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Category: Personnel (Page 2 of 16)

Where To Play Tomas Tatar When Everyone’s Healthy

Since being acquired from the Detroit Red Wings, Tomas Tatar has played in four games. He has one goal, seven shots on goal, a -5 rating, and an average ice time of 15:36. The team is 1-3-0 in those four games.

Now, before we go killing the new guy, let’s start by pointing out that he’s played on four different lines, all with significantly different characteristics. Tatar has played with Hyka and Eakin, Perron and Haula, Tuch and Eakin, and Carpenter and Eakin. To this point, none of them have been a match, but of course, we are judging each on a single game.

The fact of the matter is that Tomas Tatar is not coming out of the lineup anytime. He’s far too talented on the power play, way too fast, and has too much skill to be taken out of the lineup in favor of a Tomas Hyka, Oscar Lindberg or William Carrier.

So, much like we did with Alex Tuch back in November, this is an exercise in finding Tatar the right linemates to help him thrive, and in turn, create a third scoring line heading into the playoffs.

The initial plan when Tatar was brought in was for him to slot into the Leipsic/Lindberg/Hyka third line wing slot. The main question though is whether or not he will fit with Tuch. In just a short time together, Tuch and Tatar have not been a match. Their Corsi For % is just 35%, they’ve allowed eight shots on goal while just creating one, and have yet to create much by way of scoring chances. In fact, for a majority of the game in which they played together, they were hemmed in their own end.

James Neal: Third Line Winger? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If Tuch and Tatar are not a fit together, that means one of them must make their way onto the Haula/Perron/Neal line. In James Neal’s absence, Tuch has quietly become a force on the second line. He was moved up when Neal went out in the first Kings game, and it took a little while for them to gel. But when it did, they’ve become a versatile offensive line that has put up big advanced stat numbers since. Against Columbus, that line outshot the Blue Jackets 15-3 and accounted for the Golden Knights only goal.

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News And Notes From VGK vs CBJ

These two weren’t playing together, but they both played well. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Bounce Back for D

  • Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland played a big role shutting down the Devils young, quick forwards.
    • McNabb TOI – 24:55, 11 Hits, 11 Defensive Zone Starts, -1 Rating
    • Engelland TOI – 24:27, 3 Hits, 10 Defensive Zone Starts, +1 Rating, 1 Goal
  • Golden Knights allowed less than 10 “High Danger” scoring chances for the first time in their last six games.

Ending the Losing Streak

The victory ended the Golden Knights three-game skid. Along with eight other teams, Vegas hasn’t dropped four straight games this season. All eight teams are playoff contenders.

Minnesota: (1) 3 game losing streak
Nashville: (1) 3 game losing streak
Tampa: (1) 3 game losing streak
Winnipeg: (1) 3 game losing streak
Washington: (2) 3 game losing streaks
Dallas: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Pittsburgh: (3) 3 game losing streaks
Vegas: (3) 3 game losing streaks

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Erik Karlsson And Bobby Ryan React To Possibility Of Being Traded To Vegas

“Our owner bought us a ping pong table. Yours wouldn’t even pay for an Uber ride.” -Probably Luca Sbisa

There were nothing but smiles in the visiting locker room last night at T-Mobile Arena. The Ottawa Senators battled for 60 minutes to beat the Golden Knights 5-4. The victory pushed the Senators to 22 wins and 52 points with just 19 games to play. That is, in a single word, bad. Which is probably why the Sens front office listened to any and all offers at the trade deadline. Including one from Vegas GM George McPhee, who inquired about their Norris winning defenseman.

That’s part of the business. I really didn’t know what really transpired or happened behind the scene. (The Golden Knights) were obviously one of the teams that was thrown out there a lot. They’re a good team and they were pushing for it, so nothing unexpected. -Erik Karlsson, OTT Captain

Karlsson was responding to a question I asked about his reaction when he heard about the Vegas chatter. The superstar Swede went on to discuss why free agents would seriously consider playing in Las Vegas.

It’s a great city and they have a great team. Their general manager McPhee, is a really good general manager and he’s been around for a long time. I think he’s going to build a good team, not only for now but the future as well. It’s definitely an attractive city. -Karlsson

Also rumored to be part of the Karlsson swap was Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan. Senators GM Pierre Dorion was attempting to unload Ryan’s $7.5M per season contract to whomever desired Karlsson. Possibly the reason why a deal with the Golden Knights fell through. I asked Ryan about his trade deadline anxiety.

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Tatar Move Serves Now And Later

Insurance for the future, and help for now? That’s the perfect package for McPhee. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By now fans have to believe in George McPhee’s vision. He’s presented a first-place team, a projected Jack Adams winning coach, and an aggressive front office mentality. While the sensational headlines were all about Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Vegas GM worked on an important last-minute insurance deal.

Newly acquired winger Tomas Tatar wasn’t a replacement for not landing Karlsson. Instead, McPhee traded for a player who could help win now and later. Later being the key.

Tatar comes in, that all but solidifies that James Neal is not coming back. -Nick Kypreos, Sportsnet

McPhee was in a real win-win situation. He elected to make three deadline deals but could’ve easily stood pat.

We were very aggressive. We were buyers at this deadline. We had many discussions with many teams over the past three weeks and explored a lot of things but as we decried today we are very happy with what we accomplished and how we improved. -McPhee

In my eyes, McPhee’s stock rose even higher after the Tatar deal and the Karlsson rumors. I’m not saying his efforts weren’t genuine but you couldn’t have pitched a better marketing plan.

The Ottawa Senators will tell you ‘no they were not close to a deal.’ Whatever offer was on the table from the Vegas Golden Knights … was not sufficient and wasn’t close to what Ottawa would consider acceptable doing a deal. -Bob McKenzie, TSN

Some analysts were puzzled when they heard McPhee had given up three draft picks to receive Tatar. However, when you calculate age, production and term, a player like Tatar was more valuable to the organization, especially when the team is facing tough decisions this summer.

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May Not Agree With The Moves, But Have To Trust The Golden Knights

When you ask anyone with a hockey brain why the Golden Knights have been so good this year, the word “balance” will inevitably come up. Balance insinuates that all four lines and all three pairings have played a major role to the success Vegas has experienced to this point.

This team has done a lot of winning, but they’re going to have to do a lot more to prove George McPhee right. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That success has come to the tune of 86 points in 61 games, an 11 point lead in the Pacific Division, and a season-long tussle with the Lightning for the best record in the entire NHL. The Golden Knights are the best team in the Pacific Division, and if they aren’t the best in the league, they are right up there among them.

You can point towards George McPhee and front office building the team, All Star coach Gerard Gallant for pulling the right strings to get them to mesh together, and/or the players for taking that chip on their shoulder and coming together to become a force in the NHL quickly. But no matter which way you point, you’re pointing to a winner.

So when the deadline rolled around, it was reasonable to think the Golden Knights would stand pat with their first place roster and focus on the next game at hand (I learned that statement from Turk). Then, they didn’t.

I don’t think that we need to do anything really, but if there are opportunities to make the club a little bit better – one percent, two percent, three percent – you do it if it’s not going to affect chemistry and if you’re not going to take anything out of the lineup. -George McPhee

Wait, I thought Reaves was supposed to be the fighter? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights acquired Ryan Reaves, a 6’1″ 225 pound mammoth of a man most known for his toughness, grit, and physical presence on the ice. McPhee craftily gave up nothing but The Creator’s money to make this happen. Then McPhee went out and added Tomas Tatar, a consistent 20+ goal scorer from the Detroit Red Wings for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pick.

In theory, the team got better, but it’s the last part of McPhee’s statement that brings up a legitimate concern.

Tatar and Reaves are going to play. That means players like Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, William Carrier, Tomas Hyka, Oscar Lindberg or others will be forced out of the lineup.

We’re obviously very confident with our group but it’s up to George (McPhee) to do what he wants. Obviously, I think that everyone’s aware of the chemistry that can be changed if you add too many guys or the wrong piece. You’ve seen it with teams in the previous years. Last year they added (Martin) Hanzal in Minnesota and we (St. Louis) knocked them out in the first round. A guy like Haula, who I thought was playing really well on the third line, he gets bumped down to the fourth line, it changes his role. You understand teams trying to get better but in my opinion, you’ve got to make sure the guys who got you there have to be the guys that keep driving the bus. -David Perron

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Quotes From McPhee, Gallant, And Players On The Trade Deadline

Hopefully Tatar and Haula can move past the hit that caused this tussle. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We went into the deadline wanting to improve our team and we did that. We had surplus picks and a lot of cap space and we used them to do these deals. We still have surplus picks and surplus cap space. -George McPhee

We’ve known (they are all in for us) for a long time. They kind of gave us a game plan of what the next three years look like for the organization, but things change quickly. For us, no one thought we were going to be anywhere near where we are right now. You’ve got to adapt so the people upstairs they are the brains behind everything, they are the ones pulling the strings. As players, we know that we have something good going and we are going to keep challenging. -Luca Sbisa

We’ve believed in them all year long. They’ve played very very well so far. We wanted to keep them together to see what they could accomplish. If we could help them, we wanted to, and we believe we did that, and we didn’t take anything out of our lineup to do that. -McPhee

We’re pretty tight. We started from scratch and the chemistry worked right away. It’ll be fine. It’s just one guy. Everyone will take him in and I’m sure it’ll be fine. -Marc-Andre Fleury

(Tatar)’s a real quality person. We did our homework on that and we did our homework on Ryan Reaves. Tatar is very excited to be here, so there will be no chemistry issues, in fact I think it enhances our locker room. -McPhee

(Tatar)’s a younger player, he’s only 27. He’s quick, he’s competitive, and he can score. -McPhee

We just want him to fit in with our group. He’s a character guy, he’s a veteran guy and he can help our team win. I think you guys know from day one that I try to play four lines as much as I can. If they are playing well everybody’s going to play, so obviously if he’s playing he’s going to play more than four minutes. -Gallant

Especially since I’ve been the guy that’s gotten pushed out the last couple years, it’s difficult at first, it’s hard to see the big picture of what can happen. As we saw last year a lot of things happened for me and I ended up getting to play when guys hurt, so you need that kind of depth. -Nate Schmidt

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Six Degrees Of Separation To Ryan Reaves

I’m sure these guys will prefer him beating up other guys now that he’s a Golden Knight.

Ryan Reaves is the new guy on the Golden Knights locker room, but he’s not exactly a new face for many on Vegas’ roster.

James Neal

Reaves was drafted the same year as Neal. Neal went 33rd overall to Dallas, Reaves was selected 156th by St. Louis. These two mostly know each other from playing in the Central division for many years. In this clip, Neal stays patient from a rushing Reaves and lands a big shoulder check.

David Perron

Reaves and Perron played in St. Louis together from 2010-2013 and then again in 2016-2017. Reaves shows his hand-eye skill with this nice deflection for a goal in 2013… on Marc-Andre Fleury. Deryk Engelland was also on the ice for Pittsburgh picking up a minus -1 on Reaves tip. James Neal and David Perron were also in the lineups that night.

Deryk Engelland

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Luca Sbisa Hates Shootout

In this picture, Lehkonen is the metaphor for the shootout. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 2010, Luca Sbisa competed in the Winter Olympic Games for Team Switzerland. Sbisa and his Swiss mates finished in 8th place at the Vancouver games. Switzerland played three games that went to overtime, winning two and losing one. Two of the three were decided by shootouts.

After Wednesday night’s Golden Knights victory over the Flames, some of the guys in the winning locker room turned on the epic Women’s hockey gold medal game.

I was getting changed, and OT just ended so I knew they were going to a shootout. I left. I didn’t want too see it. -Luca Sbisa

I had to ask Sbisa if he was kidding. He wasn’t.

It’s not fair, you battle so hard. Obviously, when you’re on the winning side it’s great but the other team is upset because they fought so hard. -Sbisa

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Why Everyone Should Be A Fan Of Tomas Hyka

We cheer for all Golden Knights, but some of them just make us root a little harder for them. Tomas Hyka is one of those. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night Tomas Hyka made his NHL debut, one that has been in the makings for the a 24-year-old from Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic for quite some time. Hyka is a classic NHL underdog, and his journey to making his debut for the best team in the league is somewhat of a wild one.

It dates back to 2011 when he was invited to training camp with the Philadelphia Flyers after being undrafted.

I had a really good camp there, like I did here, I scored and did a little celly, it was funny, but they couldn’t sign me. I don’t even know the reason they couldn’t sign me. It was kind of sad. -Tomas Hyka

The reason is a rule in the CBA that says players born outside North America must go undrafted twice before they can be signed to a contract with an NHL team. Hyka had only been through one draft, so despite being offered a contract, and possibly a spot on an NHL roster at the age of 18, he couldn’t sign with the Flyers. Instead of going home though, he played for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL where he scored 20 goals and tallied 64 points in 50 games. That put his name back on the radar for the 2012 Draft.

Then I got drafted by the Kings and they did not really give me the opportunity. -Hyka

In fact, he was never even invited to a training camp with the Kings. Back to Gatineau he went, where he scored another 20 goals and put up 54 more points for his second straight year in the QMJHL. Yet, the call still never came from the Kings.

Hyka then returned home to play for his hometown team, BK Mlada Boleslav for three of the next four years waiting until the Kings gave up his NHL rights. That happened this Summer and the Golden Knights did not wait long to pounce.

When Vegas wanted to sign me I was like ‘for sure I want to do it!’ -Hyka

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Jon Merrill’s New Mode Of Transportation Isn’t What You’d Expect

We don’t have a picture of Jon on the scooter yet. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jon Merrill is a professional athlete.

Jon Merrill just recently signed a $2.7 million contract.

Jon Merrill drives a scooter to work.

Last month, after a Golden Knights practice a few us got chance to see him riding in his shiny, new toy.

It’s riding in style. -Jon Merrill

To shorten his commute, Merrill needed something easy, comfortable and flashy.

I had been walking to and from the rink, so I picked one up as an ulterior motive to walking. -Merrill

The newly extended d-man didn’t waste his money on an expensive sports car, or a Harley-Davidson, or even a hoverboard. Nope, Merrill chose the form of transportation locals cringe at most, the moped.

I don’t really drive it on the main roads. I just go from here (City National Arena) to my house. -Merrill

So if you see someone flying down Pavilion Center Drive at a speedy 30 MPH, it’s probably #15 (or Ken, he has one too).

The boys love it. They’re all jealous, they want one. -Merrill

We thought for sure this was an illusion that can only be created in mind of a scooter owner, but…

I want to get one for the summer. That’s my next purchase. -Luca Sbisa

The European has his eye on a new Vespa. As a kid in Switzerland, Sbisa became familiar at an early age with Merrill’s type of traveling.

Step one, when you’re fourteen you get a moped. Legit, it has peddles on it. You have to push it, and it goes 20 miles an hour. When you’re sixteen you get a scooter, and At eighteen you get a car. -Sbisa

A young Luca learned how to get himself around his Swiss town, which began with skateboarding.

You go into skateboards, then mopeds. The guys would put the skateboard on the back and sit on it. Once you got into the scooter phase, you ditch the skateboard. You try to be the cool guy. -Luca

This team never stops stunning us.

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UPDATE: This picture was published on the Golden Knights Facebook page on April 24th.

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