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Author: Jason Pothier (Page 1 of 31)

Most Intriguing Matchups On The Golden Knights 2018-19 Schedule

This was the last moment the Kings stepped foot in T-Mobile Arena. We’re looking forward to much more of this. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It seems like it’s been forever since Vegas ended their season, and that was after a run to the Cup Final. Imagine what it must feel like for those teams who were eliminated in April. Luckily, we’re only 77 days away from the Golden Knights first game against the Flyers on October 4th. So, while we continue to wait, and wait, and wait, let’s look ahead to a few key matchups.

10/20/18: Ducks at Golden Knights

This is the Golden Knights first Pacific opponent, and it’s the second game of a five-game homestand. Last season by mid-October, Vegas was 6-1-0 and sitting on top of the Pacific standings. Can they get off to another good start? Playing Anaheim will be a good early season measurement for Vegas.

10/30/18: Golden Knight at Nashville

Nashville is expected to be a top Stanley Cup contender again this upcoming season. It’s a great test for the 2018-19 Golden Knights on the road, in a loud environment. Both teams have high expectations, so a late October tilt will be fun for fans to watch. Vegas fans will get to watch the talented Predators at the T-Mobile arena on January 23rd.

11/8/18: Golden Knights at Ottawa

This could be the Erik Karlsson preview game. General Manager George McPhee is known for making early season trades. Possibly, the Ottawa staff will like what they see in person, and accept a swap for E. Karlsson. On his last season before free agency, the Swede will be playing in superstar mode all season. Playing well against Vegas could help get the trade moving. Or, maybe Karlsson will be making his return to Ottawa in a Golden Knights jersey. Or, he’ll be on another team by then and this game will be useless.

11/23/18: Calgary at Golden Knights

It’s the return of the “Real Deal” James Neal. Expect the game to run behind schedule, as Vegas fans will be giving the former Knight multiple ovations before puck drop. Another angle in this game is the new look Flames. Calgary is expected to compete in the Pacific despite all of their new changes. The Flames are trying to compete now, which is why Neal was attractive to Calgary.

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Blueline Needs To Chip In To Replace Departed Offense

Theodore scored the first playoff goal in team history. Might need a lot more of that in Year 2. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you think of scoring and the Golden Knights, rarely do names like Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, or even Shea Theodore come to mind. Aside from the occasional Colin Miller blast, the Golden Knights weren’t exactly known for offensive from the blueline. Last season, Golden Knights defensemen scored 37 goals. Good enough for 18th most in the NHL.

Nashville: 56 Goals
Columbus: 51 Goals
Arizona: 50 Goals
Philadelphia: 50 Goals
Tampa Bay: 48 Goals
Florida: 44 Goals
Anaheim: 42 Goals
Minnesota: 42 Goals
St. Louis: 42 Goals
Colorado: 41 Goals
*18. Vegas: 37 Goals

Thankfully, the Golden Knights never needed to rely on blueline scoring. However, more output would help the team return to the playoffs. Colin Miller led all Vegas blueliners with 10 goals and 41 points. He was handsomely rewarded with a new $15M contract extension.

As it stands right now, Vegas defensemen are projected to score around 40 goals in 2018-19. Not far off from last season’s totals.

2017-18 VGK Defensive Scoring
Colin Miller: 10G, 31A
Nate Schmidt: 5G, 31A
Shea Theodore: 6G, 23A
Deryk Engelland: 5G, 18A
Brad Hunt: 3G, 15A
Brayden McNabb: 5G, 10A
Luca Sbisa: 2G, 12A
Jon Merrill: 1G, 2A
Totals: 37 Goals, 142 Assists, 179 Points

When you subtract Luca Sbisa’s contribution and add Nick Holden’s offense, it’s a virtual wash.

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Fleury’s Idols Proved Success Into Late 30’s Is Not Impossible

If Fleury really is elite, he’ll continue being great well into his 30’s. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

During Golden Knights training camp last season, Marc-Andre Fleury told SinBin.vegas about players that influenced him growing up. The 33-year-old idolized and eventually studied the careers of Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, and Martin Brodeur. All three Hall of Fame goaltenders had wildly successful careers and played well into their thirties. Fleury’s new contract extension suggests the Golden Knights believe he’ll retire a decorated Hall of Fame goaltender like the three above.

When Patrick Roy retired in 2003 at the age of 37, he left the league as the all-time wins leader with 551. At that time, Brodeur was 30 and was far behind. He remarkably retired 11 seasons later at the age of 42, passing Roy by 140 wins. Both goalies were consistently successful throughout their careers and continued to have major success after the age of 33.

Belfour was another outstanding goaltender that got better with age. After the age of 32, Eddie the Eagle posted 30 or more wins in six of his last nine seasons. He led the Stars to back-to-back Cup finals in 1999 and 2000 at the age of 34 and 35. Dallas won their only Stanley Cup in ’99 behind Belfour, who posted a ridiculous 1.67 postseason GAA.

Check out the success Roy, Brodeur and Belfour had after Fleury’s current age. Vegas fans should feel even more confident about their newly extended 33-year-old goaltender.

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Pothier: The Golden Knights Are Not Better Today Than They Were On June 7th

As much as we love Paul Stastny, and we do love Paul Stastny, creating a dynasty involves more than Paul Stastny. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s a simple question, are the Golden Knights a better team today than they were the day they came up three wins short of winning the Stanley Cup? The answer is also as simple, at least in my opinion, and it’s no.

We want to be stronger next year than we were this year. I can’t say we’re going to win more games, or go further in the playoffs, but we want to be a better team next year…That’s the goal. George is working on it right now. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline on 6/22/18

The Creator said he has daily discussions with George McPhee on how to improve the team. Since that conversation, some can make the argument the Golden Knights got worse.

Let’s start with what they lost.

David Perron: 67 Points (16G, 50A), 0.94 Points Per Game, 0.71 Assists Per Game, 22 Goals Created, 17:49 ATOI, +1

James Neal: 44 Points (25G, 19A), 0.62 Points Per Game, 2.85 SOG Per Game, 17:11 ATOI, -11

Luca Sbisa: 14 Points (2G, 12A), 54 Blocks, 30 Total Goals For, 30 Total Goals Against, 19:32 ATOI, +8

Now let’s look at the Golden Knights additions.

Paul Stastny: 53 Points (16G, 37A), 0.68 Points Per Game, 0.47 Assists Per Game, 54.9 Faceoff Win %, 18:18 ATOI, +1

Daniel Carr: 16 Points (6G, 10A), 0.42 Points Per Game, 1.37 SOG Per Game, 12:08 ATOI, +2

Nick Holden: 17 Points (4G, 13A), 83 Blocks, 64 Total Goals For, 73 Total Goals Against, 19:00 ATOI, -5

It’s not fair to compare the loss of Neal and Perron, to Vegas’ new offensive additions. Stastny’s a fine player, but he’s not an elite center that can make up the production of two lost wingers. There’s only a few of those, and one of them passed for Toronto.

We have a lot of money to bring in some quality players. If we can get the players we’re going to spend the money. -The Creator

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Paul Stastny Adds To The Golden Knights In Every Way

He’s not Tavares, but Stastny is the splash acquisition the Golden Knights needed. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Sunday, John Tavares was introduced to the media, on stage unveiling his new #91 Maple Leafs jersey. Across the continent, Paul Stastny met the Vegas media over speakerphone.

In the end, sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling. Sometimes it’s just one of those things that is the best fit, hockey wise, family wise and everything in between. -Paul Stastny

The Stastny deal didn’t create nearly the waves of Tavares and it didn’t instantly vault the Golden Knights to the top of the William Hill odds to win the Cup, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t impactful.

Term matters… a couple of summers ago we had a lot of older guys getting five and six-year deals. I think everybody realized that was a mistake. We’re trying to be a little more circumspect and it looks like the league is trying to do that. That’s why we went three years on Stastny. -George McPhee

The Golden Knights GM addressed many areas by signing the 32–year-old US Olympic Silver medalist. Stastny adds another well-rounded center to go along with William Karlsson. It also installs incredible depth down the middle. The Golden Knights now have eight players who can play center (Karlsson, Stastny, Haula, Eakin, Bellemare, Nosek, Lindberg, and Carpenter) But maybe most importantly, Stastny bridges the gap between now and the future. When Stastny’s three-year contract expires, future centers Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki will be 22.

There are always ideas of maybe where you can potentially end up, but you always want to go places where you want to be and go places that want you. It has to be a happy medium. -Stastny

Immediately, the newest Golden Knight gives the depleted second line some positive options. David Perron signed with St. Louis and James Neal is on his way to Calgary, leaving Eric Haula as the lone returning second liner. With Stastny, the Golden Knights now have a second line with two strong centers and numerous options on the wing. The newly signed center is strong on faceoffs (career 53.9%), will make plays on even-strength and man-advantage situations, and will help out on the penalty-kill.

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The Player At Development Camp With The Best Shot Of Playing In The NHL In 2018-19

This guy is the answer to the title of this article. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When it comes to young defenseman, organizations like to take their time.

Every defenseman wants to play right now. But he’s got to go through the process of taking step one before taking step two. They have to defend well, they have to read what’s coming at them. -Ryan McGill, Golden Knights defense coach

Last year fans watched forward Alex Tuch skate amongst boys in Development Camp. His maturity and professional experience were on full display up against the younger prospects. Zach Whitecloud wants to be that guy in 2018.

As far as maturity wise, I pride myself in doing the right things at the right times. I’d like to think I’m ready for every situation that was handed to me. Being with the Knights, it’s key that I come in here and help the guys that are new to the experience. -Zach Whitecloud

Whitecloud’s age, body development, and NHL experience made him stand out in Thursday’s prospect scrimmage and even more so in Friday’s. The 21-year-old is attending his second NHL development camp (last season with LA) and has picked up a lifetime’s worth of knowledge over the past four months.

I signed on March 8th, and met the team in Buffalo and ever since that day I’ve been taking everything in. I don’t think words could explain how much it meant. Just learning how to be a professional hockey player all the time, on and off the ice. -Whitecloud

Since arriving from Bemidji State, the right-handed defenseman soaked up the experience like a sponge.

To have that experience and learn from guys like Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt, Marc-Andre Fleury, Coach Gallant… everyone has helped me try to become the best player and person I can be. -Whitecloud

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Bobby Ryan Is A Misfit, Making Him A Golden Misfit Wouldn’t Be As Bad As Most Make It Out To Seem

Fan reaction to trade rumors can range widely, but there always seems to be one constant. The minute someone mentions the name Bobby Ryan the conversation turns sour.

Let’s go back in time. The New Jersey native was drafted #2nd overall in the 2005 NHL Draft. Also known as, the Sidney Crosby draft. Ryan lived up to his potential right away. In his rookie season, the right-handed forward scored 31 goals and was a Calder Trophy finalist. By the time his entry-level contract ran out, Ryan had 131 career points (71 goals, 60 Assists) and 26 Power-Play goals. Altogether, in five full seasons with Anaheim, Ryan scored 30 or more goals four times. The Ducks liked Ryan enough after his third season in the NHL to sign him to a five year, $25.5 million contract, his first massive deal.

Reilly Smith was Florida’s Bobby Ryan. Look how that worked out in Vegas. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After the shortened 2012-13 season, Anaheim moved the then 25-year-old forward to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a 2014 1st Round pick. At the time, it looked like Ottawa pulled off one heck of a trade. One they liked so much that they offered Ryan $50.75 million over the next seven years.

Fast forward five years later, the once four-time 30 goal-scorer is no longer the hot commodity he was in his first nine seasons in the league. The past two seasons he’s missed 20 games each year, scored just 13 and 11 goals, saw his ice time dip about two minutes per game and didn’t reach 35 points in either year, something he had done in each of the previous eight seasons. Quite simply, the production Ryan has offered has not been worth anything near $7.25 million per year.

So what went wrong?

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History Shows Trading Young Talent For A Current Superstar Isn’t a Bad Move

Trades involving generational players in their primes are rare in the NHL. Over the course of the last 30 years, it’s happened about five times. Yet, with the Draft getting underway tomorrow and free agency on July 1st, Erik Karlsson’s name could be added to that list any moment.

It seems like Theodore might be on his way to Ottawa if McPhee can complete a deal for Karlsson. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When it comes to a unique talent like Karlsson, every GM in the league will show interest. However, most know they either don’t have the assets or the cap space to acquire the 28-year-old superstar defenseman. Ottawa shipped out Mike Hoffman which solved one problem but they took on salary in the deal, further indicating another deal may be on the horizon. At this point, unless Karlsson is demanding a trade they don’t have to move him. Unfortunately for the Senators, he probably is. Ottawa’s front office may continue to force Bobby Ryan’s hefty contract ($7.25M/4 yrs), forcing some teams to stay away. In the Senators eyes, if the deal isn’t right that’s not their problem.

Erik is a franchise player. We felt that there was no franchise deal out there that could satisfy us to make the best hockey deal. -Pierre Dorion at trade deadline

This may be an unpopular look at the Karlsson to Vegas trade rumors because I know how apprehensive Golden Knights fans are about saying goodbye to their favorite players. Hey, I hear ya. After all, I am the founding member of the Shea Theodore fan club, but it is a business, and if the Golden Knights make a move for Karlsson, their probably on to something.

History tells us teams that make the trade for a star player will usually see major dividends, while the players shipped out tend to have mediocre careers.

  • Los Angeles receives: Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski
  • Edmonton receives: Three 1st round picks, Martin Gelinas, Jimmy Carson, and $15 million

I won’t waste your time going over Gretzky’s statistics or influence after he was traded to LA. The Oilers were really only in it for the cash. They knew they would lose the trade no matter what, so the closest thing of value was millions of dollars. That being said, they did get two players in the deal.

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The Potential Impact To The Golden Knights Lines If They Sign John Tavares

Adding depth is the goal of every NHL team in the offseason, adding a superstar would be a bonus for any team, but especially conference champion.

I think you can add depth anywhere in our group, that’s going to be real good. What we want to add character people to our group… we had good leadership, we had great character and we had a good work ethic. -Gallant

Erik Haula: Winger? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The nice part about the Golden Knights roster is they have depth within the system. Instead of repurchasing separate parts like James Neal and or David Perron, Vegas could invest roughly the same amount on a top line center like John Tavares. This would allow Erik Haula to move over to wing alongside Tomas Tatar or Alex Tuch. Tavares would give the Golden Knights two legitimate top NHL lines and Haula could easily repeat 25+ goals mostly focusing on getting the puck in the net.

Understandably, it might be a longshot but look at the Golden Knights forward depth chart with the addition of #91.

Karlsson/Marchessault/Smith= 92 Goals
Tavares/Haula/Tatar= 86 Goals
Eakin/Tuch/Nosek= 33 Goals
Bellemare/Reaves/Carpenter= 19 Goals

The previous line of Haula/Neal/Perron scored 70 goals, and that may have been in a year of overachievement. In the regular season, Haula, Neal, and Perron scored 16 fewer goals than the projected combination of Tavares, Haula, and Tatar.

With Tavares, Gallant would probably try to use the top six evenly. Having two top centers, minute and point distribution could benefit Haula’s statistics. Playing with a center who averages .93 points and .53 assists per game over his career can’t hurt.

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Gallant On Stanley Cup Final Loss, Theodore, Free Agency, In TSN Interview

“When you’re 22-years-old in the Stanley Cup final, or even in the Stanley Cup playoffs you’re going to make mistakes.’ (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before Jack Adams finalist Gerard Gallant celebrated with thousands of fans on Fremont Street, he joined old buddy Chris “Knuckles” Nilan on TSN Montreal.

It was an outstanding year. We battled, we worked hard, and we had an unbelievable regular season. It just carried over to the playoffs. -Gerard Gallant

Nilan asked about coming up short in the finals, and if Washington was able to slow the Golden Knights down.

Our guys weren’t gassed and they weren’t tired, I think Washington made us look tired. They really took it to us, and played a physical brand of hockey. Washington was a better team… Our top line is an outstanding line and they played really well. I gotta give Washington credit, their two top lines played outstanding hockey. Down the middle, Kuznetsov was outstanding, Backstrom was outstanding. They just had more fire power in the final. -Gallant

One of the best exchanges in the interview was about Shea Theodore and his costly giveaways in the Cup finals. Knuckles alerted Gallant he wasn’t calling out the young defenseman but was more interested in how he handled his mistakes after games.

There was no issue with that. The kid made a couple of mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, and that’s what we told the kid. When you’re 22-years-old in the Stanley Cup final, or even in the Stanley Cup playoffs you’re going to make mistakes. That kid made more good plays for us than enough, we’re real happy with him. He just shook it off. -Gallant

Moving on to next season, the TSN host asked the Golden Knights coach about the offseason and building a roster for next season. I’m beginning to think Gallant gets the latest NHL Rumors push notifications on his iPhone. For a guy that doesn’t read box scores or standings, he sure knows who’s available.

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