According to Yuriy Nikolayev, the agent that represents Nikita Gusev in Russia, a deadline has been set. If the Golden Knights do not sign or trade Gusev by this date, the Russian forward will return to the KHL.
Vegas hasn’t traded forward Nikita Gusev to another club yet, although I know there have been offers. I am constantly in touch with a company representing Nikita’s interests in North America. Vegas knows Nikita’s preferences and wishes. Now the ball is on their side. The rights to Gusev in the KHL belong to SKA St. Petersburg. There is a certain deadline, after which I will be forced to go to specific negotiations with the “army” club (SKA St. Petersburg). –Yuriy Nikolayev to Championat.com
Gusev’s North American agent is J.P. Barry of CAA. It is common for Russian players to have different agents for each league. One to represent them in the NHL and another to represent them in the KHL.
Whenever news comes out of agents it is important to consider motive. First and foremost, the agents are looking out for the best interest of their client. Gusev clearly wants to play in the NHL and it appears both Nikolayev and Barry are trying to make that a reality.
However, there’s always a purpose behind a threat. Nikolayev mentioned a specific date (would be nice if we knew that date) at which he will be “forced” to start negotiating with SKA St. Petersburg. Whether that date is something set by the KHL or if it’s been arbitrarily set by Gusev’s camp it certainly feels like another negotiation ploy to put even more pressure on the Golden Knights.
Then there’s money. If Gusev signs in the NHL, does Nikolayev get any compensation? Does he benefit more financially if Gusev signs again in the KHL? These are questions I do not currently have answers to but certainly could impact the decision for Nikolayev to put out this threat.
Yet again, the Nikita Gusev saga continues to get more and more complicated and there seems to be no end in sight.
In 2000, both the Wild and Blue Jackets passed over Martin St. Louis. He went on to score 391 goals and put up over 1,000 points before being elected into the Hall of Fame. In 1993, Dominik Hasek was there for the Ducks and Panthers. He went on to win six Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies, two Stanley Cups, and become one of the best goalies ever before he was elected into the Hall.
In every Expansion Draft through the history of sports, there’s at least one. One big name that slipped through the cracks and would have changed everything for the new team that didn’t take him.
It’s been just over three years since the Golden Knights announced their expansion roster dealing with the best rules any expansion team had ever seen. They amassed tons of extra picks, selected multiple diamonds in the rough like William Karlsson and Nate Schmidt, and they even got themselves a superstar in Marc-Andre Fleury.
There were misses though. Ranked in order, here are the most influential misses from the 2017 Expansion Draft. (I ranked them in order from most to least influential.)
Colorado Avalanche VGK Pick: Calvin Pickard (traded for Tobias Lindberg and 2018 6th Round pick which became Peter Diliberatore) Exposed: Carl Soderberg
Since not being selected in the Expansion Draft, Soberberg has amassed 86 points in 159 games. Only four Golden Knights have reached at least 86 points in the two-year history of the team (Marchessault, Karlsson, Tuch). Soderberg also received Selke votes in 2018-19. The $4,750,000 cap hit would have been a bit tricky on the Golden Knights, but a player like Soderberg certainly seems exponentially more valuable than what Vegas got out of Pickard.
Yeah, I feel that way too, Will. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
The Buffalo Sabres have the kicked “No Goal,” the Oakland Raiders have the “Tuck Rule,” and the English national soccer team has the “Hand of God.” Those moments will live forever for the fan bases of each respective team, and unfortunately three months ago the Golden Knights joined the club.
The controversial #NotAMajor call on Cody Eakin opened the door for the San Jose Sharks to recover from a 3-0 deficit to score four goals on a phantom five-minute penalty call. There’s no debating it, the call was wrong and without it, the Golden Knights would have won Game 7 and been off to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
But, as easy as it is to say that, it’s just as easy to say, “or they could have not allowed four goals inside of the same penalty kill.”
Understandably, Golden Knights fans are probably not rushing to the film room to take another look at exactly what happened, and admittedly I wasn’t either. But, after 88 days, it was finally time for me to figure out what the hell actually happened. How in the world did the Golden Knights, a team that had never allowed two goals on the same power play, a team that has killed penalties at an 81% clip, and a team who killed 26 of 29 (90%) in the series, allow FOUR on the same power play?
Let’s start from the top.
**For the sensitive and/or squeamish, I did my best to cut the clips as tightly as possible to avoid watching the puck go in the net and the celebration. You’re welcome.**
Goal #1 (0:06 of PK elapsed)
Paul Stastny loses a draw clean to Tomas Hertl who wins it directly back to Erik Karlsson. However, the Golden Knights get into their penalty killing shape pretty quickly and take away any dangerous shot lane for Erik Karlsson. Nonetheless, Erik Karlsson rips a shot directly into the legs of Stastny and Hertl. It’s a terrible shot, it could have easily bounced somewhere else and Vegas cleared it, but, it didn’t. Instead, it bounced directly to a Shark. Stastny couldn’t find it quickly enough to stop the cross-ice pass. Then, the only line of defense is Deryk Engelland. He kneels down for a block, but Logan Couture shoots high. Marc-Andre Fleury never fully gets across. He’s made that save before and it would have been a hell of a save, but on that one, it snuck through.
Really, there’s no one to blame on this one. Maybe you can make the argument Engelland could have done more to block the shot. Maybe you can argue Fleury could have made the save. Both are fair, but harsh. For me, this is a bad bounce on a well-defended shot that leads to a team playing a man down looking like they are a man down.
James Holzhauer is a genius. He won 32 games of Jeopardy amassing $2,462,216 worth of prize money. He completely changed the way the game is played with a new strategy of selecting clues as well as betting big on Daily Doubles.
Jeopardy James is also big Golden Knights fan. After moving from Naperville, Illinois, Holzhauer came to Vegas to become a professional sports gambler. Now, he believes he could be of assistance to the Golden Knights front office.
They have access to so much more data than I do. Honestly, my hockey betting models aren’t super sophisticated, but I really think if they brought me on board I could do something for them, I just don’t know what yet. -James Holzhauer
Many baseball executives have said they believe Holzhauer could succeed in the world of baseball analytics, but we’re thinking hockey might be a better option.
The world of hockey analytics is still fairly new and there’s about to be an explosion of data coming to the teams as the NHL introduced puck/player tracking. Holzhauer would be the perfect person to add to the Golden Knights organization to sort through the data and find usable pieces to help make the team better.
I asked Holzhauer how he would solve the Golden Knights cap situation. He passed on the question saying he doesn’t have enough info to know how to help.
I really like the roster they have but hockey is such a random sport you never know what’s going to happen. -Holzhauer
Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m a genius, but if you ask me, the real genius should be around the Golden Knights when the new data is released. If anyone can figure out what to do with it, it’s him, and it might be the next secret weapon for a team that seems to turn everything they touch to gold.
When the Golden Knights hit the ice again for real on October 2nd, there will be a rookie defenseman wearing steel grey and gold.
With the departure of Colin Miller, George McPhee confirmed as much and the candidates to win the job are Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jake Bischoff, and Jimmy Schuldt.
Schuldt was the only one of the five who played for the Golden Knights in 2018-19. Of course, it was just one game, but Schuldt’s impact was certainly felt and it was his first chance to stake claim to the job he likely has the inside track to winning.
For those who’ve forgotten, Schuldt was an undrafted free agent who signed out of St. Cloud State following his senior year. He was a Hobey Baker finalist in each of his final two seasons and put up 118 points and 38 goals over his 156 games as a Husky (the most ever by a defenseman in program history). Schuldt was highly sought after as 30 of the 31 teams reportedly offered him a contract out of college.
Schuldt’s one and only game was the final game of the regular season at the Staples Center in LA against the Kings. He played 21:03, tallied one assist, recorded one shot, and racked up a -1 rating. He took 22 total shifts in that game and recently I went back and watched them all.
Obviously, one game, especially a player’s first career NHL game, is not enough to judge a player, but for Schuldt, it’s all we’ve got and Gerard Gallant was not shy to use him.
Schuldt’s offensive game is what stuck out most over the course of his 22 shifts making positive offensive plays on more than half of them. It was the other end that was a little shaky. Let’s start with the good though.
The most memorable play was the one that put him on the scoresheet. A pass from the high slot perfectly onto Valentin Zykov’s stick set up an easy tap in goal and the first point of Schuldt’s NHL career.
The pass is beautiful, but the pinch before it might be just as influential on the play. Schuldt reads the rebound and jumps up the ice to win to the puck and keep it alive. His pinching ability on the game was excellent only failing to win the puck once.
His offensive positioning was a little more aggressive than the Golden Knights blueliners usually use though. A number of times he was caught too low in the zone and the defenseman was able to either pass or chip the puck around/over him to start breakouts. None of them led to goals, but there were a few moments in which a transition break was started and Schuldt was left behind.
His next best play came on a defensive zone draw which was one cleanly to him.
Schuldt nicely loses the attacker before pushing the puck up to Brandon Pirri. Then, continuing through the play, Schuldt collects a turnover and knocks a nice little backhand pass to Pirri creating a scoring chance. That’s the exact type of play Gallant and Ryan McGill like to see out of Golden Knights defenseman. Schuldt moves the puck quickly and safely to start a transition chance and creates an extra option in the offensive zone when then puck is turned over. Very Nate Schmidt esque.
Hockey can be a cruel sport. Sometimes a team dominates the game but a bounce here or there costs them a win. Other times a team can be getting smoked but their goalie stands on his head and keeps him in it.
It’s almost astounding how often in the game of hockey that the scoreboard and the stat sheet doesn’t match up. Whether you are looking at shots, Corsi, Fenwick, chances, PDO or anything else, from game to game, stats lie.
It’s why many times after losses Gerard Gallant steps to the podium and says something like “we played well but…” or “if we keep playing like that…” sending a positive message despite his team dropping the game.
Over the course of 60 minutes, the better team loses a lot. Over the course of seven games, it happens from time to time. Over the course of a season, or even multiple seasons, stats usually don’t lie.
One of the biggest challenges that #NotAMajor has thrown the Golden Knights, and its fans, is an inability to fairly compare the two teams from Year 1 to Year 2. While the 17-18 Golden Knights went to the Cup Final and nearly completed the fairy tale, there’s a strong argument that the 18-19 team was better. But, since they were bounced in the first round it’s tricky to compare the teams.
There’s a fairly new stat bouncing around the hockey world called “expected goals” which could help not only sort out the difference between the first two teams, but also predict the future of the 2019-20 team. What expected goals calculates is how often a team should have scored compared to how often they actually did. It’s based on shot location compared to the league average. The closer the shot to the net, the better chance it has to go in.
The stat is measured in “expected goals for,” “expected goals against,” and then a difference is calculated based on the actual numbers that were scored and allowed.
Expected Goals Against
As you can see, the Year 2 Golden Knights should have scored much more, but didn’t.
On Wednesday the Vancouver Canucks signed Micheal Ferland to a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.5 million per year. Ferland is winger who plays a 200-foot game, forechecks hard, plays in all situations, and has the ability to play up and down a lineup.
Fast forward to free agency, when Ferland was looking for a new contract as a UFA, and somehow, once again, the Golden Knights were in the mix.
I like Ferland, the only question you have about him is his health, his injuries, but there was a lot of interest in him. I heard Calgary was in on him, I heard Vegas was in on him, someone told me St. Louis was very interested in Ferland and Vancouver gave him the 4th year and they got him. Of all the guys who waited later, I think he was the guy who most teams were interested in. –Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts Podcast
With what money?
Of course, we aren’t sure exactly what the Golden Knights offered, but it’s reasonable to think it was somewhere in the $2-$4 million ballpark. The exact range the Golden Knights are looking at with Nikita Gusev.
If they were willing to sign Ferland, they must have had a plan to make another move to offset the cost against the salary cap.
It makes sense why the Golden Knights would be interested as he’s essentially a safer Gusev. He’s done it year in and year out, plus he’s much more of a stylistic fit for Gerard Gallant than Gusev appears to be. But again, if they had an interest in him, there must be a blueprint to sign a 3rd line wing between the range of $2-$4 million.
Signing Ferland would have almost certainly meant the departure of Gusev, but missing out may signal something else. The offseason now rolls on, and the Gusev situation just keeps getting weirder and weirder without any conclusion seemingly in sight.
Nikita Gusev’s contract resolution is the great mystery of the 2019 offseason. Reportedly, both sides would like a two-year deal with Gusev looking for $4 million per year and the Golden Knights wanting $2 million.
He’s arguably the best hockey player in the world to have never stepped foot on NHL ice. He might be Vadim Shipachyov. He might be Nikita Kucherov. He’s probably somewhere in between.
His situation is unique though as he’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. However, his ability (willingness) to return to the KHL leaves the Golden Knights in danger of walking away with nothing if a deal is not reached.
The eventual outcome of the negotiation will likely determine where Gusev ends up playing next season. If it’s closer to $2 million, he’s probably a Golden Knight, but if it’s pushing $4 million, he might end up being sent away via trade.
Since June 1st, 18 players have signed NHL contracts between $2-4 million AAV. They range from ages 22 to 35 including RFAs, RFAs with arbitration rights, and UFAs.