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Category: Personnel (Page 1 of 16)

Marchessault Talks Lamborghini, Fleury vs. Hellebuyck, And Bulletin Boards

There’s just something about this guy… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The man who was recently described by his coach as a “cocky little guy” who “jumps around in the locker room and he has lots to say” has elevated his game to a Conn Smythe level over the past two rounds of the playoffs. Jonathan Marchessault now has eight goals and nine assists to lead the Golden Knights with 17 points in the playoffs.

But as impressive as he’s been off the ice, the “little guy” has been making quite the statement showing up to games at T-Mobile Arena recently.

Marchessault went on to score 35 seconds into Game 3 and then capped off the victory with an empty-net goal becoming the first player in NHL history to score in the first and last minutes of the same playoff game.

Today, we had a chance to catch up with Marchessault prior to Game 4 and he had a lot to say about the Lambo, his old Hyundai Elantra, and much more.

First time was like when you are 12 years old and you are going on a go-kart, it was pretty much the same thing. -Jonathan Marchessault

McPhee/Gallant Relationship Not As Straightforward As It Once Seemed

VGK’s early success leaves unanswerable questions. They aren’t a problem now, but they could be at some point. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On April 13th, 2017 Gerard Gallant was named head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights. At the introductory press conference, there was a specific quote from George McPhee that stuck out to me at the time. I’ve carried it as somewhat of a pillar of how the organization was going to be run ever since.

Basically, the way we’ll work is we’ll provide the players and Gerard coaches them. We’re not going to tell him how to coach and he’s not going to tell us how to find players. -George McPhee on 4/17/17

With every move the Golden Knights have made, or not made, from sending Vadim Shipachyov back to Russia to healthy scratching Griffin Reinhart every game he was on the active roster to acquiring players like Malcolm Subban, Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Tatar and Ryan Reaves, I’ve viewed the decisions through the lens of that quote. McPhee gets the players, Gallant coaches them.

During the Expansion Draft, that’s how it was. In fact, I can specifically remember speaking to Gallant at an event during the 72 hours the Golden Knights were on the clock, and he sounded as if his opinion was completely unnecessary to the process. However, as the season has worn on the lines of that quote have blurred a bit. When the trades were made, Gallant admitted to having a bit of say on who McPhee would bring in. The Shipachyov saga had the coach’s fingerprints all over it, and the Subban/Pickard goalie situation at the beginning of the year put Gallant in a hole he likely was not terribly comfortable with.

Then came the Tomas Tatar situation. With David Perron returning from injury in Game 3 of the Kings series, Gallant had a decision to make. He basically had three options available to him, and one was going to look awfully bad on his GM. Being up 2-0, he could have left the lineup as is and kept Perron on the shelf. Or, if he wanted Perron back in, he had to choose between Tatar and Carpenter as the player to come out. One player was a waiver addition that cost McPhee nothing to acquire, the other was a deadline trade addition that cost three draft picks including the Golden Knights 1st round pick next year.

Based solely on play, Tatar was the right man to come out. He never quite gelled with a line in Vegas and hadn’t shown the ability that made him a 19+ goal scorer each of the last five seasons. But, he didn’t come cheap, and sitting him in the Golden Knights biggest game of the season would be viewed as an immediate indictment on McPhee’s trade.

You don’t think I talk with George when we make lineup decisions? I’m the coach, I’m going to put them out there if I want them out there, but we talk every day and he knew before I made the decision. We said, listen, this is what we think is best and he agrees with most of the things we do. If he didn’t agree with it he didn’t tell me. (He says) you’re the coach put your best lineup out there. -Gerard Gallant

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Next Man Up, Just Not Yet

It won’t come in Game 1, but there will come a time where Luca Sbisa is needed, and he’s a nice weapon to have in waiting. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the Golden Knights head into their Second Round series with the Sharks they do so as healthy as they’ve been all season. There’s only one active player listed on the injury report and he’s considered ready to play when the team needs him.

It’s incredible, but the Golden Knights might just be the deepest team of any left in the playoffs. When they drop the puck against San Jose, Vegas will have a perennial 20 goal scorer and their highest paid forward on the bench sitting alongside a defenseman that one was considered “shut down” for the Golden Knights and only lost that title due to injury, not a decline in play.

They get even deeper when you throw in Oscar Lindberg, a penalty killing forward with excellent hands and solid speed, Brad Hunt, a power play specialist defenseman, and Ryan Reaves, a physical specimen waiting to unleash some fury into a series.

Coming off a first round sweep and allowing just three goals in 14 periods, no lineup changes are expected for the opening game of the series to begin later this week. However, that depth is going to be needed eventually, and we’re here to illustrate not just how many players the Golden Knights have to fill-in in case of injury, but how wide-ranging they can be allowing All Star head coach to feel comfortable no matter what happens.

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Nate Schmidt And Erik Haula: A Love Story Made For The Golden Knights

As the gathered media waited in the locker room inside Staples Center each Golden Knights player came in one at a time. Fleury walked through wearing a pair of Euro style tight jeans, Neal appeared in fancy sneakers, and Bellemare walked in wearing spandex that were a little too short for comfort. Then, in walked Nate Schmidt. Like always he was wearing a giant smile and laughing at anyone who wanted to laugh with him. He was also wearing sandals, but they didn’t match, the left foot was his own sandal marked with a little sticker with the number 88 on it, on the other foot was a sandal he “stole” because he couldn’t find his. It was that of his best friend on the team, Erik Haula, and it was an image that couldn’t have been more perfect for the story I was there to write.

There are many strong pairs of friends on this team. Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore live together, and Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron hit it off before training camp and became even closer on 1 October, but there’s not a friendship quite like Haula and Schmidt.

Erik Haula moved from Finland to the U.S. when he was 16. He attended high school in Faribault, Minnesota before going on to college at the University of Minnesota. While there, his roommate was Nate Schmidt.

Haula wound up on the Minnesota Wild while Schmidt ended up in Washington D.C. to begin their NHL careers, but that didn’t mean they didn’t keep in touch.

We had played in college, we played on softball teams together in the Summer, we’d work out in the same gym… although he’d show up a little later than I did. -Nate Schmidt

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Benching Tatar Bold But Correct Move By Gallant

Heavy haul for a healthy scratch (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On the day of the trade deadline, the Golden Knights sent three future draft picks, a 2018 1st, a 2019 2nd, and a 2021 3rd round pick, to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Tomas Tatar.

Tatar is a perennial 20 goal scorer, he’s got great speed, a good shot, and looked to be the perfect fit for the Golden Knights. Through 20 games with Vegas, that hasn’t exactly been the case, and now Tatar is set to be a healthy scratch in Game 3 of the first round of the playoffs.

The initial question is whether or not giving up three picks for a player that can’t crack the lineup was worth it. The answer is still incomplete, even with tonight’s benching, because Tatar wasn’t only added to help the Golden Knights for the 2018 playoff run. He has multiple years left on his contract and could still turn out to be a useful top six forward in Vegas.

However, part of the high price tag on Tatar at the deadline was getting him for this playoff season. McPhee traded Brendan Leipsic and figured he’d found an upgrade in Tatar. He hasn’t been. Instead, he’s been nothing more than a competent player who now can’t get in the lineup over a player Vegas claimed for free on the waiver wire back in December.

This is not a failure of a trade, yet, but it is a bold move that shows All Star head coach Gerard Gallant does indeed have full control over his lineup. He was handed a player that was supposed to be an upgrade, and his GM paid a massive price to get him, and yet Gallant still feels comfortable sitting him in the biggest situation of the year.

Here’s more good news, Tatar has never had consistent linemates. He should be better if/when that happens in the future. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There is good news for the Golden Knights, and that’s depth. If Vegas continues in these playoffs they will encounter injuries, and likely at least one to a significant player. Having Tatar available to fill that void absolutely has value, the same goes for Ryan Reaves if a bottom six forward were to be forced out. However, it’s not a good look for McPhee who still has the Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat trade hanging over his head.

Time will tell on the trade as a whole, but this decision tells us a lot about the organization, including the most important part, Tomas Tatar is the 13th best forward on this roster on April 15th, and unless that changes it will go down as an avoidable disaster at the Golden Knights first trade deadline.

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Projected VGK Lines

Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault
Tuch-Haula-Neal
Carpenter-Eakin-Perron
Nosek-Bellemare-Carrier

UFA Updates; James Neal, David Perron, James van Riemsdyk

Perron has VGK Captain written all over him, but to wear the C, he has to still be wearing a Golden Knights sweater next season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the regular season comes to a close, agents and their unrestricted free agent clients are licking their chops, waiting for July 1st. James Neal and David Perron, two key elements for the Golden Knights success are UFAs this summer.

Sportsnet focused on the latest reports regarding the top UFAs around the NHL. Neal and Perron are considered top ten UFAs available July 1st. The Golden Knights were also mentioned when it comes to prize winger James van Riemsdyk.

Here’s a bit of what they had to say. The entire article is here.

on James Neal

Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos has suggested that Neal will be asking for as much as $6.5 million or $7 million per season on a long-term deal. Despite having the cap space to make that work, the belief is that Vegas is hesitant to commit long-term to players 30 and older. -Luke Fox, Sportsnet

I think they (Vegas) want to keep him too… More likely than not, they would like to keep him there. If he goes to market, James will command a lot of attention. -Pierre McGuire

 

on David Perron

McPhee is keeping mum publicly with his plans for these veteran wingers. There is value in keeping Perron beyond 2017-18, but the temptation to let Perron walk and use his cap space on younger, cheaper talent will be tempting. There’s no guarantee Perron produces this well again. -Fox

on James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leaf forward

Van Riemsdyk is still integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but is otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Fox

Alex Tuch Was Once Ranked 12th In The World At Video Game NHL

Hopefully one day he’ll be 12th in the world in the actual NHL too. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be hard to believe, but there was a time not too long ago when Alex Tuch was a better virtual hockey player than he was a real one. It was a time when Tuch was leading the Boston College Eagles to the Frozen Four having been drafted 18th overall two years prior.

The time was 2016, when Alex Tuch, along with two fellow NHL prospects, ranked among the best players at EA Sports NHL 16.

Me and a few buddies in college, we were 12th in the world in online play. -Alex Tuch

Those buddies are Thatcher Demko, 36th overall pick in 2016 by Vancouver and starting goalie for the Utica Comets, and Austin Cangelosi, undrafted free agent currently in the New Jersey Devils system. They were two of the six top scorers and the starting goalie for one of the best NCAA hockey teams in the country, and they were even better on XBox.

Either one of us played or two of us played together. We worked our rank up and had about 400 games played. We would play when we had down time or didn’t have games. -Tuch

He doesn’t, however, attribute much of his video game success to his success on the real ice saying the video game doesn’t really teach much about the actual game. That being said, he did take at least one thing away from the hundreds of hours dominating nerds through the TV.

I had a breakaway in the game that I actually used last year. Backhand, forehand, backhand, it always worked in NHL (the video game) so I used it in a game. -Tuch

It’s what college kids do, play hockey, go to class, and play video games. -Tuch

And if you are Alex Tuch, you kick ass at all three. Well, at least two. I have no idea how he did in class, but frankly, who really cares when he’s putting up 30 points in his rookie season… in the real NHL.

Golden Knights Injury Updates; James Neal, Reilly Smith, Malcolm Subban, Luca Sbisa, William Carrier, Oscar Lindberg

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

James Neal
Injury: Hand/Wrist
Injured on February 26th vs. Kings

Neal has missed 10 of the last 11 games. He played in the Kings game on the road where he left after falling behind the goal, seemingly on the same hand that was injured last year in the playoffs.

He did not travel with the team on the recent five-game road trip, but was seen skating many of the days while the team was away. Neal participated in the most recent morning skate wearing a red no-contact jersey.

James is doing real good. He’s skating today. He’s not playing tonight but we’ll see him in the near future. -Gerard Gallant

Reilly Smith
Injury: Wrist/Shoulder
Injured on March 6th vs. Blue Jackets

Smith left the game after a hit in the 2nd period in Columbus. He remained on the road trip for a short time following the injury before returning to Vegas.

He has not participated in a practice since the injury but was seen putting on skates and pads to take the ice for an individual practice today.

A source indicated to SinBin.vegas that the team initially feared Smith had broken a bone in his hand that could have ended his season, but an MRI confirmed otherwise. The same source put the timeline at about two weeks from the injury following the news of no broken bones.

He is not playing tonight. Day to day. Getting better. -Gallant

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Cody Eakin Is An Excellent 3rd Line Center

Send all Cody Eakin Fan Club membership applications to jason@sinbin.vegas. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s not many of us out there, but the Cody Eakin apologists are accepting more members after his spectacular two goal night. We’ve heard it all season long, Eakin makes too many mistakes, at times he’s out of position, and he can’t finish offensively. It’s what a lot of bottom line players hear from fans. Being a third-line center is a thankless job. Which is why fans need to realize they have a pretty good one in Eakin.

Eakin leads the Golden Knights with a 52.5% faceoff win percentage (150 faceoff minimum) and 424 faceoff wins. He’s tied for third with 51 takeaways, and is 12th on the team with 24 giveaways. While 23 points might not seem much to fans, Eakin is close to his career average. He’s creating .35 points per game, and his career average is .39 PPG.

When you compare Eakin to other playoff team third-line centers, you realize just how effective he really is. (I used NBC’s Rotoworld.com to help determine true third-line centers.)

Points for third-line centers

TB- Tyler Johnson 47
ANA- Adam Henrique 41
PIT- Derek Brassard 40
WPG- Bryan Little 37
SJS- Tomas Hertl 35
TOR- Tyler Bozak 33
WAS- Lars Eller 32
PHI- Valtteri Filppula 30
MIN- Charlie Coyle 28
DAL- Radek Faksa 27
VGK- Cody Eakin 23
NAS- Nick Bonino 21
COL- JT Compher 20
CBJ- Mark Letestu 20
NJD- Pavel Zacha 19
BOS- Sean Kuraly 11
LAK- Torrey Mitchell 10

Eakin is right in the juicy middle with 23 points. Johnson, Henrique, and Brassard are on teams with really strong depth down the middle. They’re not third-line centers on any other team, which makes Eakin’s 23 points better than average.

Faceoff win % for third-line centers

WPG- Little 56.7 %
NAS- Bonino 53.8%
TOR- Bozak 53%
VGK- Eakin 52.5%
MIN- Coyle 52.4%

One of Eakin’s best attributes is his work on the faceoff dot. He is one of the leaders in FO% amongst depth centers. If that isn’t impressive enough, Eakin leads all comparable third-line centers with 51 takeaways.

Coaches set their lineups based on more than just the score sheet. All Star head coach Gerard Gallant plays Eakin almost 15 minutes per game expecting the center to perform his role. Winning face offs, killing penalties, pressuring defenses and occasionally scoring is Eakin’s gameday assignment. Which is why he’s a lock to be in the lineup every night. Gallant trusts and believes in his third-line center.

And it paid off in Detroit.

Reaves, Gallant Mentioned In NHLPA Player’s Poll

3rd!?! C’mon NHL. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Once a year the NHL Player’s Association conducts a poll in which they ask multiple questions to current NHL players. Questions asked ranged from fastest current skater to best defenseman of all time.

Two Golden Knights were mentioned in the poll including one of the largest vote totals of any category. That distinction went to new Golden Knight, Ryan Reaves, in the category of “toughest player.”

The other Golden Knight was All Star head coach Gerard Gallant.

Gallant received 31 votes from the 267 players who voted in the poll.

Slightly surprisingly, maybe depending on when the poll was conducted (between preseason and January), T-Mobile Arena was not listed in the results for best arena, best ice, or best fans.

To see the rest of the results, click here.

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