Las Vegas–Over the next few days, Vegas Knights of The Roundtable is running a 4 part series of the Golden Knights roster heading into the upcoming season. Part 1 is taking an analytical view of the most likely top 6 forward group for VGK.
Before the Marcus Kruger trade, NHL Network did their projection of how the Golden Knights top 6 forward group would be assembled. But for us, we will conduct our own analysis to how we see the top 6 unit shaping up.
David Perron–Vadim Shipachyov–James Neal
In every team top line center, you need a skilled player maker to set up your wingers to score goals. With Shipachyov, he is the most qualified choice as being the Golden Knights top line center.
The 30-year-old Shipachyov has played his entire professional career in KHL with two franchises SKA St. Petersburg and Severstal Cherepovets.
During 445 in the KHL, Shipachyov produced 137 goals and 275 assists for 412 points. In that span, he’s gotten the opportunity to playing with top level talent especially on his SKA St. Petersburg squad with Evgeni Dadonov who recently signed back into the NHL with the Florida Panthers.
Shipachyov and Dadonov in the most recent IIHF Worlds Tournament displayed top tier chemistry in 5 on 5 and special teams. Dadonov was a major factor in Shipachyov’s multiple game point streak that lasted 6 games before getting snapped by the Czechs.
With Perron and Neal on Shipachyov’s wings and the talent level, they bring to the table should be put together some amazing and sweet goals on the ice for the Golden Knights.
For Shipachyov, he has two KHL championships to his credit both with SKA St. Petersburg. In the KHL, Shipachyov recorded 43 PPG’s
With Perron likely to flank Shipachyov’s left on side on his line the Golden Knights center will have at his disposal a left winger that has 159 goals to his credit along with 219 assists for 378 points over the course of 652 career games with St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks, and Edmonton Oilers.
In his 2013-14 season with Edmonton, he had a career high in goals at 28. Perron’s skill set as being a good finisher should enable him and Shipachyov to have a success as linemates.
The cool part about Perron’s game is that he can be a second playmaker out there on the ice with his linemates. If Shipachyov gets in a bit of jam, Perron can easily step in and provide another option for Vegas in the playmaking category.
His ability to crossover to the right side gives the Golden Knights another option on offense and for Shipachyov. Perron has 37 PPG’s to his credit in the NHL.
Neal, arguably the best top line winger for the Golden Knights going into their inaugural season and the ideal front-runner to be the franchise’s first ever team captain. The veteran NHL forward has 632 games under his belt with the Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Nashville Predators.
Over the span, his recorded 238 goals, 213 assists for 451 points. He’s been able to together 9 seasons worth in which he scored 20 goals or more. His career high in that regard came back during his time with the Penguins in the 2011-12 season where he scored 40 goals.
One of the luxuries with playing with elite talent in Evgeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby.
With Neal on Shipachyov’s right side and certified goal scorer gives the Golden Knights top line their best offensive threat along with Perron. Another thing to add is that Neal’s NHL career in PPG is 66.
Both Perron and Neal will give Shipachyov many offensive options to work with in all situations for the Golden Knights.
However, for us, I think Neal would be Shipachyov’s first choice on the power play given that he likes to shot the puck with his quick trigger style.
Line Totals: 534 goals, 707 assists for 1,241 points (plus 141), and 147 PPG’s
Jonathan Marchessault-Cody Eakin-Oscar Lindberg
In the scoring department for any NHL club, the second line is another important part of the team’s offense. This line could be called upon heavily when the top line is coming up empty in goal production.
With Eakin, he has the ability to play both the center and wing for the Golden Knights but we have him slotted into the 2nd line center position due to his versatility and being a player that comes thru in the clutch.
Over the course of 379 games in the NHL, Eakin has recorded 65 goals, 89 assists for 154 points. Not top line numbers but enough to keep him within the top 6 forward group.
He works very hard at his game and is a savvy two-way player and has the mindset of being a fierce competitor for his line mates. Eakin has 10 PPG’s to his credit in the NHL.
The ideal 2nd line left winger for the Golden Knights is Marchessault given that he shoots right makes him perfect for the role in the lineup for Vegas.
Marchessault has spent the majority of his NHL career playing for both Florida-based franchises with the Tampa Bay Lightning and most recently with the Panthers.
Current Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant had the opportunity in coaching the 2016-17 season 30 goal scorer for 22 games before he was let go in November for posting an 11-10-1 record over that span.
This past season was a career high for 26-year-old Marchessault which was a major breakthrough for his young NHL career. He fits the bill as being Eakin’s wing man on his line due to his natural ability about putting points in the bank.
His skillset of reading the ice well will help Eakin out with the playmaking aspect of the game in putting pucks in the back of the opponents net.
To note, Marchessault’s number’s from last season with Florida roughly equated to 25% of the club’s overall offense which is a gift for Vegas going forward. In his short playing career, Marchessault has 12 PPG’s in the NHL.
The newly signed $3.4 million dollar man Lindberg is most suitable forward to play alongside Eakin right wing on the ice due to his left shot.
Lindberg has played with the New York Rangers over the last three seasons and has recorded 21 goals, 27 assists for 48 points.
His hockey sense on the ice complements his linemates in Marchessault and Eakin and can provide that assistance on special teams. With Lindberg, he’s recently put together back to back seasons where he produced 20 points or more (20 and 28 respectively)
For Lindberg is the youngest forward in the top 6, but with veterans like Neal, Perron, Eakin, Marchessault, and Shipachyov among that group to work with, we think that he can improve his game and be that potential pure point producer that he is capable of becoming.
Line Totals: 124 goals, 148 assists for 272 points (minus 28) and 23 PPG’s
Part two of our 4 part series will be coming out tomorrow. Stay tuned for that one as we take a look at the Golden Knights 3rd and 4th lines of forwards.