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Tag: Chandler Stephenson

Carrier and Stephenson Won’t Change No Matter Which Line They End Up On

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Ever since he was traded to the Golden Knights, Chandler Stephenson has done everything he’s been asked to do. And he’s done that and more.

From centering the team’s most talented line, helping the penalty kill, and even scoring a game-winning goal in 3-on-3 overtime. Stephenson has done so well in his role that the team trusted him to play another, 1st line forward.

I don’t really think there’s too much of a challenge. With the type of players I’ve been playing with, you know they make my life really easy. Stoney, Patch, Smitty, Karly, are all All-Stars in my mind. They’re fun to play with. -Chandler Stephenson

You think it would take some time to adjust during a game to new linemates, even for the professionals. However, Stephenson feels no pressure to make immediate chemistry with anyone Gerard Gallant has assigned him with.

They do all the dirty work and they let me play my game without telling me where to go, or do this, do that. They just let me play. That’s nice and relaxing at the same time. -Stephenson

Position adjustment doesn’t bother Stephenson either. Mainly he’s been a center in Vegas, but he’s played plenty of wing in the NHL. Either position, he will find a way to pitch in.

You have a little bit more responsive at center. At wing, your more of a straight line. It’s not too much of difference for me since I’ve played so much over the years. At center, you know you need to be more defensive but for the most part it’s pretty similar. -Stephenson

The same goes for forward William Carrier. One of the original Golden Knights has mostly been relegated to the fourth line playing alongside Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek, Nicolas Roy, and others over three seasons. Lately though, he’s been bouncing around filing holes when needed.

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Carp: Chandler Stephenson Is Ryan Carpenter 2.0

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas 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.**

When the Golden Knights traded for Chandler Stephenson earlier this month, my initial reaction was: “O.K.”

I wasn’t overwhelmed by the move nor was I disappointed, given what the Knights gave up to the Washington Capitals to get the fleet forward — a fifth-round draft pick in 2021. What I knew was the team was lacking depth in its bottom-six forwards and Brandon Pirri and Nicolas Roy didn’t seem to be figuring in the team’s plans in the immediate future.

Valentin Zykov? I also didn’t think he was part of the Golden Knights’ future. So snagging Stephenson seemed like a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind of move. If it worked out, great. If it didn’t, at some point Cody Eakin would be back and he would reclaim his spot.

But then Cody Glass got hurt against the Rangers on Dec. 8, courtesy of a Brendan Lemieux elbow to the head. He likely has a concussion or symptoms of one and who knows when he’ll be back on the ice? There was no update on Glass’ status or Eakin’s prior to Sunday’s game against Vancouver at T-Mobile Arena.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Suddenly, Stephenson has become a more valuable commodity. The Knights recalled Zykov from the Chicago Wolves and put him on the third line. Stephenson, who has played with virtually everyone so far in his brief stint in Vegas, is centering for Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone on the Knights’ second line and the trio appear to be clicking. Both Stone and Pacioretty have registered points in three straight games while working with Stephenson.

Part of it is when you’re playing with two talented wingers, it forces you to elevate your game. Part of it is Stephenson has his own solid skills — he’s an excellent skater, has a good hockey I.Q. and he has quickly picked up Vegas’ system.

The other part of the equation is he’s an NHL veteran. This is his fifth season in the league and he’s just 25 years old. He understands how to play at this level. He has kept things simple and not tried to overthink the situation, regardless of who he has been paired with by Gerard Gallant.

It’s been good. Obviously when I first came here, meeting a whole new team, that’s something I’d never experienced before. But knowing Schmitty (Nate Schmidt) and Nabber (Brayden McNabb) here obviously helped. With the group that’s here, it’s a very welcoming group. Everybody made me feel at home right away and made me feel like I was part of the team. It was an easy transition. -Stephenson

With his skills and his versatility, Stephenson reminds me of another Golden Knight who was obtained in December and turned out to be an important cog in the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final their inaugural season.

Remember when George McPhee plucked Ryan Carpenter off waivers from San Jose? No one thought much of the move at the time. He was a decent player who wasn’t getting much ice time with the Sharks.

Carpenter turned out to be a reliable, versatile player, someone who could play anywhere, kill penalties, be on the ice late in games to help protect a one-goal lead and was good in the locker room and was liked by his teammates.

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An Idea On How To Deploy The Bottom Six When Cody Eakin Returns

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not the way anyone envisioned it coming to be, but the 3rd line of William Carrier, Cody Glass, and Alex Tuch was formed three games ago. In those three games, the Golden Knights have earned points in each and won two on the road.

They’ve also received three goals and five assists from that line. They’ve created eight scoring chances in 26 minutes of play and have a 54% Corsi.

But where they’ve been best is in the eye test. Since the Golden Knights have been a franchise, they’ve never had a 3rd line look as good as Carrier, Glass, and Tuch have looked over the past three games. Tuch is driving offense, Glass is controlling the defensive end, and Carrier is winning puck battles helping set up the cycle to spend time in the offensive zone.

Tuch has returned to the right-wing, Glass to his natural center position, and Carrier is playing with the most offensive talent since he’s been a Golden Knight. It’s not the perfect line, but it’s certainly an upgrade on what they’ve gotten throughout this season with Cody Eakin as the center.

Tuch scored just one goal in 10 games with Eakin. He has three with Glass and Carrier. Glass has just three assists in 23 games playing with Eakin. He has two in three games with Tuch and Carrier.

However, the fourth line hasn’t looked quite the same without Carrier. Ryan Reaves has struggled without Carrier recording just five hits in three games while Carrier was on the 3rd line. Tomas Nosek still appears to play better as a center than a winger. And Stephenson scored the goal, but doesn’t quite seem a match for Nosek and Reaves.

Eakin remains out week-to-week with an upper body injury, so the decision on where to put him when he returns is not imminent, but after just three games on the road, it might be time to start considering where else he might fit.

The key question moving forward will become usage. Eakin has averaged about 15 minutes of ice time each season with the Golden Knights. That’s normal for a 3rd line center with penalty-killing duties. But, if he finds himself relegated to the 4th line, his TOI will likely drop under 10 minutes per game as has been the case for Reaves in 66% of games this season. That also means relying more heavily on Glass, something Gerard Gallant has not shown a willingness to do. (He’s played more than 14 minutes in less than half his NHL appearances.)

Vegas has never used an interchanging line system throughout an entire game, but they may want to consider it when Eakin is ready to return. With Glass, Eakin, Carrier, Reaves (or Nosek), Tuch, and Stephenson, there are multiple combinations that can be deployed depending on the situation.

Rather than lay out the standard two lines and roll them over, they could be mixed and matched depending on draw location, score, matchup, and stamina. Here are just a few of the logical trios that could be made out of that group.

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Expecting Another Golden December

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Kelly McCrimmon spoke with the media yesterday to formally announce the Chandler Stephenson acquisition. He also mentioned his high expectations for the month of December.

We’re trying to get all little bit of traction. December has for one reason or another traditionally been a really good month for this organization. We’re hopeful we can get a solid footing and play good hockey. -McCrimmon

Vegas’ GM should feel optimistic about the next 13 games in December. A month his players annually shine.

Win Percentage in December
2017: .846 %
2018: .600 %
Overall: .714 %

Point Percentage in December
2017: .923 %
2018: .800 %
Overall: .857 %

Including last night’s game in New Jersey, the Golden Knights have an exceptional franchise record of 22-4-4 in the month of December. Beginning the month 2-0-0 is a good sign their holiday tradition will continue. Vegas plays 13 more games this month including seven at home and only three are against teams in the top 3 in their division.

Historical Breakdown

December 2017
13 Games: 8 Home/5 Road (11–1-1) Record

  • Goals For: 49 Total
  • Goals Against: 33 Total
  • Win Streak: 7 Games
  • OT/SO Games: (4-1)
  • 2+ Goal Wins: 5
  • Pacific Division Points: (8 points)
  • Wins vs Playoff Teams: 8 (Anaheim x 2, LA, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Toronto, Washington)
  • William Karlsson: 10 Points (7 Goals, 3 Assists) +9
  • Jonathan Marchessault: 14 Points (5 Goals, 9 Assists) + 9
  • Reilly Smith: 11 Points (3 Goals, 8 Assists) +10
  • Alex Tuch: 8 Points (3 Goals, 5 Assists) +3
  • Marc-Andre Fleury: (4-0-1) 1.56 GAA, .948 Save%, 8 Goals Allowed
  • Malcolm Subban: (6-0) 2.25 GAA, .920 Save%, 14 Goals Allowed

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Chandler Stephenson Add Is All About Depth

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights shipped out a 2021 5th round pick to add 25-year-old center Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals.

Stephenson is a bit of a swiss-army knife type forward who is versatile enough to play all over the lineup and in all situations. With Washington, he was primarily deployed on the fourth line, but throughout his 168 games, he saw time on all four lines including a quick stint with Alex Ovechkin on the top line.

What Stephenson is known most for is his penalty killing. In that regard, he’s close to elite.

There are 89 centers in the NHL with at least 30 minutes of penalty-killing time on ice this season, and Stephenson’s numbers are very good. He ranks first in that entire group in high danger chances allowed per 60 minutes with only 1.74. He also ranks in the top-three in the NHL in Corsi against (66.06), scoring chances allowed (31.29) and expected goals allowed (3.6) on the penalty kill. He’s 13th amongst all centers in goals against per 60 at 3.48. –Jesse Granger, The Athletic

The add isn’t just about penalty killing though.

It’s also about replacing Cody Eakin during the injury. It’s also about finding a new center to push Nic Roy back to the AHL where he may belong at the moment. It’s also about adding versatility to the roster. It’s about all of it.

Let me break it down group by group.

Centers
Karlsson, Stastny, Eakin, Nosek, Glass, Roy, Stephenson

As opposed to teams of VGK’s past, this team is not loaded with centers playing wing. Most of the Golden Knights wingers, especially when Eakin is out, are natural wingers, while every center is playing center. There’s a lack of versatility that both Gallant and the front office like to have on their roster. By adding Stephenson, who has played a lot of center and a lot of wing, they get a guaranteed NHL caliber player (something Roy is not yet) who can fill in at center when needed, or play on the wing if necessary. He’s an insurance policy for three different guys. For Cody Eakin if he’s hurt for a while, for Cody Glass if he isn’t physically strong enough to play center yet, and for Nic Roy if he’s just not quite ready to be a full-time NHLer.

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS HAVE ACQUIRED CHANDLER STEPHENSON (F) VIA TRADE

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have acquired Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals for a 2021 5th round pick. Stephenson is a 25-year-old forward who was drafted by George McPhee in the 3rd round of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Stephenson’s best season was in 2017-18 when he scored 18 points (6G, 12A) in 67 games. He is a bottom-six type player who kills penalties and plays about 10 minutes a night.

Stephenson has one year left on his contract at $1,050,000. He is an RFA with arbitration rights this summer.

Darren Dreger reports the Golden Knights have given up a 5th round pick in exchange for Stephenson.

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