone in our lineup [after acquiring the forward from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25].

"We're certainly motivated to have a good season, try to be a playoff team again, which is very challenging in the NHL. We're now at a point organizationally where we can legitimately look at our prospect pool as players who may be ready to make our team.

"So it's our third season on the ice. Our organizational depth is improving. Our organization is continuing to evolve and grow. That's our mindset heading into the season."

Video: VGK@SJS, Gm7: Karlsson slams loose puck by Jones

Two big questions remain: What will happen with forward Nikita Gusev, a restricted free agent who led the Kontinental Hockey League in scoring last season with 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists) in 62 games for St. Petersburg? Which young players will crack the roster?

Here is what the Golden Knights look like today:

 

Key arrivals

None

 

Key departures

Colin Miller, D: He led Vegas defensemen with 70 points (13 goals, 57 assists) in 147 games during the past two seasons but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on June 28 partly because of the cap, partly because the Golden Knights have multiple defenseman prospects on the rise. … Erik Haula, F: He had 29 goals in 2017-18, second to Karlsson's 43, but was limited to 15 games because of knee surgery last season. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 26. … Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, F: He had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in 148 games with Vegas playing a key role as the fourth-line center. Bellemare signed with the Avalanche on July 1. … Ryan Carpenter, F: He had 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 104 games for Vegas the past two seasons and signed with the Blackhawks on July 1.

 

On the cusp

Nicolas Hague, D: The 20-year-old was a second-round pick (No. 34) in the 2017 NHL Draft and had 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) and was plus-31 in 75 games for Chicago of the American Hockey League last season. … Zach Whitecloud, D: Signed as a free agent March 8, 2018, the 22-year-old led the AHL with a plus-39 rating and had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 74 games for Chicago last season. … Valentin Zykov, F: The 24-year-old was claimed twice on waivers last season, first by the Edmonton Oilers from the Hurricanes on Nov. 30, then by the Golden Knights from the Oilers on Dec. 29. He had two goals in 10 games for Vegas and will have an opportunity to win a spot on the third line.

Video: VGK@LAK: Schuldt sets up Zykov for nice goal

 

What they still need

Players on entry-level contracts. The Golden Knights have had to wait for their first prospects to develop, but not much longer. Hague and Whitecloud are part of a promising group of defensemen that includes Jake Bischoff, Dylan Coghlan and Jimmy Schuldt. That depth allowed Vegas to trade defenseman Erik Brannstrom, the No. 15 pick in the 2017 draft, to the Ottawa Senators for Stone on Feb. 25. Forward Cody Glass, the No. 6 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, went from a dominant player for Portland in the Western Hockey League to the second-leading rookie scorer in the AHL playoffs last season, with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 22 games. And keep an eye on center Nicolas Roy, who was acquired in the Haula trade and played a key role for Charlotte of the AHL, which won the Calder Cup last season.

 

Fantasy focus

Stone could be among the five most valuable fantasy players at the position this season. He had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 18 regular-season games with the Golden Knights and then led all players in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in seven games on a line with center Paul Stastny and left wing Max Pacioretty. Stone could exceed his NHL career-high 33 goals from last season, especially if he finds more production on the power play (previous career high of six power-play goals). -- Rob Reese

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm3: Stone goes around Jones for hat trick

 

Projected lineup

Jonathan Marchessault -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith

Max Pacioretty -- Paul Stastny -- Mark Stone

Brandon Pirri -- Cody Eakin -- Alex Tuch

William Carrier -- Tomas Nosek -- Ryan Reaves

Brayden McNabb -- Shea Theodore

Nate Schmidt -- Deryk Engelland

Jon Merrill -- Nick Holden

Marc-Andre Fleury

Malcolm Subban

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