We are less than a week away from the 2019-20 NHL season, when your Vegas Golden Knights will face off against the rival San Jose Sharks. The Golden Knights rattled off two more preseason victories and are now 4-1 in September. With training camp dwindling down, cuts are being made but a few roster spots are still up for grabs, so let’s take a look at some of the recent camp cuts.
Goaltender Garret Sparks was waived and sent down to the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate, Chicago Wolves. Sparks made his debut in the second preseason game against the Colorado Avalanche and pitched the shutout in a 24-save appearance. It is only the preseason so we have to take these stats with a grain of salt, but to have an impressive showing like that and not get a second chance to prove yourself is a little shocking.
Sparks is an Illinois native and being able to play in his home state could give him the fresh start he is looking for after a disastrous season with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2018-19. If someone gets injured, he could be the first call up if his confidence remains high and he can work his way back into the NHL.
Another goaltender, Oscar Dansk, was also waived and sent down to the Wolves. He played stellar in a 36 save performance against the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-2 overtime win on the road. Both goalies will battle it out for the starting job in the AHL in hopes of being the one called up if Malcolm Subban or Marc-Andre Fleury gets injured.
With Sparks and Dansk being sent down, the coaches and management have put their trust in Subban to be the backup. He is the most athletic of the three and reads the play extremely well. General manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed Subban’s position to Jesse Granger of The Athletic on media day, and that he acquired Sparks to give the team extra depth.
Malcolm Subban is our backup goalie. It’s like any other position, Malcolm is our backup and a really good young goaltender. With Garret Sparks and Oscar Dansk, we thought it was a real good opportunity to strengthen the goaltending throughout the organization.
Look for him to give Fleury, who turns 35 in November, some extra nights off this season, especially when the team is at home. Subban has a 14-2-1 career record with a 0.920 save percentage and a 2.20 goals-against average at the Fortress.
Lucas Elvenes and Jake Leschyshyn were also cut from the big club. Both players were inaugural draftees for the Golden Knights in 2017 and will be starting their professional career in North America, as Elvenes is coming over from Sweden and Leschyshyn is graduating from the junior ranks. They both have the potential to be quality bottom-six forwards, but will need to adjust to the North American pro game first.
Ryan Reaves Skating
Ryan Reaves returned to the ice on Tuesday in a red non-contact jersey. He has missed all of training camp until now because of an injury sustained during a summer workout. He is listed as day-to-day but could be good to go for the regular season opener against the Sharks now that he’s started practicing.
He would be a huge addition as the Sharks are the Golden Knights’ main rival; and Reaves would get to battle his biggest personal rival, Evander Kane. The two wingers have been at it for the last season and a half and have recently used other platforms to take jabs at one another.
Reaves was recently an officiant at a wedding for two Golden Knights fans and dubbed himself “Kane’s worst nightmare”. Kane called him out immediately, retweeting the video saying, “Great example of trying to be relevant when you’re not.”
If Reaves is healthy enough to start the season, this will be one storyline to keep your eye on.
Brayden Pachal signed a three-year entry-level contract last week. He is a right-handed defenseman with a lot of bite to his game. He was the captain for his Prince Albert Raiders last season and finished with 17 goals, 45 assists, 145 penalty minutes, and a plus-86 in 92 games (stats include playoff games).
The Golden Knights have signed a number of free agent defensemen over the past few seasons (three of them were on the top-10 prospects list) and they have developed into strong players with the potential to make the team this season. Pachal looks to fit that mold as well and with Rocky Thompson still behind the bench for the Wolves, he could be another diamond in the rough found by McCrimmon and company.
Max Pacioretty leads the team in scoring this preseason with four goals and seven points in two games. Cody Glass, Valentin Zykov, Cody Eakin and Brandon Pirri are all tied for second with three points apiece.
The Golden Knights have two more preseason affairs before the games start counting. They take on the Kings and then the Sharks to end the month of September. The schedule will see them take on the Sharks in three straight games, their preseason finale and then a home-and-home series to start the regular season. The final roster has to be submitted to the NHL’s office by 2 p.m. PT on Oct. 1.