The Golden Knights won their first preseason game of the 2019-2020 campaign with a mix of veterans and rookies. Vets like Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith took the game over mid-first period and led the Knights to an easy 6-2 victory.
Things weren’t always that easy for Pacioretty, Smith or other VGK players. Just like their younger teammates, they had to adjust to the speed and the high competition level at their first NHL camps.
I was in New York, and it was tough. -Jonathan Marchessault
Marchessault participated in several NHL team camps but his first was with the New York Rangers. Where he got to share the ice with one of his favorite NHL players.
Marian Gaborik. I remember I was playing on a line with him. Hell of a player. Growing up he was one of my favorite players. It was fun to see him out there.- Marchessault
When Pacioretty attended his first NHL camp, it was like the Wild West.
Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.
The question is, where would he play?
It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass
Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.
But again, where will he play?
To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass
You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.
In his journey home following the fall of Troy, the Greek mythological hero Odysseus was faced with an impossible choice at the Strait of Messina. On one side of the tight channel of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland was Scylla, a six-headed monster known for snatching up sailors directly from the hulls of their ship. On the other side was Charybdis, a whirlpool that sucks in and drowns ships of all sizes. Odysseus knew the only way home was to go through, so he had to pick a way. After much consideration, he selected to sail closer to Scylla’s side, and while the ship made it through, the monster gobbled up six members of Odysseus’ crew. No matter which way he picked, it was going to be bad.
The Golden Knights are headed towards their own Strait of Messina with the contract situation of Jimmy Schuldt. The 24-year-old Hobey Baker finalist selected Vegas, among a reported 30 offers, and signed his NHL regulated entry-level contract. He joined the team for a month, played in one game, and then had to watch from the press box as he was ineligible to participate in either the NHL or AHL playoffs. His contract expired following the season now just two days away from the start of Rookie Camp (three from on-ice), Schuldt remains without a second contract.
As Schuldt’s “ship” sails towards City National Arena, there’s Scylla, signing a contract too early and giving up money, on one side and Charybdis, holding out and missing the start of camp, on the other.
Schuldt is in the worst spot a player can be in negotiation-wise under the current CBA. He’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, meaning he can only negotiate with the Golden Knights (he’s not even eligible for an offer sheet) and he doesn’t have the ability to allow a 3rd party arbitrator to decide on a contract like other RFAs with more NHL service time. Thus, his only true leverage in negotiation is withholding his services. In other words, holding out of training camp.
That being said, missing camp for Schuldt is not like missing camp for Shea Theodore or William Nylander last year, or Mitch Marner this year. Schuldt hasn’t yet proven himself on the NHL level, and with a roster spot wide open, he needs to be in rookie games, preseason games, and in training camp to win the job.
By NHL rule, Schuldt cannot participate in any official team activities without signing a contract. So even if he wanted to come and prove himself before he signs the deal, the CBA forbids it.
Then there are the Golden Knights, who spent the entire offseason selling off pieces in order to become cap compliant. What they are left with is a roster still fully capable of winning the Stanley Cup, but in need of significant contribution from at least one rookie blueliner. Schuldt currently represents the best option to be that contributor. Scylla, signing Schuldt to an overpaid deal when he has no leverage, is on one side, and Charybdis, watching their best defensive prospect miss camp over less than 1% of the salary cap is on the other.
Before the Golden Knights selected Peyton Krebs at #17 in the 2019 NHL Draft, they had to sit and wait. They watched names like Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko, and Kirby Dach be selected by other NHL teams as the clock ticked closer and closer to the Golden Knights turn.
However, thanks to a little behind the scenes video tweeted out by the Montreal Canadiens, we now know that the Golden Knights weren’t just sitting on their hands waiting. The video shows Canadiens GM, Marc Bergevin, picking up the phone while Montreal was on the clock.
Hello. Yeah. What are you offering? Hold on. (sets phone down to speak to staff) 3rd round pick to move two spots. (Staff member shakes head and says “No.”) No, we’re picking. -Marc Bergevin
Here’s the video so you can see it yourself.
The moment when Habs staff knew they were getting their man.
Watch the full behind-the-scenes video from the #NHLDraft in Vancouver.
On the other side of the phone was almost certainly George McPhee (or Kelly McCrimmon or someone else on the Golden Knights staff). We can only speculate this because the Golden Knights were the team that held the pick “two spots” from the Canadiens.
One of the first players SI cautions fantasy GM’s to steer clear from is Vegas’ left-handed sniper.
Max Pacioretty (Golden Knights) ESPN: 67 | NHL: 68 | CBS: 81 Let’s get this out of the way: Max Pacioretty went berserk in the playoffs, scoring five goals in seven games, and he dominated when playing with Mark Stone and Paul Stastny. That as much as anything is fueling the hope that Pacioretty will become a 30-goal scorer again. Turning 31 in November, Pacioretty hasn’t surpassed 22 goals and has missed 34 games in the last two seasons. He’s no longer a threat to record lofty shot totals, making his floor lower than other players in his range.-Sportsnet
The next Golden Knight to skip in your fantasy draft according to SI, could be considered VGK’s most reliable player.
How many more good years can Vegas get out of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is turning 35 this year, while also expecting him to carry the lionshare of the workload? While the departure of defenseman Colin Miller isn’t a death blow to Vegas’s defense, it also doesn’t do Flower any favors. His career has been revitalized since joining the Golden Knights (64 wins, 2.40 goals against average, .919 save percentage) and his potential “bust” label is based more on his longevity than his ability. Avoid reaching for Fleury in early rounds when his value should be much safer as a second-tier goalie.-Sportsnet
Albeit a soft critique from Sports Illustrated, but beyond his age, I doubt Golden Knights fans agree with their reasoning. Las Vegas loved watching Colin Miller rip shots on net, but let’s be honest, his departure won’t hurt Fleury. It’s fair to be concerned with the 34-year-old goalie’s workload but I’m assuming the coaching staff has a preservation plan in place for 2019-2020.
40 years ago the answer that was question was “YES!” when the United States hockey team pulled off the greatest upset in sports history defeating the Soviet Union en route to the 1980 Olympic gold medal.
Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, the entire team is getting back together to celebrate the most memorable game in hockey history, and they are doing it right here in Vegas.
What better place other than Lake Placid to celebrate your 40th than in Vegas? -Mike Eruzione, 1980 USA Olympic Team Captain
On February 22nd, exactly 40 years to the date, the Golden Knights are hosting every living member of 1980 USA Olympic team to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their monumental win in Lake Placid.
Any time I can get to see my teammates it’s exciting so I’m looking forward to it, especially on this special occasion. -Eruzione
The team will be at that night’s Golden Knights game vs. the Florida Panthers and will be included in a night-long anniversary celebration. Plus, a special season ticket member event is scheduled for the night before the game and an event open to the public is in the works for the afternoon on the 22nd.
We’d like to thank the Vegas Golden Knights for considering it and doing it, and obviously, as a team we’re excited about celebrating our 40th and it’s nice that somebody stepped forward and offered an opportunity for us to do it. Thanks to the Vegas Knights, the people of Vegas, the fans, and the season ticket holders. I know they’ll do a great job of promoting it and we’ll have some fun. -Eruzione
There are still tickets available to the game on the Golden Knights website, including a bunch on the “flight deck,” (standing room only tickets next to the castle) which is likely where the team will be hanging out for a majority of the night.
More information is expected to be announced by the team soon.
During the 2018-19 season the Vegas Golden Knights attempted 5,254 shot attempts, 2,814 of them made it to the goalie registering as shots on goal, and 246 of them went into the net.
They finished the year above average in all three categories, but the numbers weren’t consistent. Vegas attempted 10.6% more shots than the league average, they took 9.1% more shots on goal than average NHL team, but they only scored 0.8% more goals than the league average.
The question is, why?
The first answer is a simple one. The Golden Knights shooting percentage (8.7%) was quite a bit lower than the league average (9.5%). The year prior, the Golden Knights scored on 10.0% of their shots. In 18-19 they were 8th worst, in 17-18 they were 8th best.
But once again, why?
Between the two rosters, there wasn’t much turnover. Out went James Neal, David Perron and Erik Haula (injury) from the regular lineup, and in came Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and eventually Brandon Pirri and Mark Stone. William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith all saw some decreases in production, while Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves, and Brandon Pirri saw massive increases.
No matter how you slice it, the team wasn’t a ton different nor did they didn’t play much differently, they just didn’t score as much.
The answer to why almost certainly lies in where the shots came from.
Recently, Bill Tran of TheWinColumn.ca did a deep dive into shot distances for each team. Here’s a look at what he found for the Golden Knights.
Since the Expansion Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights have “had 23 captains.” Each player, no matter of skill, salary, or demeanor all have an equal say in the Golden Knights locker room.
It’s utopia, and it’s kind of seemed that way in reality too.
For two seasons the franchise has been largely successful, so it’s hard to nitpick. However, both playoff runs were cut short. Go ahead and laugh but there could be a connection.
Over the history of the league, the Stanley Cup has been hoisted 101 times. One thing most of those Cup winning teams had in common was a captain. Heck, the 1989 Stanley Cup winning Calgary Flames had two captains. It’s that voice that leads by example on and off… you know all the talking points so I won’t waste your time.
The last captainless Stanley Cup winner was the 1971-72 Boston Bruins. The team had a vacancy at the captain’s role but had four alternates. They didn’t have a problem winning the finals without a captain, in fact, they did it two years prior. Same formula, no C, four As. It also didn’t hurt that Boston had the greatest defenseman in league history on their side.
An NHL season is like cycling through the most challenging course on the Peloton bike… for six months straight. There are homestands, road trips, back-to-backs, and all sorts of weird quirks that pop up because half the teams in the league play in the same stadium as NBA teams.
This year’s Golden Knights schedule is no different, and like every Pacific Division team, there are some high peaks and some low valleys.
October 23 – November 2nd vs COL, vs ANA, vs MTL, vs WPG
After what is a bit of a tricky opening few weeks of the season riddled with tough opponents, single-game road trips, and a back-t0-back in different time-zones with 750+ miles of travel, the schedule hits its softest spot of the year. Four home games, in an 11-day span against one good team, two okay ones, and a horrible one. The Golden Knights have two days of rest before the Colorado game and then three days prior to Montreal. They even have two more days off after the last of the four-game set. Really, the whole month of October is favorable for Vegas, and if they start it off well, the last week could turn it into one of their best months ever.
February 12th – March 3rd vs STL, vs NYI, vs WSH, vs TBL, vs FLA, @ANA, vs EDM, vs BUF, vs LAK, NJD
Directly on the heels of the ridiculous 27-day span away from T-Mobile Arena (more on that below), the Golden Knights come home for 10 straight. (Really it’s 9 of 10, but I figure a road game in Anaheim in February is basically a home game.) The opponents are challenging at first, but they ease up majorly as it goes on. There will be 20 points to get here, the Golden Knights should reasonably be after at least 14 of them.
December 29th – January 11th vs ANA, vs PHI, vs STL, vs PIT, vs LAK, vs CBJ
It’s the longest homestand of the year and the first 7-game homestand since the magical one that opened the inaugural season. Only six games are listed because it starts out with a road-home back-to-back, but there are two off-days behind it. This is about as nice a stretch as you can ask for on a schedule as there’s at least one day between every game and the opponents are all average at best (except for St. Louis). Of course, this is directly before the 27-day monster. It’s almost like the NHL knew they were screwing the Golden Knights, so they tried to make it up to them with two soft spots before and after the nightmare.
January 12th – February 7th at BUF, at OTT, at MTL, at BOS, at CAR, at NSH, at TBL, at FLA