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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Drone Footage Of Practice Facility

The Practice Facility in Downtown Summerlin is continuing it’s almost ridiculous pace and now appears as if it might actually be operational ahead of schedule.

Friend of the site and Las Vegas sports broadcasting legend Ron Futrell and his team at Avisight sent the drone up over the facility and came back with some pretty sweet images.

If you missed my exclusive (at the time) (now they seem to be letting all the other media folks in, another in the long line of people copying us months later and then saying on TV they were first, so then people actually think they were first, which they weren’t, obviously. Sorry. It bugs me.) tour of the practice facility, it’s here.

This is the first we’ve seen it with the final roofing structure beginning to take shape. The plan still is to have the place open, at least a portion of it, in mid August in time for the rookie training camp.

I’d expect it to be skate-able for the public in October or so, and the restaurant will likely be my go-to spot for pizza and Foley Pinot Noir in early 2017.

Drafting Third Is Equivalent To Drafting Fifteenth; You Know What That Means

TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button updated his mock Entry Draft this week with no change at the top. Week in, week out Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier have led the top two picks of June’s draft. Last week Button slotted Vegas in the third draft position just missing out on the Patrick, Hischier sweepstakes. Vegas is still selecting third in Button’s mock draft, but the player drafted was different this week.

According to Button’s latest mock draft, the player currently slated to go third is 18 year-old center Martin Necas. The young center has 7 goals and 8 assists in 41 Czech Extra League games. The numbers don’t mimic Patrick or Hischier but obviously the skill speaks for itself.

Necas has a style of game that reminds me of Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. He has a high skill level, can finish or create, and has a desire to find some way to make an impact in every game he plays. – Craig Button, TSN Director of Scouting

Whoa Giroux?!? According to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau Necas is rated the fifth best international skater. For a full player spotlight check out our post from January.

Of course Necas sounds like a promising franchise center, but now we’re getting into deep waters. TSN analysts Bob McKenzie, Frank Seravelli and Button have all stated the talent pool is less impressive than past drafts. After Patrick and Hischier, who are dubbed can’t miss players, the talent drops significantly. Analysts have said drafting 3rd or 15th is about the same this year. Not good for Vegas if the ping pong balls act anything like the craps table does for Ken.

Drafting Necas doesn’t have much value at pick third. In a way after the first or second pick it possibly doesn’t matter where Vegas drafts in the top six. We’re all thinking it, and of course McPhee is… but the Golden Knights really need to trade up. Getting in the top two, Vegas would kill two birds with one stone. The new franchise would draft their potential future center and they make a big splash for the fans.

Hitting the big splash isn’t necessary for the Golden Knights but it could work out for the franchise’s future. Drafting a player that’s a unanimous first or second pick is a much different from selecting a player third that could’ve been drafted sixth, ninth or thirteenth. Of course, the pick itself is valuable, but this is a different circumstance. The Golden Knights first franchise selection will be over analyzed and critiqued. Waiting a couple of years for Necas to develop could frustrate the T-Mobile faithful. Plus, he may continue playing in Eastern Europe next year while waiting for his turn in Las Vegas. I’ll say it for Vegas fans, just trade up and secure the first or second pick. Hey, I don’t need to tell the Golden Knights how to draft but I know 16,000 invested fans will.

McPhee Drops More Hints On Coaching Search

During Monday’s season ticket holder conference call, GM George McPhee sounded like a man who’s impatiently waiting for late June.

We’ll be ready for the expansion draft and the entry draft. In fact I think we’re ready now.. -George McPhee, General Manager

If you missed it or aren’t quite rich enough to have fancy pants season tickets, check out the SinBin.vegas Twitter timeline as Ken live-tweeted out the full conference call. Without giving too much away, McPhee gave a few notes of interest, especially, an answer to a coaching question. We still stand by Jack Capuano as the front-runner and his comment leads us again to the former Islanders coach.

Let’s get to the hidden information McPhee might’ve tried to slip by us. On a question about finding the Golden Knights first head coach. The GM stated he wants a coach that knows the present-day players, rules and styles. Most importantly, here’s the big clue, he also would like to hire someone he knows.

We want someone who is very current on the game, who’s progressive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of coaches in the NHL. Had great experiences in the world championships working with several NHL coaches. So, we know who’s out there. We decided way back in August, that we were going to take our time and interview along the way. – GM George McPhee

McPhee said it, he’s worked with a lot of NHL coaches. Here’s the list:

CoachWhen With McPheeCurrently WithTenureRecord
Ron WilsonWSH Head Coach (1997-2002)N/A410 Games192-159-51
Bruce CassidyWSH Head Coach (2002-2004)Boston (Interim)110 Games47-47-9
Randy CarlyleWSH Assistant Coach (2002-2004)Anaheim (HC)164 Games64-75-18
Glen HanlonWSH Head Coach (2003-2008)GM Vancouver Giants (WHL)239 Games79-122-9
Bruce BoudreauWSH Head Coach (2008-2012)Minnesota (HC)329 Games208-104-40
Jack CapuanoNYI Head Coach (2015) *Only Season McPhee w/New YorkN/A82 Games45-27-10
Doug WeightSr. Advisor to GM and Isles Asst. Coach (2015)New York Islanders (Interim)29 Games16-9-4
Bill PetersIIHF Team Canada Head Coach (2014-Pres)Carolina (HC)164 Games65-72-27
Dave CameronIIHF Team Canada Assistant Coach (2014-2016)Calgary (Asst)137 Games70-50-17
Mike YeoIIHF Team Canada Assistant CoachSt. Louis (HC)370 Games187-139-44

As you can see, McPhee has worked with plenty of NHL head coaches past and present. Cassidy, Carlyle, Boudreau, Weight, Peters and Yeo are all current NHL head coaches. Capuano was fired earlier this season, and Cameron was let go after last season. Hanlon and Wilson haven’t been NHL head coaches in some time so it’s safe to eliminate them. Carlyle, Boudreau and Yeo are all safely employed. Which leaves Capuano, Cassidy, Weight, Peters and Cameron.

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Vegas To Control All Hockey Operation At AHL Level; Likely Affiliated With Chicago Wolves

Remember about a month ago when we were discussing the Chicago Wolves organization and how they may not be the perfect fit for the Golden Knights? Well after a little further digging, it appears the information that led us to that conclusion is a bit out-dated, and the concerns we had aren’t going to be an issue at all.

Vegas will have full control over hockey operations of it’s minor league affiliate. They will be the primary NHL team to be affiliated with their minor league team, and the Chicago Wolves are still the likely destination which will be announced when the AHL season concludes in late April to mid May (depending on the Wolves success in the playoffs).

Let me back up a minute and show my work here, cause this is quite a bit different from what I said a little more than a month ago.

The first report of an affiliation with the Wolves was posted by Steve Carp of the RJ on January 1st. At that time it was reported as “in discussions” with Chicago.

Since then, sources have assured with me on multiple occasions that unless something changes, it’ll be Chicago. I even got a pretty strong hint of that yesterday as well.

So that’s when I went into dig mode on what an affiliation with the Wolves would look like. Historically, the Wolves are one of the most independently run AHL franchises even making comments like this.

They are in no way defined by their NHL parent. Affiliation, for (Wolves GM Wendell Young), is just another league rule. –Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business

That quote was from 2013, but Ecker doubled down on that in an article written in June 2016 about the Blues extending their affiliation with the Wolves.

Then yesterday, in a special Q&A with season ticket holders, George McPhee was asked about the minor league affiliation and exactly how that will process will work.

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Listen Up VGK, Honesty’s The Best Policy, So Says MLB’s Best Executive

When it comes to building a winning franchise from the ground up, no one in the history of sports is better than current Chicago Cubs President and General Manager, Theo Epstein. He’s the mastermind behind ending not one, but two, of the longest championship droughts in the history of sports.

Epstein began his tenure with the Boston Red Sox in 2002. In 2007 they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years. Epstein then resigned and took the same job in Chicago with the Cubs in 2012. In 2017, the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

In short, this guy knows what he’s doing.

It started with trying to be really transparent with the players. The more you do that, it’s kind of like a drug. You realize it’s just easier when you’re transparent. You don’t have to worry about remembering your lies or your slants or your coverups. Then you realize it works with everyone. It works managing up, it works with the media, it works with agents, it works with your fans. It’s kind of the best way to do things if you can pull it off. Something as simple as transparency is really scalable, because it quickly impacts the culture. And the culture is something everyone feels. –Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs GM, President

Be honest with players. Be honest with staff. Be honest with agents. Be honest with the media. Be honest with the fans.

It’s something we here at SinBin.vegas have been harping on for a long time and are often met with resistance with people telling us, “it just doesn’t work that way.” Well Theo disagrees.

If upper management is really transparent with everyone, that has this amplifying effect. Then you tend to attract players who operate that way, on the same wavelength, coaches and fans. -Epstein

Now I’m not here to say the Vegas Golden Knights aren’t being transparent and open. Much the opposite in most cases. The Creator himself is one of the most honest sports owners out there. But there have been some hints from this budding franchise of wanting to go the Belichick route at times rather than the Epstein one.

It’s kind of the best way to do things if you can pull it off. -Epstein

When you can’t pull it off is when you are making decisions that are not in the best interest of your paying customers. Remember when MGM instituted their parking fees. This is how they sold it.

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Playoff Format Change Could Benefit Golden Knights

Rumors are the playoffs format could change in the near future. TSN/ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun mentioned this week the idea was floated about during the GM meetings earlier this month.

During the GMs’ smaller group sessions on the opening day of meetings, one of the assemblages did in fact discuss the playoff format during its open brainstorming session. The feeling in that smaller GM group, according to a source, was that it might be time for change. – Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com

The current playoff format system will end after the 2018-2019 season and the league will need to make a decision. The suggested format would mimic the nasty 1980’s true divisional playoffs. So the question is, which playoff system would be best for Vegas to qualify for the postseason?

The “old school” format LeBrun and the GMs he spoke with are proposing is a 16 team, divisional playoff. Their argument is for either a divisional or conference system, not both the way it currently stands. The divisional postseason proposal would look like this: #1 Pacific seed vs. #4 Pacific seed, #2 Pacific seed vs. #3 Pacific. After that bloody round, the winners would play each other. Four teams would qualify from each division. No wild cards.

If the Golden Knights only had to worry about 8 teams it brings up an interesting argument. Divisional games are supposed to mean more now but the twin wild cards water it down. The proposed divisional regular season becomes incredibly important which means fans will see entertaining hockey. When teams are familiar with each other it can benefit the underdog which Vegas will be on most nights.

If the league went back to a traditional conference playoff, Vegas would have a tough fight reaching the top eight. Lebrun noted the league isn’t in favor of a conference playoff. The travel always concerns league officials and NHLPA. Which brings us back to the current format. Not only are teams battling with divisional rivals but fighting out the entire conference for two wild cards. It will be tough for Vegas to sneak in over the next two seasons before the present postseason expires. If they’re just fighting against the Pacific, I think the Golden Knights have an outside shot.

If the league decides to go back to a true divisional postseason we could only hope they bring back the old classic names. Instead of Patrick, Smyth, Norris and Adams we could modernize the four divisions. Maybe Orr, Messier, Lemieux and Gretzky. Or Melrose, McGwire, McPhee and McKrimmon.

Learning From A 27 Year Old

This week Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper wrote an interesting profile on the NHL’s youngest general manager. The Coyote’s GM John Chayka is not only the youngest in the league, but by 16 years. According to Cooper’s article, not many consider Chayka young.

He’s certainly mature beyond the number of his age for sure and I think he has been that way his whole life. I think he’s very methodical and well-spoken. Just a mature guy. -Dave Tippett, Coyotes Head Coach

At the age of 27, Arizona’s GM has made some head-scratching moves to the greater benefit of the franchise. Chayka used cap space to his advantage in order to add two highly-skilled prospects.

Like anything, I think most of it is out of necessity. We have a market situation that is what it is in terms of our revenue and my job is just to optimize and maximize what I can do with that revenue,” -John Chayka, Coyotes GM

Intelligence, adjustments, and creativity are great for cap management but will it translate on the ice? Chayka knows he has to make the playoffs to be considered successful. It’s been a tough first year, but some of his rookie moves could become the next trend. George McPhee doesn’t need any help, especially from a 27 year-old, but the league is rapidly changing every year. There maybe only one GM under 40, but his vision could be best for the modern player.

Let’s face it, the Golden Knights will have one of the leagues worst travel schedule. The Coyotes are blessed with the fourth most tiring itinerary. Arizona will travel 47,869 miles this season and will play 13 back-to-backs. Vegas will be in the air for roughly 45,000+ miles in 2017-2018. Expect up to 10+ back-to-backs. It’ll be brutal.

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No One But McPhee May Be Able To See Protection Lists, Even Other GMs

This strange saga keeps getting stranger. We’ve long expected the NHL Expansion Draft protections lists to be made public the day the Golden Knights 72 hour draft period begins allowing speculation to dominate the world of sports talk. Then recently we found out the NHL may keep the lists private from the media and the pubic in what would be a giant mistake.

Now, it looks like they may even take it one step further. It’s possible no one but the Golden Knights will get to see the full lists.

The managers have expressed a preference for maintaining the confidentiality of that information. We will make a final decision in due time. There is no rush here. -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

The issue here, I think, is that some GMs are hesitant to let everyone else in the league see how they are ranking or otherwise valuing their own players. I would argue that they already do show their cards when they reveal how they compensate the players in terms of salary. But I suppose that, if lower-paid players end up getting protected over higher-paid players in some cases, teams might not want that kind of naked truth being blatantly blasted out there for posterity. –Pierre LeBrun, ESPN

Before you go nuts about how ridiculous this is, let me take a moment to explain why this is the only way as a Golden Knights fan you should be okay with them not making the lists available to the public.

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Top Defenseman Come From Draft, But Not Necessarily Early

Back in December we examined the success rates of centers and defenseman drafted in the top five. The percentage of accomplished forwards were much higher than blueliners. To the point that we should all be crossing our fingers George McPhee drafts a center first. TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button published his latest rookie mock draft. Not much has changed as centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier remain his top two picks. Button slotted the Golden Knights with the third pick and selected center Gabe Vilardi. The 17 year-old is a brilliantly skilled prospect who plays for the Windsor Spitfires. Vilardi fits that franchise center we can all hope turns into talent like Anze Kopitar. After the Golden Knights select their offensive star in the first round they will have to address the backend.

There are really good players in this draft. There’s gonna be really good players that have a significant impact in the National Hockey League. The problem is, is that the last two drafts with McDavid, Eichel, Matthews, Laine were exceptional. You go back and look at the other players from those draft, they didn’t make it in their first year. It’s gonna take some time. There’s really good players here and you got to find them. I don’t think they’re depth players, I think there are really good players in the draft. -Craig Button, TSN

Button is convinced there are plenty of pro-level prospects beyond Patrick and Hischier. Especially, some under the radar defensive players. On TSN Toronto, Button was asked about teams addressing defensive needs in the offseason. The analyst suggested teams have better luck finding blueline talent in the draft as opposed to free agency.

You have to draft a defenseman that you think could be a top three guy. Number one defenseman are rare. They’re like true number one centers. And just go back and look where they are, they’re right at the top of the draft.” -Craig Button, TSN

If you look around the league, number one defenseman are mainstays. Top D-men will either stay with the team that drafted them or sign a monster free agent deal. I can’t imagine The Creator agreeing to the contract the Wild’s Ryan Suter made. Luckily, that deal was signed under the previous CBA. Although stay tuned, in 2019, players would like to throw out the term limits.

Having an elite defenseman can also determine how successful a club will be. The only issue is their availability, great blueliners are hard to come by, and for a reason. It’s why some teams like Chicago, LA and Pittsburgh have had monumental, continued, success. All three Cup winners drafted their top defenseman. And it continues from there. Check out the last ten teams that won the Stanley Cup. Half were led by homegrown talent and only two were drafted in the first round.

TeamPlayerAcquired 
Penguins (2016, 2009)Kris Letang2005 3rd Round (62nd Overall)
Blackhawks (2015, 2013, 2010)Duncan Keith2002 2nd Round (54th Overall)
Kings (2014, 2012)Drew Doughty2008 1st Round (2nd Overall)
Bruins (2011)Zdeno CharaFree Agent, 20065yr/$37.5 mil
Red Wings (2008, 2002)Nicklas Lidstrom1989 3rd Round (53rd Overall)
Ducks (2007)Scott NiedermayerFree Agent, 20054yr/$27 mil
Hurricanes (2006)Aaron WardTraded from Bostonfor Patrick Eaves and 4th Round Pick
Lightning (2004)Dan BoyleTraded from Floridafor 5th Round Pick
Devils (2003)Scott Niedermayer1991 1st Round (3rd Overall)
Avalanche (2001)Rob BlakeTraded from Los Angelesfor two 1st Round Picks

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Golden Knights Aren’t The Reason To Avoid Tanking

The addition of the 31st franchise in the NHL has changed the layout of the 2017 NHL Draft. Since 1995 the league has used a lottery system to determine the order of selection in the first round for all non-playoff teams. It’s an effort to make it less appealing to give up at the end of the season in hopes of getting a higher pick in the draft.

The lottery has done just that. Sometimes teams keep the top overall pick, sometimes a team jumps up a slot or two to the front of the line, and even the team that finished closest to the playoffs has the slimmest chance to find itself selecting in the top three. (The NHL conducts three lotteries using the same odds to determine the top thee picks. Then teams are slotted in from 4-15 based on record)

There’s no debating the lottery’s effectiveness on curbing tanking. But there is a debate on this nugget from TSN.

The one problem for the Devils – or any other team interested in improving their odds – is that tanking has been slightly disincentivized this year with the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights. –Frank Seravalli, TSN

Exact odds have not been released yet for the 2017 lottery including Vegas, but the projections take the word slightly literally.

In 2016 the last place team, Toronto, had a 20% shot of winning the lottery and getting Auston Matthews. It happened. The second to last place team, Edmonton, came in at 13.5% with Vancouver behind them at 11.5%.

The Expansion Rules indicate that Vegas will have an equal chance in the lottery as the third worst team. Last year that would have meant 11.5%, but in adding a team the odds must change a bit. Again, the numbers have not been released yet, so these are just speculation, but the guess is the worst team will have a 17.9% chance, with 2nd worst 12.1% and Vegas/3rd worst tied at 10.3%.

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