Golden Knights' Valentin Zykov Suspended 20 Games for PED Violation

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2019

Vegas Golden Knights left wing Valentin Zykov (7) plays against the Nashville Predators in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

The NHL announced Thursday that Vegas Golden Knights forward Valentin Zykov has been suspended 20 games without pay for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing substances. 

Zykov, 24, is in the midst of his second season with the Knights. After posting two goals in 10 games for Vegas during the 2018-19 season, he has two assists while appearing in all seven games so far this season.

The Russian winger was originally a second-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2013 NHL draft.

Although Zykov is in the midst of his fourth NHL season, he has played sparingly during his career. Zykov played a total of 12 games in his first two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes and then split 28 games between the Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and Golden Knights last season.

He finished with just two goals and three assists for five points last season, and his most productive campaign to date was 2017-18 when he racked up three goals and four assists in 10 contests for the Canes.

With a strong group of forwards including Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Paul Stastny leading the way for Vegas, Zykov has played a complementary role on the third and fourth lines.

The Golden Knights' forward depth will take a hit with Zykov out, but it could give Brandon Pirri an opportunity to establish himself as a full-time player.

Pirri scored a career-high 22 goals for the Florida Panthers in 2014-15 in just 49 games, but he has been in and out of the lineup for the Golden Knights over the past three seasons.

After posting 12 goals and 18 points in 31 games for Vegas last season, it stands to reason that Pirri could add some more offensive punch to the lineup for the 4-3 Golden Knights.

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