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Power Rankings For Every Individual Golden Knights: Pre-Camp

Ken asked if I could rank the Golden Knights as our lead in story to camp. I said, absolutely not, it’s impossible. We haven’t even seen them in a real practice yet! Then, he reminded me that the car we rented in Dallas is in his name. Uber is expensive. Here are my rankings for every Golden Knight, heading into camp.

My criteria were based on a combination of career stats; Goals Created, Points Per Game, Power Play Goals For, Power Play Goals Against, Total Goals For/Total Goals Against ratio, Average Time on Ice, and Games Played. Plus, I’ve seen a little hockey in my day, so the “eye test” was used to break a few ties. We’ll update our rankings as training camp goes on.

We’ll update our rankings as training camp goes on. Agree or disagree, let me know. I can take the heat. (Remember, Ken made me do this.)

Defensive Rankings
1) Shea Theodore
2) Jason Garrison
3) Colin Miller
4) Brayden McNabb
5) Luca Sbisa
6) Nate Schmidt
7) Jon Merrill
8) Deryk Engelland
9) Clayton Stoner
10) Griffin Reinhart
Unranked: Chris Casto, Jake Bischoff, Brad Hunt, Nikolas Brouillard, Stephen MacAulay

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Fantasy Hockey, Drafting Golden Knights

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy put out a list of the top 50 players this season in fantasy hockey. Not surprisingly to anyone, there’s not a single Golden Knight represented amongst the league’s elite. In fact, NHL.com’s rankings don’t even have a Vegas representative in the top 100, with James Neal checking in at 114.

Having looked at the Golden Knights scoring history, and considering many other factors, we’re projecting Vegas to score between 175-225 goals this season. They’ll probably allow closer to 250. Nonetheless, that’s 200 goals and approximately 350 or so assists that need to find a home here in Vegas. So let’s take a look at where we would rank the Golden Knights in a standard fantasy hockey league.

Best Options

Vadim Shipachyov: Even if Shippy isn’t quite the scorer he was in the KHL, he still should rack up the assists playing with Neal and his ice time will be plentiful as the likely top line center. The Golden Knights should really ride him to get a feel for what they’ve got as he’s one of the most intriguing pieces for the future of the franchise. 25 goals and 40 assists aren’t outrageous predictions at all for Shipachyov, and if his game translates like it might, he could be a top 20 center that you can draft in the 100-150 range. Plus, if the league has faceoff wins, he’s gonna get a bunch of those.

James Neal: I’ll go with NHL.com here and agree that Neal is the safest pick of all. He’s tallied 50 or more points in eight of his 10 seasons in the league and will certainly be leaned on much more heavily in Vegas to score than he was in Nashville, Pittsburgh, or Dallas. The question is how long he remains with the Golden Knights. If he’s putting up a monster season, expect his name to be all over the trade rumors, and in fantasy, that means you need to unload him before VGK does.

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When 65’s Not Enough: Golden Knights In Shootout

One of the most ridiculous, yet admittedly exciting, parts of regular season hockey is the shootout. When the game can’t be settled by playing hockey for 60 minutes plus a five minute 3-on-3 session, we head to the charade known as the shootout.

Last season, 99 games went to shootout. A total of 713 shots were attempted and 225 were made for a scoring percentage of 31.6% (save percentage 68.4%)

First, let’s take a look at the most important player in the shootout, the goalie.

PlayerSavesAttemptsPercentage
Marc-Andre Fleury (2016-17)81553.3%
Marc-Andre Fleury (Career)19926974.0%
Calvin Pickard (2016-17)3475%
Calvin Pickard (Career)141973.7%

Career wise, the Golden Knights netminders are virtually identical and both guys are significantly better than the league average.

Things aren’t as rosy when we flip the coin though.

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Advanced Stats For VGK Dummies: Goals Saved Above Average

After four advanced stats articles breaking down the prowess of skaters, it’s time to head to the crease and help you further examine goaltenders. The next stat up in our series of Advanced Stats for VGK Dummies is GSAA or Goals Saved Above Average.

For those who are baseball fans, this is essentially WAR (wins above replacement) for goalies. For those who aren’t baseball fans, smart thinking, baseball is boring.

Usually, we first try to explain what the stat is before we get into the formula of how it’s calculated, but this one is a bit convoluted when explained that way that we’ll start by simply saying, GSAA measures individual goalies against the league average goalie. That’s all you need to know, now follow through how it’s calculated.

First, we need to calculate the league average goalie. To do so, we take every save made by every goalie in the NHL and divide it by every single shot on goal over the course of a season.

To simply the numbers let’s use a hypothetical using just one game. Say the first game of the season there are 50 total shots on net, 25 by each team. A total of five goals are scored, so 45 shots are saved. Thus, the league average is 45/50=0.900.

Now, we take an individual goalies stats. Let’s say he gave up one goal on 25 shots, meaning he saved 24.

GSAA = [Shots against x (1 – league-average save percentage)] – goals allowed

So, our goalie faced 25 shots, he allowed 1 goal, and the league average is 0.900.

[25 x (1-0.900)] – 1
[25 x 0.1] – 1
2.5-1
GSAA = 1.5

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Marc-Andre Fleury Unveils Golden Knights Goalie Mask

The face of the franchise unveiled the face he’ll be wearing when he takes his place between the pipes for the Vegas Golden Knights.

First look at Fleury's new @vegasgoldenknights mask! 👀

A post shared by CCM Goalie (@ccmgoalie) on

**There are three images in that Instagram post. Click the arrows to see the other two**

Marc-Andre Fleury took to social media today to show off the mask he will be wearing for the Golden Knights.

Looking at it head-on, the Vegas Golden Knights primary “V” logo is featured starting above and going through the facemask. It gets lost a bit in the straight-on picture but looking from the side it’s a bit more evident.

The left-hand side is a collage of many different elements from the Vegas Strip including the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, the high roller, Luxor, New York New York’s Statue of Liberty, and the Stratosphere. There are also multiple references to “Golden Knights.” The full logo is shown on a shield near the bottom corner of the mask, and there’s another knight helmet with the “Y” shaped “barbute.” (Read this, that last sentence will make more sense) It kind of looks like King Leonidas’ helmet from 300.

The other side has a knight riding a giant horse. The knight is wearing yet another style helmet not resembling the Golden Knights at all, but he is holding a shield with the Vegas “Sword Star.” The horse is wearing a gold suit of armor as well. Finally, on the chin of the mask, there appears to be a flowery like design which is very similar to the pattern in the gold portion of the Golden Knights jerseys.

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Can The Golden Knights Be Blown Out Even With Fleury In Net?

During a recent Twitter war discussion about the Golden Knights’ 2017-18 roster, a comment was made stating something to the effect of “there won’t be many blowouts with Fleury between the pipes.” Immediately the skeptical writer portion of my brain fired off wondering, is that accurate? So here we are now.

It should come as no surprise that Marc-Andre Fleury has been one of hockey’s best goalies over the first 13 years of his career, but it should also not knock your socks off to hear that he’s not the player he once was and there’s a reason the Penguins were willing to part with a 2nd round pick in 2020 for the Golden Knights to select Fleury rather than Ian Cole, Bryan Rust, or anyone else they left unprotected.

From the 2010-2011 season to the 2015-16 season, Fleury’s goals against average (GAA) was 2.34. In 2016-17 it was 3.02. Over the same span, he recorded 27 shutouts in 343 starts. Last year, he had one.

SeasonGSGAASV%SV% Rank
2016-17343.02.90941st
2015-16582.29.92112th
2014-15642.32.92016th
2013-14642.37.91526th

It’s possible it was simply just a down year for a guy who was in a weird situation as the backup to a 23-year-old who stole his job and his 2nd Cup. He also started just 34 games, his lowest (by more than 20) in any non-shortened season since 2007-08 when he was 23-years-old himself.

There’s something to be said about rhythm, flow, and consistency for a goalie, and it’s something he’ll likely get a bit more of in Vegas, but last year was a significant decline for Fleury, and if he plays like that again, Calvin Pickard‘s start numbers are going to increase quickly.

Back to the blowouts thing. I like charts, so here’s another chart.

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Marc-Andre Fleury’s Day With The Stanley Cup

It’s a long standing tradition in the NHL, each player on the Stanley Cup willing team gets a day to do whatever he pleases with the world’s best trophy. Today, new Vegas Golden Knight Marc-Andre Fleury has his day with the Cup.

https://twitter.com/keeperofthecup/status/888828556192731136

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Whose Name Should Be On The Back Of Your Golden Knights Jersey

Right now if you head down to The Armory at T-Mobile Arena, you can become one of the first to pre-order a Golden Knights jersey. The tough part is deciding which name to choose to put on the back. We’re here to help aid in that process.

The Safe Picks
Marc-Andre Fleury and Deryk Engelland

The Flower is already the fan favorite in Vegas, and will almost certainly be starting in net on Opening Night. Engelland is the hometown hero who is the only free agent that decided to join the Golden Knights (I know there were others, but c’mon). Both are safe because we are pretty darn sure neither are going to be traded before the season begins. Short term, these are safe and good options. Long term might be a bit riskier.

Fleury has two years left on his contract and the Golden Knights are already lining up options to take over behind him. Odd are Fleury will be around for the entire inaugural season, but his second season and beyond gets tough. He’s going to be a candidate for a deadline deal in 2019 and will likely not remain with the Golden Knights after he hits free agency. Similarly, Engelland will be in Vegas for this season, but the future beyond 2018 is a major question mark. Really can’t go wrong with either, but chances are, you’ll be needing a replacement sooner than later if you go this route.

The Names You Know
James Neal, David Perron, and Brayden McNabb

You can expect every guy on this list to be on the first 23 man roster the Golden Knights release, but they are all going to be dangled to other teams as the season progresses. Here’s the biggest problem with having a jersey with any of these names on the back of it, the better he plays, the more likely he is to be shipped out. So, you are either stuck with a jersey of a guy playing poorly or a guy playing great (for a bad team) who is probably getting traded. Not exactly ideal for your first Golden Knights jersey.

The OGs
Reid Duke and Vadim Shipachyov

Both are great options but come with major concerns. With Duke, the concern is right away in the fact that he’s probably not going to make the team out of camp (and possibly ever). But, he’ll always be the first Golden Knight, he’s an awesome guy , and everybody loves a good underdog story.

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James Neal: Top 10 Shot In NHL

Even the greenest Vegas hockey fan will tell you they’ve heard of Golden Knights forward James Neal. It could be his 238 regular season goals or his 44 points in 80 playoff games. Or, I’m not afraid to say it, it could’ve been one of the many dirty hits Neal has delivered. He’s a well-known player. In nine seasons the former Star, Penguin and Predator built a strong reputation for offensive and physical firepower.

TSN’s Travis Yost calculated the most effective part of Neal’s game… his shot. High-volume and accurate shooting is why the sniper is among the league’s best.

I told myself after that first practice that I had to become a better shooter or I wouldn’t make it in the league. Since then, I’ve played in hundreds of NHL games and talked to a ton of different goalies. The real secret to scoring goals is all about the release. –James Neal, Players Tribune

I’ll let the TSN analytics guy explain his criteria.

I took data from the last three seasons (minimum 150 shot attempts) and plotted out two items – the number of shots each forward generated per game at 5-on-5, and the net number of goals added above expectations (per-100 shots). It’s the blend that matters. Bring in both volume and shot quality, and this is your true leaderboard – the number of goals a player added above expectations over the last three years. -Travis Yost, TSN

Take a breath. I know, it’s a lot to take it. This chart will help. Even if it doesn’t though, just read the names and realize the letters VGK are next to one of them.

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NMCs Causing All Sorts Of Expansion Speculation

Never before has the NHL world cared more about No Movement Clauses. The most obvious candidate to waive his NMC, Marc-Andre Fleury signed his paperwork after his third ring-fitting. Others like Dion Phaneuf were asked, and though it’s expected he declines, we may have to wait to see the lists to get the final answer.

With the buyout period looming and roster lockdown a few days away, NHL clubs are scrambling to get prepared for the Expansion Draft. However, some teams appear willing to stand pat and take their Vegas lumps.

In Florida, the first reports were that Panthers front office had asked defenseman Keith Yandle to waive his NMC. The 30-year-old signed a seven-year deal last offseason and apparently Florida was willing to chance him in expansion. Updated reports now confirm Yandle was never asked and will not be exposed. Out guess, Yandle was asked, politely declined, and then the team covered his back by saying they never asked.

Either way, Yandle’s exposure would’ve created an interesting dilemma. Had the Golden Knights selected the All-Star defenseman they could’ve scored big in a flip. Established teams are desperate for blueliners and a rock like Yandle would draw plenty of interest. Or, with the long term deal, would the Golden Knights have thought to keep him and make him part of their “Cup in 6” plans.

Other notable players with NMC’s that were not asked to waive; Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, David Backes.

A lot of things are out of my control right now. I don’t know what other teams are discussing with regard to expansion and Vegas. I know what I’d like to do, but we’ll see how it plays out. -Steve Yzerman, Tampa GM

In Tampa, despite speculation, the Lightning did not ask Ryan Callahan to waive his NMC. Reports are GM Steve Yzerman reached out to the Golden Knights and is interested in protecting more players in exchange for picks. The Lightning are also rumored to be shopping stud Jonathon Drouin possibly for a defenseman in Anaheim or Minnesota. Opposing GM’s are calling McPhee but they’re texting one another as well. But even if teams make offers to the Wild it doesn’t mean they’ll agree to a deal prior to the roster lockdown.

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