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Tag: George McPhee (Page 1 of 18)

McPhee’s History Indicates Trade Could Come This Week

As the roster continues to thin out with at least five more players being cut (more on this later today), it’s time we start to look at what it’s going to take to put the finishing touches on the final roster the Golden Knights will take to Dallas.

We’ve known since the Expansion Draft ended that there must be a solution to the glut of defensemen in the system, and looking through George McPhee’s preseason roster transaction history, it appears the answer could come soon.

According to Sportstrac.com, the Washington Capitals have only claimed one player (Aaron Volpatti 2/28/13) off waivers in team history, including the 17 years McPhee was at the helm. So we can pretty much rule out a player being added that way. However, don’t mistake a man with an $800 haircut for being content with his roster. I’m guessing, but I’m telling you, it’s a sharp, maintained corporate cut. Sorry, back to hockey. McPhee may not claim players before the opener, but he’ll gladly make trades. 

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Golden Knights Probably Won’t Have A Captain To Start Season

Would it be Deryk Engelland, James Neal, Jason Garrison, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, or even someone else we haven’t really considered having the famous “C” stitched on to their first Golden Knights jersey? Well, it looks like the correct answer, at least to start the season, will be none of the above.

We’ll sit down with the coaches and decide what we want to do. We may be better off just having a leadership group than naming one guy captain. (You) really don’t want to put a C on a guy unless this is going to be a person that’s going to lead us for a long time. -George McPhee

As we discussed on the latest podcast, there’s really not a single player that stands out as the guy who would make sense to be the captain of the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury would make the most sense but in the NHL, goalies cannot be designated captain. Next up would likely be Engelland, but he’s on the back-nine of his career and may struggle to even get on the ice consistently this year. Then there’s Neal, who has been an assistant in the past, but could be a trade candidate at the deadline in February.

So McPhee, Gallant, and Co may go down the three alternate captains road. It’s not unprecedented in the NHL. Last year neither the Hurricanes nor the Leafs named a captain, and there have been many vacant captaincies across the league over the past decade. There’s also the Minnesota Wild, who famously (or infamously) rotated captains each month for the first few years the franchise was in existence. Wouldn’t expect VGK to try that plan.

Instead, expect the Golden Knights to name multiple assistants as a part of their “leadership group.” There’s only one name almost guaranteed to be among that group, and that’s Engelland. The rest are about as fluid as those last defenseman spots.

McPhee said this is part of a press conference today at City National Arena. Here’s the whole presser.

4 Goals, 8 Points, 3 Games: The Reilly Smith To Vegas Story

The Vegas Golden Knights have 43 players under team control as we head toward training camp. Of the 43, there’s just one player with a contract extended beyond the team’s third year in existence, and that player is Reilly Smith.

The 26-year-old winger was acquired via trade during the Expansion Draft from the Florida Panthers. But it wasn’t an expansion trade like the ones including Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, or Nikita Gusev, instead, the Golden Knights and Panthers made a straight player-for-pick deal that involved absolutely no Expansion Draft considerations.

Vegas Golden Knights receive:
Reilly Smith

Florida Panthers receive:
2018 4th Round Pick

Smith’s contract is a bit of an albatross when you consider his production a year ago. 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) is hardly enough to warrant a five-year deal worth $25M with a modified no trade clause. But, the season prior, he scored 25 goals, tallied another 25 assists, posted a +19 rating, and a CF% of 52.5%.

Many figured the reason for selecting the best player off the Panthers expansion list, Jonathan Marchessault, and trading for Smith was a directive from head coach Gerard Gallant. But, in the case of Smith, there’s a distinct connection to George McPhee that may have played an even bigger part than the simple “he played well for our coach” idea.

During the 2015-16 NHL playoffs, Reilly Smith was a member of the Florida Panthers, playing on the second line with Jussi Jokinen and Nick Bjugstad. Their opponent in the first round, the New York Islanders.

The series was won by the Isles in 6, but during Games 1, 2, and 3, Smith scored four goals, had four assists, and a +7 rating. In a pretty good offensive career to this point, the first three games of the 2015-16 postseason are undoubtedly the shining moment in Smith’s six-year career.

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Guest Post: McPhee Is No Hinkie

The next Guest Post comes from one of our most outspoken fans. If you read the comments, our Twitter feed, or have ever attended a Golden Knights/SinBin.vegas sponsored event, you’ve probably heard from Jerry. He goes by the name PhiSig150 and he has a lot to say about the idea of tanking vs respecting the process it takes to win in professional sports.

The recent NHL expansion into Las Vegas was an armchair GM’s dream come true. The Golden Knights have never signed a free agent to a horrendous contract. The Knights likewise have never been swindled out of young prospects or potentially high draft picks in a lopsided trade. Vegas was a completely blank canvas onto which an amateur GM could paint their masterpiece of the perfectly constructed roster. Wannabe front office personnel spent the months leading up to the Expansion Draft imagining which players they would select and concocting various trades with other teams to allow them to protect certain players. I know from first hand experience. I was one of those nerds. SinBin.vegas and CapFriendly.com let us indulge in our fantasies even further by hosting a contest that let fans pretend to be not only McPhee but the other 30 GMs as well. Each fan was able to create his or her own protection list for each team and then conduct a mock draft on behalf of the Golden Knights. I spent more time doing research for this contest than I care to admit.

Once the expansion draft came and went most fans were satisfied with the Knights mixture of solid vets, promising prospects, and future draft picks. There are a few fans, however, that feel that the club is trying to put a bad team on ice to lose games on purpose or what we NBA fans have come to call: tanking. Teams tank in an attempt to land a high draft pick with the hope that, that prospect will one day turn out to be the next Crosby or McDavid level superstar. Some Knights fans have argued that they pay good money for tickets and that Vegas is a nontraditional hockey market so McPhee needs to put a winner on the ice as soon as this upcoming season. McPhee drew further ire from the win now crowd by trading away players like Marc Methot and Marcus Kruger, two players who could contribute on the ice immediately, for future draft picks. In their minds McPhee has already thrown in the towel on the season and gone into full tank mode. While I wish this truly were the case, McPhee hasn’t done anything in his long history as a GM that would suggest he even knows how to tank and the word definitely isn’t in Foley’s vocabulary. McPhee is no Sam Hinkie.

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The Mantra Puts Major Pressure On McPhee And Gallant

Playoffs in three, Cup in six, the mantra. As a fan, you’ve got to love the optimism, no matter how unlikely you feel it may be, but have you ever wondered how George McPhee and Gerard Gallant feel about the mantra? Let’s be honest, it has to make them uneasy.

Does The Creator’s wish list mean there’s an apocalypse clock on McPhee and Gallant and does “no excuses, that’s the standard,” mean the coach/GM duo have a hard deadline? Whether true or not, there’s no question every time the mantra is said publicly by the guy signing the checks, pressure has to be mounting for McPhee and Gallant.

So, just how ambitious or impatient is The Creator with his future plan? After researching expansion history, “playoffs in three and Cup in six” doesn’t seem that far off for a new owner’s expectations. We can’t find any other owners publicly stating a mantra like this (let alone hundreds of times), but it appears to be a standard set decades ago. In fact, three and six would actually have been considered overly patient for many new owners.

San Jose Sharks
First coach: George Kingston
Two seasons: 1991-93 (fired offseason)
Win% .129 (28-129-7)

First GM: Jack Ferreira
One season: 1990-92; 17 wins (39 points)

Ottawa Senators
First Coach: Rick Bowness
Four seasons: 1992-95 (fired mid-season)
Win% .204 (39-178-18)

First GM: Mel Bridgman
One season: 1991-93; 10 wins (24 points)

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Diversification Of Potential Talent Was Key In Building Golden Knights

Ask any financial advisor, the best way to build wealth is to diversify your portfolio. With money, that means a 401k, IRA, stocks, bonds, and whatever else that will make money over time. The same rings true in the world of sports, especially when we are talking about a team built from scratch.

The Golden Knights were granted with 30 Expansion Draft selections and seven Entry Draft picks for each season starting in 2017. The task was to build a hockey team that will eventually become the champion of the world’s best league.

There were actually rules set up forcing the Golden Knights to diversify by position (must select 14F, 11D, 3G), by contract status (20 players under contract), and by total dollars spent (at least 60% of the salary cap).

George McPhee made it clear from the get go the goal of the Expansion Draft was to accumulate assets, something he did a lot of both on June 21st and in the weeks following. Now it’s time to take a look at what he actually got, and how diversified the talent on the roster turned out.

Draft Picks

The league gives each team a pick in each round of the draft every year. So over the first four years of the organization the Golden Knights were given 28 picks. In 2017, Vegas ended up selecting 12 times in the Entry Draft, including three times in the first round and six times in the top 65. All 12 players currently stand as completely unproven assets with massive potential upside, especially Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, and Nic Hague.

They also acquired a bundle of picks for the next three drafts. As of this moment, the Golden Knights have 27 picks in between 2018-2020 including their original three 1st rounders, seven 2nd round picks, and four 3rd round picks.

Non-NHL Ready Talent Prospects

Here we are talking about players like Keegan Kolesar, Jake Bischoff, Reid Duke, Tomas Hyka, and the other free agent signings. These players are essentially Golden Knights draft picks from 2013-2016, drafts they did not participate in… because they weren’t a team yet. They are low risk players than can offer high reward, but the probability of massive success is incredibly slim.

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Blue Line Numbers Game Could Land Shea Theodore In AHL To Open Season

When all was said and done with the Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, and free agency the Golden Knights were left with a total of 42 players under contract. When ranking them by importance for the future of the franchise, 21-year-old defenseman Shea Theodore is either at the top or within the top two or three.

With the team not expected to compete for a Stanley Cup in 2017-18, or likely any of the first few years, the focus is obviously going to be on developing players, Theodore being at the very top of that list. But, like everything in professional sports, it’s not that cut and dry.

McPhee has done well to cut down on the surplus of defenseman, but there’s still a bit of a logjam. The Golden Knights have 14 defenseman on the roster. According to CapFriendly.com, nine of them are one one way contracts, and Nate Schmidt will likely take that number to 10.

Shea Theodore is not one of those 10. Jason Garrison, Luca Sbisa, Clayton Stoner, Deryk Engelland, Colin Miller, Griffin Reinhart, Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Jon Merrill, and Brad Hunt.

The NHL allows teams to have 23 active players on their roster, but only 20 are allowed to play in a game. Normally, teams use a lineup of 12 forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies. Some teams choose to drop a forward for a defenseman, allowing them seven active defensemen.

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Golden Knights Sitting Pretty In Possible Age Of Offer Sheet Free Agency

If the Vegas Golden Knights are to keep the promise of making the playoffs by year three and winning the Stanley Cup in year six a lot is going to have to go right.

They’ll have to draft incredibly well, starting with the three first round picks they selected in Chicago in late June. They’ll have to have found a few diamonds in the rough in the Expansion Draft, and they’ll probably have to make a few shrew moves in free agency and/or fleece a team or two in trades.

It’s a lot to ask, and it’s understandable for Golden Knights fans to be skeptical. Any person can look down the list of free agents, take a look at recent trade history, and even look at the Entry Draft outside of the top pick and say, there’s just not enough there to take a team from good to great, and certainly not anything on the market to take a team from great to elite. So it’s going to take something special to make the mantra a reality.

But there is one way that George McPhee could strike it rich without using the draft, unrestricted free agency, or fleecing someone in a trade, and it’s something that’s been widely unused in the NHL over the past decade.

One thing a few different NHL executives agree on: Offer sheets are coming. Cam Fowler, Martin Jones, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and (Carey) Price are gone from next year’s unrestricted class. “There simply are not enough impact players available in free agency,” one said. “If you need to improve your team — and fast — it’s going to be your best option.” –Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet.ca

Offer sheets means, restricted free agency, a market untapped since 2013, and one that hasn’t seen a player change teams since 2007. First, let’s explain how it works, and why teams have been so reluctant in the past.

Most fans are used to unrestricted free agency (UFA), where a player is free to sign wherever he wishes. Teams make offers, he picks the best one for him, and he becomes a member of the new team. The old team gets nothing in return.

Restricted free agency is much different. When a player is an RFA his rights are still technically owned by his current team. There are plenty of options of how the players next contract will be agreed upon, but that’s for another day. In restricted free agency, other teams are able to make an offer to a player, and essentially steal him away. Let me explain using a current example in RFA from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Connor Brown. (He’s good, and young, and the Golden Knights would love to have him, but don’t worry about that right now)

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Taking Nate Schmidt Caused Change In Plans On Grubauer For Washington

Doubt this reminder is necessary, but here it is anyway, George McPhee was the general manager of the Washington Capitals for 17 years from 1997-2014. He was fired at the end of the 2014 season because the seemingly championship quality roster just couldn’t get over the hump and win the Stanley Cup.

McPhee moved on to work with Garth Snow and the New York Islanders, Team Canada at the IIHF Worlds, and eventually, take the job in Vegas. The Capitals are well, still the Capitals.

So when the Expansion Draft rolled around, to many, Washington was one of the most interesting selections of the 30 McPhee and Vegas were to make. Most believed the pick would be Philipp Grubauer, the backup goalie who was drafted by McPhee in the 4th round in 2010. Grubauer was one of the league’s best #2 goalies in 2016-17 and appeared to be the perfect option to fill the same role behind Marc-Andre Fleury as a Golden Knight.

But no, instead, Vegas picked Nate Schmidt, the 25-year-old defenseman that went undrafted out of University of Minnesota and signed with Washington (McPhee) in 2013. Schmidt had a +22 rating last season and is +34 in the past two seasons, his first full seasons at the NHL level. Schmidt came over as a restricted free agent whom Vegas clearly had future plans.

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Better Find A Center, Otherwise The Struggles Will Start And Never End

It’s not hard to see George McPhee believes in strength down the middle. He made that clear by drafting five centers in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Unfortunately, that talent is undeveloped and unavailable. As for 2017-18, the unit will contain five centers, Vadim Shipachyov, Oscar Lindberg, William Karlsson, Cody Eakin and Jonathan Marchessault. The Golden Knights aren’t expecting much success this season, but for the future, one of those five needs to turn into a top line center.

Shipachov will likely start the year as the top center but currently, he has no NHL experience, and like most KHL imports, is a great unknown. The other possibility is Lindberg. He skates in with 134 games played and just over 850 face-off attempts. The 25-year-old Swede will have the chance to make a serious impact with Vegas.

Oscar loves New York and he loves winning, but he also loves ice time… He’s going to have a great opportunity to play major minutes and a major role in Vegas. Claude Lemieux, Lindberg’s agent

Lindberg’s career TOI average will certainly increase from 11:30 minutes per game. His effectiveness in all three zones will prove his value.

Karlsson’s impressive flow and off-the-puck play could help him climb the charts too.

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