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Two Golden Knights Make SI’s 2019-2020 Fantasy Bust List

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Again with the lists. This time, fantasy experts took their shot at predicting players that will drop in production and be this season’s busts. A few Golden Knights were unfortunately selected in Sports Illustrated’s newest list of fantasy flunkies.

One of the first players SI cautions fantasy GM’s to steer clear from is Vegas’ left-handed sniper.

Max Pacioretty (Golden Knights) ESPN: 67 | NHL: 68 | CBS: 81
Let’s get this out of the way: Max Pacioretty went berserk in the playoffs, scoring five goals in seven games, and he dominated when playing with Mark Stone and Paul Stastny. That as much as anything is fueling the hope that Pacioretty will become a 30-goal scorer again. Turning 31 in November, Pacioretty hasn’t surpassed 22 goals and has missed 34 games in the last two seasons. He’s no longer a threat to record lofty shot totals, making his floor lower than other players in his range.-Sportsnet

The next Golden Knight to skip in your fantasy draft according to SI, could be considered VGK’s most reliable player.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Golden Knights) ESPN: 68 | NHL: 24 | CBS: 22

How many more good years can Vegas get out of Marc-Andre Fleury, who is turning 35 this year, while also expecting him to carry the lionshare of the workload? While the departure of defenseman Colin Miller isn’t a death blow to Vegas’s defense, it also doesn’t do Flower any favors. His career has been revitalized since joining the Golden Knights (64 wins, 2.40 goals against average, .919 save percentage) and his potential “bust” label is based more on his longevity than his ability. Avoid reaching for Fleury in early rounds when his value should be much safer as a second-tier goalie.-Sportsnet

Albeit a soft critique from Sports Illustrated, but beyond his age, I doubt Golden Knights fans agree with their reasoning. Las Vegas loved watching Colin Miller rip shots on net, but let’s be honest, his departure won’t hurt Fleury. It’s fair to be concerned with the 34-year-old goalie’s workload but I’m assuming the coaching staff has a preservation plan in place for 2019-2020.

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McPhee Bobbles Another Russian, This Time In A Much Different Way

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In exchange for selecting Jason Garrison, and his exorbitant contract, in the Expansion Draft, the Golden Knights received a 2nd round pick (which they traded for Keegan Kolesar), a 4th round pick (which they selected Paul Cotter) and Nikita Gusev.

Three assets in exchange for not only taking a bad contract off the hands of a contending team, but also laying off players like Yanni Gourde, J.T. Brown, Andrej Sustr, Slater Koekkoek, and others.

It was a cross between the expansion situations with Columbus and the New York Islanders and that of Minnesota and Florida, but it most resembled the pickle Anaheim found itself in.

With the Ducks, Vegas received Shea Theodore for laying off Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson and picking up the bad contract of Clayton Stoner. Anaheim’s available options were better, but Garrison’s contract was much worse.

So, from Tampa Vegas got a pair of picks and an asset who was sitting over in Russia waiting for the time to come to make the leap to the NHL. No matter when that happened, he would become a Golden Knights.

If you go through every trade Vegas executed at the Expansion Draft, it’s reasonable to believe that Gusev’s value at the Expansion Draft was somewhere between a 1st round pick and a 3rd round pick. The exact value depends on how badly Tampa needed to get rid of Garrison’s contract as well as how much they valued their exposed players.

Since that day, George McPhee and the Golden Knights tried to diminish Gusev’s market price, while the Russian has done nothing but raise it. Finally it came to a head yesterday when the Devils sent a measly package of a 2nd and a 3rd round pick to end the Gusev in Vegas saga.

When Vegas acquired Gusev, he had just finished a breakout season putting up 71 points in the 2016-17 season. It was the first time he scored more than 40 points in the KHL. On the international stage he had dominated the World Junior tournament years prior and put up impressive numbers at the World Cup but his track record as short.

Since, he’s won back-to-back KHL MVP’s, broke the record for assists in a season, won a Gold medal, dominated at the IIHF World Championships and cemented himself as the best player outside of the NHL. (Read more about that here.)

In other words, he went from a player who appeared to be headed in the right direction to one who burst into a full fledged superstar everywhere but the NHL. Whatever his stock was in June of 2017, it has surely risen dramatically since.

Then there are the Golden Knights who did the opposite. At every pass, they diminished his value.

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Vegas Golden Knights Top NHL In Jersey Sales

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The Golden Knights weren’t able to repeat as Western Conference Champions (#NotAMajor), but they were able to successfully defend another title in year 2018-19.

For the second straight year, the Golden Knights sold the most jerseys in the NHL according to CMO Brian Killingsworth.

In Year 1, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the expansion team would top the list as literally every fan had to buy a new jersey. But to keep it up in Year 2 is quite the achievement.

The Golden Knights also topped the NHL in sales per cap (measured by fans/attendance) at in-arena team stores. And, Killingsworth confirmed during the 2018 playoff run people from over 110 countries bought Golden Knights apparel.

Marc-Andre Fleury finished atop the list of Golden Knights players for most jerseys sold and ranked 3rd behind Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

The top five Golden Knights jerseys sold were:

  1. Marc-Andre Fleury
  2. William Karlsson
  3. Alex Tuch
  4. Max Pacioretty
  5. Deryk Engelland

Killingsworth noted that Mark Stone made a strong push towards the top five in the few months following the trade deadline but didn’t quite crack the top five.

All in all, another year of dominance in the apparel market for the Golden Knights. It will be challenging to repeat as champs again in Years 3 and 4, and even tougher in Year 5 with the Seattle expansion franchise coming in, but if any city can do it, it’s Vegas.

(Stick tap to Alan Snel from LVSportsBiz. Check out his hour-long interview with VGK CMO Brian Killingsworth.)

Game 7 Mentality For Game 6 Reality

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The Golden Knights are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Although it’s not an elimination game for Vegas, many players are mentally preparing as if tonight’s contest is a series-deciding Game 7.

We’ve got to play like it’s our last one.-Cody Eakin

Yesterday, several Golden Knights expressed having a Game 7 mindset. Jonathan Marchessault has been a part of every clinching game in franchise history. The forward knows how crucial it is advancing in less than seven games. Something Vegas never faced during last season’s Cup chase.

This has to be the biggest game of the series. We need to close it out. It’s hard to do but we need to want it more than them. -Jonathan Marchessault

Golden Knights veteran Max Pacioretty has played in a handful of deep series over his eleven-year career. His focus for tonight’s game is the same as if it were an elimination game.

There’s really no excuse when you come home and you have a day off, and then a practice day the next day. No matter what, you should feel one hundred percent. You get a day off you really need to use it to your advantage. Sure, both teams have it but at the same time we feel that being at home in front of our crowd… we’ve found ways to get them to be the difference maker in home games. -Max Pacioretty

Eakin is only concerned about winning because he’s aware of the edge San Jose would gain if they were to force a Game 7.

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San Jose Searching For Answers To Stop Stone And Co.

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Through four games of the series, the San Jose Sharks have iced 14 different forwards, seven different defensemen, and two goalies. Only four of those 23 players have yet to be on the ice for a goal by Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, or Paul Stasnty.

The Sharks have tried multiple forward lines, they’ve rotated defense pairings, they’ve tried checking lines, skill lines, speed lines, superstar defense pairings, and defense-first pairings. Nothing has worked.

It’s great, we always know they are going to be in the right spots. You just want to get the puck in their hands and they make the plays and score. -Shea Theodore

The Golden Knights line of Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Stastny have scored 12 goals, tallied 28 total points, and they’ve done it on just 34 shots.

With every series now having four games finished, Stone leads the league in playoff goals, Stastny leads in playoff assists (tied with Pacioretty), and Pacioretty (tied with Stone) leads in playoff points.

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The player who has spent the most time on the ice against the Golden Knights dominant line has been Erik Karlsson. Despite being one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL, Karlsson has not been able to handle the pressure of Stastny, Stone, and Pacioretty. He’s been on the ice for 11 of their 12 goals.

Overall, Karlsson has been out there for 13 of the Golden Knights 18 goals in the series, the same number as goalie Martin Jones.

They are a special group. I hope (they continue this), I want them to, but you know what, lines are going to get hot as we go along here. Let’s hope we can get a couple of lines going too. -Nate Schmidt

The Sharks have another chance to try and crack the code tonight, and they’ll likely try something new once again, but if you ask Mark Stone, no matter what the Sharks do, that line believes it’s just a matter of keeping it simple.

I mean, we have a good team. At the end of the day we just have to play our style hockey. We have to put pressure on their defensemen. When you put pressure on anybody, it makes the game harder. -Stone

As far as the defensemen, they have a simple plan too.

It’s called watching offense from the D. You sit back, watch, and enjoy the show. -Schmidt

One more dominant effort from the line of non-Misfits, and the Golden Knights will have ridden them right into the second round.

Max Pacioretty Delivers On Son’s Demand In First Home Playoff Game

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Max Pacioretty was a Golden Knights fan long before he ever became a Golden Knight. The reason for that is his sons, Lorenzo and Maximus fell in love with the team in the playoffs last year.

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When Pacioretty told his sons he was traded to Vegas, they wanted to know which logo the Golden Knights were on their NHL bed sheets. Unfortunately, because the sheets were a few years old, there was no Golden Knights logo. Luckily, Max had a backup plan because he knew his boys would remember the pregame shows they watched together last year in the playoffs.

So I’m like, “Vegas! Here — come on, you remember these guys, right? From the playoffs last year? That cool team in black and gold? They made the Cup Fi—”

And right in that snap second, I see their eyes just light up. I know I don’t even have to finish the sentence. The boys, not only do they remember Vegas from the playoffs last year……. they loved Vegas in the playoffs last year.

So now they’re jacked.

Now they’re parading around the house, you know, chanting and hollering, “WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS, WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS.” -Max Pacioretty, Player’s Tribune

(By the way, if you haven’t read that Player’s Tribune article, stop reading this right now and go read that. It’s better than this one, I’m not even going to lie. I would appreciate it if you come back though.)

So there’s no question Pacioretty has been thinking of Sunday night’s game for a while. His first playoff game as a member of the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. It was always going to be special, and it was always going to be a memory he’d share with his kids.

As soon as my kids woke up at 6:30 in the morning they thought it was time to go to the game. For my family, it’s the best time of the year. -Pacioretty

Then, one of his sons made a request, one he’s never done to his NHL superstar father before.

First time in my career my son asked me to score a goal tonight and I was able to do so. In this rink, I’m sure he had a ton of fun. -Pacioretty

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That’s a lot of pressure.

About eight minutes into the 1st period and just a few seconds into Evander Kane’s 4-minute high stick penalty, dad got it done. He took a pass from Shea Theodore, walked in towards the goal and sent a laser of a shot past Martin Jones.

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Pacioretty: “All Bets Are Off In The Playoffs”

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From 2012-2014, the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins played eight times in the regular season. Max Pacioretty’s Canadiens went 6-2-0 as Montreal clearly had the edge on Boston for two seasons and it carried over into the postseason. In 2014 the Habs met the Bruins in the second round of the playoffs and continued their control over Boston winning the series in seven.

It’s all about momentum. It’s about players being at their best at the right time. It’s about bounces and the team sticking together. -Max Pacioretty

That’s one example of Pacioretty being on team that had gotten the better of their playoff opponent, like his current team’s success over the San Jose Sharks.

Try and predict every playoff series and you’ll be amazed at how many you get wrong. What’s happened in the past has nothing to do with the future. -Pacioretty

Pacioretty has played in seven playoff series over his 11-year career. It’s not as many as he’d like but the veteran has seen enough to understand the intensity on the second season.

Henrik Lundqvist use to skip playing in the Bell Centre against us because he thought there were ghosts in there that had his number. And then we played them in the playoffs and he stood on his head in the Bell Centre and completely stole the series. He was dominant and totally took over the series. All bets are off in the playoffs. -Pacioretty

The 30-year-old scoring winger averages 0.5 points per game and 4.5 shots per game in the postseason. Vegas will need him to do more than that over the next month or two. There’s no doubt that come next week Pacioretty and his teammates will bring the intensity they’ve been lacking for the past couple of weeks.

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Which Players Do The Golden Knights Miss Most (And Least) When They Are Out

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On December 13th, 2017 the Golden Knights claimed Ryan Carpenter on waivers from the San Jose Sharks. It took him almost a month, until January 5th to finally get in his first game. Since, he’s become a staple in Gerard Gallant’s lineup… much to the chagrin of many in the fan base.

Carpenter has just 13 points in 50 games this season and is a -8 in the plus/minus category. He’s among the worst on the team in just about every statistical category, yet when asked Gallant never has anything but good things to say about #40.

Carpenter is the same for me every night, pretty much. He is a solid player, he doesn’t make many mistakes. He does the right thing with the puck all the time, so we had very few turnovers tonight and he is a part of that. He did a good job on our penalty kill, so really liked his game -Gallant

He is one of the best in giveaways, just coughing the puck up 15 times in 630 minutes on the ice, and there’s no question he’s a strong penalty killer.

But let me throw another group of numbers into the mix. Whether it’s related to Carpenter or not, the Golden Knights are miserable without him. They are a pathetic 2-11-1 without Carpenter in the lineup and score just 2.21 goals while allowing 3.57 when he’s in the press box.

Here is a breakdown of all 19 players who are currently on the roster that have missed games. The numbers shown are how the Golden Knights perform without the designated player.

 RecordPts%GF/GGAGF%
Bellemare1-0-01.002.001.0066.7
Carpenter2-11-1.1792.213.5738.3
Carrier7-8-1.4692.693.0646.7
Eakin1-3-0.2502.003.2538.1
Haula27-18-4.5923.162.8652.5
Lindberg15-12-2.5522.862.5952.5
Nosek6-3-0.6673.782.8956.7
Pacioretty8-2-3.7313.312.5456.6
Reaves1-0-01.004.003.0057.1
Smith3-4-0.4293.003.0050.0
Stastny17-12-1.5833.102.7752.8
Tuch4-4-0.5002.252.6346.2
Pirri2-1-0.6673.672.6757.9
Zykov7-7-1.5002.933.1348.4
Engelland4-2-1.6433.432.7155.8
Holden4-7-0.3642.553.1844.4
Merrill14-6-2.6823.552.6856.9
Schmidt8-11-1.4252.502.9046.3
Theodore1-0-01.003.002.0060.0

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How George McPhee Used The Expansion Draft To Yield Mark Stone And Max Pacioretty (And Still Has Assets To Burn)

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When the Expansion Draft was over and the dust had settled a bit, the Golden Knights walked away with much more than just the 30 players made up of one from each team.

By July 5th, George McPhee had “harvested” (his word, not mine) a bushel of assets that were expected to help reach the stated goal of reaching the playoffs by year three and lifting the Cup by year six. Here’s the full list of what the Golden Knights were sitting on a little over two weeks after the Expansion Draft.

Acquired
2017 1st round pick (Nick Suzuki)
2017 1st round pick (Erik Brannstrom)
2017 2nd round pick (Jake Leschyshyn)
2017 5th round pick (Jack Dugan)
2017 6th round pick (Jiri Patera)
2018 4th round pick (Paul Cotter)
2018 5th round pick (Brandon Kruse)
2019 2nd round pick
2019 2nd round pick
2019 3rd round pick
2019 3rd round pick
2019 5th round pick
2020 2nd round pick
2020 2nd round pick
Shea Theodore
Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch
Jake Bischoff
Keegan Kolesar
Dylan Ferguson
Nikita Gusev

Gave Up
2017 2nd round pick (Alexandre Texier)
2018 3rd round pick (Connor Dewar)
2018 4th round pick (Jack Gorniak)
2018 7th round pick (Riley Hughes)

Since then, things have changed a bit. The Golden Knights started out on fire and it’s never really slowed down. They won the Pacific Division, the Western Conference, and are in line to make the playoffs again in year two. Since July 5th, 2017, the Golden Knights have made nine more trades.

Acquired
Mark Stone
Max Pacioretty
Ryan Reaves
2018 4th round pick (Slava Demin)
2018 6th round pick (Peter Diliberatore)
2019 5th round pick
Tobias Lindberg
Zachary Leslie
Tye McGinn
Philip Holm

Gave Up
Brendan Leipsic
Calvin Pickard
Oscar Lindberg
Brad Hunt
Nick Suzuki (2017 1st round pick)
Erik Brannstrom (2017 1st round pick)
2018 1st round pick (Joe Veleno)
2019 2nd round pick
2019 2nd round pick
2019 6th round pick
2020 2nd round pick
2021 3rd round pick
Jimmy Oligny
(Tomas Tatar was acquired and then traded so he does not appear on either side of this list.)

Here’s the craziest part, look what happens if you add up all the picks.

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“They Literally Tried To Give Him Away At The Draft And No One Would Take Him.”

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UPDATE (11:08 AM, 2/21/19) – Jesse Granger of The Athletic asked McPhee about the details of this story.

ORIGINAL STORY

Almost a year ago the Golden Knights pulled off one of the biggest trade deadline deals of the season acquiring Tomas Tatar from Detroit for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round pick. Tatar came to Vegas, made almost no impact, was a healthy scratch through much of the Golden Knights run to the Cup Final (he played eight of the 20 playoff games and only two in the Final), and then he was gone. Shipped away as part of the trade that brought Max Pacioretty from Montreal.

The deal was Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round pick for Pacioretty, and at the time, it appeared Tatar was a key piece in what the Canadiens were getting for trading away their captain.

Tatar has gone on to do great things in Montreal, scoring 19 goal and posting 44 points (both would be leading the Golden Knights). Pacioretty has been good for Vegas as well, with 18 goals and 32 points despite missing significant time due to injury.

Here’s the problem, we’re now learning that this wasn’t exactly a player for player deal.

(Tatar) had 20 goals last year, but 16 of them were in Detroit playing a lot on the power play. He goes to Vegas. He does nothing. They try and give him away at the Draft, no one wants him. They literally tried to give him away at the Draft and no one would take him. So he becomes a mandatory in the Pacioretty deal. You have to take Tatar’s contract. -Gord Miller, TSN

Miller appeared on TSN 690 in Montreal with Melnick in the Afternoon yesterday.

To further prove the point, the Golden Knights retained $500,000 of Tatar’s salary for each of the next three years as part of the trade.

As if the deadline deal wasn’t bad enough, this makes it even worse. McPhee not only gave away three draft picks for a piece that didn’t help his team at all, but then he forced the contract upon someone else making the cost on Pacioretty even higher than it already was!

And all the while, the guy McPhee tried to give away and then forced upon Montreal is outperforming every forward on his current roster!

Yikes.

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