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Golden Knights Veterans Share Stories From Their First NHL Camps

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The Golden Knights won their first preseason game of the 2019-2020 campaign with a mix of veterans and rookies. Vets like Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith took the game over mid-first period and led the Knights to an easy 6-2 victory.

Things weren’t always that easy for Pacioretty, Smith or other VGK players. Just like their younger teammates, they had to adjust to the speed and the high competition level at their first NHL camps.

I was in New York, and it was tough. -Jonathan Marchessault

Marchessault participated in several NHL team camps but his first was with the New York Rangers. Where he got to share the ice with one of his favorite NHL players.

Marian Gaborik. I remember I was playing on a line with him. Hell of a player. Growing up he was one of my favorite players. It was fun to see him out there.- Marchessault

 

When Pacioretty attended his first NHL camp, it was like the Wild West.

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2019 Draft Pick Kaedan Korczak Feeling Confident Heading Into Camp

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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

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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.

Sorry Cody, You’re Not A Checking Forward

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Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.

The question is, where would he play?

It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass

Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.

But again, where will he play?

To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass

You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.

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Is William Carrier Worth More To Another NHL Team?

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Before William Carrier was a Golden Knight, he was up and down with the Buffalo Sabres and the AHL’s Rochester Americans. When he did get the call, Carrier would skate with some of the Sabres’ elite. In 2016-17, Carrier had 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 41 games. Two of those goals were assisted by 2019 Conn Smyth winner Ryan O’Reilly. The 24-year-old also shared the ice with league star Jack Eichel for a number of games.

William Carrier has impressed many with his offensive zone awareness, elusiveness, and contribution in his own end this year with the Sabres as well as the Amerks. Carrier notched his first NHL goal on a tip-in past… Marc-André Fleury. Carrier has been put on the Sabres top line and counted on as being the gritty playmaker for Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo.-Max Marko, Dobbers Prospects 2016

Since his arrival in Vegas, Carrier has been fast, aggressive, and a handful on the ice for opponents. But he’s never been anywhere near the first line, spending every game in a Golden Knights uniform playing on a fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Tomas Nosek, and Ryan Reaves. Which made TSN’s Travis Yost ask if Carrier would play a bigger role on another organization. One that wasn’t as deep.

Where do you differentiate between players who are abject drags on performance versus players who might be uniquely challenged playing on otherwise stacked teams?- Travis Yost, TSN.com

Yost’s results show VGK’s goal differential was -0.8 per 60 minutes TOI for Carrier. It essentially theorizes for every 60 minutes combined Carrier plays (equal to about nine games), the Golden Knights allow almost a goal more than they score at even strength. As we’ve watched, those numbers don’t meet what the eye test says about Carrier. He’s not scoring a lot of goals, but he and his fourth line are certainly killing the Golden Knights every time they are out there as these numbers suggest.

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The Golden Knights Must Reduce Fleury’s Workload

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TSN’s Travis Yost wrote an article this week that suggests more and more NHL teams are using a two goaltender system. Franchises are searching for steady backups to win some games while giving their starters a chance to recharge.

Behaviourally, we’ve seen teams start to shift some of the minutes onto their second goaltender. Last season, the average NHL team used their No. 1 goalie in about 60 percent of the total minutes: down almost 10 percent from where it was a decade or so ago. -Travis Yost, TSN

Last season goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury started 74% of regular-season games for the Golden Knights. He played 3635 minutes, also 74%. Fleury registered the fourth-most minutes in the league and was tied for the fifth-most starts.

Minutes

Carey Price – 3880
Devan Dubnyk – 3855
Connor Hellebuyck – 3704
Marc-Andre Fleury – 3635
Jacob Markstrom – 3599

Starts

Devan Dubnyk – 66
Carey Price – 64
Connor Hellebuyck – 62
Martin Jones – 62
Marc-Andre Fleury – 61
Sergei Bobrovsky – 61
Frederik Anderson – 60
Jacob Markstrom – 60

Yost found that goaltenders ten years ago were starting 8% more games on average. However, in 2019 Fleury was still in the crease more than the average goaltender in 2009. As most clubs were trending towards more rest for their starters, the Golden Knights relied heavily on their trusty ole backstop.

The position has changed. Teams are still on the hunt for superstar goaltenders, but teams are also becoming increasingly conscious about workload, burnout rates and the heightened risk of injuries for their primary puck stoppers. Add that to an increased understanding that goaltenders struggle when playing in back-to-back situations – the NHL schedule still sees a dozen or more of these per team each year – and you have a real incentive for strategic rest.-Yost, TSN

The question going forward is how will Vegas handle Fleury’s workload in 2019-20?

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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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Who Has Established Themselves Enough To Be The Knight Commander?

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Since the Expansion Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights have “had 23 captains.” Each player, no matter of skill, salary, or demeanor all have an equal say in the Golden Knights locker room.

It’s utopia, and it’s kind of seemed that way in reality too.

For two seasons the franchise has been largely successful, so it’s hard to nitpick. However, both playoff runs were cut short. Go ahead and laugh but there could be a connection.

Over the history of the league, the Stanley Cup has been hoisted 101 times. One thing most of those Cup winning teams had in common was a captain. Heck, the 1989 Stanley Cup winning Calgary Flames had two captains. It’s that voice that leads by example on and off… you know all the talking points so I won’t waste your time.

The last captainless Stanley Cup winner was the 1971-72 Boston Bruins. The team had a vacancy at the captain’s role but had four alternates. They didn’t have a problem winning the finals without a captain, in fact, they did it two years prior. Same formula, no C, four As. It also didn’t hurt that Boston had the greatest defenseman in league history on their side.

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How Annoying Are NHL Top Player Lists?

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It continues to be that dull time of year, and while we patiently wait for hockey to begin, silly, objective lists dominate the (news) flow. The NHL Network turns into a tabloid, work distraction type outlet like Buzzfeed.

Let’s begin with NHL Network’s Top 20 Center list.

To state the obvious, William Karlsson continues to get stiffed. First he agrees to a team-first, team-friendly extended deal, and then he gets left off the NHL Network’s 2019 Top 20 Center list. It’s immediately confusing because Karlsson made the cut last year, coming in at #17. Ahead of centers like Logan Couture and Sebastian Aho, who are both on 2019’s list.

I don’t know why they do these things. I guess it causes controversy. It’s such a reputation thing. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the pundits think. It matters what the coaching staff thinks, what your teammates think, and where you fit in the salary cap, and what the fans think of you.-Gord Miller, TSN Montreal 690

Now don’t get me wrong, there are many elite centers in the NHL but Karlsson deserves to get a top 20 nod just as much as Couture, Aho, Sean Monahan, and Elias Peterson. Maybe the NHL Network got confused when Karlsson signed a second-line center’s contract.

Next up, the NHL Network’s Top 20 Wings list.

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Is Fighting In Hockey Almost Extinct?

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Last season, Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves fought four times and was voted the victor in each by the fans. Three regular season scraps and one postseason go-around with Evander Kane was a light schedule for Reaves, who normally averages seven fights per year.

So, is it a sign Reaves is bored of whooping every opponent’s ass? Or is it just a continuation of the steady decline of fighting in the NHL? ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski examined it further.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to boomerang back. I think we’re going to see decline, after decline, after decline, to the point now that we have new historic lows across the board in hockey fighting.”- Greg Wyshynski, ESPN NHL Reporter

Player safety has been a big reason for the drop off but it’s also becoming difficult to carry fists in a salary cap world. Love him or hate him, Reaves is unique. He has stood the test of time and is preparing for his tenth NHL season.

He’s arguably the toughest guy in the league, but the fact he can play the game and contribute that’s what makes him valuable. That’s where the game is nowadays. There were a lot of players that were pushed out, he was not one of them. Rightfully so. He can contribute to the game and not just for what we’re known for doing. -Shawn Thornton, Former NHL Player

Thornton spoke with me in late February, after the Golden Knights hosted the Florida Panthers. Overall, the retired NHL heavyweight was glad to see the decline in fighting.

In my opinion, intimidation is a part of life. When you’re in an arena that’s two hundred by eighty-five with no out of bounds, it’s amplified. I think there will always be a space in hockey. Sometimes it’s a pressure cooker and a fight will be the thing that pops the top off… but there’s no more room in the league for a one-dimensional guy, and I’m actually very okay with that. -Thornton

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Golden Knights And Fort Wayne Komets Renew ECHL Partnership

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Vegas Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee announced the club has renewed its affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets. The Komets became the official ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018 and are based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The organization was established as a hockey club in 1952 and open their 68th season on Saturday, Oct. 12. Under the terms of the affiliation arrangements, the Golden Knights will be able to transfer players to and from Fort Wayne during the 2019-20 season.

The Komets finished the 2018-19 season with a 36-26-4-6 overall record, the sixth straight season with at least 36 wins. The team finished third in the ECHL’s Central Division standings with 82 points and qualified for the Kelly Cup playoffs. In the playoffs, the Komets fell to the Toledo Walleye in the semifinals, 4-2.

I’m sure you remember seeing this beautiful save by former Komet and Golden Knights prospect Zach Fucale on your social media timeline.

https://twitter.com/ECHL/status/1151572275918974977?s=20

Since the franchise joined the ECHL in 2012 the Komets are the only team to advance to the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs each of the last six seasons and look to qualify for the seventh time in the 2019-20 season.

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