Las Vegas–Vegas Knights of The Roundtable continues its 4-part mini series analysis on the Golden Knights roster. The last two pieces we analyzed the top scoring lines and the offensive depth going into the 2017-18 season.
Today we switch gears from the offense side of the game and analyze the first line of defense for the Vegas hockey club. Now in theory when it comes pairing up the blueliners is to have a R shot d-man and then a L shot d-man with each pair.
However, for Vegas, they only have two right-handed shot defenseman in their lineup so we’ll have to make due at what McPhee chose during the Vegas Draft to work with.
Brayden McNabb-Jason Garrison
McNabb spent last season with Pacific Division foe Los Angeles Kings under Head Coach Darryl Suter. From 2014 thru 15 seasons, McNabb skated with LA for 201 games.
Over that span, he’s gained plenty of Pacific Division experience against the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and Calgary Flames.
When the Golden Knights face off against these divisional rivals, McNabb will know how to play against them.
In those 201 games with Los Angeles, McNabb has been able to contribute in the scoring department with 6 goals, 36 assists for 42 points.
For the former King blueliner, McNabb has the ability to play an aggressive style with good instincts and get on a streak where plays with an edge. In the Western Conference, in particular, the Golden Knights will need to play that type of game against the opposition, McNabb fits the bill to provide that for Gallant.
In the Western Conference, in particular, the Golden Knights will need to play that type of game against the opposition, McNabb fits the bill to provide that for Gallant.
One of the huge assets to his game is that he can log those big time minutes when called upon to do so.
Garrison is another Golden Knights defenseman with Pacific Division experience under his belt during his time up North across the border with the Vancouver Canucks organization.
He played for them during the pro-rated lockout in the 2012-13 campaign and the 2013-14 season for 128 games. In that span, he produced 15 goals, 34 assists for 49 points.
When he was part of their d-core he had the opportunity in working with hard nose blueliner Kevin Bieksa, other blueliners included Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Edler, Keith Ballard.
Like McNabb Garrison will know how to play against these other Pacific Divison teams when they face off against them at home at T-Mobile Arena or when they go out on the California/Arizona road swing as well as the Western Canada roadie.
Garrison is slightly smaller than the 6’4″ McNabb but that is not a major factor for him as he compensates with that in hockey smarts, speed, ability to move the puck out when under pressure.
Brings to the table, penalty killing specialty. With Garrison being a much older defenseman to McNabb could help him play a mature style game which Jason is very good at playing.
An important asset to Garrison’s game is that he has a very heavy shot from the point and will use that on the power play.
NHL Total Experience: 768 games, 55 goals, 153 assists for 208 points (plus 47), 18 PPG’s
Deryk Engelland-Nate Schmidt
Slotting into our second d-pairing group is Vegas resident Engelland which is easily a fan favorite in the community especially when he played for the ECHL’s franchise Las Wranglers back in the 2003 thru 2005 campaigns.
Engelland big bread and butter asset is his physicality. Being in the Pacific Division and Western Conference, having a physical defenseman on your roster is always a great thing to have.
He could potentially provide that type of game to his d-pair partner Nate Schmidt who is much younger than the 35-year old defenseman.
Other abilities and skill set that Engelland displays are that he is a warrior out there on the ice and is put his team first, something to have in your lineup. A steady blueliner when he brings his A-game in the defensive zone of the ice.
A steady blueliner when he brings his A-game in the defensive zone of the ice.
Not known for offensive production Engelland has recorded 22 goals, 64 assists in a span of 469 games in NHL.
Schmidt is our next likely candidate to be matched up with Engelland on the back end of the ice for the Golden Knights this upcoming. He was part of the Washington Capitals team that current General Manager George McPhee put together in the 2013-14 season.
He was part of the Washington Capitals team that current General Manager George McPhee put together in the 2013-14 season.
The good compliment that Engelland will have as Schmidt as his partner is that he brings the skill set of being a very good puck-moving blueliner with the ability to spark the Golden Knights attack on the ice from the point which is an important player to have in your lineup.
With 200 games to his credit, Schmidt has scored 8 goals, 35 assists for 43 points.
When called upon by his team can log those extra minutes just like McNabb can in the first d-pairing.
NHL Total Experience: 669 games, 30 goals, 99 assists for 129 points (plus 31 ), 0 PPG’s
Colin Miller-Clayton Stoner
Our last d-pair we will take a look is Miller and Stone. Miller has played his entire professional hockey career in the East with AHL’s Manchester Monarchs and NHL’s Boston Bruins.
In his short NHL career, Miller has 109 games to his credit and recorded 9 goals, 20 assists for 29 points.
With Miller, Vegas has another puck-moving blueliner in their toolbox to deploy out there on the ice.
Another power play defenseman who can provide that heavy shot from the blueline during the Golden Knights man advantage. He gives Gallant another option to use on special teams.
Has the skillset to play at both ends of the ice for his team and plays a solid game. Miller has the potential to add some size to his 6’1” 196 pounds frame. With being a member of the tougher Western Conference he should welcome the opportunity to do so.
Finally, we dive into Stoner who also has experience in the playing the Pacific Division and Western Conference along with McNabb, Garrison, and Engelland.
With Stoner and McNabb they had to pleasure is playing against one another it what was called “The Freeway Faceoff Series”. This series highlighted the nastiness between the Ducks and Kings over the years with spans as far back to December 2, 1993.
Stoner is another 6’4″ defenseman that Vegas has at its disposal and has played the last 3 seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. So for Gallant, he has another blueliner that understands the Pacific and West in the core of defenseman to deploy.
He brings to the table 360 games of experience with the Minnesota Wild and Ducks hockey clubs and has recorded 7 goals, 41 assists for 48 points.
When called upon or when a situation presents itself on the ice he will drop the gloves to protect his fellow teammate. In today’s NHL the enforcer role is becoming a thing of past so having one on your roster is a plus to have.
Is a good compliment to his d-pairing partner with the ability to play both ends of the ice. He also a stay at home blueliner with added toughness to his game.
NHL Total Experience: 409 games, 16 goals, 61 assists for points (plus 5 ), 1 PPG
Our final piece to our 4-part series will be out tomorrow where we take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights goaltenders.