Photo Credit: The Globe and Mail

Chris Gawlik’s New VGK Weekly Update – 7/20/2020: Training Camp V2.0 Update


The Vegas Golden Knights have moved into Phase Three of the NHL’s return to play plan.


City National Arena felt normal after not being fully utilized for the last four-plus months. Nearly all of the 33-player roster was ready to open training camp V2.0. Marc Andre Fleury has been absent for the first three days of the camp; however, Coach Pete DeBoer has indicated that Fleury will be back between the pipes soon.


The initial lines have looked like this –






At the moment, Tomas Nosek is on the outside looking in. Nosek was one of the heroes of the “impossible” playoff run in VGK’s inaugural season, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to see mid-season acquisition, Nick Cousins, centering the fourth line. Cousins only has six games of NHL playoff experience while averaging just under eleven minutes per game of ice time. Nosek’s versatility and recent playoff experience will make it tough for Coach DeBoer to keep him out of the nightly lineup for long.

Part of the reason that Nosek may have trouble drawing into is Nicolas Roy. Roy has made the most of his opportunities, scoring five goals with five assists over his twenty-eight games as a Golden Knight. Roy has been able to produce no matter what line he’s on. Centering a line with Stephenson and Tuch, Roy will have plenty of time to gel with his linemates before traveling to Edmonton on July 26th.


Photo Credit: US CoronaVirus News

There is not much surprise to the defensive line combinations. Zach Whitecloud has earned the opportunity to be an everyday player in the NHL. However, the playoffs are an incredibly different animal. I would imagine Nick Holden and Whitecloud will be on relatively short leashes. Jon Merrill is a serviceable defenseman that chews up minutes and gets the job done. Please do not forget about Deryk Engelland.

Fifty-five playoff games and approaching seven hundred games played, Engelland has the experience and leadership needed to help a playoff team compete for a Stanley Cup. Engelland has played twenty-seven playoff games as a Golden Knight averaging over twenty-two minutes of ice time per game is a plus-four. Engelland was one of the first members of the team back to the ice when phase two started.  He is ready to contribute on the ice if the opportunity is presented.



“Attrition” is a word you will hear many times throughout the NHL Playoffs.



The 2020 NHL Playoffs pose additional challenges as the players will be going from an offseason directly to the most intense games of the year. Traditionally, a team could play a maximum of twenty-eight playoff games. However, in 2020 eight teams can play a maximum of thirty-one games, and sixteen teams can play a maximum of thirty-three games. Injuries and lineup changes will be plentiful. Unknowns today may be heroes come August.


Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

With the seventeenth pick of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, the Golden Knights selected Peyton Krebs. Krebs limped to the podium with a massive smile on his face. Unfortunately, Krebs suffered a partially torn Achilles during a training session before the draft. Krebs was projected as high as a top-five draft pick before the injury.,

Drawing rave reviews from players and coaches, Krebs is hoping to make the thirty-one-player roster that gets to travel to Edmonton. Krebs is in a great spot. Even if he does not make the thirty-one-player roster, he is still getting a fantastic amount of NHL experience by participating in training camp. Attrition can lead to Krebs drawing into a playoff lineup, especially if one of our top six forwards goes down. He is also the type of player who can give the team a scoring spark.



Next up for the Golden Knights is an exhibition game followed by three round-robin games :



-VS. Arizona Thursday, July 30th *exhibition
-VS. Dallas Monday, August 3rd
-VS. St. Louis Thursday, August 6th
-VS. Colorado Saturday, August 8th



Photo Credit: Jammin 105.7

How competitive will the round-robin games be? “If Colton Parayko is lining up for a one-timer, am I really going to step into it in a seeding game? You know, yeah, competitive juices say yes, but also at that point, I just got to make sure I’m OK.” Nate Schmidt stayed to TSN in an interview.

It is hard to read between the lines of what that means. Maybe the players do not view the seeding games as having much importance? The remaining twenty-four teams all have a blank slate. The season basically starts over once phase four begins. How much of a difference is there from the tenth-ranked team and the sixth-ranked team if they both advance?


Time will tell.



NHL News and Notes


The NHL has always allowed teams to be extremely vague when disclosing injuries. When teams report it to the media, “upper body or lower body” is about all you get, especially in the playoffs. The NHL has introduced a new term: Unfit to Play. Talk about vague! Unfit to play can be an injury, conditioning, or COVID19 related. Chicago Blackhawks goalie, Corey Crawford, is “Unfit to Play.”

Should Crawford not be able to compete in the postseason, look for Malcolm Subban to lead the Chicago Blackhawks once the NHL resumes possibly. The twelfth ranked Blackhawks take on the fifth-ranked Edmonton Oilers in their five-game, play-in series. VGK and Chicago could meet in the first round of the playoffs should Chicago defeat Edmonton in their set, and VGK sweeps the round-robin games.

Talk about a storyline! Malcolm Subban will have plenty of motivation against his old team should they meet. “If anything ever happened to Marc Andre Fleury, that we weren’t strong enough to win playoff games if we got to that point,” GM Kelly McCrimmon said when discussing the trade for Robin Lehner.


If I were Subban, that quote would be hanging in my locker for all games against VGK.


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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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