After the Vegas Golden Knights came within three wins of claiming the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, general manager George McPhee believes improvements to the second forward unit could be key to taking the next step.
"We did have to change the second line from what it was last year, because as second lines go, it wasn't good enough defensively," McPhee told the "Vegas Golden Knights Insider Hockey Show." "It produced, but the goals against per 60 minutes was not good enough. We were actually dead last among second lines in the league. You can either just sort of look the other way on that or you can address it. We're trying to address it."
To help deal with those issues, Vegas inked free-agent center Paul Stastny amid an otherwise quiet offseason. The veteran middleman is expected to bring a scoring touch, while his ability to play all 200 feet of the ice was especially intriguing for McPhee.
Meanwhile, the trio of Erik Haula, David Perron, and James Neal was the most common second line for Vegas last season, according to Corsica, and the latter two have both moved on as free agents this offseason.
So, for now the plan appears to be slotting Stastny into the second-line center spot, while shifting Haula to the wing. That leaves one more job up for grabs, which could possibly be secured by Tomas Tatar, who was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings at the deadline for three draft picks. Another option is one of the Golden Knights' budding young talents in Alex Tuch, who notched 15 goals and 22 assists as a freshman.
"You've got to make room for guys to grow," McPhee added. "Tuch is certainly a guy who we're ready for some growth. He had a good rookie season, but we think with his ability, his speed, and his size that he could really a score a lot more goals this year than he did last year."
One thing is for sure - Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant will have plenty of options available when he starts constructing line combinations at training camp in September.
Copyright © 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.