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Author: Ken Boehlke Page 2 of 192

Connor Corcoran A Rising VGK Prospect

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights drafted Connor Corcoran in the 5th round of the 2018 Draft he was widely considered a defense-first defenseman. A bigger kid standing 6’2″ at around 190 pounds, Corcoran was most known for his gap control and poise on the puck in his own end but the offensive side of the game had not really shone through.

Two years later, that label probably needs to be thrown in the trash can after Corcoran put up the best offensive season of his career with 19 goals and 35 assists in 62 OHL games while remaining solid in his own end. He finished in the top 10 in the league in points and 4th overall in the OHL in goals this season. In fact, Corcoran scored more goals himself than every other defenseman on his team combined, and it wasn’t close (19 to 12.)

Corcoran actually started his OHL career with a familiar face to the Golden Knights. When he joined the Spitfires in 2016, the head coach in Windsor was Rocky Thompson. The future Wolves coach allowed Corcoran to play both forward and defense before moving him full-time to D.

Playing D this year I really liked it. So I’m hoping I’ll be able to step in as a two-way D, play on the penalty kill, chip in a bit on the power play, but I’d say (the plan is to) stick to D. -Corcoran on 6/24/18

Obviously the Golden Knights believed the progression would come and it absolutely has with Corcoran taking the massive leap offensively this season. He plays a physical game, skates well, and clearly the offensive side to playing D has started to flash.

Corcoran says he models his game after current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen, a player who has put up 25 points in seven straight seasons while averaging more than 22 minutes a night.

A right-handed two-way defenseman that plays in every situation and adds offense consistently, Corcoran is exactly what the Golden Knights need coming up through the system.

Using the current calendar (which may change due to the hiatus), Vegas only owns Corcoran’s rights until June 1st of this year. With the steps he took in his second season after being drafted, you can bank on the Golden Knights finding a way to sign him to an entry-level deal soon and Corcoran to be pushing for a spot inside of his old coach’s lineup for the AHL team heading to Vegas/Henderson next year.

While the Golden Knights are still waiting to really receive some major impact from a rookie at the NHL level, the bottom of McPhee and McCrimmon’s draft classes continue to impress. They may not have the next superstar in the system, but consistently hitting on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks is one way to keep the cupboard stocked, and the Golden Knights appear to be on the right track in doing that with Corcoran. Podcast #190: Pause

We discuss the effects of the coronavirus and the pause on the Golden Knights. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • The Pause
  • Positivity vs Negativity
  • Jack Dugan
  • Playoff options
  • Thank you to our sponsors.

And much more…

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

Carp: Turning A Negative Into A Positive

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

There’s been so much to process this week with the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on our daily lives. In my regular job as editor of Gaming Today, our world is changing by the hour as casinos shut down parts of their operation, people are being paid off and the Las Vegas economy goes in the tank. It’s hard to stay on top of the news and frankly, it’s extremely depressing.

Not having hockey to watch and cover is also depressing. I won’t lie to you, I miss going to T-Mobile Arena to watch the Golden Knights and I miss the NHL in general.

But ultimately, this negative can be a huge positive, both for the team and its fans. Ken touched on it the other day when he correctly pointed out that the hiatus will allow Vegas’ injured players to heal up and be ready for the resumption of the season.

Let’s face it, the prospects of going to Minnesota Thursday and Colorado Sunday without Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty would have been bleak, especially given that every game is so critical. But with that no longer being a concern, they, along with Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson and every other player who is dealing with aches and pains, have time to recover and get themselves ready to return to the ice.

Of course, the other 30 NHL teams have that luxury too. But I would not worry about that if I were you. Your focus is on your team and this is a good thing.

It’s also a chance for newcomers Robin Lehner, Alec Martinez and Nick Cousins to get their personal lives together, stabilize their domestic situations and settle in. Imagine how hectic it has been for them changing teams and cities in the middle of the season and how stressful it has been for their families.

They can put this downtime to effective use and get their bearings in Las Vegas.

There’s also the possibility the Knights could get stronger and add more depth to their roster. The NCAA has shut down its hockey season and that means Providence’s Jack Dugan can make a seamless transition from college to pro if he chooses to.

When I talked to Dugan in January before the Fortress Invitational, he made it clear that his intention was to play in the NHL and to do it with the Golden Knights. I would be shocked if he hasn’t already hired an agent and has undergone contract discussions with GM Kelly McCrimmon on an entry-level deal.

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Jack Dugan ELC Could Be Coming Soon

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Though games are halted, the business of hockey continues on. Over the past few days, both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings have signed contracts with draft picks that were playing in the NCAA.

K’Andre Miller (NYR) and Alex Turcotte (LAK) each signed entry-level contracts after their college seasons wrapped up at the University of Wisconsin. Both players’ contracts will begin for the 2020-21 season.

When the NCAA made the decision to cancel the remainder of all winter and spring sports, it meant the end of his sophomore season for Golden Knights prospect Jack Dugan. Dugan led all of college hockey in points and is the favorite to win the NCAA’s top award, the Hobey Baker.

After being selected in the 5th round of the 2017 NHL Draft (142nd overall), Dugan played a season in the USHL before heading off to college. In his two years at Providence, Dugan put up 91 points in 75 games, more than any player in the NCAA over that time.

Dugan said earlier this year that he wants “dominate” the level he’s currently playing at before moving on to the next one. With the points lead in hand and the Hobey Baker soon to follow, it appears he’s accomplished that goal.

Dugan is eligible to play for the Golden Knights this season, assuming it is to resume, as well as during the playoffs. However, if he does so, it will burn up one of the three years of his entry-level contract. With the uncertainty of the current times and the Golden Knights history of “over-cooking” prospects, it’s much more likely that Dugan’s contract would begin in 2020-21. The contract is expected to be a three-year, two-way deal with an NHL salary of around $925,000 AVV and performance and signing bonuses.

Now it’s up to Dugan and the Golden Knights to ink that deal. As long as the league still allows it during the pause, it should come much sooner than later.

Positive And Negative Effects Of Season Suspension For Golden Knights

The NHL season is officially “paused” with the hope that it will resume sometime in the near future. When, or if, that will happen remains a mystery to all as slowing the spread of the virus takes precedence over all else. However, hockey will return at some point, be it in April, May, or much later. The NHL is not gone forever which means the Golden Knights will return to the ice and like every team will feel the effects of the hiatus.


The Golden Knights were set to play in Minnesota with a pretty banged up roster. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty were both on the shelf until at least the end of March, Alex Tuch has been out since February 13th and suffered a set back a few days ago extending the injury, Chandler Stephenson missed a game with a wrist injury but was expected to play yesterday, and Cody Glass had been ruled out for the season after knee surgery.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The hiatus is almost certainly going to last a month, which means aside from Glass, the Golden Knights should be as close to healthy as any team in the league when hockey does indeed return. Every team will benefit from the break but it will have a greater impact on playoff teams who were potentially heading in without a star player or two. Colorado and Tampa Bay stand to gain more than Vegas, but the Golden Knights have to like their chances entering a playoff run as healthy as they’ll likely be whenever this does end.

Schedule Format

There are plenty of potential options the league could use if the season does start back up with a plan to award the 2020 Stanley Cup. For the most part, any option will benefit the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights were going to make the playoffs if the season was played out in full, but now, there’s essentially no format that will keep them out. There are really two options for the NHL.

  • Select playoff teams based on points percentage on March 11th
  • Return for a few regular season games before the playoffs begin

It’ll all depend on timing, but either option has the Golden Knights sitting pretty. As of the pause, Vegas is in 1st place by three points and .021 percentage points over Edmonton. Also, the Golden Knights have moved up to 3rd place in the Western Conference. A few games being added to the regular season could shuffle things at bit, but no matter what, the Golden Knights will be in pretty good shape.

Playoff Format

The NHL playoffs normally take more than two months to complete. The league may not have that kind of time this year. So, there are two choices the NHL can make to shorten that time frame. First, they can remove games from the early rounds. The first round might become a best-of-five, maybe the second round too. Instead of having to win 16 games, maybe it shrinks to only 14. The other option is to tighten up the dates on the games played. Play back-to-backs on the home games or when travel is light. The normal format has at least one day between every game and sometimes two. It takes two weeks to finish a seven-game series. The calendar may dictate needing to wrap series up in 10 days instead.

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NHL Suspends Season Temporarily

The NHL announced today that they will be temporarily suspending the season. The league hopes to resume the season but the situation is fluid.

Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup. -Gary Bettman

The decision to temporarily suspend play due to the COVID-19 pandemic is an appropriate course of action at this time. The NHLPA will continue to closely monitor this very dynamic situation and remain in daily discussions with the league, our medical consultants, and our players regarding all aspects of this matter. The players are looking forward to the opportunity to resume play in front of hockey fans everywhere. -NHLPA

@SinBinVegas Twitter Q&A – March 11th, 2020

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)


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Recap: Without superstar Connor McDavid, Edmonton still managed to score the first goal of the game midway in opening period. Nic Roy tied the contest with 3:02 left in the 1st period.

It was a scoreless second period in Edmonton. Both teams got great goaltending and tight defense to keep things locked up 1-1.

Edmonton broke the tie 6:46 into the 3rd period. Jonathan Marchessault’s 22nd of the season evened the game 2-2 making it a tight finish. After 60 minutes, the game needed an overtime period to decide a victor. Shea Theodore finished the game in OT with his 13th of the season to beat the Oilers 3-2.

Vegas improves to 39-24-8 and maintain sole possession of first place. The team will get a couple of days off to prepare for their game in Minnesota on Thursday night. Game time is scheduled for 5PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It seemed to be headed in the direction of another game where the Golden Knights control play but a few mistake cost them the game. But, a hero stepped up late and his name was Jonathan Marchessault. First, he put one past Koskinen and then in OT his and Karlsson’s forechecking ate up Draisaitl and Bear and set up Theodore for the winner. A heck of a pair of wins back-to-back and the Golden Knights are now in the driver’s seat to win their second division title in three years. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place

  • Babies on the mind. Nosek, Carrier, and Pothier

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Shea Theodore
** William Karlsson
* Jonathan Marchessault

DeBoer’s Deployment Strategy

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night was the biggest game the Golden Knights have played since Pete DeBoer took over as head coach. It wasn’t a “must-win,” but it was certainly one that had a lot more consequence to lose than any of DeBoer’s previous 20.

I once heard a scout explaining why he loved scouting the OHL playoffs. It wasn’t because he wanted to see how the players would perform under pressure, but because of the information that could be gathered by how the coaches used each player. Coaches want to win and they’ll inherently do what is best to help their team do it. If that means playing the best player 28 minutes, so be it. If it means sticking someone else on the end of the bench only to see four shifts in the whole game, it is what it is. Ice time is a direct reflection of trust and trust is the best compliment a coach can give a player.

It’s an overly simplified idea, but it’s surprisingly useful and can be applied to every level of the game. That’s why last night I was so interested in usage, which ended up leading me down a rabbit hole to see how DeBoer rolls his players out on a nightly basis.

In Calgary, the Golden Knights and Flames played 54:16 of 5-on-5 time. Brayden McNabb led all defensemen with 20:58, while Nick Holden brought up the rear with 13:07. DeBoer played his top-four defensemen more than 20 minutes apiece and neither Holden nor Zach Whitecloud crossed the 14-minute mark.

As for forwards, he leaned on his top-nine. The 1st line played around 15 minutes, 2nd played about 14:30, and the 3rd saw about 14. The 4th line played about nine minutes, yet they were able to tally the all-important opening goal.

It’s not all about time though. Deployment can be even more important. Where is the puck when each player starts their shift? Against the Flames, there were 22 offensive zone draws, 23 neutral zone draws, and 12 defensive zone draws.

Remember, any time there’s a faceoff there’s a stoppage in play, so it gives a coach an opportunity to make a line change.

Nate Schmidt and McNabb were on the ice for seven of the 12 defensive zone draws. No other player was out there for more than four. On the flip side, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Holden, and Whitecloud all took 10 of the 22 offensive zone draws, leaving just two for Schmidt and McNabb. Clearly, the Golden Knights have determined that Schmidt and McNabb are the go-to pair when the puck is in the Vegas end.

That’s not surprising. It’s with the forwards that it’s a bit more interesting. The 4th line of Tomas Nosek, Ryan Reaves, and William Carrier led all forwards with eight offensive zone draws. 37% of the offensive zone draws went to the line least known for scoring. Meanwhile, arguably the Golden Knights best offensive players, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, and Nic Roy, were out there for just two of the 22 offensive zone draws. Yet, the line starting in their own zone the most created more shot attempts, more shots on goal, more high danger chances, and more expected goals, while allowing fewer across the board (weighted by minutes played) than the 1st and 3rd lines, while being basically right on par with the 4th line.

This had me wondering, is this normal? Is DeBoer constantly putting the top-six in defensive roles and the 4th line in an offensive one?

The answer is, yes he is.

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Recap: The Golden Knights needed a strong start to their game in Calgary, and they got one. Vegas scored two first period goals giving themselves a 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes. Depth players Tomas Nosek and Nick Holden pitched in offensively to help their team take a two goal lead.

William Karlsson set up Max Pacioretty to extend the lead to 3-0 early in the 2nd period. It was Pacioretty’s 32nd goal of the season and his 8th on the power play. Calgary went on to score two straight goals to get within one. After two periods, the Golden Knights held a 3-2 edge.

Calgary tied the game 3-3 late in the 3rd period. However, Vegas came right back and scored two goals in the closing minutes. The Golden Knights outlasted the Flames 5-3.

Vegas’ record improves to 38-24-8 and sit alone in first place. Their road trip continues tomorrow in Edmonton for an important Pacific Division game. Puck drops at 6PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: For the first time in a while it was the 1st period that ended up being the Golden Knights savior. They controlled play and capitalized on two great chances in the 1st, then rolled it into an awesome start to the 2nd to amass the three goal lead. A few costly mistakes helped Calgary get back in the game, but overall a solid game from start to finish for the Golden Knights and a well-earned division win on the road. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome

  • A dive into usage under DeBoer

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** William Karlsson
** Shea Theodore
* Nate Schmidt

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