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Sorry Cody, You’re Not A Checking Forward

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.

The question is, where would he play?

It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass

Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.

But again, where will he play?

To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass

You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.

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Wolves Calder Cup Run As Improbable As Golden Knights Stanley Cup Run

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year the Golden Knights were the talk of the sports world, becoming the best expansion team of all time and coming just three wins short of winning the Stanley Cup. It’s widely considered one of the most improbable stories in sports, but what the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, have done this year might just be even more impressive.

In the Golden Knights first season, they shared the Chicago Wolves with the St. Louis Blues because Vegas didn’t have enough players to stock a full roster. In the Wolves second season, and their first as a full blown affiliate of the Golden Knights, they are headed to the Calder Cup Final to take on the Charlotte Checkers.

Looking back, it would actually make sense for an expansion team’s AHL affiliate to have success. The plan of building through the draft, acquiring young players, and being patient in development bodes well for the minor league affiliate. However, that’s really not at all what the Golden Knights ended up doing.

The Golden Knights are firmly in “win-now” mode and have been all year. Rather than having Erik Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki, and a bunch of other younger not quite NHL ready players, the Wolves were left with just two VGK draft picks for their playoff run. Instead of allowing one of the AHL’s leading scorers to play in the playoffs, Brandon Pirri stayed with the Golden Knights. And every decision throughout the course of the season has been focused on winning the Cup, the Stanley Cup.

All the while, first-time AHL head coach Rocky Thompson has taken a group of players led by UFA’s Daniel Carr, Curtis McKenzie, and Brooks Macek all the way to the Final.

Carr turned into the league MVP after not receiving a qualifying offer from the Canadiens. McKenzie is one goal short of the AHL playoff lead after being let go from a team that lost Game 7 of the Calder Cup Final a year ago. Brooks Macek parlayed his Olympic success into a nearly point per game season in his first year in the AHL.

Plus, players like Jake Bischoff, Griffin Reinhart, Tomas Hyka, and Gage Quinney all had some of the best years of their professional careers.

The Wolves roster is a bigger bunch of misfits than last year’s Golden Knights.

It’s a testament to the scouting staff, the coaching staff, and the development staff of the Golden Knights organization. Not only can they find the William Karlsson’s, Erik Haula’s, and Nate Schmidt’s of the world, but they can also find underappreciated players to stock up a dominant AHL team. It’s quite astounding and it’s a great sign for the future of the Vegas franchise.

Winning The Calder Cup Doesn’t Mean Much For NHL Parent Club’s Future

Tomas Hyka is one of the many Wolves to watch in the Calder Cup Semi-Final. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomorrow night the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, will play in the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Obviously, winning a championship is always good, no matter what level it’s at, but just how well does winning the Calder Cup translate to future success for their NHL parent club? The answer is… not so well.

Here is what the last 10 Calder Cup Champions have seen their parent club do over the next three seasons.

YearCalder Cup WinnerYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Toronto (TOR)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Grand Rapids (DET)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsN/A
15-16Lake Erie (CBJ)1st Round1st Round2nd Round
14-15Manchester (LAK)1st RoundMissed Playoffs1st Round
13-14Texas (DAL)Missed Playoffs2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
12-13Grand Rapids (DET)1st Round1st Round1st Round
11-12Norfolk (TB)Missed Playoffs1st RoundCup Final
10-11Binghamton (OTT)1st Round2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
09-10Hershey (WSH)2nd Round2nd Round1st Round
08-09Hershey (WSH)1st Round2nd Round2nd Round

And the same table with Calder Cup Final runners-up.

YearCalder Cup Runner-UpYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Texas (DAL)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Syracuse (TBL)3rd Round1st RoundN/A
15-16Hershey (WSH)2nd Round*Stanley Cup*1st Round
14-15Utica (VAN)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
13-14St. Johns (WPG)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
12-13Syracuse (TBL)1st RoundCup Final3rd Round
11-12Toronto (TOR)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
10-11Houston (MIN)Missed Playoffs1st Round2nd Round
09-10Texas (DAL)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
08-09Manitoba (VAN)2nd RoundCup Final1st Round

So, over the past 10 years, only one team that has participated in the Calder Cup Final have seen their parent club win a Stanley Cup within three years of their AHL playoff run.

To make matters worse, you can extend it out to six years from the time the AHL team makes the Calder Cup Final, and there’s still only one team in the previous 10 years to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

That being said, of the 55 seasons listed in the tables, only 18 teams missed the playoffs.

All in all though, the next couple of weeks of hockey for the Chicago Wolves aren’t exactly about winning for the Golden Knights perspective.

This does not mean the games are not important and/or interesting to watch. Individual players who stand out in the Calder Cup Playoffs often go on to have success in the NHL. Here’s a list of a the last 10 Calder Cup Playoff MVP’s.

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VGK’s Young Stars Dominate In Wolves Debut

As fun as it was to watch the Golden Knights stun the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center, the game down the road in Austin, TX was probably a better indication of the direction the Golden Knights future is heading.

In the first game as the AHL affiliate for the Golden Knights, the Chicago Wolves got a hat trick from Alex Tuch and some guy named Shea Theodore put up a goal and two assists as well. Sound familiar?

Watch the highlights, it’s basically a window into Golden Knights future, and boy is it bright.

The full box score is all sorts of glorious for Tuch, Theodore, Pulkkinen, and even the newest Golden Knight Brandon Pirri.

This season is going to feel long at times for the NHL club cause let’s be real, they ain’t all going to go like that one y’all. (Sorry, this whole Texas thing is getting to me) But this season is about more than the Golden Knights on the ice at T-Mobile, and catching a Wolves game every now and then might be a nice pick me up.

Report: Rocky Thompson Named Chicago Wolves Head Coach

Update (2:20 PM) – Both the Golden Knights and Chicago Wolves have sent out press releases confirming this hire. 

According to a report from TSN’s Elliotte Friedman, the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, have found a new head coach.

Because the Golden Knights control all hockey operations with the Wolves, the decision was made by George McPhee.

Thompson was hired to take over the head coach position in Windsor in 2015 and went on to an 81-40-11 record in two seasons which includes the Spitfires Memorial Cup win this year. Prior to Windsor, Thompson was an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers for one season. He was also an assistant with the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL) and Oklahoma City Barons (AHL).

Thompson was an absolute menace on the ice as a player. He spent most of his career in the AHL, but did have short stints with the Calgary Flames (15 games) and Florida Panthers (10 games). He racked up 117 PIM in those 25 games and consistently averaged at least 175 PIM in each AHL season. One year, Thompson spent 275 minutes in the box in a 79 game season. His total was 1,382 penalty minutes in 630 career games.

From time to time, the players YouTube me and come in and say, ‘holy smokes, you were an animal.’ –Thompson to Calgary Herald

But, that’s not how he coaches.

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Quad City Mallards Announced As ECHL Affiliate

It may have been premature when it leaked a week ago, but now it’s official, the Vegas Golden Knights have an ECHL affiliate.

The Quad City Mallards have entered into a multi-year agreement to serve as the ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights and the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves, the Mallards announced today. –MyQCMallards.net

And with that, the Golden Knights’ minor league system is complete.

We believe that between the Mallards and our AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, our players will effectively develop in each of those systems. Quad City has a rich hockey history and we are pleased to have entered into an affiliation relationship with them in our first season. -George McPhee in Press Release

The Golden Knights will be able to transfer players to and from Quad City at any point during the 2017-18 season and beyond. The Mallards will retain control over hockey operations and will keep head coach Phil Axtell.

We’re looking forward to welcoming players from our affiliation with the Golden Knights and the Wolves to the Mallards and our community. The opportunity to help those players improve, develop, grow and take steps toward playing in the AHL and eventually the NHL is always exciting -Axtell

So there you have it.

NHL – Golden Knights
AHL – Chicago Wolves
ECHL – Quad City Mallards

May Not Be A Golden Knight Yet (Or Possibly Ever), But We Like Tyler Wong

See updated post on Tyler Wong posted before his preseason hat trick. http://sinbin.vegas/non-vgk-contracted-player-standing-out-in-camp/

While it’s technically not an NHL contract, our man Reid Duke has a teammate. The Chicago Wolves announced the signing of 21-year-old forward Tyler Wong to a standard AHL contract.

The right-handed forward is coming off a monster year in the WHL, scoring 109 points in 69 games. The Lethbridge Hurricane split the league lead with 51 goals in the regular season. Wong also has AHL experience playing three games for the Toronto Marlies.

Wong’s speed and tenacity in puck drills throughout the week culminated in a two-goal performance… He’s the type of high-character, hard-working player the Leafs like; seeing whether he builds on his tryout opportunity makes him one to watch. -Kristen Shilton, TSN Maple Leafs Reporter

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KV55y0tWVjY

Before we get excited, let’s be realistic. First off, Wong signed an AHL contract with the Wolves, not the Golden Knights. Though he’ll be playing on the Golden Knights affiliate, he’s not under Vegas’ control contractually, and does not count as one of the 50 contracts Vegas may have. Any team can scoop up Wong at any moment if they please. However, George McPhee and the Golden Knights staff will get a chance to coach him throughout this season.

A stingy, competitive two-way forward that has the skill to consistently create offense and the defensive awareness to limit the opposition’s time and space. Excellent vision and creativity. Strong on the puck and quick to get on the backcheck. Very active defensively and doesn’t give up his own end to dominate offensively. Many smaller players play on the perimiter, but Wong isn’t afraid of going to the hard areas and battling for possession. A true all-around player with the drive to compete and win. –Eliteprospects.com

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Chicago Wolves, Golden Knights And The AHL FAQ

Rather than try to write an article that answers all the questions about the Golden Knights, Chicago Wolves, and their affiliation, I figured we should take out a step. Let’s just ask the questions, and then I’ll answer them. It’s the AHL FAQ, who knows maybe it’ll become a thing.

What is the AHL?

The American Hockey League is the premier minor league for the NHL.

Throughout the season, AHL players will be promoted (“recalled”) to the partner NHL club for a number of reasons. If an NHL player is injured, the team may recall a player from the AHL to temporarily take his place. They can then be sent back down to the minors (“assigned”) for a variety of reasons as well, including when an injured NHL player returns to full health. Every NHL team has its own affiliate in the AHL, from where more than 88 percent of active NHL players are graduates. -Golden Knights Press Release

Who are the Chicago Wolves?  

An AHL team that was previously part of the now folded International Hockey League (IHL). The Wolves were founded in 1994 and joined the AHL in 2001. They’ve won multiple Calder Cups (the AHL’s championship), but it’s the minor leagues, so who really cares.

What is the agreement between the Wolves and Golden Knights?

The Wolves will become the official primary AHL affiliate for the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights will be able to send players to the Chicago Wolves at any point during the NHL/AHL season and will also be able to recall them to the NHL at any point.

Who controls hockey decisions?

Under the current deal the Golden Knights will manage all aspects involving hockey     operations, such as personnel decisions, ice-time, and the hiring and firing of coaches.

Is this how the AHL usually works?

Normally, yes, but in the history of the Chicago Wolves, no. Their owner, Don Levin has always preferred to have control over hockey operations to ensure his organization had the best chance to win. Historically, that’s caused friction with the affiliating NHL club because their focus is usually on development rather than winning. Levin says his trust in George McPhee is why he was willing to relinquish all hockey decision making to the Golden Knights.

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Chicago Wolves Announced As Golden Knights AHL Affiliate

Brace yourself SinBinners, what we’ve been reporting since January is now official and it’s time for the local and national media types to report it like it’s breaking news. The Golden Knights will have the Chicago Wolves as their AHL affiliate for the 2017-18 season.

American Hockey League affiliates play a significant role in the success of all NHL clubs and are we are proud to have the Chicago Wolves as our first in team history. I would like to thank Don Levin, Wendell Young and the rest of the Wolves organization for their commitment to the game and helping young hockey players grow to reach their full potential as professionals. Chicago is without question one of the strongest, most passionate hockey communities in North America. This is a relationship that we truly believe will be mutually beneficial. -George McPhee in Press Release

McPhee has said he expects between six and eight players under Golden Knights control to be playing at the AHL level at any given point. Chicago’s central location in the country and two airports allow the team to quickly and easily get players from the AHL to the NHL, the primary concern for the Golden Knights next season.

In a conference call with season ticket holders in March McPhee detailed the type of relationship Vegas will have with the Wolves.

The deal that we are going to do is going to be an exclusive deal, we are the primary affiliate, and we are going to go into a market that has a good hockey history and the team has done well. We will supply our players, we may get some players from another club but the way that the deal would be structured is the affiliation is between us and the minor league club and we will decide what players come from the other clubs, if any. We have full authority in all hockey matters and we will have final say on what decisions that are made. -McPhee

There are no details on the exact length of the contract, other than being described as “multi-year,” but rest assured, Vegas is in the market to move their affiliate closer to home as soon as possible. 

Roster Move All But Confirms Chicago Wolves As AHL Affiliate

The plan is still to wait until the Chicago Wolves season ends to make the announcement that the Golden Knights will become their new parent club, but sometimes hockey logistics get in the way of a good plan.

With Reid Duke’s WHL season ending last week, we have explored opportunities and options for him to play additional games this year. The Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League – who are currently the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues – agreed to take Reid on a professional tryout agreement. Reid will be available to play for Chicago beginning Friday. We are appreciative of the Wolves organization for affording Reid this opportunity, which will be beneficial for his development as a player -George McPhee in Press Release

Duke’s WHL season wrapped up on the 29th of March when the Wheaties were swept by the Medicine Hat Tigers. Duke scored three goals and racked up eight penalty minutes in the four game series.

But now, the 21 year old is left with no where to play. Normally, an undrafted free agent like Duke would find his way to the AHL or ECHL for the final few games of the season. If he’s promising enough, he may even find his way on to the NHL team. Well, Vegas doesn’t have any of those, so they had to find something to do.

It was originally reported back in January that the Golden Knights and Chicago Wolves were in discussions. Then in February a team source told us the deal is done but nothing could be confirmed until the AHL season ends. Finally, during George McPhee’s Q&A with the fans in March the GM confirmed Vegas would have complete hockey control over their AHL affiliate.

Add it all up, and this is not a favor the Chicago Wolves and St. Louis Blues are granted the Golden Knights. This is the first transaction Vegas is making with it’s AHL club… despite what the team says.

The Golden Knights AHL affiliation discussions are still ongoing. We will announce those details after the affiliation agreement has been finalized and confirmed. -McPhee in Press Release

This is a move any NHL club would make with their minor league affiliate, just Vegas has to call it something different… for now.

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