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Category: Team Ops (Page 2 of 66)

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.

Don’t Expect A Golden Knights Captain Any Time Soon

One of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights don’t have a captain is that this guy won’t let his teammates anoint him as one. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year the Golden Knights were one of just a handful of teams that did not have a player wearing a “C” on the ice. Instead, they opted for what they called a “leadership group” which was a rotating cast of about seven alternate captains.

They went on to have an incredible season on the ice and players still rave about how amazing the group was off it. Plus, they were able to integrate new players starting a few days before the season began with Malcolm Subban, a waiver add in December in Ryan Carpenter, and the trade deadline acquisitions of Ryan Reaves and Tomas Tatar, without a hitch.

Yet, the question still seems to be floating around the organization, who will become the team’s first captain?

The short answer, and the right answer, is no one.

Nothing’s been said. I don’t think anybody is too worried about it. We have a ton of really good leaders. Old guys, young guys, so it’s really a collective group thing and I think everybody in the room is absolutely fine with that. –Deryk Engelland to NHL Network

Before Opening Night last year, the team announced Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Reilly Smith would wear “A’s.” However, throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs Pierre-Edouard Bellemare became a staple as an alternate as well.

With Garrison, Neal, Perron, and Sbisa all gone, there certainly could be some consideration to hand the captaincy over to Engelland. However, the more likely scenario is for the team to add players like Nate Schmidt, Jonathan Marchessault, Cody Eakin or even a newcomer like Paul Stastny or Nick Holden to Smith and Bellemare in the leadership group.

The Golden Knights organization, especially when it comes to symbolic things, are very much believers in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Thus, as Western Conference Champions, don’t expect to see a “C” on any players sweater any time soon.

Although, the argument can be made that it is broke. No team since the 1972 Boston Bruins has won the Stanley Cup without a captain. The Golden Knights were three wins away from bucking that trend, but they didn’t. Personally, I’m skeptical that the lack of a “C” on a jersey was the reason, but hockey players are weird, so who knows what they believe.

Major Trade Before Opening Night? Don’t Count On It

GM George McPhee recently made a comment that has many feeling like a trade is imminent.

We’re happy where we are. If there’s an opportunity to upgrade at the forward position at any time over the next year we will. –George McPhee to Las Vegas Sun

But for those hoping he’ll find that forward, or even those still holding out hope for an Erik Karlsson trade, don’t bother until the year begins because August and September mega-trades simply aren’t in McPhee’s nature. Since McPhee started his general managing career in 1997, he’s made six trades from the period of August 15th to opening night. All six transactions were minor with the exception of one.

McPhee did make a deal last year before VGK’s first game, but it wasn’t quite the blockbuster most are hoping for. Calvin Pickard for Tobias Lindberg and a 6th round pick. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not just McPhee, plenty of moves are made from now until opening night, but not many are significant. In fact, since 1997 there were 123 trades during that window. Only two could be considered significant. So don’t expect the Golden Knights to pull off a blockbuster trade any time soon.

(See below the article for a complete list of all trades between August 14th and Opening Night)

Could the current climate in Ottawa change the preseason’s transaction activity? Sure, but based on the past 20 season it seems very unlikely. Especially going off of McPhee’s history. In 18 seasons at the helm, the GM only made a handful of moves from the middle of August to opening night, and most were depth additions.

Asking any general manager to pull off a franchise-altering move before October is a tall order. As much as it would make them better, adding Karlsson before the Golden Knights season begins is not likely to happen. However, rumors with Ottawa will be floating all season, so expect McPhee to show interest later in the season.

Or not at all. There’s always free agency.

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Nine Golden Knights Games On National TV In 18-19

Nine games tie VGK for 9th most national TV games. Chicago has the most with 19. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

Following the most successful expansion season of all time, a division and conference championship, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it should come as no surprise that the Golden Knights are a bit more of a national TV draw now than they were at this time last year.

NBC Sports released its national TV schedule, including 109 regular season NHL games, and the Golden Knights are set to be featured nine times. All nine games will air on NBCSN with the season opener the first on the schedule.

10/4 – vs Philadelphia – 7:00 PM
10/10 – at Washington – 5:00 PM
10/30 – at Nashville – 5:00 PM
11/14 – vs Anaheim – 7:30 PM
11/27 – at Chicago – 5:00 PM
1/23 – vs Nashville – 7:00 PM
2/20 – vs Boston – 7:00 PM
3/17 – vs Edmonton – 7:00 PM
3/27 – at Colorado – 7:00 PM

Five of the nine nationally televised games will take place at T-Mobile Arena with the start time of just one being pushed back to 7:30 PM.

Last year the Golden Knights were on national TV just five times in the regular season. The gain of four ranks Vegas fifth behind Tampa Bay, Nashville, Colorado, and Winnipeg for largest increase in NBC/NBCSN games.

NBC plans to bring a roaming studio, and some of their top talent, to many of the doubleheader sites to add more flavor to the broadcasts. NBC Sports President Sam Flood said one objective of the new strategy is “to show what’s happening in the newer markets.” –Kevin Allen, USA Today


(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, that decision was “heavily influenced” by the crowds outside of T-Mobile Arena prior to Golden Knights playoff games.

However, it’s not all great news when it comes to nationally televised games. As always, games broadcast on NBCSN are not aired locally on ATT Sportsnet. So, unless ATTSN decides to do what they did in the playoffs, there will be no local pre and post-game shows.

Also, six of the nine Golden Knights games on NBCSN are part of a doubleheader, meaning another game is broadcast right before it. The first game is always scheduled two and a half hours before the second. In the event of overtime and/or shootout, the second game begins before the first ends. Thus, it’s likely at least a few Golden Knights games will be joined in progress rather than being aired in their entirety.

Offseason Shoulder Surgery The Latest “Why Tatar Was Bad” Theory

Don’t really care what the problem was last year, Tatar needs to be good this year. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There have been a lot of excuses made for Tomas Tatar’s struggles after coming to Vegas in a trade just minutes before the deadline in February. The winger who had scored 19 or more goals in each of his previous four seasons only netted four in 20 games with the Golden Knights before finding himself a healthy scratch during a majority of the postseason.

The preeminent theory for Tatar’s decline was a lack of continuity in linemates.

It wasn’t fair to Tomas really. When we got him at the trade deadline we were trying to add depth to our hockey club and our team was playing so well at the time it was tough for him to get into the lineup. Here he is a 20 goal scorer who can play with any team in the NHL but the way our lines were going and the way our team was playing at that time it made it really tough to put him in a situation in which he could succeed. –Gerard Gallant on Technically Correct w/ Tyler Bischoff

In his first 14 games in Vegas, Tatar played with the same pair of players just once.

I think (consistency of linemates) is huge. He played some right wing when Reilly Smith was out, he played some left wing when James Neal was hurt so he was back and forth with the top three lines. He’s a guy that can play all over the place but he really never had any linemates where he could get comfortable with and that makes a big difference. -Gallant

However, there’s another theory, which was recently brought up by George McPhee on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio that may make even more sense.

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Front Office Confidence Rankings

“Are these idiots aware we just took an expansion team to the Stanley Cup Final? 11th place. Sheesh.” (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

How confident are you in the Golden Knights front office?

That’s the question The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn asked more than 2,000 fans in an attempt to rank all 31 teams. The entire breakdown of how it was conducted and full results can be found here, but since there’s a paywall at The Athletic I’ll tell you some stuff myself. The most important piece of info is that very few Golden Knights fans voted, so a majority of the poll is viewed through the eyes of other teams’ fans.

That being said, the Golden Knights fans that did vote showed supreme confidence in George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the front office, while the rest of the fanbases weren’t nearly as kind.

11th place seems a bit ridiculous for the Western Conference Champions whose roster didn’t exist at this time 13 months ago. Even the fanbase only voted high enough to rank the Golden Knights 7th too.

Here at, we were not able to vote, so here’s how we would have voted with a little description of why for each section. We’re also going to extend the voting to you guys using polls on Twitter. Vote on Twitter, see the results below. (Note: We don’t have the exact questions, so we are simply going off the words listed in the poll results. Therefore, as you’ll see in our responses, there can be different interpretations for each category.)

Roster Building
Ken – 5
Jason – 4

Ken: This roster was supposed to be absolute garbage. Even with the better Expansion Draft rules, most people (myself included) looked at it and said they would be the worst team in the league. They are so far from that it’s not even funny. Instead, they have an elite first line, a ton of balance throughout the rest of the forward group, a solid defense corps with a bunch of upside, and a Vezina quality goalie. Quite frankly, no one in the world could have built a better roster than this one from what was available, and the only team capable of beating McPhee’s new team was his old one. If there was a number higher than 5, I’d vote for that.

Jason: Coming to terms with William Karlsson was the biggest priority for Vegas this offseason. Karlsson signed a team-friendly deal that could set him for a big payday down the road. Extending Colin Miller was another move the Golden Knights should be happy with. Controlling young talent is a major benefit Vegas management takes advantage of, which is a smart strategy building a future roster.

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It’s Team-Friendly Or Bust For A Long Term Deal For Theodore

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Shea Theodore turned 23 years old today. (Happy birthday Shea, now stop reading this, it’s not ideal for you) He’s currently one of the best defensemen on the Golden Knights and is only scratching the surface of how good he can be. Theodore averaged 20:21 of ice time on the Western Conference Champions, he scored six goals, had 29 points, and a Corsi rating well over 50%. Simply put, as long as Shea Theodore is property of the Golden Knights, he’ll be a key cog in the future plans of this team.

All that being said, the Golden Knights do not have to, nor should they, offer Theodore a long-term deal right now, unless it’s on their terms, and by that I mean, really team-friendly terms. Let me explain.

Theodore is a restricted free agent (RFA) and does not have arbitration rights this offseason. Thus, per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, to retain Theodore’s services, the Golden Knights only have to offer Theodore a contract of about $1 million for one year (a qualifying offer). Again, as collectively bargained by the players and the owners, Theodore must sign that contract or he is not eligible to play in the NHL.

$1 million is a massive underpayment for a player of Theodore’s caliber and everyone knows it, but due to his lack of leverage, the Golden Knights hold all the cards… for now.

Next year, Theodore has arbitration rights and will be in the exact same situation the Golden Knights are dealing with in the William Karlsson negotiations. Three years after that, so four years from now, if he’s contract-less, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

So let me recap, before we move on.

Heading into the 2018-19 season (right now) – Age 23 – RFA
Heading into the 2019-20 season – Age 24 – RFA with arbitration
Heading into the 2020-21 season – Age 25 – RFA with arbitration
Heading into the 2021-22 season – Age 26 – RFA with arbitration
Heading into the 2022-23 season- Age 27 – UFA

Thus, the next four years, unless there’s an offer sheet (which hasn’t happened since 2007), if the Golden Knights want Theodore, they’ve got him, and aside from arbitration, he has very little negotiating power.

So, a one-year deal is out, because the Golden Knights benefit in absolutely no way giving him more money when they don’t have to.

A two or three-year deal doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Golden Knights either. Let me walk through the process of what happens if the Golden Knights do not offer that contract this season to explain.

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4 Golden Knights In Top 100 Of Corsica Player Ratings

Corsica Hockey is one of the best advanced stats websites on the web. They’ve produced a metric that combines stats like Game Score, WAR, and others to make for what they call the “best single number representation of a player’s quality.”

727 NHL players were ranked with 24 Golden Knights making the cut. The top five are Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Alex Ovechkin.

#81 and #71 are #17 and #54 (Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have four players in the top 100 including Jonathan Marchessault (#17/#6LW), Marc-Andre Fleury (#48/#4G), William Karlsson (#54/#18C), and Reilly Smith (#64/#9RW).

The top-rated defenseman for Vegas is Colin Miller coming in at #136 followed by Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore tied at #153.

The next highest Golden Knights after the first line is Paul Stastny at #145. Erik Haula (#214), Alex Tuch (#232), and Tomas Tatar (#313) all rank outside of the top 200.

Malcolm Subban (#726) is the second to last player in the entire rankings ahead of just Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg.

Newly acquired Curtis McKenzie came in at #276, the 11th highest ranked Golden Knight. Daniel Carr (#556) also ranks above five Golden Knights skaters, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (#567), Cody Eakin (#608), Jon Merrill (#618), Ryan Reaves (#628), and William Carrier (#652). The other new player, Nick Holden, tied Deryk Engelland at #356.

For those still waiting on the blockbuster Erik Karlsson trade, the Swedish defenseman came in at #25, the third-rated defenseman behind Brent Burns and Kris Letang. Oh, and the disaster that is Bobby Ryan ranked #295, which would be good for 12th place on the Golden Knights.

Vegas Rookie Faceoff: 6 Team NHL Rookie Tournament Coming To City National Arena

The biggest event in City National Arena history starts on September 8th. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

The Golden Knights practice facility, City National Arena will host a six-team, three-day “tournament” featuring top NHL prospects. The six teams participating are the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. It’s being called the Vegas Rookie Faceoff.

Each team will play three games with all nine games being held at City National Arena. Games will be played on September 8th, 9th, and 11th with the Golden Knights rookies taking on the Avalanche, Sharks, and Kings.

Here’s the full schedule for the event.

Saturday, Sept. 8
Game 1 – ARI vs. SJS, 3 p.m. PT
Game 2 – LAK vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT
Game 3 – COL vs. VGK, 7 p.m. PT

Sunday, Sept. 9
Game 1 – LAK vs. ARI, 3 p.m. PT
Game 2 – COL vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT
Game 3 – VGK vs. SJS, 7 p.m. PT

Tuesday, Sept. 11
Game 1 – ANA vs. ARI, 11 a.m. PT
Game 2 – SJS vs. COL, 11:30 a.m. PT
Game 3 – LAK vs. VGK, 2:30 p.m. PT

Rookie tournaments are fairly common in the NHL as they offer a chance for teams to play games against different opponents in a short period of time without having to travel. The Red Wings have hosted a tournament in Traverse City, MI for the past 20 years and includes eight teams. Toronto and Buffalo host similar tournaments as well.

Last year the Golden Knights traveled to El Segundo to play a pair of rookie games against the Los Angeles Kings.

Ticket information has not yet been released for the Vegas Rookie Faceoff. However, fans interested in tickets can fill out this contact form to be alerted when they are available.

The games are expected to be available either on TV and/or via Internet stream, but details have not been announced at this point.

These games will be an excellent opportunity for fans to see Golden Knights top prospects, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, and Nic Hague. Plus, the 5th overall pick from 2018, Barrett Hayton (ARI), the 4th overall pick from 2017, Cale Makar (COL) and the 3rd overall pick from 2015, Dylan Strome (ARI) are expected to participate. Other top prospects like Gabe Vilardi (LAK), Kale Clague (LAK), Sam Steel (ANA), Vladislav Kamenev (COL), Conor Timmins (COL), and Ryan Merkley (SJS) should all play as well.

Hopefully, the Vegas Rookie Faceoff becomes an annual thing because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.

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