The Golden Knights need a penalty shootout specialist

On Tuesday, NHL veteran Frans Nielsen retired from hockey. Nielsen has no real connections to the Vegas Golden Knights. But having his name in the news gives me the perfect opportunity to get into the discussion I wanted to have off-season about VGK.

Nielsen is often seen as one of the best players when it comes to penalties. He is third all-time in penalty shootouts with 49, behind only Jonathan Tooys and Patrick Kane.

As some of you may remember, the thing that hurt the Golden Knight’s chances of making the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs was their inability to score in the penalty shootout.

Penalty kick laundry season

The Golden Knights dropped three very important points late in the season to the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks. They went 0-17 in penalty shootout attempts during that stretch.

Overall, the Golden Knights scored 4-4 in the shootout in 2021-22 losing just four points. But these four points made all the difference.

What would normally be a minor problem in a regular season has become a season-threatening problem for the Golden Knights in 2021-22. The Stars beat the Golden Knights to finish second in the Wild Card Championship in the Western Conference with Dallas taking 98 while VGK only got 94.

Say what you want to say about the penalty shootout. I won’t guarantee it myself. It’s basically a skills competition that just happens so you don’t double, triple, or even quadruple overtime in the regular season.

But no matter how you slice it, points are awarded in the standings in penalty shootouts, and every team in the NHL must prepare for it. Even though Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty are all five years old, they can’t get it done on penalties.

Eichel is 8 for 27 in his career, Stone is 3 for 14, Marchessault is 6 for 24, and Pacioretty is 8 for 34. Shea Theodore (8 for 17) and Nicholas Roy (3 for 6) seem to be the only weapons that Reliable shooting golden knights and head coach …. well, who will be the next coach.

something to improve

To excel in the NHL, you need to have players on your team who can perform in every area of ​​the game. As strange as normal play is, penalty shootouts are still an area for NHL hockey. Everyone in the Golden Knights, from Eshel to Stone to Brayden McNabb, needs to work on their penalty shootout skills.

The Golden Knight’s late-season penalty shootout mistakes haven’t cost them alone this season. But it put them in a stifling grip on their chances.

The most logical way I think the Golden Knights deal with this problem off-season and into next season is to simply work on their penalty shootout skills in practice more. Theodore should teach the class.

Perhaps by next season, Eichel becomes a reliable player in the penalty shootout or someone like Brendan Brisson or Pavel Dorofeyev makes the squad, gets the call in the penalty shootout, and puts in a good performance.

Possible shooters

But with it off season and all, another path the Golden Knights could take could be to get a player with a history of strong penalty shootouts.

Kyle TorresAnd the Jason SpizaAnd the Sam Win They are experienced veterans with contracts expiring this summer that the Golden Knights can take a look at. They all have over 25 goals in penalty shootouts, but they are all near the end of their careers. Claude Giroud There is also with 30 goals in professional penalty shootout. Good luck running that person under the salary cap.

Two of the plausible names that I could see the Golden Knights chasing after are Ryan Donato And the Andreas Athanasio Both have expired off-season contracts. Donato is 47.37% in his career in penalty shootout attempts and Athanasiou is at 42.86%. For comparison, Theodore’s functional figure is 47.06%.

These two players are not just smash hits and can deliver a powerful secondary attack. Donato put up 31 points last season with the Seattle Kraken but earned the RFA title. Athanasio scored 17 goals with the Los Angeles Kings. If the Golden Knights Riley Smith lose to free agency, these guys could be players with a lot of depth.

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