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In-Depth Scouting Reports, Another Hidden Benefit Of An Expansion Team

Who knows how to stop this McDavid guy? Anybody? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We spent months going over all the roadblocks that stand in the way of a brand new team entering an established league and going through an expansion draft. Then the season began and we started to see the other side of the coin. Being a new team has plenty of benefits, from being unknown to the rest of the league, to increased opportunity, to what may be the most important, lack of pressure.

Nate Schmidt unveiled a new hidden benefit to us during a quick media scrum. It’s one that will seem obvious after you read this, but nonetheless, it’s a clear benefit that most teams do not have.

There are certain guys that we see up and down the lineup that maybe half the guys on our team who have played in the Western Conference didn’t know, you only play them once or twice a year. So we are able to say (for example), Oscar (Lindberg), look at player A on line 2 (of the New York Rangers), tell me a little about him, and bam we’ve instantly got a scouting report. -Nate Schmidt

The Golden Knights are now 10-5-1 and have been in every single game thus far this season.

That’s the beauty of it, it happens every game. You never really have a lineup where you don’t know anybody on the other team because we’ve got guys everywhere. -Schmidt

It’s obviously stronger when there’s a player who was actually on the roster a year ago, but Schmidt’s point goes beyond that. Vegas has guys who have spent their whole career in the Western Conference, they have guys who have spent long periods in the Eastern Conference as well. Digging deeper, the Golden Knights actually have a tenured player from every single division in the NHL, so as Schmidt says, there shouldn’t ever be a night where they are caught off guard.

The history of expansion teams (basically the fact that they all sucked) led most experts, and us, to focus on the challenges that lied ahead for the Golden Knights in their first season, but this team and their success has now opened our eyes to quite a few things on the other side of the fence.

The Golden Knights appear to be an anomaly, but the way these guys talk about the unintended benefits that come with being the NHL’s newest team, they’ve got me wondering, why the hell did other the other expansion teams stink? Being an expansion team should be easy.

It’s really not, but it sure has been for the Golden Knights, and there’s really no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon.

#88 In Your Program, #1 In Your Defensive Pairings

I don’t know how to put this, but… I’m kind of a big deal. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are many storylines this season, but one in particular is overlooked only because of his steady play. Golden Knights like Colin Miller, William Karlsson, William Carrier and others are on pace for career seasons. Heck, even Tomas Nosek has already doubled his career total in goals. Statistical career-paces are nice, but Nate Schmidt transforming into a trusted, top-pairing defenseman is the bigger story.

Heading into this season, Schmidt was stuck on bottom-pair for the Washington Capitals, which is why he was available to the Golden Knights. His scouting report highlighted his strong skating and puck moving ability. Something Vegas fans now get to watch 23 minutes a game.

2017 Averages: 29 Shifts, 22:31 ATOI
2016 Averages: 17 Shifts, 15:29 ATOI
2015 Averages: 22 Shifts, 18:04 ATOI
2014 Averages: 16 Shifts, 13:53 ATOI

I openly admit, I’m a sucker for shift statistics and time on ice. TOI numbers indicate the trust a coach will have in an individual player. After 15 games in the books, it’s clear Gerard Gallant heavily relies on Schmidt’s consistency. Due to his usage increase, #88 has turned into a top defenseman for the Golden Knights. Here are Schmidt’s game logs for this season.

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Schmidt Drops Mighty Ducks Reference

On Saturday night Nate Schmidt slid one by Coyotes goaltender Anttii Raanta. Then, he tried to slide one by us.

It was kind of a Luis Mendoza moment. I was going too fast for my own good. You have to slam on the breaks or else. -Nate Schmidt

Only two games in and #88 is breaking out Mighty Duck references. When describing his game-tying goal, the animated Schmidt compared himself to the speed-skating Mendoza that couldn’t slow down.

I just wanted to make sure I got it on net. I was just trying to whack the thing and hope to God that it went in. -Nate Schmidt

The Golden Knights defenseman didn’t give himself enough credit for Saturday night’s equalizer. Schmidt had to slow up his speed, control the puck, and sneak it past Raanta. But if he wants to continue using movie references to explain actual gameplay, we’ll be okay with that.

The question is, what hockey movie will Schmidt reference next? Goon? The Cutting Edge? My guess is Mystery, Alaska.

Gallant Pulling All The Right Strings

Defenseman Nate Schmidt may have tied the game with his late third-period goal, but let’s give Gerard Gallant the assist. With 2:18 left in the game, and the puck frozen in Arizona’s zone, the Golden Knights coach called a timeout and pulled his goalie. About a minute later, the lovable Schmidt scored on a rebound to tie it up. Gallant would never take credit, but his instinct to pull Marc-Andre Fleury “early” was the right decision.

I’d do it every time. You got to face that in their zone. You want to make sure you get the six on five down there. Some people think its early, I don’t think it’s early. -Gallant

Two minutes left in the game, may not seem early to some, but just a decade ago NHL coaches on average pulled their goaltenders with 1:15 left. Gallant’s decision to go for it was a combination of an offensive zone faceoff, time remaining, and confidence in his players.

If you’re down one goal and you feel good about your team, the way they’re playing. You win the face off in their zone, why wait because you might not get that chance again. I figured let’s go for it, and it worked tonight. -Gallant

Schmidt and James Neal (again) were the stars on the stat sheet, but Gallant’s decision deserves to be noted. His late-game coaching adjustments have worked out well two nights in a row. So, raise you’re brunch Bellini’s to the Golden Knights head coach. Wait, what am I talking about? SinBinners don’t eat Sunday brunch. Raise your happy hour IPA instead, and keep the party going.

10 Golden Knights Were At Cosmopolitan During Incident

Erik Haula gives details of the experience of the players who were locked down at Cosmopolitan during the shooting at Mandalay Bay.

We were at the restaurant until about 1:30, we weren’t out of the casino until about 3 AM. Our security guys came and picked us got us and brought us home. We got home at around 4:30 AM.

There had been reports everywhere. We were on the third floor, so a lot of people were trying to get up to where we were. Then we were trying to figure out if something was going on where we were. Everyone was told to get to the back and they locked down the restaurant. At that point it was pretty much just hunker down until we knew more. -Nate Schmidt

It was pretty scary. There was a window so went out and looked toward Mandalay Bay and MGM and everything was shut down there was no one. Couple people walking around the streets that couldn’t even get in the hotels for safety. A couple guys were trying to get down to join us for dinner and they ended up having to turn around and go back. They were stuck in traffic and luckily those guys were able to get out of there before everything hit the fan. -Alex Tuch

In total 10 players and a few of their girlfriends/wives were at the restaurant during the incident. A few other players indicated that they were at home at the time and coach Gerard Gallant was picking his daughter up from the airport.

All Golden Knights players, coaches, and staff are accounted for and safe.

Interviews from Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt, Brad Hunt, Alex Tuch, Colin Miller, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill recounting Sunday night.

Vegas May Want Will Butcher, But Does He Want Vegas?

Before we all start panicking about Nate Schmidt’s ankle injury, let’s take a deep breath. George McPhee suggested it’ll take “the week or so” before an injury update. We can save our overreaction for when that “or so” bleeds into training camp. Plus, the Schmidt-scare gives us an opportunity to discuss the stud NCAA free agent defenseman the Golden Knights reached out to.

To our knowledge, Vegas has only pursued a few NCAA free agents during their first offseason, and Neal Pionk (signed w/ NRY) and Spencer Foo (signed w/ CGY) were the only two names seriously connected to the Golden Knights. Ultimately, both chose other NHL franchises, which makes you wonder, why?

I know that we’ve had real good coverage. We’ve targeted a very small number (of college free agents). To be honest with you, we haven’t cast a wide net. -Kelly McKrimmon, Assistant General Manager

That was Golden Knights’ Assistant GM back in early April. Foo and Pionk were targeted, and now Vegas appears to have its eyes on the new NCAA golden boy, Will Butcher.

The conversation went well. The management was well prepared and painted an impressive picture of their plan and how a player like Will would fit into that. –Brian Bartlett, Will Butcher’s agent to LVRJ

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Nate Schmidt Sounds Off On Arbitration

Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt was the only player in the NHL to have his contract through a ruling made in arbitration. In fact, he’s the first player to have done so since 2015.

It’s a process in which each side gets together (team and player/agent) and they make arguments to a third party arbitrator on what they believe the player should be paid. Obviously, this means the team wants a lower salary and the player/agent want higher. So, it turns into a bit of a tug-of-war between employee and employer.

It’s tough sometimes sitting in those meetings. 50% of it was awesome. You are sitting there and they are pumping your tires and talking about how great you are and I was thinking ‘man, I feel like a stud out here.’ Then the next part comes and I’m thinking ‘oh man, what am I doing, I should hang the skates up.’ I had a note pad and truth be told I kept writing down, ‘this is just a business this is not personal they don’t really feel this way.’ I had to repeat that a couple times and I was getting a little frustrated. -Nate Schmidt

Schmidt, appearing on the Vegas Hockey Hotline on KSHP 1400 (see below), also confirmed the rumors that the Golden Knights wanted a multi year deal while he was looking for a one year deal.

At first, we were thinking a one year deal but I love that I’ll be in this for an extra year. -Schmidt

Here at, we’ve speculated that the Golden Knights were using Schmidt to set an example, basically showing RFAs in the future they are willing to go all the way through with arbitration if that’s what it takes. Schmidt offered up another possible motive behind the case as well.

Hey, that’s just the way it goes. I tried to have a good attitude about it, it’s something they had never been through before some people maybe wanted to have some experience as well. I think it’s a great process because it brings the sides together because no one really wants to do it, but you know what I think it was good the way everything played out. -Schmidt

As always, Nate Schmidt is an absolute joy to listen to and his perspectives on the game, and life for that matter, are great. We’ve previously predicted that he’ll be the fan favorite when the Golden Knights finally finish up in Idaho, Montana, and Utah and head to Vegas. This interview only further confirms it. Give it a listen, it’s definitely a fun one.

**Interview starts at 48:30**

Arbitrator Awards Nate Schmidt Two Year Contract Worth $4.45M

For the first time since 2015, an NHL player filed for arbitration, went to the hearing, and was awarded a contract via arbitration.

Nate Schmidt, the player Vegas selected from the Washington Capitals at the Expansion Draft, was awarded a two year contract worth $4.45M.

Prior to the arbitration hearing it was reported Schmidt and his agent were seeking a one year deal for $2.75M while the Golden Knights were looking for a two year deal worth around $1M per year. Aside from the obvious difference in contract value, the length was an important portion of these negotiations, and likely the reason an arbitration hearing was necessary.

Schmidt, 26, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at the end of his next contract, so it would have suited him nicely to be on a one year deal. Vegas on the other hand preferred to keep him under control for as long as possible, especially before having the opportunity to see him play in a Golden Knights jersey.

It went fine. Both sides were very professional and Nate handled it well. –Matt Keator, Schmidt’s agent

Neither the Golden Knights, Schmidt, nor his agent Matt Keator have commented since the ruling.

**We will have more if/when either side comments on the contract.**

Nate Schmidt’s Going To Be Your Favorite Player, You Just Don’t Know It Yet

Unfortunately, has nothing to update regarding Nate Schmidt‘s pending contract. His scheduled arbitration hearing on August 3rd is quickly approaching and we’re hoping a third-party ruling is unnecessary. If you need an arbitration lesson, watch this quick video the Golden Knights posted.

According to some projections, Schmidt is due to make $2+ million per year. By all accounts the Golden Knights are anticipating a signed contract with the former Golden Gopher defenseman.

We’ll do our best to reach a deal. But we’re comfortable with the arbitration process because it gets the deal done. -George McPhee to Review-Journal

It’s in everyone’s, including fans, best interest a deal gets done amicably. The last thing VGK fans need is an unhappy Mr. Smile. Vegas fans will want the same fun, wild Schmidt Washington adored. Don’t believe me? Believe the hundreds of pissed-off Capitals fans on Twitter. Their collective depression should have Vegas fans ecstatic. Schmidt is the early favorite to become a the next Strip celebrity.

Here are comments from heart-broken Capitals fans this past week.

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Advanced Stats For VGK Dummies: Corsi For Percentage

Now that the Golden Knights have players, and will soon begin playing actual games and accruing statistics, we felt like now was a good time to learn the roster, by dumbing down different advanced statistics in the NHL.

Everyone understands goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, and time on ice, but for many hockey fans words like Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, and zone starts send off the instant “too much info, ignore and move on” signal. Since the Golden Knights are probably going to be bad, and the standard stats are likely to all have asterisks next to them with people saying “well someone has to score the goals,” we think it’s best if we use the downtime of July and August to take the stigma away from advanced stats, and get a feel for who the Golden Knights actual have on the roster.

Up first, Corsi and Corsi For Percentage.

Corsi is a statistic that measures the true number of shots a player takes during a game. It was created by an Edmonton Oilers blogger when he heard a GM mention the term “shot differential” but not have concrete numbers to back it up. So, like any good Internet user, he put in the research, came up with the numbers, and created a stat that’s now widely used in the NHL. So what is it exactly?

Corsi = Shots on Goal + Missed Shots + Blocked Shots Against 

It’s fairly simple, it’s just all shot attempts. Corsi can be measured for a team or for an individual. For a team, it’s simply all shot attempts. For an individual, it’s all shot attempts by the team while that player is on the ice. So, for every shot, the team gets +1 on their Corsi rating, and five players get +1 on their individual Corsi rating.

Obviously that stat means nothing if not put in context with what the other team is doing. So, each player has a “Corsi For” and a “Corsi Against” rating. Corsi Against is simply a Corsi rating for the other team while a player is on the ice.

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