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McCrimmon Expects League Order Of Operations To Remain In Tact Despite Pause

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Two weeks ago all was rolling along as planned and the Golden Knights were 11 games away from claiming their second Pacific Division title in franchise history. Then, the NHL hit the pause button, quite literally. Then, on March 12th, the season was halted, the season suspended, and the league calendar put in complete limbo.

Normally, the season ends, the playoffs start, then there’s a draft, free agency, training camp and we’re onto the next season.

This year, who knows?

Kelly McCrimmon, speaking on the Hockey Hotline with Brian Blessing, has no idea when the league will pick back up, nor is he even sure it will, but he does have an expectation as to how the calendar will look once it does.

The sequence of the events, I expect, will roll out in the same order. I can’t tell you what the dates of those events will be but I would expect that we wouldn’t have the NHL Draft until the season was over. There’s still going to be a window in there for free agency, which wouldn’t happen until the NHL Draft is over. -Kelly McCrimmon on Vegas Hockey Hotline

McCrimmon did qualify his expectations, indicating that he had not been told this by the league.

And again, that’s only speculation on my part, but I expect that the sequence of events will remain the same. The uncertainty would be exactly when those would be. -McCrimmon on Vegas Hockey Hotline

Last year, here’s how the calendar rolled out.

April 6th – Last day of regular season
April 9th – NHL Draft lottery
April 10th – Stanley Cup Playoffs begin
April 27th – NHL Scouting Combine begins
June 12th – Final day of Stanley Cup
June 19th – NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas
June 21-22 – NHL Draft
July 1st – Free agency opens
August 6th – Deadline for RFA salary arbitration

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Expected Financial Loss May Be Worse For The Players

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the pause continues, it’s no surprise the NHL is preparing for a severe loss in revenue. It’s not to suggest they would rush to play, but like most of us, the league is facing serious financial issues. It’s already started inside the league office.

But the players may be the ones that get hit the most.

Hall of Fame hockey scribe Larry Brooks reported NHL players were alerted to a staggering amount of earnings lost due to the pause.

The NHL has informed the NHLPA that revenue losses could range from the best-case low of a couple of hundred million dollars to a worst-case amount of up to one billion dollars, The Post has learned. -Larry Brooks, NY Post

The NHLPA spoke with player representatives and explained the escrow share could reach a loss of 21% if the season and/or playoffs are canceled. Under the current labor agreement, it’s possible player contracts would be paid only 65% of their salary for 2019-20.

The season is approximately 85-percent complete. The discrepancy reflects a combination of the 6-to-10 percent of revenue generated by the playoffs and the fact that a full playoff would come at the cost of the remaining 15-percent of the season that would not be played. No wonder the players are pitching the idea of resuming the season in some form and playing for the Stanley Cup in August and September.-Brooks, NY Post

For a team like the Golden Knights who were expected to make a deep run, the pause takes significant money out of the players’ pockets. Playoff shares, according to the NHL are distributed by “A single lump-sum payment of $6,500,000 shall be made by the NHL to the players on account of a player fund, which shall be allocated to the players on clubs participating in the various playoff rounds and/or based upon club finish, as shall be determined by the NHLPA, subject to approval by the League.”

Without the postseason, players stand to lose a good chunk of change, and because of their escrow agreement, they stand to be impacted financially even more than the owners.

Players and owners split the NHL’s “hockey-related revenue” 50/50 (players get their share in salaries). At the end of the playoffs every year, both sides get together and count up how much money the NHL made that season. They then use that number to estimate how much it’ll make the next season (a five per cent bump is a typical ballpark guess). The salary cap, which is designed to make sure the players get 50 per cent of the revenue and no more, is then set based on that number.

But because it’s impossible to predict exactly how much revenue will come in, a percentage of every player’s paycheque is held in escrow until the money is counted at the end of the season (it isn’t always the same, but 15 per cent is a good ballpark number). If the NHL does really well and exceeds the revenue projection by a significant amount, all that money is returned to the players. But if it doesn’t, the owners get to keep however much they need to ensure they end up with exactly 50 per cent of the revenue. –Jesse Campigotto, CBC Sports

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Whitecloud’s Contract Likely Spells End Of The Road For Two Original Golden Knights

In their first official roster activity since the NHL season was put on halt, the Golden Knights locked up defenseman Zach Whitecloud to a two-year contract at $725K AAV.

Whitecloud becomes the third Golden Knights defenseman to be locked into next season since early February. First, Vegas acquired Alec Martinez and will pay him $4 million against the cap in 2020-21, then they extended Nick Holden on trade deadline day for a cheap $1.7 million for two seasons, and now Whitecloud.

That leaves the Golden Knights blueline fairly stocked. Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt are under contract for each of the next five seasons, Brayden McNabb, Holden, and Whitecloud each have two years left now, and Martinez’s deal expires at the end of next season.

That’s six NHL defensemen under contract for the 20-21 season with Nic Hague, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan all waiting in the wings in the AHL. Plus, Jimmy Schuldt will become an RFA whenever free agency opens this summer meaning he’ll likely stick around for another year as well.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So, where does that leave the two defensemen currently on the roster both set to become UFAs? Well, the previous nine games before the pause told the beginning of the story (neither Merrill nor Engelland played defense in any of them), Whitecloud and Holden’s extensions tell the middle, and now the end will have to wait until July 1 (or whatever the equivalent is this year).

Under Gallant, Merrill played 38 of the Golden Knights’ 49 games. Engelland was in Gallant’s lineup for 44 of 49. Under DeBoer, Merrill has played 11 of the 22 (with one as a forward) and Engelland just five. Clearly, both Merrill and Engelland had fallen out of the Pete DeBoer led Golden Knights lineup prior to the pause.

Now, with six defensemen under NHL contract and four more pushing for time there’s simply not space for both Engelland and Merrill, if there’s even space for one.

Plus, looking over the roster and the salary cap balance sheet, if there’s one place for Vegas to upgrade with a massive piece, it would be on defense (paging Alex Pietrangelo).

Things get even trickier for Merrill and Engelland when you consider that none of the six NHL contracts are waiver-exempt next season. Also, Nic Roy will require waivers next season as well. Vegas spent the majority of the season juggling their roster this year because they could. Glass, Hague, Whitecloud, and Roy could all go back and forth without any risk. That’s no longer the case for Whitecloud and Roy, which means the expected roster already has 18 (and 19 if you count the backup goalie), waiver-eligible players. There’s simply no room for another one.

The move of signing Whitecloud should be celebrated as it was done for an incredibly cheap price and it gives the Golden Knights even more cap flexibility heading into an offseason with an uncertain cap. But, for those who are fans of original Golden Misfits, the deal likely signals the end of at least one and probably two of them.

Carp: Ready For The Future

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

At some point, the hockey world will return to normal. When that point will be, nobody can say with any certainty as the coronavirus pandemic maintains its grip on the world.

But that time is coming, and when it does, it means charting a course for the future. We’re talking entry draft. We’re talking free agency. We’re talking salary cap. We’re talking scouting plans for 2020-21, both pro and amateur.

Right now, everything is at a standstill. There’s no junior hockey being played. There’s no minor league hockey. There’s no college hockey. There’s no KHL, and most of the other European professional leagues have either finished or canceled the remainder of their seasons.

The Golden Knights are no different from the other 30 NHL teams. They can’t travel which is fine because there’s nothing to travel to. They are going to have to rely on the work their hockey ops and scouting staffs have been doing since last August.

The good news? They have more time to analyze the information they have gleaned. There’s no rush to make a hard decision on a player. The majority of their work is already completed.

The NHL has not decided whether to delay the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. In all likelihood, the draft will get pushed back. How long? Again, that remains to be seen.

But George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon have an opportunity to use the data at their disposal to really hone in on a particular player and see what the pros and cons are. Scouts can go through their reports, rewatch video of a player and either confirm their analysis or perhaps alter a couple of things.

McCrimmon is up at his cottage in Manitoba and he remains in communication with McPhee along with his hockey staff.

The bottom line is the Golden Knights should be better prepared for the 2020 draft than they were for the first three they participated in. McCrimmon said Saturday the work continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amateur scouting staff is an obvious area where we’d be the most impacted. We’d normally be getting our final readings on most players in competitive settings. But I think we’ll prepare very well. Our guys have been all over the world doing their work and we’re prepared. It’s hard to speculate. First, the world has to get healthy. We don’t know how the dates will fall in line. -McCrimmon

Read More Podcast #191: Quarantined In Ken’s House

Locked inside Ken’s house, we talk about the possibility of the season returning, paying employees, and quarantine life. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • The August/September idea
  • VGK paying T-Mobile Employees
  • The future cap and Vegas
  • Feeling bad for McPhee?
  • What are you up to in this weird time?

And much more…

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

The Creator Explains The Delay In Announcing Plans To Take Care Of T-Mobile Arena Employees

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday the Golden Knights became the 31st team in the NHL to commit to paying arena employees for missed games due to the pause in the season.

The Golden Knights organization, players and Vegas Golden Knights Foundation will combine resources and planning to support those employees who may miss shifts due to the pause in the NHL season and pledge a minimum of $500,000 to these efforts. Leading the player contributions is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury,who has committed to donating $100,000. -Golden Knights press release

Previously, every other team had made an announcement except the Golden Knights. In a pair of interviews with Vegas Hockey Hotline and JT The Brick, the Creator explained exactly why it took a bit longer for his team to make their announcement.

We wanted to be very specific about what we were doing. A lot of clubs made kind of a general statement. What I personally wanted to do was to make sure we get the money to the people who need it. We’re actually distributing it to the people who work, directly. That way we know they are going to get it. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline

We wanted to make sure we dealt with this ourselves, directly with the individuals that are working, to get the money from us. We don’t want it going through a third party. We’re making the decision. We know who the people are, we’re just getting our list together. -The Creator on Fox Sports Radio with JT The Brick

The tricky part in the Golden Knights situation is that employees at T-Mobile Arena work for a variety of employers. Many work for MGM. Others work for Levy, the company that handles food and beverage in the arena. Ushers work for a company called WeServe, and there are a few other third party companies involved as well.

So, The Creator says he wanted to take the middlemen out of the process to avoid any situations where the money would be dealt with in an unsavory manner.

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Salary Snapshot

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whether this season resumes or not, the Golden Knights have some interesting decisions to make whenever the calendar allows for them to be made.

Everything starts with the salary cap, which is a massive question mark at this point. Due to the uncertainty with “hockey-related revenues” for this year, it’s certainly not going up by much, if at all.

For the purpose of this article, let’s act as if the cap will remain flat, meaning it will stay at $81.5 million.

Starting with forwards, here’s where the Golden Knights stand heading into next year.

Signed (9 forwards)

Mark Stone – $9.5M (11.7%)
Max Pacioretty – $7M (8.6%)
Paul Stastny – $6.5M (8.0%)
William Karlsson – $5.9M (7.2%)
Reilly Smith – $5M (6.1%)
Jonathan Marchessault – $5M (6.1%)
Alex Tuch – $4.75M (5.8%)
William Carrier – $1.4M (1.7%)
Cody Glass – $863K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $45.913 (56.3%)

RFA (3 forwards)

Chandler Stephenson – $1.05M*
Nick Cousins – $1M*
Nic Roy – $735K
Total – $2.785M (3.4%)

*Stephenson and Cousins are arbitration-eligible so their numbers could increase by a bit. It won’t be drastic in either case.*

Signed (5 defensemen)

Nate Schmidt – $5.95M (7.3%)
Shea Theodore – $5.2M (6.4%)
Alec Martinez – $4M (4.9%)
Brayden McNabb – $2.5M (3.1%)
Nick Holden – $1.7M (2.1%)
TOTAL – $19.35 (23.7%)

RFA (1 defesneman)

Zach Whitecloud – $875K (1.1%)
TOTAL – $875K (1.1%)

Signed (1 goalie)

Marc-Andre Fleury – $7M (8.6%)
TOTAL – – $7M (8.6%)

TOTAL FORWARDS (12) – $48.698 (59.8%)
TOTAL DEFENSEMEN (6) – $20.225M (24.8%)
TOTAL GOALIES – $7M (1) (8.6%)
TOTAL RETAINED – $500K (0.6%) *Tatar*

TEAM TOTAL (19) – $76.423 (93.8%)

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NHL Players Considering Proposal To Play In August And September

Every day it seems like the news surrounding the virus is getting worse and worse. Unless you are actively seeking out positivity, you can’t help but feel like it’s spiraling out of control in the wrong direction.

That’s why yesterday’s news from the TSN Insider Trading crew came as such a welcome surprise. According to Frank Seravalli, a group of NHL players has begun working on a proposal to play regular-season games in late July followed by the playoffs in August and September. That would leave an “offseason” including the draft and free agency in October and then the 2020-21 season to begin, and be played in full, in November.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The plan is still in the “idea phase” and has not yet been sent up to the league as a true proposal but Pierre LeBrun says it already has the blessing of many players and at least one NHL owner.

Obviously, any plan to return to playing hockey and awarding the Cup for this season should be embraced with open arms by the Golden Knights (we’ve already discussed this), but this one is about as good as it possibly gets for Las Vegas.

First off, bringing back a few regular-season games would be terrific for a team that has little to no danger of falling out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the games should have enough importance that they aren’t glorified preseason games. Hockey won’t look like hockey, and definitely not playoff hockey, for at least a week or two, so playing a few games before the playoffs will be huge in getting the game back up to speed.

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Season Review: Reilly Smith

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When it comes to a top-six player, expectations are usually high. Over his first two seasons with Vegas, Reilly Smith has a total of 113 points (41 goals, 72 assists) in 141 games. He averaged 21 goals and 36 assists per season.

Coming into the season, projections were about the same, 20 goals and 35 assists. However, Smith exceeded anyone’s expectations in this shortened 2019-20 season, passing career highs in goals, shorthanded goals, game-winning goals, and shooting percentage. He earned every bit of his $5M annual salary pitching in .76 points per game.

One of Smith’s season highlights was a beautiful, breakaway backhand goal he scored on December 2nd against the New York Rangers.

Seems like I’ve gotten a lot of breakaways this year. I’ve done that move four or five times, and I’ve gotten lucky. I think it worked on a few. It’s probably one of those things that I’ll probably go back to. Hopefully, none of the goalies in the league are listening to this interview. -Reilly Smith

His backhand was so effective that his brother stole the move four days later.

We did it a week apart, and with him playing forward this year, in the past he hadn’t had as many breakaways. He made it look a lot better than I did. It is pretty cool that we did it in the same week.- Reilly Smith

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Connor Corcoran A Rising VGK Prospect

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights drafted Connor Corcoran in the 5th round of the 2018 Draft he was widely considered a defense-first defenseman. A bigger kid standing 6’2″ at around 190 pounds, Corcoran was most known for his gap control and poise on the puck in his own end but the offensive side of the game had not really shone through.

Two years later, that label probably needs to be thrown in the trash can after Corcoran put up the best offensive season of his career with 19 goals and 35 assists in 62 OHL games while remaining solid in his own end. He finished in the top 10 in the league in points and 4th overall in the OHL in goals this season. In fact, Corcoran scored more goals himself than every other defenseman on his team combined, and it wasn’t close (19 to 12.)

Corcoran actually started his OHL career with a familiar face to the Golden Knights. When he joined the Spitfires in 2016, the head coach in Windsor was Rocky Thompson. The future Wolves coach allowed Corcoran to play both forward and defense before moving him full-time to D.

Playing D this year I really liked it. So I’m hoping I’ll be able to step in as a two-way D, play on the penalty kill, chip in a bit on the power play, but I’d say (the plan is to) stick to D. -Corcoran on 6/24/18

Obviously the Golden Knights believed the progression would come and it absolutely has with Corcoran taking the massive leap offensively this season. He plays a physical game, skates well, and clearly the offensive side to playing D has started to flash.

Corcoran says he models his game after current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen, a player who has put up 25 points in seven straight seasons while averaging more than 22 minutes a night.

A right-handed two-way defenseman that plays in every situation and adds offense consistently, Corcoran is exactly what the Golden Knights need coming up through the system.

Using the current calendar (which may change due to the hiatus), Vegas only owns Corcoran’s rights until June 1st of this year. With the steps he took in his second season after being drafted, you can bank on the Golden Knights finding a way to sign him to an entry-level deal soon and Corcoran to be pushing for a spot inside of his old coach’s lineup for the AHL team heading to Vegas/Henderson next year.

While the Golden Knights are still waiting to really receive some major impact from a rookie at the NHL level, the bottom of McPhee and McCrimmon’s draft classes continue to impress. They may not have the next superstar in the system, but consistently hitting on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks is one way to keep the cupboard stocked, and the Golden Knights appear to be on the right track in doing that with Corcoran.

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