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Gallant Says Schmidt And Theodore Play Best On Right Side; Where’s That Leave Coghlan And Whitecloud?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights traded Colin Miller it appeared to leave a massive void in right-handed defensemen. With Miller in Buffalo, it left the Golden Knights with just one right-handed defenseman on the NHL roster, Deryk Engelland. Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, and Nick Holden all shoot with their left hand.

However, that’s not to say the Golden Knights don’t have players who can play on the right side. In fact, Gerard Gallant confirmed a pair of them he likes on that side.

From what I remember (Schmidt) played real good on the right side last year so that’s where he’s going to play again this year. When he plays good over there that’s where you want him to play, where he plays his best hockey, similar to Shea Theodore. -Gallant

He did leave a bit of room for leeway though.

But I’m not saying they can’t play the left side in some situations. Just in case that happens I don’t want you to come back to me and say “why are you playing him over there?” It changes, but they both play well on their off-side. -Gallant

Here’s where things get tricky. The two best rookie defenseman through two weeks of camp have been Dylan Coghlan and Zach Whitecloud. Both are right-handed and both play primarily on the right side.

Last year, Engelland played 72 of 72 games on the right. Schmidt played 40 of his 62 on the right while Theodore played just 21 of his 80. But, late in the year, Gallant made the switch pairing Theodore with McNabb and Schmidt with Engelland swapping Nate and Shea. His comments on Monday indicated that he likes both on that side, leaving just three left-side spots available.

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Test Time For Zach Whitecloud, Other Rookie Defensemen

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since becoming a part of the Golden Knights organization, a plethora of rookie defensemen have gone through a lot preparing for their moment. Development camps, training camps, preseason games, and an AHL regular and postseason, it’s all been done to develop them to pass the test when the time comes.

For Zach Whitecloud, he’s been studying for this training camp to win this open job since the moment he signed his contract with the Golden Knights.

During the broadcast of one of the rookie games in Irvine, VGK Insider Gary Lawless told the story of the first time Whitecloud attended a game as a member of the Golden Knights. He sat in the press box as a healthy scratch and before the game began asked Gary for a piece of paper and a pen. Over the course of the next two hours, Whitecloud went on to fill up both sides of that sheet with an abundance of notes.

I wanted to make sure I was taking notes of what the defensemen were doing, what the different calls were, where forwards would be in what spots, just in case if I were to be put into a game in an emergency situation I knew where I could put pucks because I hadn’t gotten my reps. -Whitecloud

He was literally acting like he was sitting in a college lecture, writing down notes so he could prepare for the upcoming test. Since then, he’s played in an NHL game, he’s gone through a full professional season in the organization, and he’s back for training camp looking to take the leap he’s dreamed of since he first put on hockey skates, to become a full-time NHL player.

Last year coming in it was my first full camp with the team and going through that process and navigating that was a learning experience. -Whitecloud

This year, he’s no longer here to learn.

You always want to compete at your 100% level. If you aren’t doing that, you are wasting people’s time. You are wasting management’s time, you are wasting your teammates’ time, you are wasting the fans’ time if you aren’t competing 100% to go in and earn a job. -Whitecloud

One problem. Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jake Bischoff, and Jimmy Schuldt have all been studying for the test too.

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What To Expect From Preseason Rosters/Lines Based On VGK’s 2 Year History

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights hit the ice tomorrow for their first preseason game of the 2019-20 season, there will be a few familiar faces to most Vegas fans, but there will also be a lot of new ones too.

The team currently has 29 forwards, 17 defensemen, and five goalies available in camp. Ryan Reaves has been ruled out with an injury for what we expect to be a majority of camp but should not roll into the regular season, and Shea Theodore was described as behind in his conditioning due to his offseason procedure which leaves him unavailable for the first week or two.

That means the coaching staff has 51 players to select from when making their 20 man roster to ice on Sunday afternoon. Historically (which means the last two years), the Golden Knights go very young in their first few games. Dylan Ferguson was the goalie for each of the preseason openers and multiple rookies played both at the forward and defense. Here’s a look at how they lined it up each of the first two seasons.

2018-19 Preseason Game 1

Nosek-Karlsson-Marchessault
Pacioretty-Glass-Hyka
Carr-Duke-Kolesar
Quinney-Tynan-Wong

Holden-Miller
Bischoff-Hague
Hunt-Brannstrom

Ferguson

2017-18 Preseason Game 1

Leipsic-Tynan-Tuch
Hyka-Glass-Kolesar
Suzuki-Thompson-Carrier
Matteau-Nosek-Wong

Theodore-Reinhart
Stoner-Hunt
Bischoff-Hague

Ferguson

By rule, the NHL requires each team to ice at least eight veterans in every NHL exhibition game. (We believe the Golden Knights were issued an exemption in their first preseason game in 2017-18 as there are only three veterans in that lineup.) That’s why you see names like Pacioretty, Marchessault, Karlsson, and Holden mixed among a mass of players who have yet to make their NHL debuts.

What is more interesting though is the experimentation that goes along with the preseason. Last season, the Golden Knights tried a rash of different bottom-six options. In fact, through all seven games, they never played a third line that matched the one they used on Opening Night.

In 2017-18, the Golden Knights did not roster a single line that played together in Dallas for the franchises first game.

Gerard Gallant did, however, use the entire preseason last year to cement his ideas for the top six. Marchessault and Karlsson played five preseason games together and were matched up with their linemate Reilly Smith in four of the five (Smith didn’t play the other game). Pacioretty and Stastny found themselves on the same line for four of the five games Max played and all four of Paul’s. They rotated between Tuch and Haula on their wing, with Haula eventually winning that spot as Tuch was injured in the final preseason game.

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2019 Draft Pick Kaedan Korczak Feeling Confident Heading Into Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Young defensive prospect Kaedan Korczak was one of the top performers from last weekend’s Rookie Showcase in Irvine. The defenseman played against other prospects that were three, four, even five-years older, and it was an eye-opening experience for the 18-year-old.

I got my first taste of pro hockey. First game I felt pretty comfortable. Ten minutes in, I kind of got my feet wet and felt it out. -Korczak

The Golden Knights’ 2019 2nd round draft pick had no problem keeping up with the “pros” and felt confident on the ice among other, more mature prospects.

Once I got comfortable I began to add layers to my game. Overall, I felt pretty good.-Korczak

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Korczak was happy to get in some action at the rookie tournament, but he’s mostly looking forward to Golden Knights training camp. Where he’ll get to skate with NHL veterans.

His plan is to soak it all in, observe how Golden Knights players build a routine to maximize their skill level.

How they handle themselves away from the rink. The small habits that aren’t seen by anyone. Putting in extra time in the gym, stuff like that.-Korczak

 

Nate Schmidt told us last season eating right and getting plenty of sleep was a key to be successful in the NHL. Korczak quickly found that to be the case for himself and his peers.

Very, very important. I learned that too since I’ve been here. All of the guys are in their rooms by 9-9:30p. We’re all getting our rest and come prepared ready to go.-Korczak

It’ll be interesting to watch Korczak compete in camp against, and with established NHL players. With his size, skill, and maturity it’s possible the youngster will develop quickly enough to skate for Vegas in a few seasons.

After he’s “overcooked” of course.

Rookie Game Takeaways – Game 3 vs. Anaheim

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights finished the Rookie Showcase in Irvine winless and looking rather listless for a majority of the three games. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament in terms of individual players. I wrote up recaps from Games 1 and 2 earlier, this one is a bit more of a recap of the whole weekend, but includes Game 3.

  • The standout of the entire weekend was Dylan Coghlan. His offensive game popped consistently no matter the situation, and he was one of the most responsible defensemen in his own zone. He personally scored three of the team’s seven goals and registered a beautiful primary assist on another. There’s still a long way to go, and rookie games probably hold the least weight in comparison to full training camp and preseason games, but Coghlan’s performance in Irvine will absolutely play a part in the final decision as to which defenseman stays with the team when camp breaks in a few weeks.
  • Paul Cotter did well to start the process of cementing himself as a pro. He was one of the few Golden Knights to play with an edge and it led to him being in the middle of a lot of the team’s best offensive plays. He still has a lot to prove over the next week or two before he’s sent out of camp and either to the OHL or the AHL, but those three games were a giant leap towards Chicago.

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Rookie Game Takeaways – Game 2 vs. Arizona

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

My biggest takeaway from Game 2 of the Rookie Showcase in Irvine is that the Golden Knights sent out a roster that wasn’t good enough to compete in that game, and they still managed to play two solid periods. Let’s be quite honest with what the Vegas roster looked like against Arizona. They had just five forwards of their 12 that were drafted by the Golden Knights. Plus, their defense was without Jimmy Schuldt. Simply put, this game had little to do with the score and even less to do with the team as a whole. In games like this, it’s all about individuals and their path to eventually becoming contributors at the NHL level. Some did just that, others did not, but the terrible period, the apparent lack of energy, and the inability to generate offense as a team means little to nothing so stop tweeting me about it.

  • The first name to highlight is one that’s almost been written off as a Golden Knights prospect, and that’s Jake Leschyshyn. He shows excellent flashes of speed, looked terrific helping to generate offense through the neutral zone and into the o-zone, and looked his normal stellar self backchecking and defending. The former 2nd round pick has not shown a ton while wearing a Golden Knights jersey over the past two summers (partially due to the injury that caused him to miss one), but in this game we could finally see some of the traits that garnered that selection. He plays in all situations and has always been good on the defensive end, but he is finally starting to assert himself a bit more in offensive situations. I’m hoping to see him with Cotter, Rondbjerg, and/or Elvenes in the final game, then we should get to see even more offense show up.
  • Jordan Kooy continues to establish himself as one of, if not the most, promising goalie prospect the Golden Knights have. His size is a big part of that when comparing him to Dylan Ferguson (who will be in the net for the 3rd game). Kooy looks comfortable in his goal no matter what’s going on in front of him, and since that one scrimmage that was a disaster, there hasn’t been a single soft goal scored on him since while in a Vegas net. He was under siege for most of this game and helped keep the score looking respectable.

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Rookie Game Takeaways – Game 1 vs. Colorado

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been a busy weekend of throwing magenta ping pong balls and raising a butt-ton of money for charity, which has left us at SinBin.vegas a bit behind. But, if Golden Knights hockey happens, you best believe we’re going to watch it, and thanks to this fantastic thing called the Internet, we’ve been able to go back and watch the rookie games we’ve missed, (Here’s the link) and now I’m here with takeaways from the Vegas rookie loss to Colorado.

  • The best player on the ice for me was Zach Whitecloud and to be honest it wasn’t all that close. There were flashes from many other guys, which we’ll get to in a moment, but Whitecloud was a steady calming force on the back-end, consistently making the right read and play. His gap control continues to impress and his skating is so solid that he’s able to keep his positioning in any situation that’s thrown his way. He was reliable on the penalty kill and helped allow Nic Hague to get forward time and time again. Whitecloud plays a VGK style of defense, which is a different way to say, simple yet effective. Not that this should come as a surprise, but there’s absolutely a shot he wins the job and finds himself in the Golden Knights starting lineup on October 2nd.
  • Behind Whitecloud, there were two other major standouts, Paul Cotter and Jonas Rondbjerg.
    • Cotter, playing center with two non-roster players (Pavel Gogolev and Charles Antoine-Roy) consistently drove offense. He has an incredibly high compete level that reminds me a bit of Jonathan Marchessault. Cotter believes that every puck is his and he’s not afraid to bully his way through someone to take it from someone or to get it back. The best skill he displayed though was his vision through the neutral zone. Three or four times Cotter carrier or passed the puck through the neutral zone to lead directly to scoring chances. Great first step towards his goal of being in the AHL rather than OHL this year.
    • Rondbjerg has the Golden Knight style of hockey written all over him. He’s a ferocious forechecker who uses his stick well to rip the puck off defenders. There had to be five different instances that the Golden Knights lost the puck in the offensive zone and Rondbjerg either got it back himself or helped to get it back to keep a play alive. Then there’s his backchecking, which might be even better than his forechecking. He’s non-stop getting back into his own zone and he has the foot speed and the stick to go along with his willingness to defend. Gerard Gallant is going to love this kid, and if he finds even an ounce of finish, so are VGK fans.

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Paul Cotter: “I’m Ready For The AHL”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Just when you think you’ve got Golden Knights prospect Paul Cotter figured out, the target moves.

A USHL product, the Golden Knights selected Cotter in the 4th round as a player most described as well-rounded without an elite offensive game. He showed up to Development Camp in 2018 and wowed in his first time on Vegas ice scoring points and making offense-driving plays consistently.

He then headed off to Western Michigan to play college hockey which likely meant seeing him stashed away as a Golden Knights prospect for years to come. Eight games into his career as a Bronco, Cotter left school for the OHL and the London Knights.

Less than two months later, Cotter signed his entry-level contract with the Golden Knights, something he wasn’t able to do while in college. He played in London with limited success and was expected to shine once again at Development Camp in 2019.

Cotter was mysteriously absent from camp, which we later learned was due to appendicitis. He missed out on his chance to shine and likely took a step backward towards reaching the NHL.

Then he showed up to Rookie Camp, and on the very first day back with the Golden Knights, Cotter made his motives clear where he wants to end up this season.

Obviously the goal is to make Vegas. But it might be a smaller percentage chance for us younger guys, so the big goal for me is to make Chicago. That’d be awesome for me a younger guy. I do think I’m ready. -Paul Cotter

Because Cotter is American, he does not fall under the CHL/NHL agreement which forbids many prospects from leaving the OHL to play in the minors. Cotter’s plan is to prove he’s ready for professional hockey now, and hopefully prove he’s ready to play in the NHL sooner rather than later.

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Mark Stone Is So Good The Golden Knights Shouldn’t Play Him (In A Certain Situation)

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights traded for Mark Stone, they acquired the best player on the roster. He’s the best scorer, he’s the best forechecker, he’s the best on the power play, he’s the best defensive forward, quite simply, he’s just the best.

What that should mean is that he should lead all forwards, and maybe all skaters, in ice time this season. He’s dominant in all situations and the Golden Knights can benefit out there no matter what’s going on in the game with Stone on the ice.

However, I’m here to suggest Gerard Gallant and the coaching staff use some restraint in running up Stone’s minutes during the regular season.

Mark Stone has never averaged more than 21 minutes per game over the course of his seven-year career. That being said, in the past two seasons his minute load has expanded majorly. The last two years with the Senators, Stone eclipsed the 20-minute mark in 77 of 117 games. In Vegas though, Stone only crossed 20 minutes in two of his 18 regular season games (and didn’t do it in any of the seven playoff games before OT), and he’s never exceeded 22:00 in Vegas (aside from the 2OT and OT games in the playoffs).

A part of the increase has been due to penalty killing time. In Vegas, Stone averaged just 0:25 of time on the kill. In Ottawa, he saw the ice for 1:19 and 1:11 each of the past two seasons. That’s almost a full extra minute of incredibly excruciating time on the ice.

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Meet The New Guys

A few days ago Tyrell Goulbourne sent out an Instagram post wearing his brand new Golden Knights warmup jersey and white gloves. We shared it on SinBin.vegas’ social media account and were blown away by the number of “who is he?” comments. So, today we shall try to make that change.

This offseason the Golden Knights experienced a lot of turnover, especially in the depth department. Out went Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (COL), Ryan Carpenter (CHI), Erik Haula (CAR), and Colin Miller (BUF) from the NHL roster, and with them went Chicago Wolves standouts Daniel Carr (NSH), T.J. Tynan (COL), Max Lagace (BOS), Stefan Matteau (Cleveland AHL), Brooks Macek (KHL), Tomas Hyka (KHL), and others.

In total, four of the Wolves top seven scorers walked out the door. However, the Golden Knights organization did reload. They signed four new players that will certainly become household names for Wolves fans, and one or two may see time in Vegas. Either way, they’ll all be here next week, so we thought it would be nice to introduce them and attempt to end the “Brett Lernout: Who’s that?” comments from popping up anymore.

Tyrell Goulbourne
Position: Forward
Age: 25
Draft: 2013, Round 3, #72 overall, Philadelphia Flyers
Last Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia AHL)

Goulbourne is cut from the Bellemare and Carrier cloth. Not the most offensively gifted player, Goulbourne makes his presence known with relentless forechecking and physicality. In his 223 AHL games, Goulbourne has tallied just 25 goals and 55 points, but racked up 313 penalty minutes.

He won the WHL Championship in 2015 with the Kelowna Rockets, which is likely why he was on Kelly McCrimmon and the Golden Knights’ radar.

He has an extensive history of fighting in the AHL. It’s definitely worth a visit to his page on HockeyFights.com.

Patrick Brown
Position: Forward
Age: 27
Draft: Undrafted
Last Team: Charlotte Checkers (Carolina AHL)

Brown is best known as the former captain of the team that beat the Chicago Wolves in the Calder Cup Final. He’s been the Checkers captain for three years and will likely be in the running to wear at least an “A” for the Wolves if he doesn’t make the Golden Knights roster. He got a call-up to the Hurricanes in the playoffs but didn’t make a major impact.

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