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SinBin.vegas Podcast #113: 2nd Place

The dust has settled and the reality is, the Golden Knights had a heck of a year but came up three wins short. We look back at what went wrong and start diving into what the Golden Knights need to do in the offseason to get better. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • The core of the franchise is pretty well set
  • How great of a GM is George McPhee?
  • William Karlsson’s insane contract situation
  • Why does Jason love bad players?
  • Expectations for the 2018-19 season

And much more…

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Potential Replacements For James Neal, David Perron, And Ryan Reaves

Since George McPhee’s “not everyone will be back” quote there’s been a growing fear that the Golden Knights roster won’t be as strong in Year 2 as it was in the magical Year 1. McPhee noted there are always three or four changes which has the speculation on James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Ryan Reaves running wild.

Sportsnet reported earlier this season that James Neal was looking for a long-term deal commanding upwards of $7M per season.

It’s mildly surprising that he hasn’t re-signed in Las Vegas because he would like to stay there. He’s one of the team leaders. It still could get done. –USA Today

Remember when this happened? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s hard to believe the organization would give a massive contract to a player over the age of 30, but would they on a player who’s 29?

Potential Replacement:

James Van Riemsdyk
29 Years-old
2017-18 Stats: 36 Goals (11 PPG), 18 Assists, 14:54 ATOI
Career Stats: 201 Goals, 393 Points, 0.33 Goals Per Game, 0.65 Points Per Game
Contract Speculation: 7 Years, $6M+ AAV

Neal has 62 more career goals and is one year and 243 days older than van Riemsdyk. Both wingers have comparable career statistics, and the age difference isn’t wide. The Golden Knights know what they’re getting with Neal; 20+ goals, second-line minutes, plays with edge. It’s an unknown if van Riemsdyk can repeat his success in Vegas.

I could see Neal being offered a high-cost, short-term contract, but the question remains if we would be willing to sign it. It’s likely his last chance at a long-term deal. One thing is for sure, if the Golden Knights offer JVR a contract, it’s a sign they’re content moving on from Neal.

Van Riemsdyk was integral to the Leafs’ potent first power-play unit but was otherwise seeing third-line minutes. On another squad — Carolina? Vegas? New York? New Jersey? San Jose? — he’d be a top-six fixture again. -Sportsnet

He’s said all the right things about coming back, but it’s going to take a discount to make it actually happen. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

David Perron is a player many fans fell in love with. His silky hands, his beautiful passing, his pestering ways, how can you not love him? With Perron, the feeling is mutual. He loves it in Vegas, he loves his teammates, and he’d love to stay here. Or at least so he says to Vegas media.

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“Not Everyone Will Be Back”; A Look Into VGK’s Free Agency Situation (Plus 9 Predictions)

Reading between the lines, either Neal or Perron likely won’t be back. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights were close to the ultimate goal, but in the end, they fell three wins short. So, they now head to the offseason with a plan in mind, make the team three wins better than they were a year ago.

There are plenty of decisions to be made with the roster as currently constructed and oodles of cap space available to bring in outside help.

The reality is in a salary cap world you have to make some tough decisions, and with this team, not everyone will be back. We’ve all learned lessons over the years, if you examine what happens in the salary cap world you have to be smart about what you do and the contracts you hand out or it hurts your team. We’ll do our best to keep this group together but there are always three or four changes. -George McPhee

The Golden Knights have four major unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) which are set to hit the open market on July 1st. They are James Neal, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, and Luca Sbisa. Also, Maxime Lagace, Jason Garrison, Brandon Pirri, Mikhail Grabovski, Clayton Stoner, Chris Casto, and Paul Thompson will become UFA’s in 20 days.

It doesn’t matter where in the lineup, you have to be smart about what you do. -McPhee

Then there are the restricted free agents (RFA’s) of which the Golden Knights have plenty. The most notable is William Karlsson. In short, Karlsson is not going anywhere. Unless something unprecedented happens, he’ll absolutely remain the first line center for Vegas next season. However, the projections on his contract are all over the map.

Technically, the Golden Knights only have to extend a “qualifying offer” to Karlsson of $1 million. This will happen soon and then Karlsson and his agent will request arbitration. An arbitration date will be set sometime in late July to early August. That will basically be the deadline for the Golden Knights and Karlsson to reach a long-term extension.

Tomas Nosek, Colin Miller, Oscar Dansk, Teemu Pulkkinen, Stefan Matteau, and Philip Holm are also all arbitration eligible and would follow the same process.

Finally, there are the two younger players who are RFA’s in Shea Theodore and William Carrier. Due to their age, neither are arbitration eligible. Thus, the Golden Knights can simply extend them a qualifying offer (Theodore -$874,125, Carrier – $787,500) and the player will have to sign it and remain with the team through next season. However, especially with a player like Theodore, this offseason may be a good time to lock him up long-term before he gets arbitration rights and has more negotiating power. The two sides can come to an agreement on a long-term deal at any time.

That brings us to the magical world of unrestricted free agency which opens on July 1st. Names like John Tavares, James van Riemsdyk, and John Carlson will be thrown around with basically every team that has cap space. The Golden Knights have plenty of cap space so get used to seeing the big names linked to Vegas, but the Golden Knights also have a GM that’s historically not a big spender in free agency.

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When (If Ever) Will Nikita Gusev Become A Golden Knight?

Just because Shippy didn’t work doesn’t mean the Golden Knights should stop trying. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the many assets the Golden Knights acquired during the Expansion Draft was 25-year-old Russian prospect Nikita Gusev. Gusev was drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His rights were traded to Vegas with a 2nd and a 4th round pick in exchange for selecting Jason Garrison (and his contract) instead of players like Slater Koekkoek, Jake Dotchin, Cedric Paquette, or J.T. Brown.

Since then he was named to the Olympic All-Star team, scored two goals in the Olympic Gold medal game, won the Olympic Gold medal, led the KHL in assists, was named a KHL All-Star, won the KHL’s Gentleman’s Award, and was named the KHL MVP.

We like him a lot. We’d like to have him over here as soon as we can get him over here. He’s a talented guy and we’ll do what we can to get him here. -George McPhee

The rules are always a bit fuzzy when it comes to Russian players, but the common belief is that the Golden Knights own Gusev’s rights until he decides to come to the NHL.

He’s got another year on his deal, so we’ll see what we can do. We’ve talked to him and we’ll continue to talk to him. -McPhee

There is not a transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL like there are in other European leagues, but there is a common understanding the leagues will not tamper with each others contracts. Gusev signed a two year extension in July 2017 with SKA St. Petersburg so he isn’t eligibile to come to the NHL until next offseason. However, there are no official rules to prohibit him coming sooner if he has a sudden change of heart.

The Golden Knights did acquire two draft picks in the Expansion Draft from Tampa Bay, but the Lightning were in a tough spot much like Anaheim, Minnesota, and Columbus. Having seen what McPhee was able to harvest from those teams, it’s probable that Gusev was the key piece in that deal. Thus, McPhee expects Gusev to come to the U.S. at some point, and he should be a major offensive contributor.

So while it doesn’t look like Gusev will be wearing steel grey and gold next year, hopes should remain high he’s playing at T-Mobile Arena at some point.

End Of Season Locker Room Interviews

This is the raw audio from every end of season interview we were a part of in the Golden Knights locker room. The voices heard in order are, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, David Perron, Reilly Smith, William Carrier, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Deryk Engelland, Shea Theodore, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt (again), Brayden McNabb, and Luca Sbisa.

The Differing In-Season Contract Negotiations Of Perron And Marchessault

Perron confirmed there were contract talks, but nothing ever materialized during the season. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Coming into this season, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault were both unaware of their futures. The two friends, both with expiring contracts had been sick of the NHL nomad life. While both were hoping to sign extensions with Vegas, only one was able to agree to terms.

It’s nothing you really think of. In the season you’re just trying to think about hockey. When you start talking that doesn’t mean it necessarily will happen. I was happy to get it over with this season. -Jonathan Marchessault

As the new year approached, many wondered if the Golden Knights would trade Marchessault if they couldn’t sign him to a contract in season. The 27-year-old admitted that he was a little concerned as well.

Yeah it’s always on your head a little bit. I told my agent at some point, if there’s nothing we should think of then I don’t necessarily want to talk about it. I just wanted to focus on my game and see what that brings us. -Marchessault

On January 3rd, the Golden Knights announced they had extended #81 on a six-year, $30M contract. The midseason agreement boosted Marchessault’s confidence.

I think so. You never know what happens, injuries, slumps. I think it definitely helped me. -Marchessault

On the flip side, Perron’s agent and the Vegas brass couldn’t come to an agreement during the regular season. If that remains the case on July 1st, Perron will be free to sign with any team. 

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End Of Season Media Day Takeaways

An unbelievable year comes to a close, three wins too soon. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There was so much to take away from the end of year media availability with the players, Gallant, and McPhee, that we figured we’d chuck it all into one post and then break out stories from it over the next couple weeks. So, here are all of our takeaways from the final day of the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights.

  • Las Vegas has become home for a lot of players on the Golden Knights, but no one has adopted Vegas quite like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
    • “It’s home. It’s easy to judge other places and I’ve always told myself, I’ll go back to France because I love France. Then I came to Vegas and for the first time in my life my wife and I were like why not in the States then, we don’t mind Vegas whatsoever, we like it. Vegas has been a place you came to think you are going to play hockey and suddenly you find a home.”
  • This team realized they were going to be good a lot earlier than they led on. Many different players were asked and the answers varied from the second day of training camp to Christmas.
  • David Perron and the Golden Knights had some contract negotiations during the season but they never came to an agreement
    • He absolutely wants to stay.
    • He believes there’s room to work on both sides. “I’ll deserve what I’ll deserve, but I’m willing to work with them to stay here.”
    • He has always found stability important because he’s bounced around teams a lot in his career. Term length seems fairly important to him.
    • Mentioned “his buddy” Marchessault specifically a few times as a reason he wants to stay.
  • Perron’s illness which kept him out of multiple games against Winnipeg was a 103-degree fever. He told the doctors he wanted to play but their fear was that he could possibly spread it around the room. He was sent back to Vegas before Game 2 of the series and felt better when he came back.
  • The reason Perron was kept out of a portion of the Kings series was due to an injury to his neck. He sustained it earlier in the year and said he and the doctors didn’t think early in that series was the right time to come back.
  • One of my favorites moments was when William Carrier said he will never change the way he plays. I chimed in by saying “even when you completely whiff on the guy and check yourself super hard into the boards in that last game?” He responded “which time?”

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Thank You SinBinners

In the middle of a random night 34 months ago I woke up with a realization. For whatever reason, that night it hit me that the NHL was probably coming to Las Vegas. At that time, I was a frustrated radio producer trying to find my way into sports media, the career I’ve wanted to pursue since I was 10 years old after coming to the conclusion I’d never be a professional athlete.

I sat up in my bed and thought, what will my role be in the first major sports franchise coming to the only city I’ve ever proudly called my home? The short answer was nothing, and that wasn’t okay with me. At that moment, the idea for SinBin.vegas was born.

The next morning I brought the idea to Jason, the closest friend I had in town, my radio co-host, and the biggest hockey fan I’ve ever known. I don’t remember his exact words, but the response to the idea was luke-warm at best. I tried to explain the master plan of how we could get press passes and cover the team without the boundaries of traditional media holding us back. We could do it our way I told him. This is where I do remember his exact words, he said, “but who the heck is going to read it?”

He had a point (which is rare), I’ll never forget it, and it’s why on the night that concludes the first chapter of the Vegas Golden Knights story, I want to say thank you.

Thank you to each and every person who has ever visited this site, listened to our podcasts, or interacted with us virtually or in real life. Without all of you, we would not have been able to have had the countless unbelievable experiences we’ve had over the past three years.

Thank you SinBinners, we love ya.

We are allowed into the games because of you.

We talk to the players, coaches, management, and the owner because of you.

We’ve been there every step of the way, from before the awarding of the franchise to the Stanley Cup Final, because of you.

We do not have the backing of a newspaper, TV station, or an established media website like most covering this team. We have the backing of you and we are taken seriously, because of you.

Thank you for talking to us. Thank you for listening to us. Thank you for being there for us.

Thank you for making SinBin.vegas legitimate and thank you for allowing us to do what we love.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS 4 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (4-1 WSH)

The game got off to a horribly slow start with neither team creating much of anything. Then a penalty by Colin Miller gave the Capitals their first real opportunity of the game. Alex Ovechkin banged one off the bar and Vegas escaped unscathed. The period ended scoreless, not the Golden Knights best though.

The 2nd was the complete opposite. Five total goals were scored in a span of 14 minutes in the period. Washington scored first and third, the Golden Knights came back to tie the game twice with goals from Nate Schmidt and David Perron. Then, a late power play goal from Reilly Smith put Vegas ahead for the first time since the 1st period of Game 2. Following the goal, a massive scrum ensued which resulted in four roughing penalties.

Vegas had a couple good chances to open the period, specifically from the second line. Tomas Tatar then took a hooking penalty which opened the door again for the Capital power play. They were unable to convert, but that didn’t stop them from pouring on the pressure and ending the Golden Knights dreams of winning the Stanley Cup in their expansion season. A pair of 3rd period goals gave the Capitals the lead, one they would hold to the finish to win the Stanley Cup.

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena.

  • Three wins short.
  • The first of many posts looking towards next year and how the Golden Knights can complete the final hurdle.

Three Stars
*** David Perron
** Devante Smith-Pelly
* Lars Eller

 

Return To Scoring First/Playing With Lead Imperative For Golden Knights

The Golden Knights scored first in both home games in the series, they need to do it again. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights score first they’ve been almost impossible to beat in the postseason. Their record is an astounding 11-2 when netting the game’s first goal. In the Stanley Cup Final, they’ve scored the opening goal just twice, which is one of the reasons why Vegas is facing elimination tonight.

It’s very important. I feel like we’ve been trailing this entire series. We had a lot of chances last game to be able to get that goal ahead and I think we just have to bear down and get that first goal. That means a lot to our structure of play. -Reilly Smith

Smith’s linemate laid it out even simpler.

I think we need to play with a lead. We’re a good team when we play in the lead. -Jonathan Marchessault

The Golden Knights were 34-5-2 in the regular season when they took the games first lead.

Yeah it’s been important all postseason, for all teams. It’s going to be a fight to get that lead. We’re a really good, dangerous team when we get the first goal. Get the crowd into it and go from there. -Erik Haula

Taking a lead, protecting it, and winning playoff games was a winning formula for the Golden Knights, until this series. Leading up to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, in 16 postseason games the Golden Knights lead for 162:43. Since then, they’ve lead for just 9:29 minutes, and have trailed for 123:18 minutes.

They’re doing a good job. They’re scoring at opportune times as well. Their power play’s sparks the team. It’s important for us to score that first goal and play with that lead. That’s what our mindset is for the next game. -Smith

Having a good first ten minutes is really important. Washington is a team that when they have a lead, they play to shut down and play really good defense. We’ll try and get the lead early on. -Alex Tuch

The Golden Knights seemed confident Game 5 will be a different outcome than the last three games. It begins with the Vegas top line and top players.

They’re a tough team to play against. They wait in the middle and let you make mistakes. We have to put pucks behind them, and let them make the mistakes. -Marchessault

Going by the numbers, scoring first will greatly help the Golden Knights chances to extend the Cup Final. The series isn’t over if Washington jumps on the scoreboard first, but it puts immediate pressure on Vegas to answer. It doesn’t matter which Golden Knight scores, just as long as it’s the opening goal.

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