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High-End Players Hit The Market Much More Than Suggested

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We’ve heard it a lot from the Golden Knights front office, and we hear it pretty much any time any team ends up with a new high-end player.

We had what we believe was an incredibly rare opportunity to add a defenseman, an elite player like Alex to our team. We really viewed it as a similar situation to the opportunity to acquire Mark Stone. Generally these are players that don’t hit the market and we were fortunate to make a trade for Mark Stone and sign a contract with Alex as a free agent. -Kelly McCrimmon

A rare opportunity. These guys don’t come around often. Have to take advantage of it.

It sounds great and there’s no debating that adding Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo to a team is an awesome thing to do. But, is it really that rare?

Just in the three years in which the Golden Knights have been a franchise, they’ve been tied to and eventually got Stone and Pietrangelo, and along the way, they were linked to Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, and Steven Stamkos.

Around the league, just in the past five seasons, four players who finished in the top five in Hart voting have changed teams. A Vezina winner, a Selke winner, and six more guys who have finished in the top five votings in either of those awards.

In all, just since the offseason of 2016, I count 17 high-end players that have switched teams, or about three to four per offseason. (That’s counting each guy just once despite some moving multiple times.)

I’m talking about names like Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan O’Reilly, Erik Karlsson, and John Tavares.

If you want to dig a bit deeper, in the All Star Games between 2016 and 2018, at least 11 players are currently on different teams including an incredible 17 of the 44 players in the 2016 game.

Again, no one is criticizing the will to add high-end players like Alex Pietrangelo and Mark Stone. But if the main reason for doing it is because these opportunities don’t come around often, history suggests otherwise.

Pietrangelo Signing Reaction, The Untouchable Reilly Smith, Kicking The Tires On Taylor Hall, Steven Stamkos And The Ripple Effect Of It All

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It was the biggest signing of the offseason, changing the landscape of the NHL. When Alex Pietrangelo signed his seven-year deal with the Golden Knights the league wildly reacted to the deal and its effect on the franchise.

They don’t lack for boldness. The end of the road map for them, like every team is the Cup. Their path seems to be a lot more direct. I don’t know if it’s going to work. They’re dancing on a wire… The Stastny thing I guess opens the door for Cody Glass. If you take Stastny and Schmidt out of the lineup and just put in Pietrangelo, I don’t know how much better they are. I think Pietrangelo is really good, but you’re taking on two pretty important players. I really don’t know what to think of it.-Ray Ferraro, TSN on TSN1050

Another pundit, however, understood the mindset of the Golden Knights front office aggressive nature.

They’re a no nonsense franchise. They’re all about winning. That’s what Mr. Foley their owner is about. They make no bones about it. George McPhee is all about that. Kelly McCrimmon’s about that… They hate San Jose. They don’t dislike San Jose, they hate San Jose. When Pete DeBoer got fired by San Jose, the team they hated the most and probably the coach they hated the most they hired him because they thought he gave them the best chance to win. They’re about winning they don’t worry about all the other stuff, the window dressing. It’s not everybody gets a trophy in this league. They’re a hard edge organization.-Pierre McGuire, NBCSN to TSN1200

By this point Golden Knights fans are aware of the front office’s hard edge, win at all costs mentality. The massive commitment to Pietrangelo proved that, as well as the difficult decisions to trade Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny.

I heard the deal in Vegas was going to be 7x$8.5M. It came out 7x$8.8M. It’s got the no move protection. I’ve been told it has the protection that Pietrangelo wanted. The buyout protection later in the deal it’s there, in the form of a signing bonus. I heard it was a grind… I do think there were some other teams that wanted to get in on Pietrangelo but I don’t think Vegas was going to let that happen. No matter how grindy the negotiations got, he was their target, he was the guy they wanted. I think Vegas was always Pietrangelo’s first choice.-Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman relayed some of the information he gathered surrounding Pietrangelo and gave detail to why certain players in the organization were irate hearing their names circling around the rumor mill.

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ALEX PIETRANGELO SIGNS 7-YEAR CONTRACT WITH GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Golden Knights Building Dangerous Reputation Concerning Loyalty

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The Golden Knights are on the verge of landing the biggest fish in NHL free agency, Alex Pietrangelo. The former Stanley Cup-winning captain of the St. Louis Blues is expected to make his decision at any moment and it would come as a shock to the entire hockey world if he ends up anywhere but Las Vegas.

Like they did with Robin Lehner, Mark Stone, and Tomas Tatar at the last three deadlines, or Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny in prior offseasons, the Golden Knights will have made a splash in the name of bringing Vegas one step closer to winning the Cup.

However, as Isaac Newton taught us, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction.

I worry about the Vegas reputation now. They are trying to win, which is admirable, but if they are getting a reputation for being a place that talks you into coming, what do you think the free agents today that are watching these guys get shipped out are saying to themselves? ‘That can be me in two years if I go there.’ There’s a fine line between trying to win and having some organizational loyalty. –Brian Burke, former Stanley Cup winning NHL GM

That reputation might end up getting even stronger after the fallout from the Pietrangelo deal too.

As Burke said, it’s all done in the name of winning, which is great, but when dealing with highly-paid professional athletes with families, that loyalty piece has to be kept in mind.

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2020 VGK Free Agency Tracker

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  • Paul Stastny has been traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Carl Dahlstrom and a 4th round pick. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Robin Lehner has signed a 5-year $25 million ($5 million AAV) to remain with the Golden Knights. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Lehner’s contract includes a modified no-trade clause which allows him to submit an eight team list for year’s one through three and then a five-team list in the final two years. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Chandler Stephenson has agreed to a 4-year deal with $2.75 million AAV. (Source: @FridgeHNIC)
  • Tomas Nosek has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Reid Duke and Jimmy Schuldt signed one-year contracts for the league minimum of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
    • Both are two-way deals. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Gage Quinney agreed to a one-year two-way deal with an NHL value of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Tomas Jurko to a one-year one-way deal worth $700,000. (Source: @simiinko_97)
  • Danny O’Regan has signed a one-year deal with the Golden Knights at $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the Golden Knights did NOT extend a qualifying offer to Nick Cousins. He becomes an unrestricted free agent. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Cousins signed with the Predators for two years at a $1.5 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Jimmy Schuldt and Keegan Kolesar. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights will make a significant pitch to Alex Pietrangelo. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Torey Krug is expected to sign with the Blues further paving the way for Pietrangelo to sign in Vegas. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • Pietrangelo is taking a private flight to Vegas to visit with the Golden Knights today. (Source: @gm_mark)
  • Keep an eye on Erik Haula, we’ve heard some rumbling that there could be a reunion coming. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed he does not expect Deryk Engelland to return to the Golden Knights this season. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Jon Merrill has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. One year deal worth $925,000. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Malcolm Subban has re-signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for $850,000 AAV for two-years. He is expected to be given a shot to win the starting job in camp. (@Tramyers_NHL)
  • Max Lagace has signed a one-year two-way deal with the Penguins. (Source: @Penguins)
  • Daniel Carr signed a one-year two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. (Source: @Capitals)

The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney. This page will update throughout the day as more information comes in.

Backloaded Deals Might Be A Trend This Offseason

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If there’s one thing we’re starting to learn to count on it’s that there will never be a shortage of comments from NHL agent Allan Walsh. While he’s seemingly done discussing his client Marc-Andre Fleury’s future (for now), Walsh explained a way a team like Vegas could entice a high-end free agent by paying them more later than now. It would allow a front office to go out big game hunting, potentially attracting a veteran free agent like Alex Pietrangelo.

I’ve never seen this kind of activity. The only time that compares to what’s happening right now was in 2005 when we were opening free agency after losing a whole season to the lockout… In 2005, teams had the ability to use two compliance buyouts and take money out of the system and that doesn’t exist right now. There’s a lot of teams right now that are bumping up against the top of the upper limit and still have a number of their own players to sign. Let alone look at the free agent market and see who they can be in on to bring on board and into their city. -Allan Walsh, NHL agent

The Golden Knights are one of those teams up against the cap but unlike other clubs, it won’t stop them from adding players they desire. Vegas is desperately trying to move certain players to free up cap space but the organization can get creative when talking about real salaries as their owner is never afraid to spend to make his team better, something many other owners are not.

While the hunt can’t begin until officially until tomorrow, Vegas has probably been sniffing out their competition. Sources have told SinBin.vegas that the Golden Knights intend on making a real effort to sign Pietrangelo. With the uncertainty of the cap, their internal budget, and the players’ demands, Walsh explained how a club like Vegas can entice an attractive UFA to ditch their old club for Sin City.

There’s an escrow cap this coming season in 2020-21 of twenty percent. There’s a ten percent deferral that will be deferred until three, four and five years from the coming season. If you can defer money, and by that I mean put the money into the outer three years of let’s say a six-year deal, the escrow cap in those years is six percent. That means you will get your negotiated face value of the contract up to six percent that you could lose to escrow. That’s a huge difference. -Walsh

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What VGK’s Blue Line Would Look Like With Alex Pietrangelo Or Torey Krug

Yesterday we went into potential alternatives for the big-time add on the blue line for the Golden Knights. Today, we’re diving into what the Vegas defensive unit would look like if they do indeed land Alex Pietrangelo or Torey Krug.

There’s been a lot of rumblings about Alex Pietrangelo and Vegas, and someone told me today they were wondering if Vegas might take a run, if it’s not Pietrangelo, at Torey Krug. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

Before we get into the pair combos, let’s start with what the Golden Knights would have to do to make it happen. Pietrangelo is likely going to command somewhere around $8-9 million where Krug will likely fall a bit lower at around $7-8.5 million. Either way, with the Golden Knights looking at about $1 million or so in available cap space currently, they’ll have to get to work.

The whole offseason must begin by settling the goalie situation. In a perfect world, Vegas would find someone to take Marc-Andre Fleury’s complete contract off their hands without forfeiting much more than a lower round pick. Then, they’d sign Robin Lehner for between $5-6 million and earn themselves a bit of relief (Fleury’s cap hit is $7 million). However, it’s more likely there will be at least a bit of Fleury’s salary retained on the Golden Knights books, or they’ll have to buy him out, and they will hope to be back at $7 million in goalies after signing Lehner long team.

The next decision would be at the center position. If the Golden Knights believe they can replace Paul Stastny with Cody Glass (or Stastny with Stephenson and Stephenson with Glass) then that would be the least invasive start to finding the cap space. That’s $6.5 million which would essentially offset the majority of the space needed to sign either defenseman.

If they don’t trust that route (which I wouldn’t), then you look to the wings. Max Pacioretty’s $7 million and Jonathan Marchessault’s $5 million are the two that jump out.

Finally, if VGK add a defenseman, they would likely be looking to move at least one of the existing ones out. The leading candidate being the $5.95 million owed to Nate Schmidt. Otherwise, Alec Martinez’s $4 million could be an option, but after trading two 2nd round picks for him, they better be able to recoup at least one, if not both of them to make that route worthwhile.

So, you can pick the path you like the most with the understanding that if they save money on the goalie exchange, it would only have to be one player, while if they don’t, it’s likely one forward and one defenseman that must go.

Now let’s get on to the fun part; what the Golden Knights look like on the blue line if they add a big-ticket defenseman this offseason. Let’s start by assuming the Golden Knights make it happen without getting rid of any current defenseman on the roster.

Add Pietrangelo / Subtract No One

Schmidt-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Theodore
McNabb-Whitecloud

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Familiar Alternatives To Free Agent Big Game Hunting

The Golden Knights offseason plans are underway and time for the front office to try and improve the club for next season.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is the big fish in free agency and as we’ve seen before, the Golden Knights aren’t afraid to hand out a massive contract. At 30-years-old, management might be cautious before handing out an expensive seven-year contract. The right-handed Pietrangelo will come at a premium, so Vegas will have to be creative matching the asking price or find other alternatives.

Another notable UFA is Boston defenseman, Torey Krug. The expected price on Krug is around $7.5-$8M per season. He’s a year younger but unlike Pietrangelo, he’s a left-handed shot, and we’ve seen Vegas target right-handed defenseman in the past. Krug’s offensive production is worth the expense, but Vegas may lean to the much taller and right-handed Pietrangelo.

There are plenty of alternative defenseman in the market this offseason, some are less-skilled but cheaper and younger. If Vegas can find the defenseman that fixes their exact deficiency they won’t need to break the bank. However, that takes great awareness and pro scouting finding that right fit. That’s when the familiarity factor comes in handy.

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Round Robin Adjustments – vs. St. Louis Blues

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Complete series: Dallas, St. Louis, Colorado

We’ve broken down two out of the three round-robin teams (Colorado and Dallas) the Golden Knights will be facing, so let’s finish it off with the St. Louis Blues.

vs. St. Louis: (2-1) 4-2 L, 5-4 W OT, 6-5 W OT

Let’s start with this, all three games between Vegas and St. Louis were highly entertaining. It’s hard to forget former Golden Knight David Perron hugging current Golden Knight Max Pacioretty’s leg, which then led to seven different roughing penalties. Vegas was fortunate to win the two OT games because of two improbable comebacks. In both victories, the Golden Knights trailed the Blues after two periods of play. They will need some of that never-give-up mentality in the round-robin, especially with Jordan Binnington in net. However, it’s unlikely St. Louis will blow many more three-goal leads.

Areas of Adjustment

  • Keep your heads on straight

The Golden Knights will have to improve their discipline against St. Louis. Not only for the fear of the Blues strong power play, but also because St. Louis can successfully agitate teams. They pestered their way to the Stanley Cup final last season, and they clearly enjoy annoying the Golden Knights.

Against St. Louis, Vegas averaged only six minutes in penalties per game, however in their second matchup the Golden Knights spent 12 minutes in the box. Granted many were matching penalties but when the Blues power play hit the ice they took advantage. St. Louis scored the opening and overtime forcing goals on the power play. Take those away and Vegas probably wins the game in regulation. Vegas turned the tables on St. Louis in their third matchup, scoring four times on man-advantages including on in OT. Their four power-play goals were the most scored in one game for the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are the better team at even strength so if they keep from being dragged into the muck, they should be able to handle the Blues.

  • Contain Offensive Defensmen

It’s no secret St. Louis has elite weapons on the blue line. Three of their top five season leaders in shots were defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo led the entire team with 225 shots on net. In the three meetings with the Golden Knights, the Blues got 23 shots and 10 points from defensemen. Vegas will have to get in the way of some of those shots or make it tough altogether for St. Louis’ D-men to get one off.

One way the Golden Knights can frustrate the Blues defensemen is by blocking shots and by creating high-zone pressure. Quite like the strategy Vegas used against Pete DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks in their 2018 postseason series.

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Ryan Reaves Responds To David Perron’s “Whining”

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Former Golden Knight David Perron didn’t hold back on Saturday after the Blues loss in overtime. Perron made some scathing remarks about Vegas’ physicality, suggesting they stepped over the line.

You don’t like to see some of that extra stuff they do. One to our captain, I thought that was bullshit to be honest with you. That’s how I see it… Now we know what to expect. We’ve played them enough already. I see a lot of games of them. I really appreciate a lot of the stuff they do. I like their coaches, the organization, everything. But I didn’t like that (stuff on Alex Pietrangelo). -David Perron, Blues forward

Perron was clearly upset with some of the after whistle scrums, which in his eyes, were created by Vegas. One in particular involving Ryan Reaves and St. Louis captain Alex Pietrangelo.

Everybody saw what happened. I didn’t even start it. I just stopped in front of the net Petro (Alex Pietrangelo) tried to move me. He’s not going to move me. -Ryan Reaves

By now, most of us understand and appreciate Reaves’ role. If a player wants to get face-to-face, no matter who it is, #75 isn’t backing down. Pietrangelo happens to be an important player for St. Louis which is why Perron took umbrage. To Reaves, an opponent is just another opponent.

Hats off to Petro (Pietrangelo) for standing in there. You look at that situation, Petro stands up and tries to get to get me from out in front of the net.-Reaves

Pietrangelo got nicked up during his scrum with Reaves. On Monday, he sounded off.

I was just trying to take care of business. He was standing in front of our goalie. But I’ll tell you: It’s the first time I’ve ever been scratched in the eye before… I’m OK with getting into a scrum, but I’m not too fond of being scratched. Maybe that’s his new way, I don’t know. -Alex Pietrangelo, Blues defenseman

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