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Alternate Reasoning Behind The Vadim Shipachyov Trade Rumors

NOTE: McPhee has since spoken about this situation, clearly a lot of what is discussed in this article. Here’s the story.

Hockey media was set ablaze with a pair of tweets from some highly respected reporters today on Vadim Shipachyov requesting a trade.

At face value, this appears to be simple. He’s been sent to the AHL twice by the Vegas Golden Knights, they’ve played well without him, he probably still has some value, therefore maybe he’d be a better fit elsewhere.

But that doesn’t make sense when you go all the way back to why Vadim Shipachyov was brought in to the Vegas Golden Knights in the first place. Multiple times, including this afternoon by Kelly McCrimmon (article coming on that tomorrow), members of the Golden Knights front office have commented on a “flaw” in the Expansion Draft matrix.

“Waiver what now?” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The rules allowed for the Golden Knights to get many good players, but they were not afforded the chance to get players who were “waiver exempt” and could be sent to the AHL without the risk of losing them. So, the Golden Knights made a conscious effort to solve this problem. They acquired Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, and Keegan Kolesar via trade and they signed Tomas Hyka, Oscar Dansk and… Vadim Shipachyov as free agents.

Note that every single one of those players began the season in the AHL, because the Golden Knights knew well before the Expansion Draft ever began that they would have a glut of players at a certain position (it turned out to be defensemen). The only way to solve this was to amass waiver exempt players.

So, what’s happening here? Before I start, I want to say that this is all a hypothesis, rooted in covering this team and knowing a lot of the facts of the situation, but nonetheless, this is NOT a report of fact, it’s more of a guess as to what could be happening, and why it’s being reported the way it is.

I believe this goes back all the way to the spring when the Golden Knights and many others were courting Vadim Shipachyov. The Golden Knights coveted him because of his potential talent, but also his waiver exempt status (Evegnii Dadonov another Russian Vegas was linked to was not.). They likely offered the largest sum of money, which is why Shipachyov chose Vegas. That decision was probably influenced by the agent, Petr Svoboda, who is now in the middle of these rumors.

The agent, like everyone, probably did not consider the “waiver exempt” status that came with a 30-year-old Russian player who has never played in the NHL. So, he figured that Vegas would be a good place to go as the highly paid skilled player would be slotted in the top one or two lines. Plus, every extra dollar Shipachyov earned, the agent’s commission goes up.

Fast forward to October 6th when the Golden Knights played their first game, without Vadim Shipachyov. At that moment, the agent likely came to the realization that this was the plan all along for the Golden Knights, and that’s likely why they were willing to offer more money than others. However, as an agent and a player, there was nothing they could do. The first time, they were patient.

Then, yesterday, it happened again, and once again, George McPhee had outsmarted Svoboda. So, Svoboda reaches out to a few reporters and says the player and agent are “seeking a trade.” Meanwhile, the Golden Knights remain in complete control of the situation. They can seek a trade all they wish, but it’s up to McPhee to actually make that deal happen.

A few preseason games and three regular season games is an awfully short period of time to “give up” on a player as many are suggesting. This would be a massive indictment on the Golden Knights scouting staff if they were SO far off on Shipachyov’s skill and it’s this apparent in less than a month.

The final piece of the puzzle is why would excellent reporters put this information out there? The answer is rather simple, especially to those of us who are familiar with the agent/reporter relationship. Agents often break news of free agent signings, injuries, and much more to reporters. Why? Because reporters are also valuable to agents in helping with negotiations, and in turn earning them more money. Scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

Again, I’m not saying this is what is happening, I’m saying this is what I think MIGHT be happening, and honestly, it makes a lot more sense than a stubborn GM like McPhee admitting he made a mistake less than a month into the season on a highly paid player.

Oh, and by the way, this agent has a history of funny business with Russian players, but I’ll let you go down that Google search wormhole yourself.

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18 Comments

  1. John

    “outsmarted Svoboda” lol. By sending down a top 6 player and creating a distraction while Ship gets his full salary? McPhee also took Engelland and Bellemare, don’t give him extra credit. Terrible GM.

    • Not saying McPhee is making the correct move. Just saying I think he is using an option the agent didn’t consider, thus didn’t correctly advise his client.

    • Chris Carlin

      In reading your comments, I would suggest watching a game or two. How can you knock ANYTHING GMGM has done? Gallant says it after every game, ” the guys are working hard, great group”. They are 7-1. Ship did not fit in as well as others. Get over it! Trade him for a 2nd or 3rd.

      • JAY T

        Didn’t fit in? He’s played three games, ten minutes a piece. You don’t what you’re talking about.

  2. Paul

    Reflects poorly on GmGm and organization that they would engage in good faith negotiations and pull a dirty tactic like this…GMGM has mismanaged this team from start holding on to useless assets who won’t garner a return but as long as the players play inspired hockey, it will be glossed over

  3. Blake

    GMGM knows what he is doing .The agent can cry all he wants about a trade. GMGM knows how to deal with Russian players and Russian Agents…google it. Shippy is not producing at the Level he is being paid at….so he goes down . Playing him on the fourth line would also be a waste. He needs to adjust to the NHL. Its a common step with all Russian players coming to the NHL.

    • Andrew

      so, a different question. is he really going to chicago, or will he skate on his own here in Vegas like he did the first time he was sent down? also, whats the situation with the wife? that can weigh heavy on someone if she’s really unhappy here.

    • JAY T

      Not producing? Not producing with 30 minutes total playing time? It’s a joke how clueless some of you people are.

  4. DanK

    7-1 out of the gate and the younger talent is lighting up the juniors and AHL. Yeah, terrible GM. Lol No way you waive an asset just to temporarily keep this guy (or his agent) happy.

  5. Ted

    They’re not going to win the Stanley Cup in their first year. Why not play your $4.5M player more than 10min/game – he’s got a positive relative Corsi – so he doesn’t stink the place out. Other centers are worse than him on relative Corsi. That 7-1 records going to be in the rear view mirror with your key asset gone in 3 … 2 … 1…

  6. Ted

    Oh yeah, he’s +3 – despite getting half the shifts of the other players, one-third of the PP TOI. He made a commitment to come to a new league/country with his wife and to be sent to Chicago, back and then back to Chicago. Tell me again how Shippy is to blame for this fiasco. Why would any Russians play for this team again?

  7. Trevor

    I think it’s pretty clear Shippy isn’t to blame for this mess, although his agent can definitely be blamed. I agree and totally can see you’re logic in this article. That being said, another reason he may be willing to pursue a trade is that Shipachyov may really have been, among other things, a trade chip all along. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s a 30-year old center (which if I remember correctly, a lot of teams need those) who is only signed for two years. If the plan was to win the Cup in (or by, for you Ken) six, then it’s pretty unlikely a relatively unknown 36-year old was part of that plan. With how he’s played so far, I hesitate to say the Golden Knights can definitely get a first rounder for him, but I think they can no question get at least a prospect and a second rounder.

    Sad to see him go so soon though. I think these rumors are probably true.

    (Also to all those people who are like “GMGM is good because he’s 7-1” -> you could be saying the same thing about Marc Bergevin a year ago. Records this early into the season don’t matter. Vegas is in the bottom third of the league in just about EVERY used predictive category except goaltender save percentage. I want this magical run to continue just as much as everyone else, but this team should not be a winner right now. I expect they’ll come back down to earth soon enough.)

    • Nonyabiz

      “Vegas is in the bottom third of the league in just about EVERY used predictive category except goaltender save percentage”

      I would definitely rely on predictions as they have been incredibly accurate since the start of the season – all the predictions had us at 7-1 after 8. I’ll check back Friday when we are 8-1, you can tell me more about your predictions, exciting stuff.

  8. Sam Spade Is Lame

    Caps are garbage. – Pens Fan

  9. Hi Ken,

    Nice write up. It’s an interesting angle to think about for sure. The “waiver exempt” clause makes it seem like a savvy business move–but can also be seen as pretty unethical (for the player affected by it).

    While we don’t know everything, I normally tend to side with the organization on things like this. To me, if you’re outplayed or aren’t fitting the system, then it’s a business decision to move you in order to get assets back that will hopefully benefit the team. Not sure if that is the case here or not.

    Obviously, we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.

    It’s just odd that Vegas would go hard for Ship, sign him for 2-years $9M, and promote him for months as this potential cornerstone of the franchise–a skilled Center on the first or second line.

    I’m not sure I buy the idea people are throwing around that he can’t play the North American game or that he’s being out-worked. Not saying it’s not possible, but he’s a 30-year-old veteran with a proven track record and star status in the KHL. I have to believe there’s talent there that can translate to North American hockey.

    Lastly, there’s a human side to this that I think people might be missing…

    It’s easy for us to say, “Hey, that’s sports. Your job can be taken at any minute. Suck it up.” Blah, blah, blah. Yes. Absolutely. But what makes this situation a little different is you have a guy uprooting his family, leaving guaranteed success he’s built in the KHL to come to the NHL and live in a completely different world than he’s used to (culture shock factor). Add to that, he was probably promised/guaranteed he’d be a part of the Knights plans, a script that was quickly flipped. So amongst the chaos of change and trying to fit into this new world, you think you have one constant–which would be reporting to play for the Knights– and all of a sudden, you don’t.

    I’m curious to see what comes of all this.

  10. Stevie

    My thoughts:

    First, great job Ken!!! Opinion pieces are supposed to spark debate. Excellent work.

    GMGM is a very good GM and knows exactly what he’s doing. (Real good teams in Washington, 7-1 Knights, all the talent in the minors and juniors AND TRUSTING DAVE PRIOR).

    GMGM has only sent down waiver exempts. Maybe he knows even Reinhart would be claimed. It appears he wants something for anyone who leaves here. The next 3 drafts are great and deep. Steve Carp believes GMGM is on the phone daily and that no one is untouchable, including Shippy (who, in Darren Banks words, has been playing with eggs in his pants since the very first day Shippy stepped on City National ice). I keep hearing of teams interested in Miller. I think offers have been made to GMGM on players, just not enough for McPhee to make a deal. Why wouldn’t GMGM let Shippy’s agent seek trade deals? Maybe Svoboda comes up with something too good for GMGM to pass up. If not, Shippy stays right where he is until something else happens.

    I don’t think any of this is about GMGM giving up on a player. I think all of this is about McPhee’s long-term plans; which won’t deviate much no matter the Knights’ record this year, next year, or the year after. So, we will probably be down this road again with McPhee and other moves. GMGM is extremely confident in his abilities, so he will not be swayed from his plans.

    The one thing GMGM does have to consider with all things Shippy, though, is how it affects Gusev and other Russians coming here. I’m sure he has and will. GMGM does not impress me as a man who makes moves without taking into account all the ramifications.

    • JAY T

      Fuck McPhee. I don’t like how he treated Pickard or Shipachyov. He’s a shifty little bastard, who’s always plotting to stab someone in the back.

  11. Bent Hermit

    I think a trade might be good for both parties. I usually don’t defend GMGM, but to be fair he didn’t know what kind of team he was going to have when he signed Ship. The team plays an aggressive style. Ship doesn’t seem to fit with the way they are playing. I know he still needs to adjust to the NHL, but even if he does I’m not sure he will fit into this system. Another team might be a better fit for him and vegas gets another pick.

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