A major question surrounding the Golden Knights is what will happen when Erik Haula, Jonathan Marchessault, and Marc-Andre Fleury return from IR. All three are eligible tomorrow.
Marchessault was on the ice this morning wearing a non-contact sweater, and Haula is expected to skate with the team tomorrow morning before the game against St. Louis. As expected, they have kept quiet on any timeframe for Fleury, and it is safe to assume Malcolm Subban will be between the pipes against the Blues.
We know that MAF will return to the net at some point. When he does, Subban will go back to being the number two and whoever is up at the time will get sent back to Chicago. The real concern is what will happen when Marchessault and Haula return.
Vadim Shipachyov and Alex Tuch were both called up for the time being, but the general consensus is that they should have been up anyway. The front office made it clear that they were both in Chicago for roster reasons and not due to their level of play. Both are waiver exempt (two of the three from our 23-man roster), and the team would rather stash them in the AHL than expose anyone to the waiver wire. The issue here is they are only allowed to carry a 23-man roster and the return of Marchessault and Haula will result the team being two skaters over the limit.
So what can we expect? It is hard to predict, but it will most likely be one of the following..
The team will wait for an opportunity to make a trade while Shippy and Tuch are sent back to Chicago. If a player goes down somewhere in the NHL, the Golden Knights will have trade bait which would free up space without exposing anyone to the waiver wire.
Another option, and less likely, is the team exposes a couple players to the waiver wire in hopes that they clear. At that point Tuch and Shipachyov could come home.
While this is by no means an all-inclusive list, I have a third idea. In their two games so far, Tuch has looked to be more prepared for the step up. The team can drop Nosek to the left side of the fourth line, where he belongs, and send William Carrier down to the AHL. Carrier is yet to record a point and is currently on a waiver exempt entry-level contract. This would free up a spot for Tuch without exposing a player.
Although Shipachyov managed to put a puck in the net, he did not look good overall. Coming from the KHL, it appears he is struggling to deal with players finishing their checks, the size of the rink, and the pace of the league. He looked lost and appeared to struggle with his conditioning while spending very little time on the ice.
He knows what aspects of his game need work, and the team can send him back to Chicago to work on them until they are able to make a move. At that point he will be better prepared to come up and become a featured member of the team.
Whether this happens, or even makes sense, is up for debate. What we do know is that this team needs to make a move and part ways with a couple defenders. Also, they need to find a way to get Tuch and Shippy back on the 23-man roster.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see something happen either this week or next. We should know more about the status of Haula, Marchessault, and Fleury after tomorrows morning skate.
Go Knights Go!