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2019 Draft Pick Kaedan Korczak Feeling Confident Heading Into Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Young defensive prospect Kaedan Korczak was one of the top performers from last weekend’s Rookie Showcase in Irvine. The defenseman played against other prospects that were three, four, even five-years older, and it was an eye-opening experience for the 18-year-old.

I got my first taste of pro hockey. First game I felt pretty comfortable. Ten minutes in, I kind of got my feet wet and felt it out. -Korczak

The Golden Knights’ 2019 2nd round draft pick had no problem keeping up with the “pros” and felt confident on the ice among other, more mature prospects.

Once I got comfortable I began to add layers to my game. Overall, I felt pretty good.-Korczak

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Korczak was happy to get in some action at the rookie tournament, but he’s mostly looking forward to Golden Knights training camp. Where he’ll get to skate with NHL veterans.

His plan is to soak it all in, observe how Golden Knights players build a routine to maximize their skill level.

How they handle themselves away from the rink. The small habits that aren’t seen by anyone. Putting in extra time in the gym, stuff like that.-Korczak

 

Nate Schmidt told us last season eating right and getting plenty of sleep was a key to be successful in the NHL. Korczak quickly found that to be the case for himself and his peers.

Very, very important. I learned that too since I’ve been here. All of the guys are in their rooms by 9-9:30p. We’re all getting our rest and come prepared ready to go.-Korczak

It’ll be interesting to watch Korczak compete in camp against, and with established NHL players. With his size, skill, and maturity it’s possible the youngster will develop quickly enough to skate for Vegas in a few seasons.

After he’s “overcooked” of course.

Nate Schmidt Is Pumped For The Opening Games Against San Jose

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last seven times the Golden Knights have played hockey it has been against th San Jose Sharks. Prior to those seven, the last two really meaningful games in the regular season were a pair of games also against the Sharks. To open the 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights will open with not one, but two games against who else, the San Jose Sharks.

Nothing like dumping gasoline onto a fire to start the year. What a blossoming rivalry we have we these guys. -Nate Schmidt on NHL Network

Schmidt joined NHL Tonight on the NHL Network to chat about his summer, the upcoming season, and his less than stellar Da Beauty League appearance. (The whole video is embedded at the bottom) But his comments on the Sharks were the highlight of the show. You can clearly tell, the Golden Knights and Sharks still don’t like each other. With each one ending the other’s season the past two years, both teams are going to be out for blood early.

Those things don’t just boil over they don’t just go by the wayside. Guys don’t have a short memory when it comes to playing in big rivalry games. -Schmidt

Whether it’s Ryan Reaves vs. Evander Kane, Gerard Gallant calling Pete DeBoer “a clown,” Cody Eakin’s return to the ice after #NotAMajor, or even potential retaliation for Joe Thornton for the hit on Tomas Nosek that saw him suspended, there’s no shortage of storylines headed into October 2nd and 4th.

I was reading something from Logan Couture the other week on just how fast our rivalry has gone from 0 to 100 these last two years and he couldn’t be more right. -Schmidt

The biggest question of the night though is really how the T-Mobile Arena crowd will respond to the moment that ended their season a year ago. Will there be hostility toward the refs (who aren’t even the ones who made the call)? Will the anger be directed towards the Sharks, and which ones? And finally, what if the Golden Knights fall down early, does the building lose its up-beat positive party-like atmosphere and turn into something resembling the Black Hole?

I can only imagine Vegas-style (on Opening Night), you’re not going to be able to hear the guy sitting next to you on the bench. -Schmidt

There’s only one way to find out and it sure sounds like everybody involved is ready to find out… in 37 days.

Pick A Pair: The Best D-Pair Match For Every VGK Defenseman

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights take the ice on October 2nd there will likely only be one change along the blue line. Out went Colin Miller and in comes the winner of the rookie defenseman battle between Jimmy Schuldt, Nic Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan.

However, the way they line up may have to change with the new makeup of the defense. With Miller in Buffalo, the Golden Knights are left with just one right-handed defenseman among the guaranteed mix. That leaves plenty of options in how Gerard Gallant and Ryan McGill will set the pairs.

Here’s an attempt to breakdown what each defenseman does best and who they might match up best with.

(Each player is listed with their best match as a partner, other options they could succeed with, and players to avoid. The match is to maximize that player’s skills, it is not necessarily to create the best pair. Other options are ranked in order from best option to worst. Players to avoid are listed in no particular order.)

Nate Schmidt

Schmidt is the swiss-army knife of the Golden Knights defense. He really does it all and it allows for him to be partnered with pretty much anyone. As a mobile puck-mover, he can be paired with a stay-at-home player or he can be put with another puck-mover to create a dynamic pair. Schmidt is able to contribute offense, but he’s also one of the most reliable players the Golden Knights have in their own end. Schmidt has played on both sides, and played with Engelland and McNabb for the majority of last season. However, they have paired him with Theodore on multiple occasions, including in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s never really gone well, but there’s been a willingness to try it.
Best Match: McNabb
Other Options: Schuldt, Engelland, Merrill, Theodore, Hague, Whitecloud, Coghlan, Bischoff, Holden
Avoid: None

Brayden McNabb

The defensive stallwart, McNabb almost has to play with a skater. That being said, McNabb has really been at his best with Schmidt as his partner. Late in the year last season, they put him with Theodore, and while Shea thrived it often led to McNabb being caught in vulnerable defensive positions which was highlighted by the OT goal that ended Vegas’ season. Throughout the two year history, the Golden Knights have really only used McNabb with Theodore, Schmidt, and Engelland and one of those pairs was a nightmare. McNabb has spent the entirety of his Golden Knights career playing on the left side.
Best Match: Schmidt
Other Options: Theodore, Schuldt, Coghlan, Whitecloud, Hague,
Avoid: Engelland, Bischoff, Merrill, Holden

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The Handshake Line: “It’s The Hardest Thing To Do.”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Anyone who has watched playoff hockey has probably imagined being part of a handshake line after a successful series. Walking through as the team that lost though, that’s not one that normally comes up in the childhood dreams.

It’s the hardest thing to do. -Nate Schmidt

After the Golden Knights brutal Game 7 loss in San Jose, the players followed hockey tradition and formed the classic handshake line. Still torn up from last season’s Stanley Cup finals handshake, an animated Schmidt confirmed it’s as miserable as it looks.

The hardest thing I did last year was the handshake line, and the hardest thing I did this year was the handshake line. -Schmidt

For many of the Golden Knights, it’s their fifth handshake line in two years, the last two have been tough to swallow. It’s painful to watch for fans (I bet many of you didn’t even leave the TV on long enough to watch it) and even more painful for the players to go through. No one wants to end their season shaking the hand of the victor, especially after a series as bitter that that one.

It’s hard to win. Just look at all the teams that are out. It’s crazy. It’s a hard league to win, but that doesn’t make it any easier right now. -Schmidt

I’ve never been in a position to basically be forced to shake hands with an enemy, but I imagine I probably couldn’t handle it as well as Nate, Ryan Reaves, and every other Golden Knight.

It doesn’t matter what happens in the series. You go to war with guys who play the same sport as you. No matter what the outcome is, you shake their hand. -Ryan Reaves

Just imagine shaking hands with Evander Kane, Logan Couture, or Joe Thornton after being shoved and slugged for seven games. It would take a lot of sedatives to get me through it. Fortunately, NHL players make enough money (or are just better people) that they quickly forgive dirty elbows and gloved sucker punches after the whistle.

Whether we like each other or not, it was a good, hard fought series and you got to show your respect. -Reaves

These guys are pros, in every sense of the word.

Nate Schmidt Earns An Assist On The Jimmy Schuldt Signing

Newly signed Golden Knight, Jimmy Schuldt, played his college hockey in St. Cloud, Minnesota as the three-year captain of the St. Cloud State University Huskies. St. Cloud is a small town in the center of the “State of Hockey” with a population of around 70,000. There are only three NHL players to ever claim St. Cloud as their hometown, Kurt Sauer, Mike Sauer, and Nate Schmidt.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So, it’s no coincidence that when it came time for Jimmy Schult to make his decision on where to sign following his college career, he looked to Schmidt for advice.

But being from, or playing in, St. Cloud is not the only connection Schmidt and Schudlt had. Schmidt was familiar with the position Schuldt was in as a college free agent with multiple suitors, as Schmidt went through it himself in 2013.

That was the biggest part of the process was having someone who had been through it already. It was tough for me and I didn’t have nearly as many teams as he did. I had more than a handful, but not 30, 25 or whatever the heck number he had. -Nate Schmidt

Schuldt’s agent, Tom Lynn, said it started with 29 of the 31 teams showing interest before he and Jimmy narrowed the list to 20, then 12, then five and eventually picking Vegas. All the while, Schuldt was leaning on Schmidt to help him make the decision.

I just try to be as subjective as possible and just let him know what it’s like to play here, what it’s like in our room. I never told him what he should or shouldn’t do, I just tried to lay it out to him the way I went through it. To help him understand it’s more than just this year, it’s more important than just getting a game. It’s more important the future with the organization, wherever it is that he would go. -Schmidt

Because of the way the CBA is worded, Schuldt’s first contract was going to be the same monetarily from any team he signed with. So, it came down to other factors regarding the organization, teammates, and the city Schuldt would eventually choose. Schmidt says he ranked the four things Schuldt should be looking for in this order: Fit, the character of the room, winning, the livability of the city

However, Schuldt consistently went back to a much different factor, one that would be a huge determinant of his future.

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The Vegas Golden Knights All-Hair Team

Since the NHLPA came out with their player polls from around the league I figured I’d add another category. One that I may add is vital. After polling only myself, here is this season’s Golden Knights All-Hair team.

Center: William Karlsson

There’s not much to explain. Of course Karlsson has the nicest hair on the Golden Knights. He’s a Swedish blonde, do I need to say more. My wife already says enough. Karlsson has the true definition of a hockey flow. His hair graciously flows while he glides up the ice on the way to embarrassing another goaltender. Karlsson obviously goes to a premier salon and uses high-end conditioners but like his talent, he was born with a beautiful head of hair. Bottom line is chicks dig it.

Forward: Ryan Reaves

It’s as tight as a low fade can get. Reaves must get his hair touched up daily or every other day. Short on top, lined up in front, and sometimes a carved side part. A sleek tapered cut for the NHL. Reaves has that charming badass look that the Vegas Strip has been waiting for since Mike Tyson.

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The Stone Age Impacts Golden Knights Defense

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — When the Golden Knights acquired Mark Stone at the NHL trade deadline back on Feb. 25, it was assumed the offense would perk up as Stone had 28 goals in the bank from his time in Ottawa.

But who knew the defense would be the unit that has come alive?

Collectively, the Vegas blue line corps is playing some of its best hockey of the year. And while it may be a coincidence that it has come since Stone’s arrival, the changes Gerard Gallant made a few weeks ago, moving Deryk Engelland with Nate Schmidt, playing Shea Theodore with Brayden McNabb and giving Jon Merrill a regular spot in the lineup, seemed to have worked.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The defense accounted for both goals in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Calgary at T-Mobile Arena. More important, the Knights have allowed just nine goals in the six games Stone has worn the steel grey No. 61.

Obviously, Marc-Andre Fleury’s play in the crease has been a big part of that. But don’t discount the job his D-men are doing in front of him.

The Knights are winning more battles in their own end. They’re more active in using their sticks to take away the cross-ice pass. They are making smarter decisions in breaking out of their own end. They are pinching in the other team’s end more judiciously and not getting caught in as many odd-man rushes the other way. They continue to block shots at a high rate. They seem to be communicating better.

All of that was again on display Saturday here in Vancouver at Rogers Arena against a Canucks team which Vegas handled a week ago, 3-0, and 6-2 Saturday for their sixth straight win. The Knights scored a franchise-record five first-period goals and there was no looking ahead to tonight’s big game at the Scotiabank Saddledome and the rematch with the Flames.

And as many predicted, Stone finally scored as a Golden Knight as he opened the scoring 1:32 into Saturday’s contest.

Gallant said you never know what’s going to happen when you change your lineup. But these moves appear to have worked so far.

It was just shaking things up. When you’re losing, you’re not happy. So we made a few changes with the D and so far it’s worked. I like the way they’ve been playing. -Gallant

You ask the defensemen what’s turned things around, you get different answers.

I think change can be good sometimes. You get a little stagnant with the way you play. I just think that it’s about trending. If you continue to play well, you want to make sure you keep doing those things that help you win. Colin Miller and Jon Merrill have been playing fantastic for us. When you have that kind of depth on your team, that’s important. -Schmidt

Theodore said the defensemen are reacting better to the puck and making the right play more consistently.

I think we’re just quick to pucks and we’re not giving them as much time and space in the corners. Usually when you give teams with good skill players time down low they’re going to make plays. I think our centers have been coming in and killing those plays and that’s been big for us. -Theodore

Engelland said it has been a collective mindset that has seen the team’s defensive uptick.

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Added Offense Comes From Mixed Up Defense

Having lost three straight, five in a row at home, and eight of 11, the reigning Jack Adams award winner, Gerard Gallant decided to get a bit radical and change up two forward lines and two defensive pairs.

When you are losing you have got to try new things, right? -Gallant

It didn’t take long to see the change he was looking for. Directly off the opening faceoff, playing with Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt took the puck, jumped up into the rush and created a scoring chance for the Golden Knights.

(Nate’s) legs move as quick as his mouth does and he’s at his best when he’s skating. -Deryk Engelland

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Schmidt and Shea Theodore were both put in new positions on Saturday night. Not only playing with new linemates, but they were also each playing on the opposite side of the ice. It was the first time Schmidt has played on the left side while a member of the Golden Knights, and the first time Theodore had ever played the right side while in the NHL.

(In the) offensive zone I think it’s easier to get the puck to the net, but getting the puck D-to-D behind your net (in your own zone), you can’t really look up ice and you don’t really know what’s coming. It’s kind of a pros and cons thing. -Theodore

Re-watching the game, Schmidt and Theodore started a total of eight rushes into the offensive zone by skating the puck either out of their own zone and/or through the neutral zone. It’s not abnormal for either to do it, but five times for Schmidt and three for Theodore is certainly more than the norm.

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Nate Schmidt Wants To Be A Star

We know he has pretty good feet. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nate Schmidt is a character. Yet even amongst all the crazy stuff he’s said or the wacky situations he’s placed in on national TV, he always finds a way to surprise us. The most recent revelation is something you would probably never expect.

I love dancing. I used to (take lessons). I haven’t been taking them. It’s been probably 2 years since I’ve been. (My girlfriend and I) go to swing dancing where you dance to jazz music. I like high intense jazz. -Nate Schmidt

He says it’s a great work out and he has fun doing it.

The first time I went I made a mistake, I only brought one shirt. The second time I brought three. -Schmidt

So, obviously, the next step for an athlete on a high profile team with a personality made for TV… Dancing with the Stars!

I would love to. If you can run it by George (McPhee) and he would allow it I would do it for sure. -Schmidt

Posting this article is our way of “running it past George.” Schmidt would be tremendous on the show and I can almost guarantee the producers would love to have him. So, if anyone has any connections to ABC, hit us up, we want to make this happen, it would be a great thing to distract us from how awful offseason is.

Plus, Schmidt actually thinks he would fare pretty well on the show.

I have decent rhythm, great energy, and excitement and facial expressions. -Schmidt

I can already envision it. The ridiculous costumes, the terrible dancing (at least in the first few episodes), Fleury and Reaves in the crowd rooting him on. Schmidt holding up the mirror ball trophy.

This needs to happen.

Could VGKs Lack of Defensive Scoring Be A Future Problem?

Stop worrying about 3rd line scoring, start worrying about blue line scoring. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s no secret, the Golden Knights are getting very little offense from there defense. Overall, the low production from their blue line could be a concern going forward. Sure, power play specialist Colin Miller appears ready to return to the lineup but even with him it may not be enough.

I think sometimes we’re complicated things too much. My job and Millsey’s and Schmitty’s, the guys that are back there, we have to do a better job controlling it. Instead of setting up a play and try and seam it, we just have to get pucks through. -Shea Theodore

At first glance, 97 combined points from the Golden Knights defense doesn’t look that bad, but when you look around the league it’s a very low total.

Points from Vegas defenseman in 2018-19

Theodore 21 Points (5 Goals, 16 Assists)
Miller 17 Points (2 Goals, 15 Assists)
Schmidt 16 Points (4 Goals, 12 Assists)
Holden 13 Points (3 Goals, 10 Assists)
McNabb 12 Points (1 Goal, 11 Assists)
Hunt 7 Points (2 Goals, 5 Assists)
Engelland 6 Points (1 Goals, 5 Assists)
Merrill 5 Points (1 Goal, 4 Assists)
97 Total Points from VGK defenseman
19 Goals, 78 Assists

In just the Pacific Division alone, defensemen are putting up Norris trophy type numbers.

Top 5 Defensemen in Points

Brent Burns SJ: 52 Points(9 Goals, 43 Assists)
Mark Giordano CAL: 48 Points(9 Goals, 38 Assists)
Morgan Reilly TOR: 47 Points(13 Goals, 34 Assists)
Erik Karlsson SJ: 43 Points(3 Goals, 40 Assists)
John Carlson WAS: 43 Points(6 Goals, 37 Assists)

Up in San Jose, Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson’s combined offense is roughly the same as the entire Vegas defensive unit. Calgary’s captain Mark Giordano has been heavily involved all season, and on pace for a career-high offensively. When you go through the rest of the contenders in the Western Conference, Vegas has the lowest threat from the blue line.

San Jose: 143 Points (Goals, Assists)
Nashville: 125 (Goals, Assists)
Calgary: 116 Points (Goals, Assists)
Winnipeg: 104 Points (Goals, Assists)

San Jose and Nashville are loaded with blue line scoring, what’s new right? Predators have even been down one of their weapons PK Subban to injury. Like Vegas with Miller, Winnipeg’s blue line lumber, Dustin Byfuglien has also played limited games this season. So, you have to wonder if the Jets are searching for defensive help for the postseason.

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