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Category: Team Ops (Page 1 of 43)

Expansion Draft Protection Lists Will Be Made Public

And just like that, the Expansion Draft protection list saga is over, and the good guys win.

Those lists are set to be submitted to the NHL by 2:00 P.M. PT on Saturday, June 17th. Vegas then has three days to get their 30 selections in, and they will then be revealed in a nationally televised, free to attend event at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday June 21st.

The general managers spoke out against the lists being made public, and The Creator even said he prefers they remain secret until the reveal on the 21st.

After a lot of internal discussion following the General Managers meeting, we determined it would be best to disclose those lists publicly. One of our guiding principles from the start of this process was to prioritize transparency, and certainly here, keeping the lists private would not have promoted that particular objective. –Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner to NHL.com

But cooler heads prevailed and the world will get to play “armchair McPhee” and pick their 30 from the list of available players right along with the Vegas GM.

Man, June is going to be fun.

The Creator Wants Protection Lists Kept Secret, He’s Wrong And Here’s Why

The visibility of the Expansion Draft protections lists is shaping up to be quite the war between the public and the powers that be in the NHL. The GMs made it rather clear at their meetings in Boca Raton, FL a few weeks ago that they had no interest in allowing the world to see what’s going on behind the scenes of their organization, and more importantly open them up to criticism on Expansion Draft errors.

That’s all makes sense, but as a member of the working hockey media, it’s rather difficult to feel too bad for 31 gentleman who each hold one of the most envious positions in the NHL and are compensated handsomely to do the job.

But now, our own front man has come out against making the lists public, and his reasoning is completely different than that of his top employee and McPhee’s 30 colleagues.

I’d rather not have them be public. I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks. So what we do is we don’t tell anybody anything. I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks – particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise. –The Creator to Puck Daddy

Now he does have a point, there’s definitely a level of interest that could be gained by having the Expansion Draft reveal be this massive surprise, but it’s a short sighted way of looking at the situation.

If the lists are made public, there will be at least three full days of speculation in which the words ‘Golden Knights’ will be at the center of. The surprise may be bigger (I disagree, and will address that in a second), but it’s also shorter.

If we learned anything from the recent Presidential election it’s that being in the news is a good thing. Every day it was something else and you couldn’t surf a website, scroll a timeline, or watch a television program without hearing the word Trump. He dominated the talk and eventually parlayed it into becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Every media member, every blogger, every fan of the sport will toy with the lists with their mind constantly on one thing, “which of these guys is going to be a Golden Knight.” VGK will be trending for a week rather than an hour.

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Sabres GM Recalls A Favor From McPhee; Expansion Deal Coming?

The club of NHL general managers is a small fraternity. A group of 31 that are active and no more than 150 or so in the century long history of the league. (Someone count em for me, seemed like a lot of work.)

This small group leads to a familiarity and at times an understanding that what goes around comes around. Scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back later. Well it appears Buffalo GM Tim Murray scratched the back of George McPhee while with the Capitals, and the Sabres may be ready to cash in on a favor from 2014.

I’ve had a conversation or two with George on who I wouldn’t like to lose and how we can make that happen. Maybe I’ve done a deal with George in the past that was considered somewhat of a favor. Maybe I’ve had a conversation with him reminding him of that, and he remembered the wordage of that deal word-for-word, which I was very happy to hear. –Tim Murray, Buffalo Sabres GM to WGR-AM 550

That deal he’s talking about went like this.

Washington receives: Jaroslav Halak & 2015 3rd round pick
Buffalo receives: Michal Neuvirth & Rostislav Klesla

The favor was in Buffalo taking Klesla, who never even stepped foot in Buffalo. He and his $3 million contract went back home to the Czech Republic, and came off McPhee’s cap.

You only do a favor when it suits you. You do a favor for somebody when you can afford to do that favor now, knowing that you might need something down the road. That’s what favors are. -Murray

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Raiders Coming To Vegas, Creator Not Exactly Enthused

Today was dubbed by most as a historic day as the NFL approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas. The Raiders are set to begin playing in Las Vegas in 2020. The Vegas Golden Knights, Vegas’ major first professional sports franchise, put out a statement shortly after the news went public.

“On behalf of the entire Vegas Golden Knights family, I would like to welcome and congratulate Mark Davis and the Oakland Raiders on their relocation to the great city of Las Vegas. It truly is an exciting time to be from Las Vegas. There is only a select group of cities in North America that are home to both an NHL and an NFL franchise and Vegas is now one of them. This alone should be a great source of pride for our community and our fans. Las Vegas has always been one of the most popular destination cities in the world and it is now emerging as a premier location for major league professional sports. -The Creator

That’s the politically correct version. Let’s just put it this way, The Creator was a bit more honest and forthcoming on a must-hear interview with The Vegas Hockey Hotline on KSHP 1400 (embedded below).

And that was just the beginning.

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Two Team Town Should Motivate VGK To Win

Today could be a big day in Las Vegas. Sin City’s second “big day” in less than a year. I’ve come around on the Raiders potential move. (Note: This is Jason, Ken has definitely not come around. I’m sure he’ll have something to say soon.) At first, I was concerned it would impact the growth of the already established Golden Knights. However, I’m not as worried anymore. The Knights are already in development and ready to take center stage this Fall. Nothing can stop the swell of VGK excitement now. The hockey growth began almost a year ago and its building by the day. 

One issue that concerned me the most was the local interest after the Raiders relocate. Of course, the NFL steals headlines from the other major sports and it’s already happening here. If it wasn’t for the SinBin.vegas and the occasional RJ article, you would barely see local coverage of the Golden Knights. I’m sure it’ll get to The Creator at some point, but it could motivate him and his team. Nothing frustrates franchise owners more than lack of press. No matter how well teams play, the Rangers, Yankees and Lakers will constantly steal attention from the Islanders, Mets and Clippers. That type of lopsided attention will keep some owners up at night. 

Let’s use Boston as an example. Nothing concerned Red Sox Owner John Henry more than the success of the upstart New England Patriots in the early 2000’s. When he bought the team, the Red Sox were the king of the city. The Pats, Celtics and Bruins shared one sport page, in both newspapers. Losing steam to the Pats, Henry knew he had to win the World Series. The success and attention of the Pats and Sox even trickled down to the Celtics and Bruins as well.

The healthy competition of all four teams ended up victoriously for each franchise. That can happen here in Las Vegas. We’ve heard The Creator’s desire to win, another franchise moving in won’t distract the new owner’s pursuit of winning the Stanley Cup. In fact, it could motivate him even more. Being second fiddle will eventually tick him off. Winning is the cure for that which was the original plan anyway.

Las Vegas will be a great two-team town. And by the way, it could work both ways. The Davis family will be treated like royalty for the time being. It could change quickly if the Raiders have losing seasons. Late season lack of interest can hurt the bottom line. If that happens to the Las Vegas Raiders, panic will ensue. At that point, Marc Davis will be the Golden Knights biggest fan. Another team winning will help keep angry fans distracted. If he’s smart, in the offseason he should trade in his Black and Silver for Black and Gold.

McCrimmon Downplays Final Payment Importance

In the early afternoon on March 1st, the day of the NHL Trade Deadline, The Creator’s money cleared and the Vegas Golden Knights officially became the 31st franchise in the NHL.

They were free to make moves, George McPhee could attend the GM meetings in Boca, and the Golden Knights were to be treated like any of the Original 30 teams. Big deal, right? Not so much apparently.

There’s so much interest and attention and coverage of our team, so when we became official on March 1st there was an expectation that it significantly changed things for us when in reality our day to day didn’t change at all. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant General Manager

Speaking on The Vegas Hockey Hotline (begins at 31:20), the AGM said the only importance it really had was that it was a nice moment for the owner.

He wouldn’t talk about deals that were made and didn’t seem to believe the Reid Duke signing was affected by the timing of the final payment either.

In terms of our discussions with other teams those had been ongoing, I think what we are finding is that as we get later in the calendar year, teams are going to be more and more interested in having discussions with us. -McCrimmon

There’s really no reason to doubt McCrimmon and McPhee on their description of the final payment, but there’s still a part of me that wonders why The Creator specifically said it would not get done in time for the deadline, then magically made it happen just minutes before the league closed trading for the year.

If there was truly no significance, why would the league have taken time out of arguably the busiest day on the calendar to deal with paperwork with a team not playing a game until October?

There has to be a reason it happened, unfortunately, I doubt we’ll ever know.

Drone Footage Of Practice Facility

The Practice Facility in Downtown Summerlin is continuing it’s almost ridiculous pace and now appears as if it might actually be operational ahead of schedule.

Friend of the site and Las Vegas sports broadcasting legend Ron Futrell and his team at Avisight sent the drone up over the facility and came back with some pretty sweet images.

If you missed my exclusive (at the time) (now they seem to be letting all the other media folks in, another in the long line of people copying us months later and then saying on TV they were first, so then people actually think they were first, which they weren’t, obviously. Sorry. It bugs me.) tour of the practice facility, it’s here.

This is the first we’ve seen it with the final roofing structure beginning to take shape. The plan still is to have the place open, at least a portion of it, in mid August in time for the rookie training camp.

I’d expect it to be skate-able for the public in October or so, and the restaurant will likely be my go-to spot for pizza and Foley Pinot Noir in early 2017.

Drafting Third Is Equivalent To Drafting Fifteenth; You Know What That Means

TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button updated his mock Entry Draft this week with no change at the top. Week in, week out Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier have led the top two picks of June’s draft. Last week Button slotted Vegas in the third draft position just missing out on the Patrick, Hischier sweepstakes. Vegas is still selecting third in Button’s mock draft, but the player drafted was different this week.

According to Button’s latest mock draft, the player currently slated to go third is 18 year-old center Martin Necas. The young center has 7 goals and 8 assists in 41 Czech Extra League games. The numbers don’t mimic Patrick or Hischier but obviously the skill speaks for itself.

Necas has a style of game that reminds me of Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. He has a high skill level, can finish or create, and has a desire to find some way to make an impact in every game he plays. – Craig Button, TSN Director of Scouting

Whoa Giroux?!? According to the NHL Central Scouting Bureau Necas is rated the fifth best international skater. For a full player spotlight check out our post from January.

Of course Necas sounds like a promising franchise center, but now we’re getting into deep waters. TSN analysts Bob McKenzie, Frank Seravelli and Button have all stated the talent pool is less impressive than past drafts. After Patrick and Hischier, who are dubbed can’t miss players, the talent drops significantly. Analysts have said drafting 3rd or 15th is about the same this year. Not good for Vegas if the ping pong balls act anything like the craps table does for Ken.

Drafting Necas doesn’t have much value at pick third. In a way after the first or second pick it possibly doesn’t matter where Vegas drafts in the top six. We’re all thinking it, and of course McPhee is… but the Golden Knights really need to trade up. Getting in the top two, Vegas would kill two birds with one stone. The new franchise would draft their potential future center and they make a big splash for the fans.

Hitting the big splash isn’t necessary for the Golden Knights but it could work out for the franchise’s future. Drafting a player that’s a unanimous first or second pick is a much different from selecting a player third that could’ve been drafted sixth, ninth or thirteenth. Of course, the pick itself is valuable, but this is a different circumstance. The Golden Knights first franchise selection will be over analyzed and critiqued. Waiting a couple of years for Necas to develop could frustrate the T-Mobile faithful. Plus, he may continue playing in Eastern Europe next year while waiting for his turn in Las Vegas. I’ll say it for Vegas fans, just trade up and secure the first or second pick. Hey, I don’t need to tell the Golden Knights how to draft but I know 16,000 invested fans will.

McPhee Drops More Hints On Coaching Search

During Monday’s season ticket holder conference call, GM George McPhee sounded like a man who’s impatiently waiting for late June.

We’ll be ready for the expansion draft and the entry draft. In fact I think we’re ready now.. -George McPhee, General Manager

If you missed it or aren’t quite rich enough to have fancy pants season tickets, check out the SinBin.vegas Twitter timeline as Ken live-tweeted out the full conference call. Without giving too much away, McPhee gave a few notes of interest, especially, an answer to a coaching question. We still stand by Jack Capuano as the front-runner and his comment leads us again to the former Islanders coach.

Let’s get to the hidden information McPhee might’ve tried to slip by us. On a question about finding the Golden Knights first head coach. The GM stated he wants a coach that knows the present-day players, rules and styles. Most importantly, here’s the big clue, he also would like to hire someone he knows.

We want someone who is very current on the game, who’s progressive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of coaches in the NHL. Had great experiences in the world championships working with several NHL coaches. So, we know who’s out there. We decided way back in August, that we were going to take our time and interview along the way. – GM George McPhee

McPhee said it, he’s worked with a lot of NHL coaches. Here’s the list:

CoachWhen With McPheeCurrently WithTenureRecord
Ron WilsonWSH Head Coach (1997-2002)N/A410 Games192-159-51
Bruce CassidyWSH Head Coach (2002-2004)Boston (Interim)110 Games47-47-9
Randy CarlyleWSH Assistant Coach (2002-2004)Anaheim (HC)164 Games64-75-18
Glen HanlonWSH Head Coach (2003-2008)GM Vancouver Giants (WHL)239 Games79-122-9
Bruce BoudreauWSH Head Coach (2008-2012)Minnesota (HC)329 Games208-104-40
Jack CapuanoNYI Head Coach (2015) *Only Season McPhee w/New YorkN/A82 Games45-27-10
Doug WeightSr. Advisor to GM and Isles Asst. Coach (2015)New York Islanders (Interim)29 Games16-9-4
Bill PetersIIHF Team Canada Head Coach (2014-Pres)Carolina (HC)164 Games65-72-27
Dave CameronIIHF Team Canada Assistant Coach (2014-2016)Calgary (Asst)137 Games70-50-17
Mike YeoIIHF Team Canada Assistant CoachSt. Louis (HC)370 Games187-139-44

As you can see, McPhee has worked with plenty of NHL head coaches past and present. Cassidy, Carlyle, Boudreau, Weight, Peters and Yeo are all current NHL head coaches. Capuano was fired earlier this season, and Cameron was let go after last season. Hanlon and Wilson haven’t been NHL head coaches in some time so it’s safe to eliminate them. Carlyle, Boudreau and Yeo are all safely employed. Which leaves Capuano, Cassidy, Weight, Peters and Cameron.

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Vegas To Control All Hockey Operation At AHL Level; Likely Affiliated With Chicago Wolves

Remember about a month ago when we were discussing the Chicago Wolves organization and how they may not be the perfect fit for the Golden Knights? Well after a little further digging, it appears the information that led us to that conclusion is a bit out-dated, and the concerns we had aren’t going to be an issue at all.

Vegas will have full control over hockey operations of it’s minor league affiliate. They will be the primary NHL team to be affiliated with their minor league team, and the Chicago Wolves are still the likely destination which will be announced when the AHL season concludes in late April to mid May (depending on the Wolves success in the playoffs).

Let me back up a minute and show my work here, cause this is quite a bit different from what I said a little more than a month ago.

The first report of an affiliation with the Wolves was posted by Steve Carp of the RJ on January 1st. At that time it was reported as “in discussions” with Chicago.

Since then, sources have assured with me on multiple occasions that unless something changes, it’ll be Chicago. I even got a pretty strong hint of that yesterday as well.

So that’s when I went into dig mode on what an affiliation with the Wolves would look like. Historically, the Wolves are one of the most independently run AHL franchises even making comments like this.

They are in no way defined by their NHL parent. Affiliation, for (Wolves GM Wendell Young), is just another league rule. –Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business

That quote was from 2013, but Ecker doubled down on that in an article written in June 2016 about the Blues extending their affiliation with the Wolves.

Then yesterday, in a special Q&A with season ticket holders, George McPhee was asked about the minor league affiliation and exactly how that will process will work.

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