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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Jason Pothier (Page 1 of 12)

Two Team Town Should Motivate VGK To Win

Today could be a big day in Las Vegas. Sin City’s second “big day” in less than a year. I’ve come around on the Raiders potential move. (Note: This is Jason, Ken has definitely not come around. I’m sure he’ll have something to say soon.) At first, I was concerned it would impact the growth of the already established Golden Knights. However, I’m not as worried anymore. The Knights are already in development and ready to take center stage this Fall. Nothing can stop the swell of VGK excitement now. The hockey growth began almost a year ago and its building by the day. 

One issue that concerned me the most was the local interest after the Raiders relocate. Of course, the NFL steals headlines from the other major sports and it’s already happening here. If it wasn’t for the SinBin.vegas and the occasional RJ article, you would barely see local coverage of the Golden Knights. I’m sure it’ll get to The Creator at some point, but it could motivate him and his team. Nothing frustrates franchise owners more than lack of press. No matter how well teams play, the Rangers, Yankees and Lakers will constantly steal attention from the Islanders, Mets and Clippers. That type of lopsided attention will keep some owners up at night. 

Let’s use Boston as an example. Nothing concerned Red Sox Owner John Henry more than the success of the upstart New England Patriots in the early 2000’s. When he bought the team, the Red Sox were the king of the city. The Pats, Celtics and Bruins shared one sport page, in both newspapers. Losing steam to the Pats, Henry knew he had to win the World Series. The success and attention of the Pats and Sox even trickled down to the Celtics and Bruins as well.

The healthy competition of all four teams ended up victoriously for each franchise. That can happen here in Las Vegas. We’ve heard The Creator’s desire to win, another franchise moving in won’t distract the new owner’s pursuit of winning the Stanley Cup. In fact, it could motivate him even more. Being second fiddle will eventually tick him off. Winning is the cure for that which was the original plan anyway.

Las Vegas will be a great two-team town. And by the way, it could work both ways. The Davis family will be treated like royalty for the time being. It could change quickly if the Raiders have losing seasons. Late season lack of interest can hurt the bottom line. If that happens to the Las Vegas Raiders, panic will ensue. At that point, Marc Davis will be the Golden Knights biggest fan. Another team winning will help keep angry fans distracted. If he’s smart, in the offseason he should trade in his Black and Silver for Black and Gold.

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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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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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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If Nolan Patrick’s A Golden Knight, It’ll Be For Good Reason

Since the signing of Reid Duke, the entire Golden Knights fan base have been playing make-believe GM. The dream transaction almost every armchair general manager (including myself) wants to make, is drafting top rated prospect Nolan Patrick. By now, we’re all aware Nolan and Duke play together in Brandon, Manitoba. Patrick is currently projected first or second in most analysts mock drafts. Duke, who becomes the Golden Knights first signed player could also become the team’s first player ambassador.

Of course, we can’t expect Kelly McCrimmon to exchange all of his Brandon currency for Vegas gold but his influence could help. If he believes Patrick is worth trading future assets for, I’m sure his boss will listen. George McPhee wouldn’t just trade up for a splash, but we have to imagine McCrimmon’s opinion is heavily valued by the GM. Conspiracy nuts like myself and Alex Jones expect lottery shenanigans leading to Vegas magically getting the first pick, but the possibility of drafting four to six is real if the odds are legit.

McPhee will be having very serious conversations with all 30 GMs in the near future so he’ll know (he might already) what the price of moving up will be. Analysts like Craig Button and Bob McKenzie are both down on this year’s draft but that doesn’t mean a team will make trade-swapping easy on Vegas.

Now that we know the situation, we have to ask the obvious question, is trading up for Nolan Patrick is even worth it? The projected number one pick’s numbers are silly over the past three plus seasons in Brandon. In 28 games this season, the right-handed center has 42 points. Last year he posted 102 points in 72 games with a rating of +51. Out of Patrick’s 18 goals this season only a few are assisted by Duke. While both centers play many shifts on separate lines, they continuously show up together on Brandon’s lethal power play unit. The Wheat Kings are in the top half of the WHL, scoring 64 PP goals this season. Teaming up on special teams in Vegas could be one reason to reunite Duke and Patrick. 

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A Deeper Look At Duke’s Skills

The Vegas Golden Knights have their very first player, his name is Reid Duke, and he’s just as excited as his new fanbase. The 21-year-old is currently on a whirlwind media tour that started with yesterday’s hour long media call, he joined a host of radio shows including our friends Tyler Bischoff and Coach Jim Bolla (interview begins at 39:15), and will join Ken today at 5pm on KXNT. The Brandon Wheat King forward spoke like an old pro, spitting back mature responses to the various questions we threw out at him. Now we know his age, his stats, his contract, but what should we expect from Duke on the ice with the Golden Knights?

Most hockey analysts immediately praised GM George McPhee on his first player acquisition. From all accounts the Wheat King had been scouted by many clubs over the past five seasons. Two-way forwards are incredibly valuable to an NHL team and could be one reason Vegas targeted Duke. During yesterday’s call, the young forward stressed the importance of becoming an effective all-around type player.

Friend of the site and Brandon Sun reporter Perry Bergson, covers the Wheat Kings and has seen Duke play on a consistent basis. The Sun reporter emailed me a few notes on Duke. Bergson was fair on his assessment giving positives and some negatives… but to appease Ken’s ridiculous expectations (he’s being sarcastic, relax) we will hold the negatives till later.

He’s a good player. He has a terrific toe drag and shot. He’s a thick kid who plays a heavy game. Very personable and mature. -Perry Bergson, Brandon Sun

Another good indication of Duke’s talent is Assistant GM McCrimmon’s desire to acquire him… again. In 2014, McCrimmon pulled off a lopsided deal to bring Duke to Brandon. After the trade McCrimmon was ecstatic saying it was “a major trade for our hockey club” and that Brandon picked up “a tremendously-talented forward with an excellent pedigree potential.” McCrimmon yesterday sounded like he’s still as impressed with Duke as he was back in 2014.

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McPhee Likes Deadline Deals, Expect To See Plenty Of Them Next Year

Last week on with our friends at The Vegas Hockey Hotline, George McPhee discussed his thoughts on the trade deadline. At the time the payment wasn’t official so McPhee couldn’t get into specifics but Brian asked him a question about motivation to make a trade. McPhee seemed to be a strong advocate of making deadline moves even if the general manager didn’t necessarily think a deal was needed.

Sometimes you may not feel like you need anything else for your club but your players are expecting something to happen. So psychologically, you’re trying to help them. So you might add something just so they feel like you have even more ammunition. George McPhee, Vegas Hockey Hotline

It makes complete sense with the length, body stress, and travel of a 82 game season, players seemingly assume extra help to push them towards the finish line. Other teams need to break up the trending slide of a disappointing season. Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher joined TSN Montreal this week to explain the emotions players go through during the deadline period. Gally told TSN the trade deadline can be fun to pay attention to.

Probably follow it, just kinda see what goes on around the league and our team. It’s kinda exciting to watch from a different perspective. It’s definitely something that’s on our minds. -Brendan Gallagher, TSN 690

The pesty Canadian sounded like a fan sitting around on the couch all day watching NHL Network. He was excited his team made deals to bring Steve Ott and Brendan Davidson to Montreal.

The good side of that is we don’t lose a roster player we’re just adding guys to our group. You know, that’s always exciting when you get ready for a playoff push. – Brendan Gallagher, TSN 690

Clearly, McPhee and Gallagher are on the same page. The GM is aware players are expecting something to get done. It sounds like a good way to motivate a team late in the season. Which is why we should expect deadline deals annually in Las Vegas. In Washington, McPhee engineered 15 deadline trades, and two midseason deals. That’s 17 straight years McPhee added players to his roster during the season via trade. I can only assume he’ll use that same strategy with the Golden Knights roster. We can expect McPhee to make deals regardless of Vegas’ standings in the Western Conference playoff race. Next year especially, when they likely aren’t headed to the Cup Finals, building for the future will include assets McPhee accrues making trades with contenders.

So, don’t get too attached to the players on the opening night roster. McPhee will find value in each player he acquires to build the Golden Knights roster long term. That means, any of them could be trade bait next season. Maybe, tell your kid to wait a year or two before putting a players name on the back of that new VGK jersey. Or better yet, let’s just fill the stadium with #17 Foley jerseys. (Sorry Ken, The Creator is just too long to put on a sweater)

Deadline Moves Directly Affecting Expansion Lists

The old fax machine that receives official trade paperwork has officially thrown in the towel. Hopefully, the 90’s Brother fax machines have been donated and the NHL is fully state-of-the-art. Maybe it’s so modern, that a hologram Gary Bettman accepts each deal with team GMs. If that’s the case, poor hologram Bettman must be tired from filing deadline trades. Some moves are headline grabbing like the Capitals going all in on Kevin Shattenkirk, while most of the others are page fillers. Some trades could’ve confused hologram Bettman, even Vlade Divac wouldn’t have traded a highly rated prospect like Jonathan Dahlen for Alex Burrows. Questionable trades or not the league still has to confirm the transactions.

Also, over the past few days the Vegas Golden Knights have effected some minor moves that don’t get headlines. Small deals and extensions that only Vegas GM George McPhee would react to. Here are two expansion impacted moves that might have gone under the radar.

The first move was a rare player for player deal. Montreal shipped underwhelming center David Desharnais to Edmonton for 25 year-old defenseman Brandon Davidson. Desharnais could be the only guy who gets booed more than Bettman at the Bell Centre. The 30 year-old center has disappointed Habs fans since he signed a $14M deal. Davidson was an underused blue liner that was on his way out of Edmonton anyways. Many believed Davidson would draw attention from the Golden Knights which could’ve forced Edmonton’s hand. The move worked well for Montreal, in fact they were willing to retain 20% of Desharnais’ contract to trade for Davidson. Former QMJHL scout and analyst Simon Boisvert praised Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin but didn’t understand Edmonton’s rush.

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