- The Vegas Golden Knights will be without forward William Carrier tomorrow, as he has an upper-body injury that will keep him out against Dallas. Carrier seemed to sustain the injury late in yesterday’s tough loss against the Edmonton Oilers. He’s already set a career-high in goals, scoring 11 times in 43 games in largely a fourth-line role to provide important depth scoring.
Golden Knights Rumors
The Golden Knights have made a roster move in advance of their game tonight against Edmonton, announcing (Twitter link) that they have recalled center Byron Froese from Henderson of the AHL. Vegas had two open roster spots so no corresponding move needed to be made.
The 31-year-old is in his first season with Vegas after signing a two-year, two-way contract with them last summer in free agency following three seasons in Calgary’s organization. He has made just one appearance with the Golden Knights this year (coming a week and a half ago) but has 117 career appearances at the top level over parts of five seasons.
Froese has been productive at the AHL level with the Silver Knights so far, collecting eight goals and 19 assists in 36 games. That ties him for the team lead in assists with Sheldon Rempal and gives him a share of the points lead with Gage Quinney. He will take the place of Mark Stone in the lineup with the veteran being set to miss some time; Froese will likely play on the fourth line while someone else moves up to take Stone’s spot on the top line.
The Vegas Golden Knights will be without Mark Stone for the next little while, announcing that he is week-to-week with an upper-body injury. That will scare a lot of fans worried about his back, but head coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn’t comment. As much as anything, Vegas’s return to contention has a lot to do with the play of Stone, who managed just 37 (rarely healthy) games last season.
Through 43 appearances this year, the 30-year-old forward has 17 goals and 38 points, and once again has taken his place as one of the best two-way players in the game. A lengthy absence will be a huge blow to the Golden Knights, especially given how close the standings are in the Pacific Division. Remember, Vegas led the division at this point last year too, only to fall out of the race and miss the playoffs completely by the end of the season.
The rotation continues in Buffalo, where the Sabres have recalled the recently loaned Jack Quinn and sent Peyton Krebs down in his place. With their plan of carrying three goaltenders, moves like this should be expected on a daily basis.
Quinn, 21, never really did join the Rochester Americans, and is expected back in the Sabres lineup for Saturday’s match against the Nashville Predators. The young forward has 17 points in 33 games this season after completely obliterating the minor leagues last year. Quinn was the AHL’s Rookie of the Year with 61 points in 45 games.
Krebs meanwhile has struggled this season, recording just three goals and nine points through 34 games. The 21-year-old was part of the Jack Eichel trade coming over from the Vegas Golden Knights last season, and looked to be a key part of the Sabres future. While there’s certainly no giving up on him, a reset might be in order while he tries to get things moving in the right direction. Krebs hasn’t scored a goal in his last 11 games, and has averaged just over 13 minutes in that stretch.
To be clear, he too likely isn’t actually headed to Rochester. The Sabres will rotate through players to keep them fresh and participating while they figure out how to get Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen into the crease as often as possible. They will eventually need to find a more permanent solution, but with Quinn, Krebs, and J.J. Peterka all waiver-exempt, they can continue to move them in and out of the lineup with ease.
The New York Rangers are the team willing to take a chance on Jake Leschyshyn, claiming him off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The young forward was waived yesterday after failing to record a single point this season. They aren’t the only team nabbing a new player though. Casey Fitzgerald has been claimed by the Florida Panthers, meaning he’s leaving the Buffalo Sabres, the only organization he’s ever been a part of.
Leschyshyn, 23, is better than he has shown for the Golden Knights this season, but the fact was that he hadn’t produced any offense despite regular (albeit limited) playing time. Selected 62nd overall in 2017, the Rangers likely have confidence that they can get him back closer to the player that put up 27 points in 34 games for the Henderson Silver Knights last season. A versatile forward who can be good defensively, engage physically and play both center and wing, he doesn’t need to produce a ton to be valuable. He does have to produce some though, which will ultimately decide whether he stays in the Rangers lineup for long.
Fitzgerald’s loss is a critical one for the Sabres. As referenced yesterday, when he was placed on waivers, Buffalo has some of the thinnest organizational depth in the league on defense. With today’s loss, they are now tied with Seattle for the fewest defensemen under NHL contracts with 11. Should the team run into any injuries, they would quickly run into a tricky situation in terms of available call-ups. With the team legitimately challenging for a playoff spot, that may end up being an area of focus at the trade deadline.
For Florida though, Fitzgerald is a nice solution. In early December, we wrote that defensive depth was a serious need, as the coaching staff didn’t seem comfortable icing the bottom pair for more than a few minutes a game. Matt Kiersted, for instance, is averaging just 9:51 in his 20 appearances. Fitzgerald, who has played 59 games over the last two seasons with Buffalo, gives them another option there, perhaps one that can gain some trust.
It wouldn’t be the first time a waiver claim did well on the Panthers blue line. Gustav Forsling, who now logs more than 24 minutes a night, was claimed almost exactly two years ago and has lived up to the potential.
The fan vote for the final player selections is still ongoing, but the NHL has finalized who will be behind the bench at the 2023 All-Star Game in Florida next month. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour will be leading the Metropolitan, Boston Bruins bench boss Jim Montgomery leads the Atlantic, Peter DeBoer of the Dallas Stars will be running the Central, and Bruce Cassidy of the Vegas Golden Knights will be steering the Pacific.
The Hurricanes, Bruins, Stars, and Golden Knights currently lead their respective divisions, though it’s a close race in three of them. Only the Bruins have a substantial lead, with their 32-4-4 record pacing the entire NHL.
Interestingly enough, three of the four coaches named were involved in something of an employment carousel this offseason. Cassidy was fired by Boston and eventually took the job in Vegas after they dismissed DeBoer. DeBoer took a job in Dallas, one that had only been filled by Rick Bowness after Montgomery’s dismissal in 2020. Montgomery in turn took over in Boston, which gave him another chance as an NHL head coach.
Brind’Amour is the tenured professor of the bunch, taking over as head coach of the Hurricanes in 2018. He won the Jack Adams in 2021, and has an overall record of 199-95-35, plus four playoff series wins. It’s been an impressive transition from player to assistant to head coach for Brind’Amour, who basically never stopped working for the Hurricanes after arriving in 2000. He is reprising his role as head coach of the Metro, after being their last season.
The selections show just how quickly the NHL coaching wheel turns, with Cassidy and DeBoer both appearing at this game with their previous teams. DeBoer has actually gone with three in a row, appearing as the head coach of the Pacific in 2017 with the Sharks as well.
The final player selections will be announced on January 19, and the skills competition kicks off February 3.
A few minutes ahead of the official announcement from the league, the Vegas Golden Knights tweeted that Jake Leschyshyn has been placed on waivers. He will be sent to the Henderson Silver Knights should he clear tomorrow – along with Brayden Pachal, who was assigned today.
It’s difficult to play regularly in the NHL and be completely held off the scoresheet but that’s exactly what Leschyshyn has done this year. The 23-year-old forward has exactly zero points in 22 games.
That performance will likely get him through waivers, but it should be mentioned that Leschyshyn was once one of the Golden Knights’ top prospects. Selected 62nd overall in 2017, there were high hopes after a nice finish to his WHL career. Last year he played 41 games with Vegas and scored six points, while adding 27 in 34 minor league games.
Given his relative youth, there may be teams interested in giving him a fresh start somewhere else. To do so, they would have to take on a three-year, one-way deal, though. The Golden Knights gave Leschyshyn that deal – which carries an average annual value of $766,667 – in August, locking him up at a league-minimum price.
If there is any hesitation, some clubs will balk at that kind of financial security, even though there might be a shred of upside remaining in the young forward. More likely, he’ll clear and head back to the minor leagues to await his next recall.
The Vegas Golden Knights have activated two key players off of injured reserve: Jonathan Marchessault and Alec Martinez. These activations come after it was reported earlier today that both players were nearing returns.
Marchessault, 32, has missed six straight games with a lower-body injury. When healthy, he’s among the best forwards Vegas has to offer. He’s been with the team since the franchise first took the ice, and has been among their most productive players.
This season has been no different, as Marchessault has 27 points in 35 games. Marchessault is under contract for this season and next at a $5MM AAV, meaning he is inching toward the end of the six-year extension he signed in 2018.
Marchessault’s return to the lineup could allow Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy to re-unite the “misfits” line, putting the talented Canadian forward back with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith. Recently, Karlsson has been skating with Paul Cotter and Phil Kessel, while Smith has played with Jack Eichel and Nicolas Roy on the team’s top line.
Martinez, 35, is a crucially important defenseman for the Golden Knights, and his return could help lessen the load shouldered by younger blueliners such as Brayden Pachal.
Martinez averages the third-most ice time on the penalty kill for Vegas and should help stabilize a defensive corps that has suffered some significant injuries. He has this season and next left on his $5.25MM AAV, and has scored five points in 37 games this year.
- There’s more help on the horizon when it comes to the Golden Knights. After getting center Jack Eichel and winger Paul Cotter back on Thursday, they could get winger Jonathan Marchessault back in the lineup tonight against Los Angeles, reports Ben Gotz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 32-year-old has missed six straight games with a lower-body injury but still sits third on the team in goals with 14. Gotz adds that defenseman Alec Martinez also has a chance to return tonight although, with the team off until Thursday after this game, they could opt to give him a few more days of rest. The veteran has been out for four straight games after being injured in the Golden Knights’ first game after the holiday break. He has five assists in 37 contests this season.
After Team Canada put gold medals around their neck last night to conclude the 2023 World Junior Championship, a variety of prospects under NHL contract were loaned back to their minor or junior teams today. We’ll keep a running list of those transactions right here.
All transactions are provided by CapFriendly.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets returned defenseman Stanislav Svozil to the WHL’s Regina Pats. Drafted 69th overall in 2021, Svozil had an incredible tournament with eight points in seven games for Czechia, winning a silver medal — the country’s first medal since 2005. Quickly looking like a draft steal, Svozil has 37 points in just 28 games, and he’ll return to playing with presumptive 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard.
- Also from Columbus, 2022 sixth-overall selection David Jiricek is returning to the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus’ AHL affiliate. Jiricek also helped dominate from the Czech blueline, recording seven points and a staggering +10 rating in seven games. He played his first two NHL games before the tournament and has an impressive 20 points in just 19 games with the Monsters.
- The Dallas Stars returned dynamic Canadian forward Logan Stankoven to the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. Stankoven, who has a decent shot at making the team out of training camp in 2023-24, had three goals and 11 points in seven games with the Canadians. He was a second-round pick of the Stars in 2021, another budding draft steal.
- Gritty forward Reid Schaefer, selected with the last pick of the first round in 2022 by the Edmonton Oilers, is returning to the WHL-leading Seattle Thunderbirds. Schaefer played at the bottom of the Canadian lineup and managed one assist in seven contests. He’s fourth on Seattle in goals with 15 in just 22 games.
- Nashville Predators right-shot defense prospect Jack Matier was loaned back to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. The 124th overall selection in 2021 is amidst a breakout season in Ottawa, recording 26 points and a +24 rating through 26 games. He had one assist at the World Juniors.
- The Vegas Golden Knights returned Czech forward Jakub Brabenec to the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix. Drafted 102nd overall in 2021, Brabenec was just dealt to the Phoenix today from the Charlottetown Islanders. His scoring had taken somewhat of a dip before the trade with 25 points in 28 games, but a strong World Juniors performance should instill some confidence.
- Vegas also sent forward Zach Dean to the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. Taken 30th overall in 2021, Dean has 35 points in 27 games with Gatineau and recorded a goal and two assists for Canada at the tournament.