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Category: Team Ops (Page 2 of 67)

Golden Knights Exempt From Seattle’s NHL Expansion Draft

Historically when new teams are added to the NHL, they are exempt from the next Expansion Draft. The same was expected to be the case for the Golden Knights when the NHL inevitably adds Seattle. However, earlier this year Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly left the door open for the owners to change their mind and force Vegas to give a player up to Seattle.

Luckily, today, Gary Bettman put a halt to that potential disaster and confirmed the Golden Knights are indeed exempt when Seattle comes into the league.

This is significant news for multiple reasons for the Golden Knights.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that Vegas will not lose a player in the Expansion Draft. Clearly, that’s a benefit as every other team will be subject to the same rules the Golden Knights had when they entered in 2017.

The next is because Expansion Drafts thin out the talent pool in the NHL. Rather than there being 713 NHL roster spots being available (31 teams of 23), there will suddenly become 736. Thus, it will be easier for players to make an NHL roster, meaning the talent at the bottom of rosters will be lesser than it is now. Every other team will have to replace a player with what used to be an AHL quality player. Vegas will not.

The final reason is that because the Golden Knights are exempt, The Creator will not get his cut of the $650 million expansion fee Seattle will pay to enter the league. This is a blow to the owner of the team, but knowing The Creator, he’d gladly give up $16+ million to ensure his hockey team has a better chance of winning.

No matter how you slice it, this is excellent news for the Golden Knights. Plus, we will all get to sit back and experience all the fun of an Expansion Draft, without fear of the repercussions that come with it.

VGK Has Become The Hunted

The Golden Knights have basically become the bully of the Pacific. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Rivalries grow over time. Years and years of brutally beating up on each other, battling for divisional crowns and eliminating one another in the playoffs. Or so I thought…

Stevens had that to say after last week’s preseason game at the T-Mobile Arena. On Sunday, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer wouldn’t go as far as Stevens, but if this sure sounds like rivalry coach-speak to me.

It’s great. It’s great for a couple reasons, one, it felt like an important game because of the environment, the situation the crowd so that’s always good to get you prepared for that. -Pete DeBoer, San Jose coach

Both San Jose and Vegas suited up most core players as if it were a meaningful game. The Sharks were looking forward to their final preseason matchup at Vegas.

We felt like it was our last chance to have a tune up for us, be ready and get ready. Parts of our game we think we’re ready and other parts there still a lot of room for improvement. -Joe Pavelski, Sharks forward

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Forever Vegas Strong

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One year ago today was the worst day the city of Las Vegas has ever experienced. 58 lives were senselessly taken, thousands of memories were forever tarnished, and millions of lives were affected. It was, is, and always will be, in a word, horrendous.

However, that day taught the world a lot about the greatest city in it. That day showed what a tremendous community we have. That day showed how we rally for our own and for our visitors. That day broke down a lot of the barriers and stigmas about what Las Vegas really is and who actually lives here.

That day showed that we are Vegas Strong.

Today, the Golden Knights will make their way around the city participating in a number of community visits that will touch the lives of hundreds who were affected by 1 October. The Golden Knights are Las Vegas’ team. They are beloved in a way that every sports franchise in the world dreams of, but very few have. They have become heroes after their awe-inspiring first season and today they will use that status to hopefully bring joy to the real heroes of this city.

at the T-Mobile Arena on October 10, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

But today they will be seen much differently than they were this time last year. At that time, they had never played a game. Aside from Fleury, individual players were relatively unknown. They hadn’t yet connected with the city like they were about to a few days later and over the course of the next 12 months. They were not beloved sports icons. The words Wild Bill, Marchy, and Belly meant nothing to anyone. They were really just millionaire athletes who were dropped here, involuntarily in most cases, and were told to go help the city heal the worst tragedy it has ever seen.

Looking back, it was a ridiculous ask, and yet, somehow, they pulled it off, and they’ve been pulling it off ever since.

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Theodore Contract Furthers VGK’s Clear Identity On How They Deal With Players And The Salary Cap

These two have a plan, and no contract situation is going to get in the way of it. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Since the Expansion Draft the Golden Knights have run the gamut as to how, when, and why they’ve inked deals with players. UFAs, RFAs, in-season extensions, offseason extensions, qualifying offers, arbitration hearings, holdouts, you name the situation, the Golden Knights have probably signed a player in it.

That being said, George McPhee has managed to keep a level of consistency with his contracts. McPhee’s way of putting it was, “there’s no hocus-pocus,” and if you dive deeper into his contracts, he’s right. From Fleury to Pacioretty to Stastny to Marchessault to Theodore, they are all pretty much structured the same, and that is something the GM thinks will help his team win.

As long as you’re consistent then the players you have coming up next for deals will buy in to what’s been done because they know they are not going to get special treatment and people that signed after them aren’t going to get special treatment. It’s a pretty consistent thing that we have done with our group to make it fair. The salary will distinguish some players from others because their talent levels are different, but in terms of how the contracts are done everybody pretty much gets the same. -George McPhee

It’s about a mentality in the locker room. There isn’t a hierarchy because the organization truly doesn’t give “special treatment” to any player. The team does what is best for the team and in doing it they treat every player equally. Something other teams say, but the Golden Knights have proven to actually do.

I think when it was laid out and explained to the player on why we were doing that, I think again it helps us manage the cap better and if we are doing that better, I think are chances of winning are better. So, he bought in. -McPhee

This was a comment about Shea Theodore, but it could easily be applied to Jonathan Marchessault, Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, and pretty much every other player who has re-signed with the Golden Knights over the past year. McPhee has a plan and he will abide by it, for the betterment of the entire organization, including the players in it. He’s proven he’s not afraid to go down any path to ensure it too. Just ask Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, and now Shea Theodore.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s about setting a precedent, and it’s something this organization has done unbelievably well considering the short amount of time they’ve actually had players. It’s been 432 days since the Expansion Draft and when in a week the Golden Knights went from three (Shipachyov, Duke, and Hyka) to more than 40 players on the roster. Yet in that short period of time, the Golden Knights front office has a clear method of operation and it’s clearly on display for everyone to see.

I think when you explain what we’re trying to accomplish, why, and how we think it helps us build a better team (guys will buy in). -McPhee

And thus far, they seemingly have. Not only do the Golden Knights have an excellent, potentially Cup contending team, on the ice, but they have one of the cleanest salary caps in the league. Aside from David Clarkson, who they willingly took on to acquire a 1st round draft pick, there is not an albatross contract, there are not players the team is looking to get rid of, and not once has money held up anything the front office wants to get done.

Less than one year ago today, the Golden Knights had not played a single game and thus had no identity. One year later, the same cannot be said, and the identity that’s been established is about as perfect as any NHL team could ever wish for. That may be as impressive a feat as anything the Golden Knights achieved on the ice.

Which is crazy, but true.

Pay Now, Save Later, That’s The Idea On Shea Theodore’s Contract

The holdout is over!

At $5.2M per season, Shea Theodore becomes the Golden Knights highest paid defenseman (by far). The 23-year-old gets a big time raise that many believed he earned, including his General Manager.

If you’re going to do a long term deal, and short term deals but certainly long terms, then you have to get the right numbers. Really have to trust your instincts, trust the experience, trust the scouting reports from your pro staff, trust the analytics data, and make a good decision. We rely on all those resources to make a good decision and we think we made one here and time will tell. -George McPhee

Theodore and the team are happy with the deal, and of course the fans are too. But how did the organization fare committing to a seven-year deal? Remember, McPhee didn’t have to offer Theodore anymore than the required qualifying offer (around $1 million).

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you peruse through the salaries of today’s NHL defenseman, $5M AAV suggests the player is a top 50 defensemen. Out of 227 signed NHL defensemen, Theodore’s new deal makes him the 45th highest paid defenseman in the league. Here are a few players right around his salary for this season.

Torrey Krug
Age: 27
Shoots: Left
5’9″, 185lbs
398 Games
235 Points (52 Goals, 183 Assists)
20:28 ATOI
0.59 Points Per Game
40.4 Point Share
38 Playoff Games

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NHL 19 Golden Knights Rankings

The kids call it Chel, we call it EA NHL 19, the only video hockey video game still being made yearly and the one officially licensed by the league. This year’s game dropped publicly yesterday and the rankings are not kind to the Golden Knights.

While certainly better than last year, the defending Western Conference Champions come in with an overall team rating of 90, good for 6th in the Pacific Division and tied for 17th (with seven others) in the league. The Golden Knights are tied with the Oilers, Blackhawks, Avalanche, Stars, Devils, Islanders, and Rangers. Only two of those teams made the playoffs, and the Golden Knights won more playoff games in the first round than both of them combined!

The Coyotes, Panthers, Canadiens, Ducks, Flames and Sharks are all rated 91, a point better than the best team in the Western Conference in 2017-18. The only thing more ridiculous than the team rankings is the player animations in the game. There are 10 more below, but try this one before you go further. Who is this player supposed to be? (Click/tap the image to reveal the answer.)

Here’s another oddity, Vegas was given a 91 ranking on offense, 92 on defense, and 92 in goal, yet the overall ranking is 90. Good math EA.

On to the part they actually did kind of get right, the player rankings. We’re already over the appalling fact that not a single VGK player ranked among EA’s top 50, but when you look at the order of the players, there’s not much room for argument. Here’s a list of every VGK player.

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Max Pacioretty Loves Vegas, You Are Going To Love Him

Give it a year or two and there will be as many #67s in the stands as #29s.

Max Pacioretty met with the media for the first time today, and he could not stop gushing about how much he loves Las Vegas.

He’s genuinely really excited to be here, and in time, he’s going to become a fan favorite.

I’m very excited to be in Vegas, this is a new chapter in my life and I’m ready to be a part of something that they are building here in Vegas which is really special, so I’m honored to be here. -Pacioretty

The best way to put it was, if I had gotten taken by Vegas in the Expansion Draft I wouldn’t be feeling the way I am today. Everyone had questions marks about what this franchise was going to be like. Everything thinks of Las Vegas about what it is on the Strip and nobody knew this was going to turn into a hockey town. We played here late in the season last year and before we played here friends around the league were reaching out and talking about the experience. Until I saw it with my own eyes, I didn’t really believe it. I’m not sure exactly what I said something along the lines of it was one of the most amazing hockey experiences of my life. -Pacioretty

Right now I know I’ll be put in a position to succeed, this is a team that had a lot of success last year. As I spoke to George and Turk on the phone in that window they reiterated that this is a team that wants to win and I’m going to be a part of that. I’m not someone who is chasing dollars, I just want to be a part of this team right now. -Pacioretty

I woke up this morning around 4:30 and I was just wandering around here (City National Arena) at 5:00 in the morning and came in the rink and the guy downstairs in front said, “you want to go see the room.” I said sure. So I was in the room at 5:30 and was looking around, then I came back around 8:00 or 8:30 and I’m just completely blown away. Just like when I came when we played here in February, they just do everything the right way. When I talked to George, I never heard him say it, but I got the feeling that’s what they did. I feel like their goal was to go out and seek the best in every department and make the dream team. You see it here at the facility and with the locker room, there’s nothing missing. It’s got to be the best I’ve seen. -Pacioretty

When I had to agree on an extension, my kids are old enough to kind of know what’s going on and they said what team are you going to and I said Vegas. So he went up to his bed sheets, and he has all the teams on his bed sheets, and he said “which ones Vegas,” and the bed sheets are old so it didn’t have Vegas. So I said, no no no, it’s not these teams, it’s the one with the show in the playoffs. And he’s like “oh my God,” he couldn’t believe it, so we went on YouTube and we put in the show and it was all the playoff shows. It was the Imagine Dragons playing before the teams came out, it was the ceremony before each round and I feel like this organization has changed the game. -Pacioretty

Right now it’s that first game. I put on the gear today and it was special, but that first game, hopefully, I get my family here, it’s going to be really special. -Pacioretty

I’ve gotta be honest, yeah she was worried about the kids and the schools. As soon as I left the rink, I still had goosebumps, I was all fired up after we played them. And I said, if I’m a free agent, we’ve got to come here, this place is unbelievable. And she said it’s crazy there, the Strip, you know, it’s not good for kids. It’s crazy how we have this misconception and you don’t know what the reality is so we just assume you are all living in a casino. (After speaking to Fleury’s wife) Now she’s very very very excited to come here and to bring the kids here and to start this chapter of his life. -Pacioretty

It’ll be fun to go into the Bell Centre (Canadiens) wearing the shield. -Pacioretty

How do you not love this guy?

Still Seemingly No End In Sight For The Shea Theodore Contract Negotiations

Call it a holdout, call it a contract dispute, call it a player not showing up to camp because of a weird situation in the CBA, but whatever you call it, it’s starting to look and sound more and more likely that Shea Theodore will not be with the team when full training camp opens in less than a week.

Don’t call it a holdout. Or… Do call it a holdout. Doesn’t really matter either way. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Theodore remains without a contract and thus, he almost certainly (even though McPhee said he’s welcome to) won’t be in camp with his teammates. The situation remains a tricky one for the Golden Knights and Theodore because the team is only required to offer him a deal worth less than $1 million and the player’s only recourse to attempt to coax more money out of the Golden Knights is to “hold out” of camp and possibly even regular season games.

(If you are new to this situation, read this article, then this one and you should be caught up.)

GM George McPhee, speaking with the media at City National Arena yesterday did not make it sound like the two sides are on the verge of an agreement.

It’s always best to have all of your guys available, but I don’t feel any particular pressure. We’ll do a deal when the deal is right. If he’s not here, then someone else will play. -McPhee

He went into fairly good detail about why a deal is not in place yet.

It’s an interesting part of our collective bargaining agreement that there’s a group of players, like Shea, that don’t have arbitration rights. And as much as some people dislike arbitration, I’ve always liked it because it’s a tool to get a contract done. People get pressured into getting a deal done or you go to arbitration and you have a contract after arbitration. There’s a group of 10 or 15 good young players in the league that don’t have arb rights and don’t have contracts right now and it takes a while to work them out. It would be nice if they have arb rights because then it’d be done by now. -McPhee

What he’s really saying is that there’s no formal deadline, and because of it, there’s hardly any pressure for either side to bend their stance of what they want to get out of the negotiations.

Like every negotiation, it’s about leverage and timelines. Theodore’s only recourse to force the Golden Knights into seeing things his way (meaning giving him more money) is to stay away from the team, hoping his absence will be enough to change their mind.

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McPhee Walks Back Support Of Schmidt In Clearing Team’s Involvement With Illegal Substance

For the first time since the 20 game suspension of Nate Schmidt was handed down by the league, GM George McPhee met with the media to answer questions. He opened with a quick statement explaining that he is unable to talk about the specifics of the situation but, admittedly against his better judgment (“I probably shouldn’t even talk about this”), did to go into a bit of detail about how the Golden Knights handle supplements with their players.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Prior to this press conference, based solely on the statement the team released following the NHL’s announcement, the Golden Knights seemed to be strongly backing Schmidt, however, McPhee’s statements today did a lot to separate that support from any accusations of wrongdoing by the team in this situation.

The organization isn’t responsible for (pause)… It didn’t come from us. Everything we have, any supplements, any vitamins are all NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved, we know where our food comes from. So there are no issues with respect to the club. So now you are going to say the onus is on him but I can tell you in this process a lot of you can go for a protein shake at a health food store around here and test positive tomorrow. -McPhee

This is a pretty stark contrast to Schmidt’s statement six days ago.

The fact that I’m issuing this statement is surreal to me as I have only used supplements provided by my NHL team and I have always been extremely careful about what I put into my body. -Nate Schmidt

McPhee was pressed further on the discrepancy.

With what we supply in terms of food and supplements and vitamins and in terms of the way we test our players, and I’m certainly not going to give away all the ammunition of how we do things for other clubs, but we do a lot of testing and we do defensible documentation and we are in a good place with that. -McPhee

McPhee also offered a comment about what he told other players on the team, furthering his stance that the substance which caused Schmidt to test positive did not come from the Golden Knights.

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Young Defensemen Presented With Rare Opportunity

Yesterday it seemed nearly impossible for Brannstrom to make the roster. Today, it’s absolutely realistic. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. -Albert Einstein

Yep, started an article with an Einstein quote, deal with it. But seriously, that quote could not be more perfect for Erik Brannstrom, Zach Whitecloud, and Nic Hague.

Prior to the suspension of Nate Schmidt, the Golden Knights appeared to have a bit of a logjam of defensemen which was going to make it nearly impossible for a waiver exempt player to win a job out of the training camp. However, with Schmidt out 20 games, and the potential of Shea Theodore missing games due to contract negotiations, all of a sudden at least one spot appears to be wide open for one of the Golden Knights young blueliners.

Whitecloud is the obvious leading candidate to claim that roster spot being the eldest of the trio and having spent over three months with the team during the playoff run a year ago. Whitecloud is also a physically mature 21-year-old who plays a fairly responsible defensive game suitable to fit into an NHL roster.

That being said, Brannstrom and Hague suddenly enter camp with a much more realistic shot of sticking in Vegas rather than heading to Chicago come October 4th. Brannstrom will have to prove he’s trustworthy and isn’t the insanely high risk-reward player we’ve come to know him as, and Hague will have to prove he can skate with NHL caliber wingers.

The question will come down to usage. In order to make it worthwhile for any of these three players to be on the NHL roster, they’ll have to prove they should be in the lineup, not just on the team. There’s no sense in putting a waiver-exempt player in the press box when he could be developing in the AHL.

Unlike the scenario Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore found themselves in last year, where despite clearly being among the top 23 players on the team they were not given spots on the NHL roster, Whitecloud, Brannstrom, and Hague (and you can throw in Coghlan, Bischoff, and Oligny if you please) simply have to prove they’re good enough to play in the NHL and they’ll be on the roster.

It’s a tall task, no doubt, but this year is a lot different than last year… at least for the defenseman. Sorry, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Lucas Elvenes, and Tomas Hyka the forward spots are almost certainly not going to anyone with waiver-exempt status.

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