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Haula: “I Obviously Like Playing In The Center”

Haula won 50.5% of the faceoffs he took. Not great, but certainly not a problem. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

29 goals, 26 assists, a playoff game-winner in overtime against the Kings, and a countless number of big-time goals late in games for the Golden Knights. That’s what Erik Haula did as the center on the second line with David Perron and James Neal. The key words in that sentence are “as the center.”

With the departures of Perron and Neal and the acquisition of Paul Stastny, it stands to reason that Haula may not project as a center anymore. Instead, he might wind as a winger for a line centered by Stastny. Haula weighed in on that topic when he was asked about moving to the wing on NHL Network.

I’ll leave that to the coaching staff. I obviously like playing in the center and I had some success there last year, but I want to win and whatever helps us to do that is key for our group. I’m sure there’s going to be some discussion going into camp and trying our different things but I’m sure at the end of the day we’re going to do what’s best for the group. –Erik Haula to NHL Network

Stastny is much better at faceoffs and is widely considered a better defensive center than Haula, but that doesn’t take away the fact that Haula just had the best year of his career helping to lead the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final, and he did it as a center.

If Haula remains at center it would mean either Stastny would play wing (which is highly unlikely) or Cody Eakin or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare would be pushed to the wing. Here’s an idea of how it would look each way…

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Just before reaching arbitration the Golden Knights and William Karlsson reached an agreement.

When the contract expires, Karlsson will remain an RFA with arbitration rights.

William had a great year for us and we are excited to now have him under contract for next season. -George McPhee

I’m happy to have my deal and we don’t have to speculate other things. I want to prove that I can do it more than just once. Hopefully I play good and can look at a longer deal in the future. -William Karlsson

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.

Read More Podcast #118: Surprise, Ken’s Old Now

Following Ken’s surprise birthday party we’re back at the Space to talk contract extensions, labor negotiations, Binball, and more. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • A quick debrief on the surprise party
  • Contract negotiations with William Karlsson and Shea Theodore
  • How the league might change out of a lockout
  • Should the Golden Knights bring back Luca Sbisa?
  • Sign up for BinBall!!!

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

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Register For The First Annual Charity BinBall Tournament

Join us at the first ever Charity BinBall Tournament on September 8th at 11 AM at The Space LV. Help us raise a ton of money for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada and have a blast playing Las Vegas’ new favorite game, BinBall.

CLICK HERE to register for the First Annual Charity BinBall Tournament!

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Total Goals To Win The Pacific Division

The Golden Knights scored 99 of their 268 goals against Pacific Division opponents. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last season it took the Golden Knights 268 goals to win the Pacific Division title. Vegas finished fifth in the NHL behind Tampa (290), Winnipeg (273), Pittsburgh (270) and Toronto (270). The league average for goals scored was (244), 24 short of the Golden Knights’ output. San Jose (247) was the only other Pacific Division team to score more than the league average.

Clearly, the Golden Knights produced enough offense last season to win their division going away. Vegas was only five tallies behind Winnipeg, the Western Conference leader, and we all know how that ended up. Vegas, Tampa, and Winnipeg were in the top five in regular season scoring and all appeared in the conference finals.

Here’s how the rest of the Pacific Division teams fared in 2017-18.

231 Goals (19th)
2.82 Goals For Per Game
220 Goals Scored in 2016-17
2017-18 (+11 Goals)

206 Goals (30th)
2.51 Goals For Per Game
191 Goals Scored in 2016-17
2017-18 (+15 Goals)

216 Goals (27th)
2.63 Goals For Per Game
222 Goals Scored in 2016–17
2017-18 (-6 Goals)

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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. Prospect Rankings Page

A new page has been added to the site that will be updated as often as necessary. It’s the Golden Knights Prospect Rankings, a comprehensive ranking of every player in the Golden Knights prospect pool.

Throughout the course of the year, especially following key moments for prospects like Development Camp, rookie training camp, and international junior tournaments, we will update the rankings. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for alerts on when the page has been updated.

Here’s a little tease, click here for the full rankings.

1) Erik Brannstrom (D)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #15 overall
Age: 18 (September 2nd, 1999)
Most Recent Team: HV 71 (SHL)

The diminutive Swedish defenseman almost has an aura around him when he steps on the ice. Much like a home-run hitter in baseball, there’s a feeling that every time he touches the puck something special is about to happen. He has great vision and an incredibly high confidence level that leads to breathtaking stretch passes. He’s also a very good skater which helps him overcome his small stature. Moving forward he has to work on controlling mistakes. Due to his unwavering belief that he can make something happen with the puck, he tends to turn it over or get caught out of position quite frequently, much more than a reliable NHL defenseman should. Brannstrom has a legitimate shot of making the Golden Knights roster out of camp, but with his waiver exempt status and a bit of a logjam of NHL-level defenseman, he’ll more than likely end up in the AHL to start the year.

2) Cody Glass (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #6 overall
Age: 19 (April 1, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

The first draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights history has done nothing but dominate since being selected by George McPhee. He scored 102 points in 64 regular season games in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks including 37 goals. What makes Glass such a promising prospect is his ability (and willingness) to defend. He’s been relied upon in Portland as a top penalty killer and is consistently given a large minute load when his team is ahead. He’s also widely regarded as a tenacious forechecker, a skill that will fit in well with the current Golden Knights roster. Glass projects in the NHL as a two-way player with good speed, solid vision, and the ability to score. He’s still likely a year out from making the NHL roster and will probably head back to Portland this year.

3) Zach Whitecloud (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 8th, 2018
Age: 21 (November 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Vegas Golden Knights

The most pro-ready prospect in the entire Golden Knights pool is Zach Whitecloud. He spent the final few weeks of the season with the Golden Knights and even played in an NHL game with Vegas in which he was +3 vs. Edmonton. In Development Camp he was physically the most ready player, but he also displayed great poise and leadership on the ice. When his time comes, and it may not necessarily be out of training camp, he’s not going to be a flashy player, but he will be reliable. He projects as a solid stay-at-home defenseman with potential upside offensively as he matures. His place near the top of the list is more based on how close he is to playing in the NHL than it is the likelihood he becomes a superstar player. That being said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Whitecloud puts together a long and successful NHL career.

Read the rest of the rankings here.

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.

Drawing Penalties Could Be A Problem In 2018-19

James Neal’s face seemed to attract sticks to it last year. VGK might need a new stick/face magnet if they want to keep up the scoring pace in 18-19. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the course of the 2017-18 season, the Golden Knights drew 249 penalties, good for 15th in the NHL. Vegas converted on 53, ranking them 12th in power play goals scored and 10th in power play percentage at 21.4%. Compare that to the 3rd overall ranking in even strength goals and it’s fairly clear the Golden Knights did not rely on a man-advantage to win games.

Nonetheless, power play goals remain the easiest way to score in the NHL (aside from empty netters of course) and the Golden Knights certainly cashed in on a few big ones along the way to a Western Conference Championship.

During the year 26 different Golden Knights drew penalties. Two players made up for 55 of the 249, or 22%. Those two players are now members of the Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues.

James Neal led the Golden Knights drawing 29 penalties in the regular season while David Perron was right on his heels with 26. The next closest Golden Knights were Jonathan Marchessault and Colin Miller, each with just 19. (Plus, Neal missed 11 games and Perron missed 12. Math says if they had both played the entire 82 game season they would have drawn a combined nine more penalties.)

55 penalties at a scoring rate of 21.4%, what the Golden Knights finished the regular season with, adds up to nearly 12 power play goals created off drawn penalties by only Neal and Perron.

The Neal, Perron, Haula line drew 68 penalties while the top line of Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson drew just 40.

Tomas Tatar and Paul Stastny, the two players expected to replace a majority of Perron and Neal’s minutes drew a combined 36 penalties.

The numbers are alarming, especially considering Tatar has yet to show the success he’s had elsewhere in Vegas. It’s not crazy to think however that Tatar, Stastny, and the increased role for Alex Tuch can help to replace the 41 goals Neal and Perron produced, but expecting these same three guys to draw 50+ penalties is probably asking a lot.

The real bummer is this likely means fewer times to chant “shame” at the guy sitting in the box too.

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