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A Look Back On The Golden Knights Path From Contender To Contender In Offseason To Deadline

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights entered this past offseason with a Stanley Cup caliber roster. They were stacked at forward, coming off a season where they finished among the league’s best defensively and had a bevy of prospects coming up, and still had one of the best goaltenders in the world.

However, there was too much money on the books. The CBA allows teams to exceed the salary cap by up to 10% during the offseason, but they must get back down under the cap on the first day of the regular season. So, Vegas needed to shed some money, and thus, a few players.

The conventional wisdom would have been to start by singling out the players with the highest salary coupled with the lowest performance expectations for the 2019-20 season. Send those guys packing, get under the cap, and head into the regular season with as dominant a team as possible.

The Golden Knights opted for a different route, one that may have ended up working out even better, though it came with risks, a bit of a price, and ended up costing a head coach his job.

The trades in many respects brings full circle the strategy that we went into the offseason with last year in a situation where we were over the salary cap. We had to make some decisions that involved veteran players, roster players, and we wanted to acquire draft picks in return to build capital for decisions and moves just like this. -Kelly McCrimmon

That’s the official explanation of the Golden Knights strategy. Let me explain it in more detail.

In moving contracts during the Summer to become cap compliant, the Golden Knights strategy was to harvest as many draft picks as possible. They traded Colin Miller for a 2nd round pick. Nikita Gusev went for a 2nd and a 3rd. And Erik Haula was moved for a young player in Nic Roy and a 5th. Instead of trying to make their roster better before opening night, they wanted to create a bank of “capital” they could cash in 145 days later at the trade deadline.

The thinking is fairly simple, yet when the onion is peeled back, there’s a lot more to it. The simple idea is that having this bank of capital will allow the team to make moves and improve their team at the deadline without having to sacrifice any significant players off the roster in season. 145 days, 62 games, and a heck of a lot of hockey will give them a better understanding of what the team needs in order to win the Cup than they had back in June and July. Tear it down now so we can rebuild it more intelligently later.

And that’s exactly what they did. They turned those “bank of capital” picks into Chandler Stephenson, Alec Martinez, Robin Lehner, and Nick Cousins, while only having to give up Cody Eakin off the roster.

It looks like a significant roster upgrade at the deadline, but in reality, it’s just replacing what they had eight months ago.

Here, take a look at how it all broke down from June 27th to February 24th.

Three forwards in, three forwards out. One defenseman in, one defenseman out. Two goalies in, one goalie out, and a net loss of one draft pick and one prospect.

Read More Podcast #188: Deadline Extravaganza

The Golden Knights completed four deals rounding out a busy deadline that has made the team better. We talk all angles of the deadline from our home at The Space LV. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Robin Lehner’s place in the VGK goalie hierarchy
  • Shaking the glass box
  • Nick Holden’s extension impact on the deadline decsion
  • Nick Cousins: Shit disturber
  • The power of information
  • A PSA about Lehner’s previous personal issues

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

Boehlke: Reaction To Trade Deadline Moves

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have made four moves in the past week adding a forward, a defenseman, and a goalie while subtracting one forward in Cody Eakin.

Let’s start with the big one, the addition of Robin Lehner from Chicago for Malcolm Subban, a 2nd round pick, and prospect Slava Demin. There is no arguing that the Golden Knights got a lot better in this trade going from Subban to Lehner, but this deal comes with a lot of baggage. No, I’m not referring to anything regarding Lehner’s past, he’s proven to have overcome any concerns there and has been incredible in the past two seasons, I’m talking about a goalie controversy.

For three seasons the Golden Knights have had a clear hierarchy between the pipes. It’s Marc-Andre Fleury’s net and whoever is healthy fills in behind him. Now, things have changed. There’s a legitimate argument that Lehner should be the starter right away. He was better last season, he’s been better this season, he’s younger, and he has far fewer games on his body. But, can you really just cast aside the undisputed leader of the franchise heading into the team’s third playoff run, and can you do it this late in the season successfully?

It’s going to be a tough balance, and one that is only going to get tougher as the games grow in importance. Pete DeBoer doesn’t have to choose his starting goalie for Game 1 of the playoffs right now, he has time. But, what if one doesn’t emerge as the clear cut starter? What if they are both great? He’s going to have an incredibly tough choice and one that will have an impact on the locker room. Then, once we get there, how quick is the leash on whoever is in the net?

In theory, these are good problems to have as any coach will tell you that it’s better to have too many good players than not enough. However, we aren’t talking about a 2nd line left-wing or a 2nd pair defenseman, we’re talking about the most important position in the game. Also, these aren’t no-name guys, one is the face of the franchise and the other is the big trade deadline acquisition. One has to ride the pine and there will be an emotional backlash that comes with it. It’s a delicate balance and DeBoer and Dave Prior have to get it exactly right.

There is good news though, the Golden Knights are WAY better equipped now in the event they receive poor goaltending. With Fleury and Subban, if Fleury played poorly, or got hurt, the Golden Knights season was likely sunk. It’s not that Subban was terrible, but this team needs high-end goaltending if they want to hoist the Cup and he’s never proven to be able to provide it consistently. At best it was a massive question mark, now it’s anything but. If either Fleury or Lehner struggle, there’s a hell of an option to turn to (basically the opposite of the Sharks situation last year).

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2020 Trade Deadline Roundup

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL Trade Deadline is at Noon Pacific time today. The Golden Knights have already been active making two moves in the leadup, and they certainly may be in the mix for at least one more today.

This article will be dedicated to all pertinent news surrounding the Golden Knights and this year’s deadline. It will be updated throughout the day.

  • Golden Knights have acquired goalie Robin Lehner from Chicago. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • Reports indicate the Golden Knights have given up and 2nd round pick and a prospect. (Source: @reporterchris)
    • Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin, a 2nd and a 5th for Lehner and prospect Martins Dzierkals is the final deal. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Vegas has acquired Nick Cousins from the Montreal Canadiens (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Nick Holden has re-signed with the Golden Knights. It’s a 2 year deal at $1.7M AAV. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • On Wednesday, Feb. 19, the Golden Knights acquired Alec Martinez for a pair of 2nd round picks. (Source:
  • Vegas traded Cody Eakin for a conditional 4th round pick to Winnipeg on Saturday. (Source:
    • The Golden Knights will receive a 3rd round pick if the Jets make the playoffs OR re-sign Eakin
  • The Athletic reported the Golden Knights have interest in defenseman Erik Gustafsson (Source: Jesse Granger, The Athletic)
  • Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston refuted the Golden Knights being in on Gustafsson but said they do have interest in Toronto’s Tyson Barrie (Source: @BrianBlessing)
  • The Creator mentioned “secondary moves”, plural, in his recent interview on Vegas Hockey Hotline. They’ve made one since that interview. (Source: Vegas Hockey Hotline)
  • Former Golden Knight Erik Haula was traded to the Florida Panthers with Lucas Wallmark in exchange for Vincent Trochek. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • This trade triggers the condition on the 2021 Conditional 5th Round Pick the Golden Knights acquired from the Hurricanes in the Vegas/Carolina trade. Vegas will get the Canes 5th in the 2021 Draft. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • The Golden Knights next opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, have acquired Andreas Athanasiou from Detroit. (Source: @GMillerTSN)
  • GM Kelly McCrimmon will hold a press conference at 3:30 PM today whether the Golden Knights make a move or not. (Source: Golden Knights)


(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In a second deadline day deal, the Golden Knights have acquired forward Nick Cousins from the Montreal Canadiens according to multiple reports.

Cousins has scored nine goals and has 22 points in 58 games with the Canadiens. He previously played with the Arizona Coyotes and has scored three times in 10 games against the Golden Knights.

He is 26-years-old and a pending RFA with arbitration rights this summer. Cousins has played all three forward positions this season.

More to come on this story…


The Golden Knights have acquired goalie Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks according to multiple reports.

The return is still not confirmed but it is expected to be a 2nd round pick and a prospect. Malcolm Subban will be headed to Chicago as well. The prospect will be Slava Demin, VGK’s 5th round pick in 2018.

The deal was completed as part of a three-way trade.

VGK gets: Robin Lehner & Martins Dzierkals
CHI gets: Malcolm Subban & Slava Demin
TOR gets: VGK 5th round pick

This was done so that salary could be retained by both Chicago and Toronto allowing the trade to be completed keeping Vegas cap compliant.

Lehner finished 3rd in Vezina voting last season and has posted .918 save percentage this season in Chicago. He is an unrestricted free agent on July 1st (and has expressed a willingness to sign a large deal), but his cap hit for the remainder of the season is $5 million.


Recap: The Golden Knights were on a back-to-back trying to extend their five game winning streak Vegas against the Anaheim Ducks. Vegas got on the board first on newly recalled Patrick Brown’s 1st goal as a Golden Knight. The Ducks tied the game on a redirection :02 left in the opening period to make it a 1-1.

The 2nd period featured multiple quality chances for both teams but neither could convert. Malcolm Subban and Anaheim’s John Gibson stood on their heads making some magnificent saves. The Ducks would eventually get one passed Subban to take a 2-1 edge. Mark Stone and Alec Martinez connected for a beautiful one-timer to tie the game 2-2. William Karlsson’s 11th of the year gave Vegas a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission.

Anaheim tied the game at three :21 seconds into the final period. The Golden Knights regained the lead 4-3 on Karlsson’s second of the game. The center would add a third goal registering his third career hat trick. The Ducks got desperate and heavily attacked the Golden Knights scoring two goals to tie the game 5-5. The game needed an overtime to decide a winner. Shea Theodore snapped a game winner late in overtime, beating the Ducks 6-5.

Vegas’ record improves to 34-22-8 and remain in first place in the Pacific Division. The Golden Knights get a couple of days off and hit the ice next on Wednesday night for a divisional battle against the Edmonton Oilers. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights did well to gut it out through a crazy game in a tough back-to-back and three in four situation on the road. Despite allowing five goals, Malcolm Subban was terrific making a number good saves to keep the game close. Mark Stone played one of his best games as a Golden Knight setting up goals on four different occasions including two of William Karlsson’s three. A nice win in a bad spot keeps the streak alive. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center

  • Deadline special

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Shea Theodore
** William Karlsson
* Mark Stone

Carp: A Little More Work To Do

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The NHL trade deadline is 24 hours away and the first-place Golden Knights have put themselves in position to do something major to upgrade their roster. Whether they do or don’t remains to be seen but if we’ve learned anything from watching George McPhee operate, it’s that he’s not afraid to go big.

Sometimes it works, as it did with Mark Stone. Sometimes, it doesn’t when he was unable to pry Erik Karlsson from the Senators two years ago and wound up overpaying for Tomas Tatar at the last minute.

So far, the Knights have made three deals this season. They acquired Chandler Stephenson from Washington in early December for a fifth-round pick in 2021. Wednesday, they sent two second-rounders to Los Angeles to get defenseman Alec Martinez from the Kings. Friday, they moved Cody Eakin and his $3.85 million salary to Winnipeg for a conditional fourth-round selection in 2021.

Stephenson has been terrific. Martinez had a storybook start in his VGK debut Thursday with a goal and an assist in the win over Tampa Bay and with Eakin gone, it opens the door for another move while at the same time it is giving one of the younger players in the organization a chance to show what he can do. Saturday, that was Gage Quinney (more on him shortly).

Moving Eakin was a no-brainer. He was having a tough season and those who played with him also appeared to struggle if you want to believe the analytics. He was a pending UFA and it was unlikely the Knights were going to re-sign him. So to get something back, potentially a third-rounder, for him, was pretty good on Vegas’ part.

But the big thing was getting that $3.85 million off the books. For a team that was cash-strapped in terms of cap maneuverability, the Knights suddenly found themselves relatively flush. Now if they want to pull off something big, they may be able to do so though they may still have to be a bit creative if they want to land a really big fish, one that makes them a true Stanley Cup contender.

So what should they do?

The Erik Gustafsson rumors have heated up the last 24 hours after Gustafsson was held out of Chicago’s game with Nashville Friday. He makes $1.2 million and is a pending UFA so he would essentially be a rental. And while the Knights’ philosophy is to not engage in rentals, they might be willing to make an exception in Gustafsson’s case. He would likely come cheap and if Vegas wants to retain him long-term, he’s only 27 years old. He could essentially replace Deryk Engelland dollar-for-dollar if the 37-year-old Engelland, also a UFA, is not brought back. He’s a left-handed shot and as Ken pointed out Saturday, the Knights have a glut of those on the blue line.

Another option could be Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, another pending UFA whose price tag is considerably higher — $5.5 million (though half is retained by Colorado in a prior trade) — than Gustafsson’s. Barrie is a right-handed shot and he has proven track record of offensive capabilities. His final two years with Colorado, he had 14 goals each season and 57 and 59 points respectively. He might fit Peter DeBoer’s system nicely.

The question with Barrie is the ask-back from Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. Could the price be too high?

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Recap: Vegas hosted the Florida Panthers for Miracle Night at the T-Mobile Arena. 40 years ago, the United States hockey team beat the Soviets, and the Golden Knights welcomed in the Miracle on Ice roster.

Florida jumped out to quick start taking the 1-0 lead 3:28 into the game. Tomas Nosek tied the game later in the period scoring his 7th goal of the season. After the opening 20 minutes the game was locked up 1-1.

The Panthers regained the lead quickly into the 2nd period. On a carryover power play, Florida took advantage and took a 2-1 edge. William Carrier tied the game for Vegas with his 7th goal of the season. Max Pacioretty scored his 29th, giving his team the 3-2 lead right before the period expired.

Reilly Smith doubled Vegas’ lead just :19 seconds into the final period. Smith buried his 24th goal of the year stretching the lead 4-2. The Panthers got within one but Smith would score his second of the game on an empty-net goal. The Golden Knights closed out the game 5-3.

Vegas’ record improves to 33-22-8 and remain in 1st place in the Pacific with 74 points. The Golden Knights take a quick trip to Anaheim to play the Ducks tomorrow night. Game time is scheduled for 7p. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Like the Tampa game, it took the Golden Knights a minute to sort out their puck management issues early in the game. When they did, late in the 1st, they took over and started controlling a majority of the play. A few excellent plays by the Panthers kept them in the game, but the Golden Knights were the better team and wore the Panthers down. A 5-game win streak against some of the best teams in the league has the Golden Knights looking at an exciting end of the season and playoff run. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Florida Panthers at T-Mobile Arena

  • Carp’s Sunday column on the deadline, Quinney, and Team USA

Ken’s Three VGK Stars
*** Marc-Andre Fleury
** William Carrier
* Reilly Smith

Martinez’s Versatility Allows VGK To Go Unconventional With Their Defensive Alignment

We don’t have a VGK Martinez picture yet. Please accept our sincerest apologies for this one where he’s wearing a hideous outfit. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights lineup on Thursday, Alec Martinez’s first game, included six defensemen that all shoot with the same hand. Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, Nick Holden, Jon Merrill, and Martinez all shoot with their left hand.

In the NHL this season, of the 294 defensemen to make an appearance, 175 of them, or 60%, shoot left-handed. So, it’s not abnormal that Vegas has a bevy of them, but icing an entire lineup lacking a single right-hand shot defenseman is far from common.

The Golden Knights have used a roster with all lefties four different times this season. I looked as hard as I could, and I can’t find a single other team that has done it once this year. (Because I know you’re wondering, they were a winless 0-3-0 before Thursday)

This season, the Golden Knights have only used two defensemen that shoot with their right-hand; Deryk Engelland and Zach Whitecloud. They’ve played a combined 56 games. The next closest team with the fewest number games by right-handed defenseman is Arizona with 93. Every other team has over 100 with many over 200.

The reason the Golden Knights have been able to get away with it is because of how many players they have that are comfortable playing on both sides. Since joining the Golden Knights, Schmidt, Theodore, and Holden have all seen significant time playing both sides and Martinez may have more experience doing it than all three combined.

He’s a left-shot, from what I understand he’s very comfortable on the right and he’s very good on the right. That versatility’s nice. Having a guy, even though he’s not a right-shot that’s very comfortable on the right is important. -DeBoer

The Golden Knights wasted no time putting that skill to use. In Martinez’s first game, he was paired with Jon Merrill with Martinez playing the right. Not even a period deep, he scored a goal playing the left partnered with Shea Theodore. Later in the game, he killed penalties on the right with both Schmidt and McNabb, and as a power-play expired he played a full shift on the left of Holden.

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