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Author: Ken Boehlke Page 1 of 144

Hunt Trade’s Impact On Zykov, Rest Of VGK Roster

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights moved up one round in the 2019 Draft essentially giving away Brad Hunt for next to nothing. The move has much more impact on the roster than next to nothing though.

First, the trade opens a roster space for the time being. With Reilly Smith and William Carrier on IR and the Golden Knights roster at the limit of 23, the move of Hunt brings that number down to 22. Thus, when either Smith (maybe as soon as Wednesday) or Carrier are ready to return, no other corresponding move will be necessary. When the other one is ready to return, another move will be needed.

Second, this trade appears to further cement Valentin Zykov on the Golden Knights roster. Zykov has played in just one game and it was in an “emergency” situation as the Golden Knights literally did not have any other forwards available. Zykov was picked up for a reason and odds are the Golden Knights are probably not going to give up on him having seen just one game and a handful of practices.

After Wednesday’s game, which Zykov will probably not play in, the Golden Knights are off for almost two weeks. Smith is almost assuredly going to be ready on February 1st and Carrier who has been out with an illness will likely be back as well. Therefore, the final roster decision will likely be made before Zykov plays again.

Gallant said there was “no pressure” to use Zykov before the bye week and went on to say, “he’ll get his chance eventually.” There’s quite a bit of reading between the lines going on, but it would certainly be a bit of a surprise to me if Zykov is the one to go when the bye ends.

Finally, the Golden Knights now only have seven defensemen on the roster. Historically, meaning through more than 130 regular season games, they prefer to carry eight. So, the obvious first thought (at least to anyone who reads this website) would be Erik Brannstrom. It’s certainly possible down the road, but with the roster clutter remaining as is, it’s highly improbable he gets the call in the next few weeks. If there’s an injury, things could change though and there’s no question moving Hunt increases Brannstrom’s odds of seeing NHL ice this season.

That being said, McPhee probably will eventually bring up another defenseman to fill that hole, even if it’s after the roster expands on February 25th. It might be Brannstrom, at least for nine games, or it might be Jake Bischoff, Nic Hague, or Zach Whitecloud. Or, there could be another trade in the works before the deadline. However, something will change on the blueline, even if it’s nothing major.

So all in all, while it may seem like a fairly insignificant move, eventually something had to happen and McPhee at least turned it into something. Clearly, as the Wild were willing to make a trade to get him, Hunt would not have cleared waivers. From a hockey perspective, it’s always better to get something to move on from Hunt even if the return was peanuts.

As for Hunt, this is a good situation for him as he should step right into the Wild lineup, at least while Matt Dumba is injured. He will be missed in Vegas much more for his personality than his hockey (and that’s not to say he’s bad at hockey). Brad was always the nicest, most positive, person in the locker room and in the community. Last year Steve Carp wrote a terrific article illustrating this point wonderfully.


(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have traded defenseman Brad Hunt and a 6th round pick for a 5th round pick in the 2019 Draft. The Wild have multiple 5th round picks (their own and Washington’s), Vegas will get the better pick.


A sloppy 1st period in which only 11 total shots on goal were taken resulted in a 1-0 lead for Vegas on a PP goal from Alex Tuch. A missed wide-open net on a rolling puck by Brandon Pirri kept VGK from going up 2-0. Then the Wild got going as they scored two straight to take the lead. A terrific passing display by Paul Stastny led to a Max Pacioretty goal which knotted it back up. A scramble play in the Golden Knights end led to the go-ahead goal for the Wild and Vegas could not rebound. The loss moves them to 1-4-0 against the Wild all time.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena.

  • What is going on with Zykov if he’s not going to get into a game?

Ken’s Three Stars
*** Colin Miller
** Jonathan Marchessault
* Devan Dubnyk


Pittsburgh started out the period on fire controlling the game and peppering Marc-Andre Fleury’s net. They got on the board first, but then the Golden Knights got hot and scored three straight, including two in under a minute and had multiple other chances. It didn’t take long into the 2nd for Pittsburgh to storm back in as they tied it early. Then, a reviewed goal that went in Vegas’ favor on a Penguin PP seemed to ignite the Golden Knights. A misplay by Casey DeSmith led to Jonathan Marchessault’s first goal, he then tallied another to restore the two goal lead heading to the 3rd. The game cleaned up a bit defensively in the 3rd as William Karlsson got on the board for the first time in a while. Marchessault sealed it with the empty netter to become the 2nd player in VGK history to score a hat trick.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Pittsburgh Penguins at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Carp on Miller’s return

Ken’s Three Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** Colin Miller
* Jonathan Marchessault

SinBin Radio – CBS Sports Radio 1140 – 1/19/19

We talk about the timing of the bye week, “the lineup” holding out Zykov, power play woes, and quite a bit more.

You can listen to our show every Saturday from 10-11am on 1140 AM or streaming live on the app. All shows will be archived as well.

Attend The 2nd Annual Wine On Ice

The 2nd annual “Wine on Ice” event to support the Jr. Golden Knights is literally headed on the ice. While last year’s event took place in the lobby of City National Arena, this year attendees will gather on the ice at T-Mobile Arena.

The event is Saturday, February 23rd from 6-9 PM. It’s $100 per person and all of the proceeds benefit the Jr. Golden Knights.

Last year, the Jr. Golden Knights provided more than 20 scholarships to players in financial need. The JrVGK are also sending 3 teams to National championship tournaments. The Bantam AA, Midget AA, and high school teams will go to Nationals in April, and two teams are headed to international tournaments. The Squirts AA are attending the Squirt international tournament in Fargo and the nationally ranked (#11 in the country) Pee Wee AA are competing in the Pee Wee international tournament in Quebec.

The money raised from the “Wine on Ice” event helps to fund all of these great endeavors and continues to build the game of hockey in Las Vegas.

Aside from wine and appetizers, the event promises to be a unique experience mirroring some of the excitement of the game experience with music and emcee Nick Grismondi all while allowing the fans to be “on” the ice.

Last year’s event was an absolute blast and this one should be even bigger and better. Only 500 tickets are available and they’ll likely sell out fairly quickly, so don’t wait, get yours now.

Here’s the link to buy tickets. See you there!

Conditioning And Skating Have Changed Pirri’s NHL Outlook

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Scoring goals has never been the knock on Brandon Pirri, he’s always been able to do that. Yet, since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2009 he’s played for five different teams, has cleared waivers twice, and was released from a PTO in Florida prior to last season which led him to Vegas (really, Chicago). The question is, why?

I think the knock on Brandon was he wasn’t a very good defensive player and his skating wasn’t that good. Both of those aren’t an issue right now. His skating has gotten better, he’s gotten stronger, he’s in good shape. –Gerard Gallant on Hockey Central

The first part isn’t anything new, he’s simply always been seen as a defensive liability, but it was the other portion that piqued my interest. It wasn’t just this interview either that Gallant mentioned skating, strength, and conditioning as factors in holding back Pirri. He’s said it in press conferences and in a few other one-on-ones.

So, I asked Pirri, what changed? He said, “everything.” He changed his trainer, he changed how he trained, and he put much more time and effort into “training smart.”

I just feel stronger on my skates, and that’s everything. I’m not a big guy so I can’t outmuscle guys, so I find myself anticipating and getting body position which works to my favor. -Brandon Pirri

Gallant agrees.

He looks like a more confident player, his whole game has gotten better. I don’t know if he’s any stronger physically but he’s in good shape and he’s playing good hockey. -Gallant

Pirri has rapidly risen from fill-in to waiver yo-yo to a bonafide top-six forward for the Golden Knights and it’s all happened within a month. Gallant has even compared him to Jonathan Marchessault, who was a later bloomer himself, not getting his start in the NHL for good until he was 26.

Read More Podcast #139: The C Word

Steve Carp joins the podcast to talk about the roster crunch, the trade deadline, and so much more. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • When everyone is healthy (likely out of the bye), who goes on waivers?
  • Is this Golden Knights team currently good enough to win the Stanley Cup?
  • Can they even make a trade?
  • Winning the division vs. learning more about your roster
  • Qute

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

The Nate Effect

This dude is a #1 defenseman in the NHL Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s a theme floating around VGK land that goes something like this… “The Golden Knights are 3-9-0 against the top 10 teams in the NHL, are they really that good?”

Technically, this stat is correct. Aside from wins over Washington, Calgary, and San Jose, the Golden Knights have been quite miserable against high-quality competition. However, there’s an important caveat that’s missing to the theme. That caveat’s name is Nate Schmidt.

While I was in Arizona for the home game against the Coyotes at Gila River Arena, I asked Gerard Gallant when he thought his team turned the corner. His answer was when Nate came back. (I forgot to press start on my recorder so I don’t have the full quote, but I remember it wasn’t great except for the overall premise so I decided not to take the time to track it down. Just believe me, he said Nate, or something like that.)

If you use the same stat since Schmidt’s return, the Golden Knights are 3-4-0 (.429) in the same category (with a pair of wins against the Islanders, 12th, just missing the cut). Thus, they were 0-5-0 (.000) against the current top 10 in the NHL without Schmidt.

I expanded the stat to include all playoff teams. Vegas is 8-11-1 (.425) against the 15 teams currently holding playoff spots. They are 6-4-1 (.591) with Schmidt, 2-7-0 (.222) without him.

It’s not hard to see that the Golden Knights are a different team with #88 in the lineup. During Schmidt’s suspension, the Golden Knights were 8-11-1 (.425), had a -8 goal differential, and averaged just 2.5 goals per game. Since his return, they’re 20-6-3 (.741), have a +24 goal differential, and are averaging 3.34 goals per game.

They’ve beaten Calgary, San Jose, Washington, Dallas, Colorado, and the Islanders twice while falling by on the road to Calgary, Columbus, and Winnipeg and at home to San Jose. (Oh, and if you are into this sort of thing, they outplayed Winnipeg and San Jose in those losses.) Vegas is a whopping 10-1-2 (.846) at home with Schmidt and have improved their road record significantly from 3-8-0 (.272) to 10-5-1 (.656).

All the while, in the 29 games with Schmidt, VGK has missed Schmidt’s BFF Erik Haula for all 29, Paul Stastny for 13, Colin Miller for 13, Max Pacioretty for 9, and Reilly Smith for 4. Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Tomas Nosek, and William Carrier have all missed time too.

Stats can always be diced up any way you wish, but the fact remains, the Golden Knights are a damn good hockey team when Nate is in the lineup… no matter who or where they are playing.

Latest On Nikita Gusev’s Future In The NHL

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nikita Gusev is a 26-year-old Russian forward, right-handed, 5’10”, 181 pounds. He currently leads the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in scoring with 59 points in 48 games. Last year, he was the runner-up in points in the KHL, just one behind now LA King Ilya Kovalchuk. He also won the KHL’s Golden Stick last year, which is awarded to the MVP of the league and has a great chance of winning it again.

Nikita Gusev is also NHL property of the Vegas Golden Knights. The rules are a bit fuzzy, but from our understanding, because Gusev was drafted (by Tampa Bay in 2012) and has never signed an entry-level contract he remains Vegas property indefinitely.

Gusev’s contract in the KHL expires at the end of this season, which could mean it is time for him to make the leap to the NHL. Last week, on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, George McPhee was asked how confident he was that Gusev will end up playing for the Golden Knights.

Well, we’re not sure about that. It’s never really clear, it’s never that easy when you have players over in Russia. It’s just never easy. Sometimes you get them to come over, it isn’t very often that they never come over, but sometimes it takes a while. I can’t give you a straight answer on that because I don’t know, there’s always a little bit of a mystery to dealing with Russian players. -McPhee

Gusev is an elite offensive talent with incredible vision on the ice. He dominated the Olympics helping Russia win the gold medal, he’s torn up the KHL over the past four seasons, and he became just the fourth player to win the Golden Stick, joining current Dallas Star Alexander Radulov who won it four times, and KHL legends Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov.

If Gusev decides to come to the NHL next season, he instantly projects among the Golden Knights top six forwards and could be a massive offensive boost.

In August, McPhee traveled to Russia where he took in an SKA St. Petersburg preseason game. He also reportedly visited with another Russian prospect, Vladimir Tkachyov. When he returned, I asked about Gusev again.

We’re hoping he will (come to the NHL). We’ve had some conversations and it sounds like it’s something that he would like to do but we will see what next year brings. -McPhee on 9/6/18

Nothing will happen on the Gusev front until at least May, but while you keep your fingers crossed, enjoy a highlight reel and try to keep from drooling too much.

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