Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play protocol is underway which meant groups of six players were allowed to resume training on the ice at team facilities.
The Golden Knights provided a video of one of those groups including Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden, and Deryk Engelland.
Group sessions are expected to continue for the next six weeks or so until the league re-opens for training camps prior to the 24-team playoff. The target date to start training camps is mid-July while the hope is to start playing games in early August.
The NHL rolled out their plans on how they will conduct the playoffs, the Draft Lottery, and much more. Here’s a quick roundup of what it all means for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 2019-20 regular season is over
Golden Knights officially become Pacific Division Champions
Final four home games are canceled. Ticket office sent out an email to fans with tickets telling them another is coming by the end of the week with information on refunds/credits
Team has begun process of distributing money set aside for arena workers
24 team playoff with eight automatically qualified for the round of 16
Vegas is among the eight to have qualified
Golden Knights will play a round-robin against the other three teams (Colorado, St. Louis, and Dallas) to determine seeding
Two hub cities will be used to host playoff games
Las Vegas was listed among the 10 potential hub cities.
The league made it clear their preference is to have any team from a hub city to NOT play their games in that city. Thus, if Las Vegas is selected, the Golden Knights will likely play in the other hub city.
Every year the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) conducts a poll among more than 500 players asking a wide-ranging variety of topics.
In the Golden Knights’ first season there were just two mentions of Vegas related items in the poll. Last year that number jumped to five. This year takes the cake with seven total Golden Knights mentions.
We’ll start with the team related ones. First, in a bit of a surprise, the Golden Knights were voted to have the second-best jersey in all of the NHL.
Last year T-Mobile-Arena was voted as having the best atmosphere in the league. This year that category was left off, but that didn’t keep Vegas away from the arena related items.
The best individual honor received by a Golden Knight went to Marc-Andre Fleury.
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
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston refuted the Golden Knights being in on Gustafsson but said they do have interest in Toronto’s Tyson Barrie (Source: @BrianBlessing)
The Creator mentioned “secondary moves”, plural, in his recent interview on Vegas Hockey Hotline. They’ve made one since that interview. (Source: Vegas Hockey Hotline)
Former Golden Knight Erik Haula was traded to the Florida Panthers with Lucas Wallmark in exchange for Vincent Trochek. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
This trade triggers the condition on the 2021 Conditional 5th Round Pick the Golden Knights acquired from the Hurricanes in the Vegas/Carolina trade. Vegas will get the Canes 5th in the 2021 Draft. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
The Golden Knights next opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, have acquired Andreas Athanasiou from Detroit. (Source: @GMillerTSN)
GM Kelly McCrimmon will hold a press conference at 3:30 PM today whether the Golden Knights make a move or not. (Source: Golden Knights)
Speaking at the Henderson “State of the City” address, Kerry Bubolz confirmed the location of the new arena for the AHL team.
We’re going to be building a brand new American Hockey League arena on the Pavilion site right here in Henderson. -Kerry Bubolz
The Henderson Pavilion is located on the corner of Paseo Verde Parkway and Green Valley Parkway, across the street from Green Valley Ranch Casino.
We’re looking to build this facility, it’ll be world-class, it’ll be 6,000 seats, it’ll be the perfect size for American Hockey league play. -Bubolz
Bubolz confirmed that the team has already taken over 5,300 refundable deposits for the AHL franchise yet to be officially named.
The Creator did give a slight hint to the name though.
Our AHL team name will include the name of this town, Henderson. -The Creator
The Golden Knights announced yesterday the new AHL will play its home games at Orleans Arena for the 2020-21 season. Our sources indicate that the plan is for the team to play there for two or three seasons while the new arena is being built.
The team name is expected to be Henderson Silver Knights, but it has not been finalized at this time.
A group of five Golden Knights, led by Alex Tuch, have officially opened the first NHL player-owned sports bar in Las Vegas. Deryk Engelland, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore, and Tuch took over Wolfgang Puck’s previous place in Downtown Summerlin, and with the help of Puck and his staff, have opened the “Player’s Locker.”
I brought it to a few different guys on the team. It was guys that I saw were going to be here for a long time. Shea Theodore was one of the first ones I went to. We’re really close and I just wanted other guys that really showed interest. I think we have a really good group and I’m really excited about it. -Alex Tuch
The restaurant had its “soft opening” Saturday and has a grand opening in the works soon. It’s a mix of upscale Wolfgang Puck inspired food with a bar food twist. The menu includes one dish named after each player.
In exchange for selecting Jason Garrison, and his exorbitant contract, in the Expansion Draft, the Golden Knights received a 2nd round pick (which they traded for Keegan Kolesar), a 4th round pick (which they selected Paul Cotter) and Nikita Gusev.
Three assets in exchange for not only taking a bad contract off the hands of a contending team, but also laying off players like Yanni Gourde, J.T. Brown, Andrej Sustr, Slater Koekkoek, and others.
It was a cross between the expansion situations with Columbus and the New York Islanders and that of Minnesota and Florida, but it most resembled the pickle Anaheim found itself in.
With the Ducks, Vegas received Shea Theodore for laying off Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson and picking up the bad contract of Clayton Stoner. Anaheim’s available options were better, but Garrison’s contract was much worse.
So, from Tampa Vegas got a pair of picks and an asset who was sitting over in Russia waiting for the time to come to make the leap to the NHL. No matter when that happened, he would become a Golden Knights.
If you go through every trade Vegas executed at the Expansion Draft, it’s reasonable to believe that Gusev’s value at the Expansion Draft was somewhere between a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick. The exact value depends on how badly Tampa needed to get rid of Garrison’s contract as well as how much they valued their exposed players.
Since that day, George McPhee and the Golden Knights tried to diminish Gusev’s market price, while the Russian has done nothing but raise it. Finally it came to a head yesterday when the Devils sent a measly package of a 2nd and a 3rd round pick to end the Gusev in Vegas saga.
When Vegas acquired Gusev, he had just finished a breakout season putting up 71 points in the 2016-17 season. It was the first time he scored more than 40 points in the KHL. On the international stage he had dominated the World Junior tournament years prior and put up impressive numbers at the World Cup but his track record as short.
Since, he’s won back-to-back KHL MVP’s, broke the record for assists in a season, won a Gold medal, dominated at the IIHF World Championships and cemented himself as the best player outside of the NHL. (Read more about that here.)
In other words, he went from a player who appeared to be headed in the right direction to one who burst into a full fledged superstar everywhere but the NHL. Whatever his stock was in June of 2017, it has surely risen dramatically since.
Then there are the Golden Knights who did the opposite. At every pass, they diminished his value.
Now that the wait is over and fan favorite Deryk Engelland signed his new contract to stay in Las Vegas, it’s time to discuss his future impact. First off, let’s note that Engelland will receive less money in 2019-2020 but will have a chance to make up for it.
Deryk Engelland has re-signed with the Golden Knights for the league minimum of $700,000 with performance bonuses which could reach as high as $1.5 millon.
At 37-years-old you’d assume his overall presence would begin to drop off. After all, his time on ice dwindled from 20:17 ATOI in 2017-18, to 19:53 ATOI in 2018-19. I’m being sarcastic, that’s not much of a difference. Same can be said for his penalty kill minutes, it’s virtually equal to VGK’s first season and I could argue he was as good if not better in 2018-19.
Just take a look at Engelland’s 2019 Postseason penalty killing performance.
Game 1: 4:26 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/5 San Jose Power Plays
Game 2: 9:19 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/8 San Jose Power Plays
Game 3: 4:16 PK Minutes (Team Leader), 1 Goal/3 Power Plays
Game 4: 4:31 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/4 San Jose Power Plays
Game 5: 3:15 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/3 San Jose Power Plays
Game 6: 2:45 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/2 San Jose Power Plays
Game 7: 7:56 PK Minutes (Game Leader), *4 Goals/9 San Jose Power Plays
Total: 36:28 PK Minutes, 5 Goals/34 Power Plays, 0.13 San Jose PPG when Engelland was on the ice.
*You all know why there’s an asterisk
So just on defensive special teams alone, Engelland’s return is a positive one. However, the issue could be on even-strength. How will the Golden Knights coaching staff deploy the elder statesmen this season? Is it possible Jon Merrill, Nick Holden(if still on the roster), or Rookie d-men see more time on 5v5 than in 2018-19. That direction would balance Engelland’s minutes under 18-19 minutes a game. Which could be more beneficial for the team.
A big part of my game is killing penalties-Deryk Engelland
Another element to Engelland’s 2019-2020 usage will be who he is paired up with. Over the past two seasons, it’s been a consistent dose of Engelland and Shea Theodore. I’d assume with the uncertainty of the younger defenseman, that pairing would remain the same to start training camp and the season. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, and frankly I don’t think it will. With the possibility of a rookie in the lineup nightly, Vegas may want to break in the young blueliner with an experienced, reliable defenseman like Engelland. It worked for Theodore.
In a perfect world, Engelland would see less even-strength minutes and continue to be a rock on the penalty kill. Keep in mind the Golden Knights paid him less money to stay which could be a sign the organization sees Engelland playing a lesser role this season. Or it’s just another shrewd business move by the front office.
Either way, subtracting 5v5 minutes means fresher legs on the PK. It’s an easy, obvious approach to distribute minutes and get the most out of the 37-year-old in 2019-2020. It’s almost too obvious if a half-wit like me can figure it out. Clearly he’s valued and trusted on the ice by the coaching staff which would lead you to believe they expect the same #5 out there. And how can you fault them after two successful seasons with Vegas?
Erik Haula sustained a nasty looking injury on November 6th when he got his skate caught in the boards causing his knee to buckle under him. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and has been described as “month-to-month.”
When originally asked about surgery, Gerard Gallant said he did not know, but now via a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, George McPhee has confirmed Haula did indeed undergo a surgery on his right knee.
He did have surgery. It’s a unique injury. It wasn’t an ACL, as some people reported. It’s not an ACL. It’s just an atypical injury for hockey. -George McPhee to LVRJ
The report McPhee is referring to was an article published by VGKLadies.com which was published 10 days after the incident. McPhee told the Review-Journal that Haula’s surgery took place a couple weeks after the injury.
The timetable for Haula’s return remains unclear as the team is saying the injury and surgery are abnormal and thus the recovery time is hard to predict.
I know it’s not going to be for the next two months for sure, but after that I don’t know. -McPhee to LVRJ
Neither Gallant nor McPhee would rule Haula out for the season, which means they have a reasonable expectation that he could return this season.
The hope, of course, is that Haula would be able to rejoin the team down the stretch run and into the playoffs. If the timing works out, it might almost serve as a trade deadline acquisition and may even dissuade McPhee from making a move at that time.