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Tag: George McPhee (Page 1 of 19)

McPhee Identifies Shipachyov Situation As Seminal Moment In Defining Golden Knights Culture

I knew Shippy would have an impact on this team! I told you all along. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A bit before the Expansion Draft, George McPhee and the Golden Knights signed a 30-year-old Russian player name Vadim Shipachyov. He was described as a top-six forward with elite vision and passing skills and was expected to be one of the most talented players on the Golden Knights roster come opening night in Dallas.

Then opening night in Dallas came, and Vadim Shipachyov wasn’t on the roster. He eventually got a shot for a few games, but the organization made it clear, they didn’t believe he was good enough to stay over the likes of Alex Tuch, Erik Haula, Oscar Lindberg and others. So, they sent the team’s highest-paid forward (at the time) to the AHL and eventually back to Russia, and in doing so they also sent a message to the entire Golden Knights roster. A message the GM believes may be a major reason they are still playing today.

It wasn’t my observation, it actually came from a coach of another team that I was talking to about 30 or 35 games into the year. He thought the best thing we did all year was take a guy on the big contract who wasn’t performing and ate it, or were prepared to eat it, because it was what was best for the team… Ownership supported it, and we did it, but it turned out to be a bigger move than we anticipated in terms of setting the template right for this team and how we would operate. -Geroge McPhee on Hockey Central

That was just one of the many examples McPhee, Gallant, and the Golden Knights have made to set that type of culture for the NHL’s newest team. Brad Hunt made the roster and remained on it for the entire season despite being a free agent that was signed to play in the AHL. Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch deserved spots out of camp, so the team made room for them. They healthy scratched Tomas Tatar in the playoffs, the trade deadline acquisition that cost three draft picks, because Ryan Carpenter, a waiver claim, was better. And the list goes on and on.

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McPhee/Gallant Relationship Not As Straightforward As It Once Seemed

VGK’s early success leaves unanswerable questions. They aren’t a problem now, but they could be at some point. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On April 13th, 2017 Gerard Gallant was named head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights. At the introductory press conference, there was a specific quote from George McPhee that stuck out to me at the time. I’ve carried it as somewhat of a pillar of how the organization was going to be run ever since.

Basically, the way we’ll work is we’ll provide the players and Gerard coaches them. We’re not going to tell him how to coach and he’s not going to tell us how to find players. -George McPhee on 4/17/17

With every move the Golden Knights have made, or not made, from sending Vadim Shipachyov back to Russia to healthy scratching Griffin Reinhart every game he was on the active roster to acquiring players like Malcolm Subban, Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Tatar and Ryan Reaves, I’ve viewed the decisions through the lens of that quote. McPhee gets the players, Gallant coaches them.

During the Expansion Draft, that’s how it was. In fact, I can specifically remember speaking to Gallant at an event during the 72 hours the Golden Knights were on the clock, and he sounded as if his opinion was completely unnecessary to the process. However, as the season has worn on the lines of that quote have blurred a bit. When the trades were made, Gallant admitted to having a bit of say on who McPhee would bring in. The Shipachyov saga had the coach’s fingerprints all over it, and the Subban/Pickard goalie situation at the beginning of the year put Gallant in a hole he likely was not terribly comfortable with.

Then came the Tomas Tatar situation. With David Perron returning from injury in Game 3 of the Kings series, Gallant had a decision to make. He basically had three options available to him, and one was going to look awfully bad on his GM. Being up 2-0, he could have left the lineup as is and kept Perron on the shelf. Or, if he wanted Perron back in, he had to choose between Tatar and Carpenter as the player to come out. One player was a waiver addition that cost McPhee nothing to acquire, the other was a deadline trade addition that cost three draft picks including the Golden Knights 1st round pick next year.

Based solely on play, Tatar was the right man to come out. He never quite gelled with a line in Vegas and hadn’t shown the ability that made him a 19+ goal scorer each of the last five seasons. But, he didn’t come cheap, and sitting him in the Golden Knights biggest game of the season would be viewed as an immediate indictment on McPhee’s trade.

You don’t think I talk with George when we make lineup decisions? I’m the coach, I’m going to put them out there if I want them out there, but we talk every day and he knew before I made the decision. We said, listen, this is what we think is best and he agrees with most of the things we do. If he didn’t agree with it he didn’t tell me. (He says) you’re the coach put your best lineup out there. -Gerard Gallant

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Future Cap Better Than Present Team

Three of the four major professional sports in North America have a salary cap. The reason the salary cap is used in leagues like the NHL is to keep parity as high as possible. It makes it challenging to keep all of the best players while helping to distribute them to the weaker teams in the process.

Hopefully guys will keep taking fair prices like Marchessault did before testing free agency. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This may be hard to believe, but even with the superb talent the Golden Knights have put on the ice in 2017-18, with the three 1st round picks, and with the contract extensions for Jonathan Marchessault, Jon Merrill, and Deryk Engelland, George McPhee’s biggest asset from the Expansion Draft is still the salary cap.

When all is said and done with this season, the Golden Knights will end the season among the bottom 10 teams in money spent against the cap. This includes the contracts of David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski, and Clayton Stoner, none of which will play a game for the Golden Knights. It also includes the retained salary of Alexei Emelin and Derick Brassard. Things can change slightly down the stretch, but as it stands, the Golden Knights will be the cheapest team to make the playoffs.

Projected Salary Cap Usage In 2017-18 ($75m Salary Cap)
Vegas Golden Knights – $68,950,653
Buffalo Sabres – $68,698,464
Florida Panthers – $68,068,090
Montreal Canadiens – $67,761,117
New Jersey Devils – $67,421,712
Colorado Avalanche – $66,931,457
Edmonton Oilers – $66,249,688
Carolina Hurricanes – $59,183,386
Arizona Coyotes – $58,768,559
*All other teams are higher

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Tatar Move Serves Now And Later

Insurance for the future, and help for now? That’s the perfect package for McPhee. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

By now fans have to believe in George McPhee’s vision. He’s presented a first-place team, a projected Jack Adams winning coach, and an aggressive front office mentality. While the sensational headlines were all about Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, the Vegas GM worked on an important last-minute insurance deal.

Newly acquired winger Tomas Tatar wasn’t a replacement for not landing Karlsson. Instead, McPhee traded for a player who could help win now and later. Later being the key.

Tatar comes in, that all but solidifies that James Neal is not coming back. -Nick Kypreos, Sportsnet

McPhee was in a real win-win situation. He elected to make three deadline deals but could’ve easily stood pat.

We were very aggressive. We were buyers at this deadline. We had many discussions with many teams over the past three weeks and explored a lot of things but as we decried today we are very happy with what we accomplished and how we improved. -McPhee

In my eyes, McPhee’s stock rose even higher after the Tatar deal and the Karlsson rumors. I’m not saying his efforts weren’t genuine but you couldn’t have pitched a better marketing plan.

The Ottawa Senators will tell you ‘no they were not close to a deal.’ Whatever offer was on the table from the Vegas Golden Knights … was not sufficient and wasn’t close to what Ottawa would consider acceptable doing a deal. -Bob McKenzie, TSN

Some analysts were puzzled when they heard McPhee had given up three draft picks to receive Tatar. However, when you calculate age, production and term, a player like Tatar was more valuable to the organization, especially when the team is facing tough decisions this summer.

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McKenzie: “Vegas Was Supposed To Be A Seller At The Deadline, They’re Not Selling”

“If those two players walk at the end of the season, they walk. Vegas will deal with that.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you have an hour or so, take a listen to TSN’s Hockey Bobcast with Bob McKenzie. It’s on my weekly must listen list. This week the Bobfather discussed the needs of all thirty-one NHL teams as he looks ahead to the February 26th trade deadline. Here’s what he had to say about the Golden Knights.

Vegas, my goodness what a story the Vegas Golden Knights are this season. Never seen anything like it in all my time covering the game. They’re not just a good team, they are legit. They look like a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. Now how the hell can we be saying that? -Bob McKenzie, TSN

McKenzie had been running in circles trying to figure out this Golden Knights team. Now he’s starting to sound like George McPhee. McKenzie is confident Vegas management won’t “derail” the team’s success.

This is a legitimate threat, they cannot weaken their team between now and the deadline. -McKenzie

According to the TSN analyst, any open rumors about McPhee listening to offers for pending UFA’s James Neal and David Perron are officially dead.

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Never-Ending Deadline Speculation Continues

Remember, Shippy’s agent had some things to say too… (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like restless fans, ESPN Insider Rob Vollman is getting prepared for the trade deadline. He ranked NHL general managers most likely to make a late-season deal. To no surprise, Golden Knights GM George McPhee made Vollman’s list.

The numbers show McPhee is rather active when it comes to trades, averaging 2.8 per season and 1.6 per year actually on deadline day.

Vegas is in the unexpected position of being buyers at the trade deadline, but don’t expect any big moves at the deadline because McPhee was not known for blockbuster trades in his time as Washington’s GM. Other than accidentally giving up a future star in Forsberg, McPhee never surrendered more than a second-round pick or a secondary prospect to get what he wanted (since 2005).- Rob Vollman, ESPN.com Insider

 

Vollman notes McPhee isn’t known for blockbusters around the trade deadline, but this is uncharted waters for an expansion team. Somehow McPhee will try to balance this season’s success and the future of the franchise. No doubt the Vegas brass will be making some difficult decisions before February 26th.

Adding fuel to the fire were comments by James Neal’s agent to Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review Journal.

(The whole story from the RJ, which is a gem, can be found here.)

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Bobfather Says Golden Knights Won’t Sell; TSN Colleague Disagrees

It’s time for another edition of “Buy, Sell, or Hold!” Today’s contestants weighing in on the Golden Knights trade deadline dilemma are two of TSN’s finest. First up, the Bobfather.

Well there’s no question, they’re not selling. -Bob McKenzie, TSN

McKenzie went on to explain that McPhee and staff have identified a core, and are attempting to lock them up. Following the trend of extending Jonathan Marchessault and Brayden McNabb.

They’ve got a core of young D that they really like. Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, and Colin Miller, those guys aren’t going anywhere… I think they’re probably in negotiations with David Perron and James Neal. That’s not to say contracts are absolutely going to get done. -McKenzie

Now to the contrarian argument from the author behind the ever popular Trade Bait, which still has James Neal listed in 10th.

A lot of people are surprised to see Neal still on this list. The fact that he hasn’t been re-signed so far, and we haven’t heard a lot of chatter about that possibility existing. Even though the Golden Knights are in a strong position to be a solid playoff team this season, they’re going to try and accumulate assets for the long-term. With Neal producing the way that he has this year, certainly there will be a lot of interest in him at the deadline. If, the Golden Knights make him available. -Frank Seravalli, TSN

If Bob says it, we believe it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Keep in mind, Seravalli’s role at TSN is to track trade rumors and whispers from around the league. He’s not saying Neal is gone, but he’s simply warning fans that things could change before the deadline. Especially, since Neal is such an attractive rental for other contenders.

As much as I respect Seravalli and his efforts, it’s tough questioning The Bobfather. If he says Vegas won’t sell, I believe him, which means Neal’s not going anywhere.

Golden Knights May Buy Their “Own Rentals” At The Deadline

Buy, sell, or hold?

David, will you be our own rental? (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s the million dollar question for the Golden Knights who remain atop the Pacific Division and the Western Conference halfway through the season. The plan coming in was likely to sell, and sell hard, at the February 26th trade deadline. Then 41 games were played, the Golden Knights lost just 12 of them, and now the landscape looks a bit different.

Due to Vegas’ complex situation, the answer to the “buy, sell, or hold?” question can’t really be just one of those three words. Instead, it will be something like “sell to buy” in which Vegas ships away a UFA or two and bring in a replacement NHL caliber player immediately. Or there’s this scenario which was brought up by Gary Lawless while joining the SinBin.vegas Podcast, something that can be defined as “hold to buy.”

Teams that are in the position of George McPhee’s team acquire rentals. They go out and they say ‘we’re gonna win, so we’re going to take our 1st or 2nd round draft pick and we’re going to trade it for that terrible team’s best scorer who is going to be an unrestricted free agent in July. We’re going to buy him for 12 weeks and we’re going to hope that we win a Stanley Cup.’ If it comes to pass that Vegas is a playoff team and they don’t sign one of their pending free agents, and they use that player to win one or two playoff series, that’s their own rental. -Gary Lawless, VGK Insider

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The Creator Speaks His Mind On Potentially Selling At The Deadline

As the games tick off the schedule and the Golden Knights remain not only in the playoff chase, but in first place, no one can help themselves but to wonder how George McPhee and company will handle the roster come deadline day.

He’s always in the picture. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The stated plan has always been “Playoffs by 3, Cup by 6” with the obvious path to achievement being through acquiring as many assets as possible now to supplement the future. However, with the current Golden Knights proving to be more capable than many expected, including the GM, it’s time to wonder how that plan will change.

When asked recently, and over the course of the past few weeks, George McPhee repeats nearly word for word the exact same statement.

We do have a master plan but if this team is in the hunt way down the road, way down the road in March, then we will stay in the hunt. I wouldn’t derail it. It’s not fair to this team or this community. -George McPhee

That all sounds good and well, but we’re talking about George McPhee here. He’s an incredibly calculated man who isn’t likely to let a few games change a plan he’s had in place for about 18 months since he got the job.

But there’s an elephant in the room, and in the case of the Golden Knights, he literally sits directly next to the McPhee every single game. Here at SinBin.vegas, we call him The Creator. The man who paid for the team, who coined the “Playoffs by three, Cup by six” mantra, and the man who said this recently on the Golden Knights official podcast.

People that know me from my business and my careers, they know I don’t enter anything to not win. I win at everything. -The Creator

The guys on the Sheriff, Lawless and Some Guy Named Dave (Hashtag #SLGND of course. Can’t forget that because they remind us 47 times per episode) posed the question directly to the Golden Knights owner; do you “raise” or “fold” on trading away some of your players at the deadline?

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Expansion Draft Report Card – First Quarter Year 1

We’ve hit the quarter pole of the Golden Knights first season in franchise history. With it comes no better time to begin what’s going to become a staple here at SinBin.vegas, the Expansion Draft Report Card. There will be a total of three report cards each year until it becomes unnecessary. Preseason, post-deadline, post free agency. This serves as the preseason one for year one.

Each selection is graded based on value. Factors taken into consideration rank as follows: Play of player selected, impact on franchise currently, impact moving forward, and other options that were not taken.

So here we go…

Anaheim Ducks
Selection: Clayton Stoner
**TRADE: Golden Knights receive Shea Theodore for Expansion Draft considerations**

One day I’ll earn McPhee an A. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Theodore remains the most talented defenseman on the roster and despite the early “number decision” stint in the AHL, he appears here to stay. He’s taken over the main defenseman spot on the power play and even tallied his first goal in a recent game. This guy should be a Golden Knight for a long time and his future looks incredibly bright. It’ll be an A+ if he turns out to be what we expect, but at this point, he’s still finding his place. The grade also has to take a bit of a knock because of all the other options from the Ducks. Oh, and Stoner is likely not going to play for the Golden Knights at all. Grade: B+

Arizona Coyotes
Selection: Teemu Pulkkinen

The hard-shooting winger couldn’t crack the team out of camp. He’s currently tearing up the AHL with the Wolves, but has yet to get the call back to Vegas. The options were thin from the Coyotes so it’s hard to give a terrible grade here, but it doesn’t seem as if Pulkkinen will ever fit with what Gerard Gallant is looking to do with his team. If he gets recalled at some point things may change, but at the moment, it appears to be a pick that won’t ever pay dividends for the Golden Knights. Grade: D

Boston Bruins
Selection: Colin Miller

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