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Tag: George McPhee (Page 1 of 18)

“I’m Certainly Not Going To Sit Here And Derail Anything” -George McPhee

Hey Kelly, I can still trade James Neal and say I’m not derailing anything, right? No? Uh oh. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Playoffs in three, Cup in six. That was the plan the day George McPhee was hired, that was the plan during the Expansion Draft, and that was supposed to be the plan throughout the entire first season.

Then the Golden Knights started 8-1, outplayed a few teams on the road including getting a win in Ottawa, and things may need to change.

I will adjust to whatever is going on as the season goes on. If we are in the hunt, we’ll stay in the hunt, I’m certainly not going to sit here and derail anything. –George McPhee to TSN 1050

Since making that comment on October 26th, the Golden Knights have recalled Shea Theodore, waived Griffin Reinhart and Jason Garrison, and have nearly officially cut bait with “problem-child” Vadim Shipachyov. We’ve also seen a bunch of lineup changes including breaking up the first line of James Neal, David Perron, and Cody Eakin.

It’s only been 13 games, but the Golden Knights are playing great hockey and appear to be making moves to try and win now. No one, including George McPhee, expected that to be the case at any point this year.

As you know, in this business you are just trying to get through each day. I certainly have a plan but you try to get through each day and try to win on gamedays. We said from the start that we want to be as good as we can be and be as competitive as we can be and that’s what we are trying to do. -McPhee

They are competitive, that’s for sure. Now we’ll have to wait and see if McPhee holds his word. The good news is, we’re not going to forget “I’m certainly not going to sit here and derail anything.” So when James Neal, David Perron, and Luca Sbisa are sent out for draft picks in a few months, you can be rest assured we’ve got something to ask the Golden Knights GM.

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Oh yeah, and we’re officially changing it from “Playoffs in three, Cup in six” to “Playoffs BY three, Cup BY six.” Why wait?

Golden Knights Winning/Future “Balance” Determining All Moves

I probably don’t need to remind you the Vegas Golden Knights are an expansion team, but I may need to remind you that as an expansion team, they are going to operate differently than any other team you’ve ever been a fan of before.

Hey Kelly, have you heard about this “waiver exempt” thing? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The goal is the same as everyone else in every other sport, to eventually win the final game of the postseason and be crowned the ultimate champion of the sport. However, with an expansion team like the Golden Knights, there’s an understanding by the people pulling the strings that it may not be realistic to do that right away.

One of those people pulling the strings used the word “balance” to demonstrate that point in a recent interview with the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio.

There’s a lot of hockey to be played. There’s a bigger picture to mindful of. There’s a balance that we are going to try to strike where we want to be very competitive, where we want to continue developing players and improving day to day, but at the same time, the goal is to one day bring a championship to Las Vegas, so those are all the different elements of building this franchise. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant General Manager

The balance he’s talking about is between being good now and being good in the future. That balance is at the heart of every single roster move the Golden Knights make. It started with the signing of Reid Duke, continued through the Expansion Draft, free agency, Training Camp, and it will affect every trade, signing, waiving, or anything else the front office does to the Golden Knights roster.

The challenge for fans, and writers for that matter, is that the balance is constantly changing. With every day, every move, and every game that goes by, the plan shifts. Sometimes slightly, sometimes drastically.

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McPhee Speaks About Vadim Shipachyov’s Situation In Press Conference

With media in from all over North America to cover what is likely to be one of the most emotional games in NHL history, coupled with the 2-0 start, the Golden Knights locker room was buzzing. But still missing from that was center Vadim Shipachyov. He was sent to the AHL, expected to rejoin the roster prior to Friday’s game, but that did not happen. Now, nearly a week later he’s still not with the team.

George McPhee held a press conference to give an update on his status. Here are the quotes on Shipachyov and SinBin.vegas’ best “translations” to help give the background on what he’s actually saying.

Vadim Shipachyov is still not on the roster at this point, is that a hockey decision or a numbers decision.  -SinBin.vegas

That’s a numbers decision. As you know we had three guys who we could assign, and we did, to give us the room that we needed to carry what we are carrying. I do not have a specific date when that will change but we are working on things. -George McPhee

Translation: Shipachyov is waiver exempt, so the Golden Knights can (and did) assign him to the AHL without any risk of losing him on waivers to another team. Asking if it’s a numbers or hockey decision was to confirm that Shipachyov’s play on the ice was not the reasoning behind this decision. McPhee confirms this again later in the press conference.

Has this gone on longer than you expected? -Jesse Granger, Las Vegas Sun

No. We knew in the Summer that with Theodore and Tuch that we may have to send them down initially because we are going to have a lot of people that we are evaulating, and we are still evaluating. I don’t know how long it will take but I prefer to be in this position where we have enough people rather than not enough. -McPhee

Translation: As we explained throughout much of the Summer as well, the Golden Knights simply have too many players on NHL contracts to keep everyone. So, rather than waiving certain players, McPhee opted to utilize his waiver exempt players to allow him to continue evaluating the players on his roster.

The confusing part about this rationale is that three of the players he is likely in need to evaluating were inactive in both games this weekend (Griffin Reinhart, Brad Hunt, and Jon Merrill). Thus, how long this will take is still a major mystery. Of course, one injury would open a roster spot and allow for Shipachyov to return.

Have you been in contact with Shipachyov regularly letting him know what’s going on? -Granger, Las Vegas Sun

Through his agent yes. -McPhee

Has his agent expressed his disappointment with the decision? -David Shoen, Las Vegas Review Journal

Yep. They didn’t understand initially. But they do now. This is a roster move that’s not about performance. The three guys we sent down have all earned the right to be here. And we’ll get them here at the right time or as soon as we can. -McPhee

Translation: This is possibly where the reports of Shipachyov being unhappy emanated from. The original move was made on Tuesday of last week. His agent didn’t understand which likely meant Shipachyov would have been upset about the decision. McPhee returning to saying it is not a performance-driven decision while answering this question likely means there was at least a moment when Shipachyov believed it was performance based.

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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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