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Russian Agent Threatening Nikita Gusev’s Return To KHL

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.

Well, other than this deadline.

22 Shifts Of Jimmy Schuldt

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.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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VGK Were In On Micheal Ferland In Free Agency

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

At the trade deadline, Ferland’s name was consistently tossed around in the rumors and the Golden Knights were apparently hot after him.

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.

Patrick Brown Could Be Next Diamond In The Rough

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whether it’s through an Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, waivers, free agency, or a trade, the Golden Knights have a type. They like a well-rounded, 200-foot player who plays in all situations, but beyond all, they really value “character.”

On July 1st, the Golden Knights signed Patrick Brown, a 27-year-old right-handed center/winger who has spent a majority of his career in the AHL. He’s scored 125 points in 334 AHL games plus another 14 in 24 playoff games.

An undrafted free agent out of Boston College, Brown signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in May of 2014. Each of his first three seasons as a pro he bounced between the Charlotte Checkers and the Hurricanes, playing a total of 28 games in the NHL. Then, he found his niche.

Brown was named an alternate captain of the Checkers in 2015-16 before being named captain of the team in 16-17. He’s held that title for each of the past three seasons including through the Checkers run to the Calder Cup this year.

Patrick served as captain in Charlotte again last season and was the heart and soul of the team. He is a tremendous leader on and off the ice and is a reliable, hard-working player. We are excited to keep him in the organization again next season. -Don Waddell, Hurricanes GM on June 6th, 2018

Brown was one of the first forwards called up to the Hurricanes during the 2018-19 season and even found himself in the playoffs after Andrei Svechnikov was hurt in a fight.

This is yet another example of the Golden Knights finding hidden gems to fill their AHL roster with while also creating depth at the NHL level. As Ryan Carpenter, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Daniel Carr, Brooks Macek, and Tomas Hyka walk out the door, one of the players to fill that void will be Brown. Plus, if you ask another new Golden Knight, Nicolas Roy, Brown’s teammate in Charlotte, Brown might make some noise with the new opportunity.

Our captain Patrick Brown has been in the AHL for most of his career but he’s a really good player, a really good teammate, leader. He brings a lot too, playing the same style as me, good offensively and defensively, but I think he’s been overlooked a little bit. He’s a really good player. –Nicholas Roy on Popternative

Obviously, the Golden Knights saw something they liked in the Calder Cup Final as Brown captained his team to a win over the Wolves. He seems to now fit into a group of current Golden Knights with Tomas Nosek, Nicolas Roy, Curtis McKenzie, Gage Quinney, Valentin Zykov, and Stefan Matteau. There’s probably room for one, if not two, of those guys to make the NHL roster.

Don’t be shocked if Patrick Brown makes a push towards that 4th line center spot when training camp rolls around. But even if he doesn’t, Rocky Thompson and the Wolves are going to be glad to have him.

Can We Stop With The Maybe’s On Nikita Gusev?

Nikita Gusev has never played a game in the NHL. There’s no getting around that. But Nikita Gusev was not dropped onto the Golden Knights from some other unknown planet.

Gusev won the MVP award in the KHL, the world’s second-best league, each of the past two years. He led the league in points in 2018-19 by 13. He broke the record for assists in a season with 64. He’s been more than a point per game player for four years running. He’s won a Gagarin Cup and he’s scored 68 points in 66 playoff games. He even shredded as a kid, scoring 192 points in 120 games in the Russian Junior league, the MHL.

And these are just his Russian accomplishments.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Gusev helped Russia win the gold medal in the Olympics a year ago, scoring the game-tying goal (and the one before it) in the gold medal game and assisting on the game-winner and led the tournament in points.

He scored 16 points in the IIHF World Championships this summer, second only to William Nylander, matching Nikita Kucherov and Jakob Voracek, and outdoing Mark Stone and he’s put up 1.11 points per game in all international competition.

In 2011 at the World Junior Championships, Gusev scored nine points in seven games, which was outdone by only five players (two of which are Mark Stone and Evgeny Kuznetsov).

Literally, every place this guy has played hockey, he’s scored. And he’s done it alongside or against hundreds of players that have played in the NHL, and have had massive success.

In World Juniors his numbers matched Clayton Keller (2016), Auston Matthews (2015), Matthew Tkachuk (2015), William Nylander (2014), Filip Fosberg (2013), Anthony Mantha (2013), Nikita Kucherov (2012), Mark Scheifele (2012), Johnny Gaudreau (2012), Mark Stone (2011), and Jason Zucker (2011).

All of those guys are either bonafide NHL stars or on their way to becoming one.

In international play, his numbers compare to Alexander Radulov, Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Leon Draisaitl, Anze Kopitar, Mats Zuccarello, and William Nylander.

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3rd Line Success Comes Down To Tuch

Will they sign him? Will they trade him? What in the world is going to happen with Nikita Gusev?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That’s just about the only thing anyone wants to talk about regarding the Golden Knights. However, the key to the 3rd line isn’t Nikita Gusev, it’s actually Alex Tuch.

Tuch found himself on the 2nd line for a majority of the year last year, but in the first year, he played mostly on the 3rd line with Cody Eakin. That appears to be where he’ll end up again, and whether it’s with Gusev, Brandon Pirri, or someone else, Tuch’s offense should be enough to make that a solid line.

Alex Tuch – 2017-18
78 Games Played
37 Points (15 goals, 22 assists)
Record w/ Tuch in lineup: 48-23-7
Record when Tuch scores a goal: 12-2-0
Record when Tuch registers a point: 23-7-0
29 Points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 48 VGK wins
8 Points, -12 in 23 VGK losses
4 Game-Winning Goals

Alex Tuch – 2018-19
74 Games Played
52 Points (20 goals, 32 assists)
Record w/ Tuch in lineup: 39-28-7
Record when Tuch scores a goal: 14-5-0
Record when Tuch registers a point: 26-10-2
38 Points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 39 VGK wins
12 Points, -14 in 28 VGK losses
6 Game-Winning Goals

Over his two seasons with Vegas, the 23-year-old has averaged .59 points per game, which jumped significantly to .70 points per game in 2018-19. There’s no reason to believe it won’t increase again. If Tuch can climb close to a point per game than the third line won’t be an issue in 2019-2020 no matter who he plays with.

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Taro Jentzsch’s Interesting Path To And Through Development Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There were 21 NHL draft picks, eight guys with NHL contracts, a top 10 pick, and even a guy who stood 6’9″ tall.

Then, there was Taro Jentzsch, a 150 pound, 19-year-old who was born in Germany, plays in Quebec, and has barely spent time in the United States let alone Las Vegas.

Vegas is a big city, but I’m from Berlin. It’s like some of the same. We don’t have as many casinos. This ice rink is amazing. -Jentzsch

Just because Jentzsch was a bit of an outlier at Golden Knights Development Camp, doesn’t mean he didn’t belong there.

After years of playing in Europe, Jentzsch knew if he was to take his career to the next level he had to make a big move. However, he was drafted into Canadian Juniors by the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) before the 2018-19 season which wasn’t exactly ideal for a German.

(I thought) okay… French is not my language so it’s (going to be) pretty tough. -Jentzsch

Luckily for Jentzsch, the coach of the Phoenix was Stéphane Julien who played 10 years of hockey in Germany.

He talked to me a little bit in German. He spoke broken German but it was good enough. -Jentzsch

In his first year playing in major juniors, Jentzsch showed he belonged by putting up 42 points in 53 games at the age of 18.

After a successful first year in Canada, Jentzsch headed back home to represent Germany in the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships Division 1A (the lower tier of World Juniors, where the winner gets promoted to the big tournament the following year).

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Exactly What George McPhee Has Said About Nikita Gusev

Over the course of the last week, the Golden Knights signed William Karlsson, traded Erik Haula and Colin Miller, and participated sparingly in the opening of free agency. Following each of those four events, George McPhee took to the podium to meet with the media.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nikita Gusev, the one major piece missing to the Golden Knights puzzle, was a focus throughout each of the four meetings. He remains unsigned and rumors have begun swirling about the eventual outcome of his contract negotiations.

Most of the rumors have stemmed from what McPhee had to say about Gusev during those press conferences. So, instead of trying to read between the lines of every word, I’m simply going to present every word McPhee said, in chronological order, about trades, contracts, and Gusev.

Tuesday, June 25th (Karlsson extension)

Well, we are going to have to make a few moves. We’ve planned for that and we’re going through that exercise right now and when we’re done we’ll talk about it and explain it. -McPhee

The plan was to build the team as best we could, every once in a while you get tight on the cap in this business, we’re there now. We’ll manage it and we will hopefully be in a much better place going forward with lots of cap space if we ever need it. -McPhee

Thursday, June 27th (Haula trade)

Well, I mentioned the other day that we have to make a few moves, but the moves that we’re going to make when we make them are hockey moves. It has to be a good hockey trade for us. Lots of names have been discussed, other teams have called on lots of different players. -McPhee

Did having Gusev here allow you a little more flexibility to move a winger like Haula? -Media

Um, yeah, I guess so. And again we’ll see where things go in the next few days, but we made a move yesterday and there’s probably another one coming and we’ll talk about that when it happens. -McPhee

There is a lot of activity right now. It’s a busy time of the year and there are a lot of teams talking about lots of different things. I would expect that next week we will reveal a lot of signings of free agents and other trades.

Saturday, June 29th (Miller trade)

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2019 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

  • Brandon Pirri has re-signed with the Golden Knights. Two-year deal at $775,000 AAV. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Deryk Engelland is set to sign a one-year deal to remain with the Golden Knights. (Source: @TheFourthPeriod)
  • Golden Knights sign Patrick Brown to a two-year deal. The first year is a two-way deal at $700,000 NHL value. The second year is a one-way deal also at $700,000.(Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • Brown was the captain of the Calder Cup winning Charlotte Checkers.
  • Vegas has signed Tyrell Goulbourne to a two-way contract with an NHL minimum value. (Source: @PuckPediaPuckPedia)
  • Ryan Carpenter has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for three years at $1 million AAV. (Source: @ChrisKuc)
  • Pierre-Edouard Bellemare signs with the Colorado Avalanche for two-years at $1.8M AAV. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Max Lagace will sign with the Boston Bruins on a two-way deal with an NHL value of $700,000. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Nikita Gusev and Jimmy Schuldt are NOT eligible for offer sheets per the NHL’s official free agency list. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • The Golden Knights did not extend a qualifying offer to Tomas Nosek. He becomes an unrestricted free agent. However, George McPhee confirmed they are close to reaching a deal. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Nosek has been signed for one-year at $1 million.
  • Daniel Carr is signing with the Nashville Predators. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Zach Fucale signed an AHL deal with the Syracuse Crunch. (Source: @SyracuseCrunch)
  • Tyler Wong is headed to the KHL. (Source: @KRSchina)
  • T.J. Tynan signed with the Colorado Avalanche (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Brad Hunt has re-signed with the Minnesota Wild for two-years at $700,000 AAV. (Source: @RussoHockey)
  • Brendan Leipsic has signed with the Washington Capitals. (Source: @@ikhurshudyan)
  • Golden Knights Expansion Draft pick Calvin Pickard is expected to sign with the Detroit Red Wings. (Source: @frank_seravalli)

The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney.

2019 Development Camp Takeaways

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2019 Dev Camp has wrapped up which leaves us with no hockey to watch for a brutal two months. So, in the meantime, we’ll have to over-analyze three meaningless scrimmages at City National Arena as if they were the end all be all of the development of the prospects.

Joking, of course, but seriously, here are my takeaways from what I saw at Development Camp this week.

  • Safety first
    • It starts with Cody Glass. He played in the first period and a half of the first scrimmage and was taken out due to precautionary reasons. No reason to risk him getting hurt in scrimmages against kids he’s already better than. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. Didn’t seem like it was.
    • Dylan Ferguson, Marcus Kallionkieli, and Dylan Coghlan were all kept out of scrimmages as well. It’s always disappointing to not see these guys play in the rare chances we get to in person, especially Kallionkieli. He didn’t stand out much in one scrimmage he did play, but if he was hurt, that makes sense as to why.
  • 2017 Draft Picks looking like NHLers
    • The 2017 Draft will forever be one of the most important in team history. For a club that had just come off the Expansion Draft and had a boatload of picks, they had to cash in on a few. It’s starting to look like they did.
    • Jonas Rondbjerg was the most consistent and best player in camp for me. His two-way game stands out when you really key in on him. He’s a tremendous forechecker and is really good along the walls in all three zones. He’ll start the season in Chicago, but I’ll go on record with the bold prediction that he plays a game in a VGK uniform in 2019-20.
    • Jack Dugan was a close second to Rondbjerg, constantly making things happen when he was on the ice. He’s turned into a wrecking ball and it’s fun to watch him play in the offensive zone. The dude is relentless in his pursuit to get the puck back. The one thing I was missing was the finish. He scored a beauty on a breakaway but there were four or five other chances I thought to myself, that could have been a goal, and they weren’t. When they first got him I wasn’t sure what to think, last year he started to make me think he had a shot, now I’m willing to say I’d be surprised if he isn’t an NHLer at some point.
    • Lucas Elvenes started to look like the player I read about when they got him. His vision is incredible on the ice and there’s no pass he can’t make. He’s mentioned to me in the past that the smaller ice has taken him some time to get used to and you are starting to see it. He finally looks comfortable on the puck and when it’s on his stick something good is bound to happen.
    • I wanted to see a bit more out of Jake Leschyshyn, Ben Jones, and Nick Campoli. There were moments for all three, no doubt, and there’s no question each seems further along than they’ve been in the past, but I just didn’t see the flash that made me say, that kid’s going to the NHL one day out of any of the three. Of course, they’ll two of the three will be heading to Chicago and the other back to NCAA (Campoli), which will give them much more of a chance to keep taking the steps.
  • Love me some Pavel
    • I enjoy skilled players. Russian players tend to be very skilled. Thus, I tend to like Russian players., but I really like Pavel Dorofeyev a lot. His ability to hold onto the puck while advancing it into more dangerous places on the ice than where he got it is impressive, especially for an 18-year-old. Pretty much every time he touched the puck there was danger for the defense. This is also talking about a kid who has hardly ever played on North American sized ice. Wait until you see the updated prospect rankings, I’m super high on this guy, to say the least.

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