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Unnecessary Preseason Game 1 Thoughts

If you’re looking for obvious notes from yesterday’s 9-4 victory including Hat-Trick Tyler Wong and Tallying Tomas Hyka, then move right along. If you’re looking for Ken predicting the future, click here or here.Tallying Tomas Hyka? But if you are looking for some hard-hitting, in-depth, analysis of the most important game in Golden Knights history, you’ve come to the right place.

Who needs a Captain?

George McPhee suggested last week the organization leans towards three alternate captains. That sorta came true Sunday, as two veterans were awarded the A. 32-year-old Clayton Stoner, and 23-year-old Griffin Reinhart played the role of VGK’s early preseason generals. Likely just a case of “somebody had to do it,” more than anything, but it definitely further cements the case that there won’t be a C on any Golden Knights jersey come October 6th.

The Kid’s Table

When the Golden Knights released their roster for Vancouver, I immediately felt bad for Stoner and Reinhart. McPhee and Gerard Gallant both mentioned Saturday, the preseason game would mainly feature young, system players. Stoner and Reinhart are veterans fighting for NHL spots. I’m sure the trip to Vancouver felt like a demotion. Possibly, the Golden Knight’s were ‘showcasing’ the defensemen for other teams, but even that feels like a stretch on the word showcase. In reality though, it means they are at the bottom of the VGK defensive log-jam totem pole.

Shea-H-L?

The Golden Knights’ prized defenseman played a major role in Vancouver. Shea Theodore led the Golden Knights with six shots and 23:12 TOI. The “Dilemma” continues to create headaches for the front office. But if you’re nit-picking, Theodore did spend four minutes in the sin bin. His third-period delay of game penalty put Vancouver on a two-man advantage. Canucks prospect Brock Boeser, took advantage and registered his second tally of the game.

Like I said, these are minor issues stiffs like me pay attention too. I have to remind myself, preseason means absolutely nothing. Bummer, 9-4 would look nice if it did matter. Plus, I can get used to hat-tricks.

Quick Thoughts – Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche 9/19/17

  • Even more impressive than the three goals in the first eight minutes was the play of Oscar Dansk after coming in to begin the 3rd period. Dansk made 18 saves without allowing a goal and made a few special ones in a row during a power play.  -Ken
    • Note: After reviewing the game Dansk actually entered with 8:59 left in the second while VGK were on a power play. Official stats from the game are incorrect. He allowed the one goal the Golden Knights gave up. Nonetheless, one 5 on 3 goal doesn’t change the fact that he was still excellent between the pipes.
  • The VGK Alternate Captains on Tuesday night were; Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, and Reilly Smith. Each logged heavy minutes and made significant contributions in both zones. Garrison was very active offensively, collecting two assists in the first period. Smith added an assist and led the offense with 17:23 TOI. Early in the third period, Captain Concierge Engelland broke up an aggressive Avs attack. With under ten minutes to go, Engelland made a crucial neutral zone stop, allowing for a much-needed shift change. -Jason
  • Vadim Shipachyov really struggled on face-offs. He was thrown out of many draws (which is a much bigger deal now with the new stupid delay of game penalty) and the ones he did take were not pretty. Shipachyov lost six face-offs, mostly against Nathan MacKinnon before he finally got one. He finished 2-7 in the circle. -Ken
  • The Golden Knights have committed 19 penalties in two preseason games. That’s almost two full periods with a man in the box. On Tuesday, the officials called six slashing penalties. The Golden Knights committed four slashing minors in Colorado, and one in Vancouver. We’ve been warned about a crackdown after a few dangerous incidents last season, looks like they are going a bit overboard with it to make a point in the preseason. -Jason
  • Alex Tuch stood out passing the puck. He assisted on the first goal with an excellent pass to Brad Hunt from below the goal line. There were multiple other examples of Tuch’s passing throughout the game as well. Couple that with his willingness to shoot and his physicality and he absolutely looked like he belonged on the NHL roster. -Ken
  • During the second intermission report, an Avalanche TV analyst suggested the NHL needs more personality. He thinks, the league should allow players the chance to customize their equipment. Of course, it would look cool, but wouldn’t it distract the players on the ice? It’s much easier to separate goaltenders. Plus, it’s better to add flair to an otherwise boring mask. Adding more personal art will confuse players, coaches, refs, and fans. Watch, instead the league will add sponsor patches and call it personality. -Jason
  • There were a total of 14 power plays during the game which led to every Golden Knight except Tomas Hyka to get time on both the power play and the penalty kill. While it’s great to get chances a man up, a man down, and in this game multiple times two men up or down, Gallant would probably prefer more 5v5 time to evaluate his players. -Ken

“Just A Matter Of Me Not Playing A Game In A Long Time”

Clayton Stoner at training camp at City National Arena. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Instantly after seeing the roster for the first preseason game, our eyes went straight to the outlier on the list, Clayton Stoner. On a roster full of young players either headed back to juniors or to the AHL, the 32-year old, eight year veteran of the NHL stuck out like a sore thumb. Our thought was that it spelled bad news for Stoner’s future with the Golden Knights. But, what do we know, we are just some bloggers with a website that couldn’t even afford a .com domain. So, instead of playing “ask the 8-ball,” we went right to the source to see what he thought about his inclusion in the first preseason game.

I think it was just a matter of me not playing a game in a long time. I was hurt since November 15th last year. It was one of those things that they mentioned they wanted to get me in a game early and get on the ice. And get that game feeling back. -Clayton Stoner

The former Duck played 14 games last season, due to an abdominal procedure he had on November 17th. It’s no wonder Stoner was eager to compete on Sunday.

Right now I feel very good. I’m just trying to stay healthy. I’m not as young as I was, but injuries are something that are preventable. I spent a lot of time last season, and the offseason rehabbing. I feel, like I’m in a strong place right now with my body. I feel good. -Stoner

The only bummer to Sunday’s victory was that Stoner couldn’t keep his A-stitched jersey. To his knowledge, it doesn’t exist anymore.

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Final Thoughts From Frozen Fury XVII

The Colorado Avalanche reached double digits in shots midway through the third period but most of the Kings fans in attendance seemed to reach that mark way before game time.

I knew the fan in front of me had a few too many when he started a “let’s go Raiders” chant.  He left the game wearing a beer because his female companion finally had enough. The more I looked around the more I felt as if that chant was appropriate. (And to think they are going to end this series)

In two years, when our community piles into the Cox Las Vegas Arena, my personal guess, we need to understand that our team will need us loud and proud, but let’s also remember that no other city will be under the microscope as much as our city will be so let’s always remember to bring our class and perhaps keep our “shots” to single digits.

Golden Knights Sitting Pretty In Possible Age Of Offer Sheet Free Agency

If the Vegas Golden Knights are to keep the promise of making the playoffs by year three and winning the Stanley Cup in year six a lot is going to have to go right.

They’ll have to draft incredibly well, starting with the three first round picks they selected in Chicago in late June. They’ll have to have found a few diamonds in the rough in the Expansion Draft, and they’ll probably have to make a few shrew moves in free agency and/or fleece a team or two in trades.

It’s a lot to ask, and it’s understandable for Golden Knights fans to be skeptical. Any person can look down the list of free agents, take a look at recent trade history, and even look at the Entry Draft outside of the top pick and say, there’s just not enough there to take a team from good to great, and certainly not anything on the market to take a team from great to elite. So it’s going to take something special to make the mantra a reality.

But there is one way that George McPhee could strike it rich without using the draft, unrestricted free agency, or fleecing someone in a trade, and it’s something that’s been widely unused in the NHL over the past decade.

One thing a few different NHL executives agree on: Offer sheets are coming. Cam Fowler, Martin Jones, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and (Carey) Price are gone from next year’s unrestricted class. “There simply are not enough impact players available in free agency,” one said. “If you need to improve your team — and fast — it’s going to be your best option.” –Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet.ca

Offer sheets means, restricted free agency, a market untapped since 2013, and one that hasn’t seen a player change teams since 2007. First, let’s explain how it works, and why teams have been so reluctant in the past.

Most fans are used to unrestricted free agency (UFA), where a player is free to sign wherever he wishes. Teams make offers, he picks the best one for him, and he becomes a member of the new team. The old team gets nothing in return.

Restricted free agency is much different. When a player is an RFA his rights are still technically owned by his current team. There are plenty of options of how the players next contract will be agreed upon, but that’s for another day. In restricted free agency, other teams are able to make an offer to a player, and essentially steal him away. Let me explain using a current example in RFA from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Connor Brown. (He’s good, and young, and the Golden Knights would love to have him, but don’t worry about that right now)

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Golden Knights Expansion Trade Rumor Roundup

In less than a week George McPhee will finally have the protection lists in his hands and the Golden Knights will be on the 72 hour Expansion Draft clock. Until then, the hockey world will be buzzing about all the trades that are being discussed in the lead up. It’s time we take a moment to round em all up into one post, and try to make sense of what’s set to go down on June 21st.

Before we start though, we need to clarify something. While McPhee is making calls and probably coming to agreements, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman confirmed no deals will be made official, or even be announced, prior to June 21st. So, tread carefully out there, everyone’s trying to make a name for themselves.

Chicago Blackhawks – The chatter with Chicago started in late May from a pair of tweets from TSN’s Frank Seravalli.

The main question is which way the picks would be going, if any are involved. Chicago has three defensemen with NMCs, so van Riemsdyk would have to be exposed unless one of Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, or Niklas Hjalmarsson waives their NMC, and/or is traded. So, in theory, Vegas would be getting picks in exchange for taking on Marcus Kruger‘s salary, and simply select van Riemsdyk in the Expansion Draft.

Many news outlets, including most notably a news anchor from Kansas City (why?), have reported that Kruger to Vegas is done. The most common return is a 3rd round pick from Chicago. But there’s likely another piece to the puzzle here that’s missing. Whether that’s Chicago “moving a core player” as reported by WSCR’s Jay Zawaski, or Kruger being flipped through Vegas is yet to be seen. Either way, it’s highly probable McPhee makes a deal (or two) with Chicago, but the details out there currently, are likely not telling the whole story.

Columbus Blue Jackets – In Elliotte Friedman’s “30 thoughts” column he mentions murmurs of trade discussions here. The name mentioned is David Clarkson, who is Expansion Draft exempt due to a long term injury. Clarkson’s back will likely keep him off the ice in 2017-18 and could be career ending, however, his cap hit remains at $5.25 million through 2020 (three more seasons). Freidman mentions the 24th overall pick as well as “some young forwards at the AHL level” as possible compensation for Clarkson’s contract. Once again, the details are fuzzy because this would occur outside the parameters of the Expansion Draft. Vegas would still have to select a player from Columbus, so there’s another piece in the mix. Joonas Korpisalo just signed a team-friendly deal, is he involved? Vegas would get rewarded handsomely for taking Clarkson off Columbus’ hands, but there still has to be an Expansion pick, so more is certainly to come on this one.

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High Skill AND High Character

Next week when the Penguins and Predators compete for the best trophy in sports, the next generation will be preparing for Stanley Cup dreams of their own. 18-year-olds from around the globe will be in Buffalo for the NHL Draft Combine lifting weights, long-jumping, and doing extreme cardio tests like the Wingate and VO2. Golden Knights GM George McPhee and Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Luce will be in attendance looking for the sixth overall pick.

It’s a brand-new process for all the scouts on board, and you’re looking at [the] best available [player] that could deliver the best asset possible to the organization. Whether that’s a forward, defenseman or a goalie may vary with each selection. We’ll look at the best asset at that draft slot. That’s what you’re looking to add. -Scott Luce, Vegas Amateur Scouting Director to NHL.com

Luce continued to open up their process to fans and described the perfect candidate. The Golden Knights are looking for prospects with talent, determination and high hockey IQ. Most importantly, Vegas is specifically targeting players with elite skating skills, but it seems like Vegas wont be drafting players on ability only.

We want high-character, low-maintenance type players. It’ll be a good learning curve for the entire staff going to the combine and representing our organization. -Luce

Ah ha. There it is, the key word, high-character. Look across the NHL, successful teams of course have stars, but are full of impact role players. For example, Chris Kunitz went 35 games without a goal before his superb two-goal game seven. The owner of three Stanley Cup rings has dropped major minutes from his second and third Cup. However, a role player like Kunitz impacts the team through his professionalism and leadership. There are countless “character players” in the league that add much more than points. McPhee and Luce will scout for those prospects over a basket of Wild Wings.

We’re going to try and ascertain best practices we’ve used in other various organizations, so I think this year will be a great learning experience for us as a staff. But we want to come out of there with a comfort level with the young players knowing that they have what it takes to be a Vegas Golden Knight. -Luce

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Evgeni Dadonov Rumor Roundup

The moment the Golden Knights inked Vadim Shipachyov to a contract, the rumor mill began firing linking Shippy’s linemate for both SKA St. Petersburg and Team Russia, Evgeni Dadonov, to Vegas.

It all started way back in early February when SportsNet’s rockstar first mentioned the pair’s names together.

Hearing there is more than the usual amount of scouting going on with KHL players. That league is considering going with fewer teams next season, so NHL clubs are readying for the possibility of some extra players being available. Just like last year, the bigger names are St. Petersburg’s Evgeny Dadonov (56 points in 48 games) and Vadim Shipachev (68 points in 45 games), but it will cost millions to bring them over. –Elliotte Friedman on 2/1/17

Shipachyov and Dadonov’s names appeared next to each other across most publications over the last few months.

Then once Shippy signed on off Vegas, the Golden Knights instantly became the front runner to sign Dadonov as well.

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The New Golden Knight Is No Joke; Shippy’s Got Star Written All Over Him

Vegas, we’ve got player number two. Well really, #87. Vegas fans by now know Vadim Shipachyov’s KHL stats, skate size, and wife’s name. As Reid Duke is starting to realize, some Golden Knight fans have become proud stalkers.

At $9M for two years, the KHL champion, who we are now fondly calling Shippy, will be expected to score, facilitate, and protect the puck. All while getting accustomed to a new country and a new style of hockey.

At 30-years-old, the SKA St. Petersburg center will get a chance to breakout in Las Vegas like fellow Russians Artemi Panarin and Alexander Radulov did recently in Chicago and Montreal.

In February, we highlighted Rob Vollman’s analysis of Shipachyov’s KHL to NHL conversion statistics.

A Look At The Best Available KHL Free Agents

(Yeah, that’s right, Shippy’s name was on SinBin.vegas in February. Suck it Granger!) (Disclaimer: We really like Jesse Granger.)

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Guest Post: The Beezer is Buzzing About Vegas

Time for another Guest Post. Today’s submission comes all the way from the other side of the country in this magical place called New Jersey. Our guy Chris was able to track down former Rangers and Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck and ask some questions about expansion, Vegas, and more. Written by Chris Rauch.

“They are set up to have a lot of success.”

Let’s face it: when expansion teams get off the ground they are usually abysmal. The Washington Capitals won 8 games their first year in the league. It took the Columbus Blue Jackets nearly 10 years to make the playoffs for the first time. One exception to the futility rule are the Florida Panthers. It took only three years for the team to reach the Stanley Cup finals – thanks, in part, to the first player chosen in the 1993 expansion draft: goaltender John “The Beezer” Vanbiesbrouck.

The days of terrible expansion teams may be in the rear view mirror thanks to the new NHL draft rules which will give the Golden Knights access to the best talent pool an expansion team has ever seen. General manager George McPhee will have a lot on his plate, and Vanbiesbrouck is confident that the team is in good hands with McPhee at the helm.

Vanbiesbrouck and McPhee have also known each other for a long time. The two played for the New York Rangers back in the ‘80s. Currently, Vanbiesbrouck is the General Manager for the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Muskegon Lumberjacks, a top Tier 1 junior team in Western Michigan.

“Look at the job he’s done with the Capitals,” says Vanbiesbrouck, “That still lives on with that team right now. I just believe that George and his crew…are set up to have a lot of success. His Director of Scouting [Scott Luce] is one of the best in the game. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s great at finding great talent.”

Drafting in a salary cap era may be tricky, but “The Beezer” feels there will be enough talent to go around when the draft gets underway in June – especially for goaltenders. “They are probably going to start with a goalie. If a guy like (Marc-Andre) Fleury is available with Stanley Cup winning experience and a lot of gas still in the tank it will be hard to look past him.”

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