The puck hasn’t even dropped on the 2021-22 NHL season, and the Vegas Golden Knights are already toying with salary cap restraints.
The Golden Knights will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in their season opener Tuesday against the Seattle Kraken, with 2019 third-round pick Pavel Dorofeyev making his NHL debut and defenseman Dylan Coghlan playing forward.
“You’re going to have to ask [general manager] Kelly [McCrimmon] and those guys but from my understanding,” said head coach Pete DeBoer, “there’s some cap gymnastics involved with long-term injury and getting as close to a number as you can.”
Dorofeyev did not play in the preseason but was added to the 23-man roster that had to be submitted, along with prospect center Jack Dugan.
Dugan did not take part in the optional morning skate, but it’s widely believed he will not play.
Dorofeyev is one of the most-talked about prospects in the Golden Knights’ system because of his offensive ability. The 20-year-old scored nine goals in 24 games with AHL Henderson, his first stint of professional hockey in North America. He added two more goals in the Silver Knights’ Pacific Division playoff run.
“I’m excited to see him. He’s a young guy that has a good reputation in the organization,” DeBoer said. “However a young guy gets in the lineup is an opportunity for him to make a statement.”
Dorofeyev is likely to play 4LW with Keegan Kolesar at center. On the right side is expected to be Coghlan, the defenseman who filled in for stints at 4RW last regular season due to injuries and cap constraints of the like.
“I don’t think it stunts his development. It’s not optimal,” DeBoer said. “He’s probably going to take some shifts on defense, too. That’s just how our roster is tonight.”
Dorofeyev will join Cody Glass as the only two Golden Knights rookies to make their NHL debut on opening night. Glass scored a goal in his first game in 2019 playing on the top line with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.
“I’m excited for him,” said the captain. “I think he’s excited. Brings youthful energy to the team. I’ll try and help him ease into it. It’s a pretty good atmosphere for opening night.”