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Author: Jason Pothier (Page 1 of 13)

Adam McQuaid Says He Doesn’t Want To Be Drafted By George McPhee

We knew it was coming eventually, but now that it’s here, it hurts just as badly as we thought it might. Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid openly admitted he is not looking forward to June’s expansion draft, and it’s taking everything in me to not want to hate him for it.

It’s totally out of my control, but hopefully, it’s not the case. Adam McQuaid

McQuaid spoke with WEEI in Boston’s Big Bad Blog about the possibility of being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft. Ty Anderson of WEEI asked the eight-year veteran a few questions and you could tell June 21st wasn’t circled on McQuaid’s calendar.

The reality of the situation is they’re picking somebody from every team, so, I hope that’s not the case for me. I’ve won back here and I’ve always said how much I love it back here and I can’t imagine playing for another team. -McQuaid

I reached out to Big Bad Blog’s Ty Anderson and asked him about Darth Quaider’s comments. Here’s part of our conversation we had via text.

It’s somewhat assumed that the Bruins will lose one of Kevan Miller, Colin Miller, or McQuaid to the draft because they don’t really have many impact forwards unprotected, so I just asked him about the possibility of that happening. -Ty Anderson, WEEI Boston

As Anderson mentions in his article, McQuaid’s contract is very manageable at 2years, $2.75M and has the ability to guide a young team. George McPhee constantly talks about players character and strong veteran leadership. McQuaid fits that bill to a tee. The Golden Knights would be thankful to bring in a 30 year-old, right-handed, Cup winning defenseman for under $3M a season. In a way, McQuaid is kind of the perfect fit for Las Vegas. So I pestered Anderson more about McQuaid’s apprehension to play for the Golden Knights.

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Mike Kitchen, VGK Assistant Extraordinaire?

As it stands right now the Vegas Golden Knights are a fully functioning NHL franchise, if you just ignore their roster of one. Vegas is now preparing for the 2017-18 season just like the 22 other teams no longer vying for the Cup. With the head coach Gerard Gallant comfortably in the Zamboni seat, it’s time to add his staff of assistants. The organization will want to add two or three coaches to help direct special teams. Mike Kelly (the other guy in the taxi pictures), Gallant’s assistant in Florida and with the Saint John Sea Dogs, is the leading candidate to become one of those assistants, but there are still other seats to be filled.

In the NHL the assistant coach should be a good source of communication for the head coach and players. A hockey scout explained an assistant coach as the Tom Hagen of the team. The consigliere should always protect the head of the family and be trusted by the soldiers. Consider Gallant as the team Godfather and the soldiers as the players. The assistant coach will communicate the message. The Golden Knights will bring in a coach that should lead by example, communicate clearly and continuously work to improve the club. If that doesn’t describe Hagen, I don’t know what does. He politely told Tessio he couldn’t ‘get him off the hook’ and then sent him off to be killed. Okay, back to assistant coaching, here’s one potential individual who is currently in the sports pages.

Former St. Louis Blues head coach and assistant to Joel Quenneville, Mike Kitchen, was let go yesterday in somewhat of a surprising move.

Sources said Bowman likely fired Kitchen to reassert authority over personnel and send everyone, including Quenneville, a message going into next season. Bowman’s decision to fire Kitchen was also likely a move in self-preservation to pacify a demand for change coming. –Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune

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“Dirty” Players Who Could End Up As Golden Knights

The NHL postseason is emotional for players and fans alike. Players are so charged up and are giving everything they have. Off the ice, rabid fans are losing their voices in packed NHL arenas. The intensity is so high players are throwing their bodies around at full speed, which is why you see occasional dangerous and sometimes nasty hits. In the playoffs these incidents get amplified because of the possible impact. Nazem Kadri’s low check on Alex Ovechkin was the perfect example.

Many, including myself thought the hit was strategic and unjust. Watching it over and over left me furious with Kadri’s obvious motive.

So what do we do if players with a tainted reputation end up in Las Vegas? How can we root for dirty players that potentially suit up for the Golden Knights? Some players made mistakes and have cleaned up their acts and others continue to cheapshot. Let’s be glad Matt Cooke is out of the league.

Matt Calvert

Calvert’s name has made multiple mock drafts, including Fox Sports earlier this month.

If you didn’t know Calvert before the playoffs, I’m sure you do now.

His late attack on Tom Kuhnhackl was clearly malicious and deserved the suspension. Emotions got the better of him, but overall he’s not a repeat offender. Calvert is a decent NHL player and Vegas fans shouldn’t find it difficult to root for.

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Gallant’s The Right Man Today, But Will He Still Be In Four Years?

The Vegas Golden Knights got it right on their first coaching hire. GM George McPhee described Gerard Gallant as an honest man and a good leader. The Creator looked like a proud Papa approving who his GM brought home to dinner (I’ll go along with the analogy, but I still think Ken is weird). Yesterday’s introductory press conference was another big moment for the franchise. Gallant’s hiring is a sign in the right direction, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s room for concern.

My main apprehension with Gallant’s hiring is his strong emphasis on player size. Of course, every team needs to play physical, intimidating hockey but to what extent?

I think it’s harder to build a team that plays a power game the way you built L.A. and the way Boston was. It’s almost easier based on today’s players to build a team that plays faster, that can attack faster offensively but also can attack defensively. -Kevin Weeks, NHL Network

Pittsburgh is the clear example of a team built for today’s pace of game. The Penguins are one of the smallest and least physical teams and yet won the Stanley cup on speed and pressure. And it’s not just the reigning champs. Other teams are evolving to match the speed and pressure of top NHL teams. LA fired Daryl Sutter and his dedication to big, physical play to adopt a more balanced roster. Heck, Florida sent Gallant packing (literally) from Florida for this very reason.

Gallant mentioned multiple times yesterday that size was important to the style of play he coaches.

We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, could move the puck quickly, pressure the puck in all three zones. Gerard and I talked about it. He said he wanted a little bit more size, and we just decided to go in a different direction. Were we on the same page every day of the week? No … philosophy was different. -Tom Rowe, Florida Panthers

If you look at NHL teams average height and weight, you’ll notice it doesn’t necessarily win games. Especially, this season. Scroll through friend of the site and spectacular columnist James Mirtle’s size chart. You’ll notice some of the biggest teams spit the bit this season. Colorado, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Dallas and Buffalo were all in the top five in either weight or height. Playoff teams Pittsburgh, Chicago, Montreal, Ottawa and Boston are all in the bottom percentile of the league in both body measurements. 

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Stop It! Darryl Sutter Isn’t Coming To Vegas

Well, I guess we must go through this again. The same darn conversations followed Claude Julien’s release in Boston. Now, it’s Darryl Sutter, a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach getting the axe in LA. The writing was on the wall for Sutter and now another strong candidate is open to talk with George McPhee. Before we speculate Sutter’s direction, let’s just cut the cord now. Darryl Sutter will not be the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

I feel like I’m that negative uncle you see a few times a year and he’s always just a complete asshat. You know, when you introduce the girl of your dreams and Uncle Sour comments out loud that the last girlfriend was hotter. That’s how I feel. I’m here to deflate people’s excitement, and it sucks, but every once in a while Uncle Sour’s pessimistic brain says something that sticks with you. Let’s hope this is that.

The first and most important reason the Golden Knights won’t hire Sutter is the price tag. The Kings paid the Cup winning coach $3M a year. His starting price is already too pricey for The Creator. With the abundance of jobs and the Babcock trickle-down effect, Sutter could easily make upwards of $4M a season. He will not be offered that much in Las Vegas.

“That’s probably a lot for us. I’ll tell you what we really want. George McPhee’s going to make the call. My call is going to be, is this a guy I can work with feel comfortable with. All the people we have in this organization keep their egos in check they are about winning hockey games or making a successful business. -The Creator on 2/10/17

That’s not enough? You could call Sutter a late bloomer of some sorts. His last five and a half seasons behind the bench were much more successful than his previous 12. Sutter finally tasted the celebration champagne and he’s not ready to rinse his flute. The Golden Knights will not be in position to make a run until Sutter is past 60 years-old. I’m not trying to age-shame anybody but let’s face it, not many coaches over the age of 60 go on to win the Cup. And just stop right now screaming the name Scotty Bowman into your phone as you read this. It’s Scotty effing Bowman for crying out loud, the man is a God D*** legend, and even for him winning at 68 years-old is an amazing story. Badger Bob Johnson was the only other coach to win the cup after 60 in the past 50 years. My point is Sutter won’t wait until he’s collecting Social Security to compete again. Here’s a text Sutter sent last year to Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman before he signed his extension with LA. He doesn’t sound like a coach looking to develop a franchise. 

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Introducing The Vegas Junior Golden Knights

Say hello to the next generation of SinBin.vegas readers, I mean, Golden Knights fans.

The Vegas Golden Knights announced today, April 4, that the team has formed a partnership with the Nevada Storm to create a new youth hockey travel program, the Vegas Junior Golden Knights. The Vegas Junior Golden Knights program will initially feature teams from the mite level through midget and will utilize all three city rinks, including the Golden Knights practice facility, the Las Vegas Ice Center and the SoBe Ice Arena. All existing Nevada Storm teams will be re-branded under the Vegas Junior Golden Knights name. -Press Release

The partnership connects the team with the community more than ever. Now, children in Southern Nevada will have an easier chance to play the game, and wear VGK colors while doing it. Hockey participation will undoubtedly grow in Las Vegas as more kids will want to play like their favorite Knight. We discussed last summer how the Kings and Ducks have done a great job developing their youth and HS leagues. Now Southern California has thousands of kids choosing to skate over other sports. For two decades the Golden State has had constant growth in youth hockey participation.

Courtesy of NHLtoSeattle.com (https://nhltoseattle.com/2016/06/20/usa-hockey-numbers-are-up/)

Hockey participation is up all across the nation and California consistently leads in player growth. It currently ranks #7 in the US for youth or high school programs. Brad Sholl, who was announced as the GM of the Golden Knights new practice facility was very close to Southern California’s youth hockey evolution.

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Second Golden Knight Could Be On The Ice At Thursday’s Frozen Four

It’s been about a month now since Vegas signed first ever player Reid Duke. Not much more was expected but I was hoping Vegas would be in the mix for some college free agents. Well, maybe they still are. Thursday the semi-finals of the Frozen Four take place and one name in particular will be closely watched by Vegas scouts. Defenseman Neal Pionk of the University Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs is quite highly sought after.

Pionk is a new hybrid style defenseman. At 5’10, 170lbs the Minnesota native was passed over a few times because of his small stature. His talent, however, is tough to overlook. Scouts rave about his experience, skating ability, offensive zone presence and physicality. Pionk scored 33 points in 40 games and is a legitimate two-way defenseman. Of course Pionk can turn the puck over but has smart recovery instincts. He’s developed into a major threat on special teams as well. The former Sioux City Musketeer might be small but his speed and skill make up for it. Plus, the UMD Bulldog shoots right-handed. Yep, a right-handed defenseman, one of Don Cherry’s most coveted prospect.

ESPN’s Craig Custance spoke with GM George McPhee earlier this month about the Golden Knights interest in Pionk. McPhee implied Vegas will be in the market for NHL caliber prospects not AHL depth players. We can assume the 21 year-old defenseman is projected for the T-Mobile Arena or McPhee wouldn’t be interested. Nor would 20 other clubs.

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Dreger Drops Some Expansion Protection List Heat

Are the Vegas Golden Knights helping the NHL’s attention and popularity? TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested the positive impact expansion has had on the league could’ve been a reason the NHL decided to reveal expansion lists.

I think they would had to have heard and recognize some of the backlash mostly coming from the media. And maybe the marketing people internally, with the National Hockey League also recognized that this is missed opportunity. You want as many layers of media talking about expansion, the Vegas Golden Knights, speculating, reporting… It just adds another level of excitement. Darren Dreger, TSN

Dreger went on to say public intrigue has been noticeable this season and the NHL wants to continue the ride. Making the expansion draft more fan friendly will only benefit the league’s popularity. Specifically, with the fans of the Golden Knights. Dreger also discussed the reaction some players would have once the expansion list was revealed.

I think there will be players who feel jilted by the fact that their general manager had to make a tough call. There’s definitely going to players unhappy. -Dreger

What’s worse for the jilted player? Being drafted by Vegas or being forced to go back to the team that left you high and dry? Let’s start with the obvious, what drafted player is really going to be pissed to move to Vegas? Sure, Michael Grabner may be sour because the Rangers let him go, but it can’t last long. Between the weather, cost of living, and “entertainment,” most players will be happy they got the call from George McPhee. Plus, most players selected will be happy to play in Las Vegas is because of the clean slate offered here. More ice time and better opportunities don’t come often to a career third or fourth line player. In a sense, Vegas offers each player more than just playing time and low taxes. It’s a chance to make a serious impact in a city without stars like Crosby, Stamkos or Doughty.

Half the fanbase in Las Vegas will know the players and their career. In some cities Dale Weise would get questioned about his underachieving career. In Las Vegas, Weise will be asked if he’s ate at Lindo Michoacán yet. It’s a free pass for everyone with a past. In a way, Las Vegas doesn’t really care about what anyone did before. That alone is enough of a draw for some players to secretly pray to be on the move.

Now other teams may be slightly rocky after the expansion drama. I’m sure the Senators will send Bobby Ryan a care package with potpourri and soft rock mix tapes after McPhee passes. After the expansion draft, 30 other teams will be spending the summer repairing relationships. In Vegas, it’ll be nothing but free lunches, meet and greets and goofy questions from the SinBin.vegas. That alone is a reason any player should embrace expansion.

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.

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