Las Vegas–Today we continue our 4 part series on the Vegas Golden Knights roster with the 2nd piece of the depth forwards for the hockey team. Yesterday, we analyzed the Golden Knights top two scoring lines that will most likely take to the ice this upcoming season.
Barring any changes by General Manager George McPhee before the start of NHL Training Camp, Vegas Knights of The Roundtable takes a look at what we think are the likely 3rd and 4th lines to the Golden Knights for their first season.
Teemu Pulkkinen-Erik Haula-Reilly Smith
For us, we feel that former Minnesota Wild centerman Haula is the best candidate to take on the role with the Golden Knights as their 3rd line center for the upcoming season.
The Finnish forward Haula spent the last 4 seasons with the Wild organization with both franchises that included their AHL affiliate in Iowa.
With 266 games under his belt, Haula has recorded 42 goals, 47 assists for 89 points. When you top scoring lines during a season are coming up empty, hockey clubs rely heavily on their depth to step and come thru in a pinch.
Haula is a creative playmaker that uses his smarts in the game which is a huge asset to his wingers that flank his right and left side on the ice. He is a speedy forward and if Gallant wants to changes things up with Haula, he can play the winger position on his as well which gives the Golden Knights some flexibility in that regard.
He is a speedy forward and if Gallant wants to changes things up with Haula, he can play the winger position on his as well which gives the Golden Knights some flexibility in that regard. Haula has 3 PPG’s to his credit.
With Pulkkinen, there is another Minnesota connection on the 3rd line as he played skated with the NHL club last season for 9 games and posted 1 goal over that span.
In the same season, he skated with the AHL Iowa Wild where he recorded 36 points (18 goals and 18 assists) in 47 games.
He brings to the Golden Knights 166 AHL games to his credit with 83 goals, 74 assists for 157 points which is nearly a 1 PPG (0.97). His NHL totals are not nearly his numbers from his days in the AHL but he does have 13 goals and 9 assists in 83 games.
I think given that Haula and Pulkkinen played in the Wild organization should benefit in generating that chemistry for success on the ice. He can play either side of Haula wings which gives the 3rd line center options to work with. With Haula and Pulkkinen both Fins they should have instant chemistry.
Pulkkinen has the skillset and ability to be a decent shooter for Vegas for their bottom 6 unit. He has 2 PPG’s to his credit.
Reilly is probably the biggest asset that Haula would have on his line going forward for the upcoming season with the Golden Knights.
Last season with Florida, Smith scored 15 goals for the Panthers in 80 games played, he also produced 22 assists for 37 points which makes the best threat for the 3rd line.
He spent a season and 22 games under Gallant’s system with the Panthers so for him he’ll understand what he needs from him to do on the ice for Vegas.
Smith brings with him to Vegas 365 games with 76 goals, 111 assists for 187 points. Again allows the Golden Knights to have what I think is another 2nd line with his numbers combined with Haula’s and Pulkkinen’s.
Like Pulkkinen, Smith can play both wing positions on Haula’s line with ease. He also understands where he needs to be when it comes scoring goals which is something that will make Haula’s job so much easier. Smith has 18 PPG’s to his credit.
Line Totals: 131 goals, 167 assists for 298 points (plus 76), 23 PPG’s
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-William Karlsson-Alex Tuch
The French Connection I’d like to say about Bellemare is the best logical choice to lead the Golden Knights 4th line as their center.
In the most recent IIHF Worlds Tournament that took place in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany, Bellemare held the position as Team France’s Alternate Captain as team first type of leader with class.
When Team France won their game 5-1 over Finland, Bellemare was awarded the MVP for his hockey club on his performance of the game. However, he felt that it was his goalie Florian Hardy who was more deserving of that honor. So as a gentleman’s player as he is, Bellemare differed his MVP award to Hardy.
For Vegas, having Bellemare in the bottom 6 forward unit is huge leadership boost for the young NHL club going into the 2017-18.
Bellemare has 237 of NHL experience under him with includes 17 goals and 17 assists for 34 points. That might not mean much nevertheless we feel that his leadership qualities are the driver here. His game is highlighted by his work ethic.
Regardless of the fact the 24-year old Swedish forward primary position is at center, we think that Karlsson can play the winger role on Bellemare’s line.
Karlsson has played his young NHL career with the Columbus Blue Jackets under gritty Head Coach John Tortorella. In the past coaching stints, Tortorella was an in your face kind of bench boss, with the Blue Jackets he made the change to go easy on the guys.
With 3 seasons under his belt, Karlsson has scored 18 goals added 32 assists thru 183 games. He played with the Anaheim Ducks organization for a portion of the 2014-15 season where he registered 2 goals and 1 assists in an 18 game span.
Karlsson is a good asset to have in the bottom 6 forward group as he can play in all three zones out on the ice which should give Bellemare a decent weapon to have when their shift is playing against the opposition. He uses a deceptive style of skating to his advantage against his opponents.
With Tuch, I had the pleasure of watching him at the Golden Knights development camp and I must say he is completely ahead of practically everyone skater that participated during the 1-week training program.
Based on what I saw out there during each day of the scrimmages, in particular, was Tuch using his size and speed. The 6’4″ 222 pounds forward shined in games 2 and 3 of the scrimmage series.
What makes Tuch a unique forward is that he can play all three positions on a line he plays for which could give Gallant a special tool to use his toolbox. His heavy shot and the way he plays the game, helps his linemate be better.
Tuch spent the majority of the previous season with the Wild organization’s AHL club in Iowa where thru 57 games recorded 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points. When played for the big club in Minnesota, he played in 6 games with 0 points to his credit.
Bellemare and Karlsson would definitely enjoy working with and playing with the former 1st round pick (18th overall) this coming season with the Golden Knights.
Line Totals: 35 goals, 49 assists for 84 points (minus 11), 2 PPG’s
Honorable Mentions: Keegan Kolesar and Tomas Hyka
Both Kolesar and Hyka had a very good rookie development camp with the Vegas Golden Knights organization last week. We think that both of them will be brought back for their NHL Training Camp that will happen in September during the league’s preseason schedule.
Among the rookies, Kolesar’s size is NHL ready which could make for some interesting and tough decisions for McPhee when training camp unfolds in September.
Parts 3 and 4 are coming over the weekend and we look at the defenseman and goaltenders for the Vegas Golden Knights.