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Golden Knights lineup to look different without Jonathan Marchessault | Golden Knights

Golden Knights lineup to look different without Jonathan Marchessault | Golden Knights

The Golden Knights’ roster is set unless something drastic happens.

Free agency has come and gone and the Knights came out of it looking like a different team than last year.

They were able to retain almost all of their players last summer in the hopes of winning a second Stanley Cup in a row. The Knights bolstered their roster further at the trade deadline by adding center Tomas Hertl, defenseman Noah Hanifin and right wing Anthony Mantha.

Hertl and Hanifin are sticking around. Hertl has six years remaining on his contract, while Hanifin signed an eight-year, $58.8 million extension April 11. But those deals led to turnover with the rest of the roster.

All six of the Knights’ unrestricted free agents — including 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Marchessault — are gone.

The forward group changed the most. Marchessault (Nashville), Mantha (Calgary), center Chandler Stephenson (Seattle), left wing William Carrier (Carolina) and right wing Michael Amadio (Ottawa) left in free agency. All except Mantha received contracts with a higher annual average value than their previous one. Left wing Paul Cotter also was traded to the New Jersey Devils.

“Part of the reason we won the Stanley Cup is we had so many players outperform their contracts,” general manager Kelly McCrimmon said July 1. “Well, when their contracts come due, they go and find market value. That’s the nature of the business.

“The reality of winning the Stanley Cup took place this year as opposed to last year.”

The Knights’ goaltending is a question as well.

They traded Logan Thompson to the Washington Capitals for two third-round picks, then signed Ilya Samsonov to a one-year, $1.8 million deal. Samsonov is coming off a poor season in which he posted career worsts in save percentage (.890) and goals-against average (3.13), though goaltending coach Sean Burke has turned less-heralded additions like Adin Hill into solid contributors before.

The position with the least amount of concern is the blue line. Eight of the Knights’ top nine defensemen from last season are back. Defenseman Alec Martinez joined the Chicago Blackhawks in free agency.

“We look at our team next year and we feel really strong in goal, love our defense and love our centers,” McCrimmon said.

The Knights won’t begin training camp for more than two months, but here’s an early look at their depth chart with most of the offseason dust settled:

Forward lines

Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Victor Olofsson

Pavel Dorofeyev — Tomas Hertl — Mark Stone

Brendan Brisson — William Karlsson — Alexander Holtz

Brett Howden — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar

Other candidates: Jonas Rondbjerg, Zach Aston-Reese

One place the Knights have aren’t as deep is the wings.

They lost Marchessault, Mantha, Carrier and Amadio while adding two low-cost fliers in Olofsson and Holtz.

Olofsson, who signed a one-year, $1.075 million deal July 2, had seven goals and 15 points in 51 games last season. But he played with Eichel for three seasons in Buffalo and has three 20-goal campaigns to his name. He will likely have to fight off Holtz and Dorofeyev for the right to play on his former captain’s wing.

Holtz, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft, scored 16 goals last season and could have more upside to unlock. The Knights will also be counting on growth from Dorofeyev and Brisson, their 2020 first-round pick.

Rondbjerg and Aston-Reese could make a case for the NHL roster as well. They’re both responsible forwards that can kill penalties.

Defense pairs

Noah Hanifin — Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore

Nic Hague — Zach Whitecloud

Ben Hutton — Kaedan Korczak

The Knights don’t have to stress about their blue line next year. But there are questions about its future.

Theodore and McNabb are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next summer. Hague will also be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

The Knights will have to decide who they need to keep and who could go. They at least have a promising young player that can step up in Korczak. The 23-year-old is expected to be in the NHL full-time next year after scoring nine points in 26 games last season.


Adin Hill

Ilya Samsonov

Akira Schmid

It’s a crucial season for the future of the Knights’ crease. Hill and Samsonov are unrestricted free agents after this year.

Hill, the Knights’ starter for most of their Stanley Cup run, needs to prove he can stay healthy and handle a full regular-season workload. His 35 appearances last year were a career-high. Samsonov needs to show he can bounce back from last season’s poor showing.

The Knights signed Schmid to a two-year deal after acquiring him from the Devils on June 29. He’ll start as the No. 3 goalie in the organization and play with the Silver Knights.

Contact Danny Webster at [email protected]. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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