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Author: Ken Boehlke Page 1 of 164

22 Shifts Of Jimmy Schuldt

When the Golden Knights hit the ice again for real on October 2nd, there will be a rookie defenseman wearing steel grey and gold.

With the departure of Colin Miller, George McPhee confirmed as much and the candidates to win the job are Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jake Bischoff, and Jimmy Schuldt.

Schuldt was the only one of the five who played for the Golden Knights in 2018-19. Of course, it was just one game, but Schuldt’s impact was certainly felt and it was his first chance to stake claim to the job he likely has the inside track to winning.

For those who’ve forgotten, Schuldt was an undrafted free agent who signed out of St. Cloud State following his senior year. He was a Hobey Baker finalist in each of his final two seasons and put up 118 points and 38 goals over his 156 games as a Husky (the most ever by a defenseman in program history). Schuldt was highly sought after as 30 of the 31 teams reportedly offered him a contract out of college.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Schuldt’s one and only game was the final game of the regular season at the Staples Center in LA against the Kings. He played 21:03, tallied one assist, recorded one shot, and racked up a -1 rating. He took 22 total shifts in that game and recently I went back and watched them all.

Obviously, one game, especially a player’s first career NHL game, is not enough to judge a player, but for Schuldt, it’s all we’ve got and Gerard Gallant was not shy to use him.

Schuldt’s offensive game is what stuck out most over the course of his 22 shifts making positive offensive plays on more than half of them. It was the other end that was a little shaky. Let’s start with the good though.

The most memorable play was the one that put him on the scoresheet. A pass from the high slot perfectly onto Valentin Zykov’s stick set up an easy tap in goal and the first point of Schuldt’s NHL career.

The pass is beautiful, but the pinch before it might be just as influential on the play. Schuldt reads the rebound and jumps up the ice to win to the puck and keep it alive. His pinching ability on the game was excellent only failing to win the puck once.

His offensive positioning was a little more aggressive than the Golden Knights blueliners usually use though. A number of times he was caught too low in the zone and the defenseman was able to either pass or chip the puck around/over him to start breakouts. None of them led to goals, but there were a few moments in which a transition break was started and Schuldt was left behind.

His next best play came on a defensive zone draw which was one cleanly to him.

Schuldt nicely loses the attacker before pushing the puck up to Brandon Pirri. Then, continuing through the play, Schuldt collects a turnover and knocks a nice little backhand pass to Pirri creating a scoring chance. That’s the exact type of play Gallant and Ryan McGill like to see out of Golden Knights defenseman. Schuldt moves the puck quickly and safely to start a transition chance and creates an extra option in the offensive zone when then puck is turned over. Very Nate Schmidt esque.

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Expect More Success Based On Expected Goals

Hockey can be a cruel sport. Sometimes a team dominates the game but a bounce here or there costs them a win. Other times a team can be getting smoked but their goalie stands on his head and keeps him in it.

It’s almost astounding how often in the game of hockey that the scoreboard and the stat sheet doesn’t match up. Whether you are looking at shots, Corsi, Fenwick, chances, PDO or anything else, from game to game, stats lie.

It’s why many times after losses Gerard Gallant steps to the podium and says something like “we played well but…” or “if we keep playing like that…” sending a positive message despite his team dropping the game.

Over the course of 60 minutes, the better team loses a lot. Over the course of seven games, it happens from time to time. Over the course of a season, or even multiple seasons, stats usually don’t lie.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the biggest challenges that #NotAMajor has thrown the Golden Knights, and its fans, is an inability to fairly compare the two teams from Year 1 to Year 2. While the 17-18 Golden Knights went to the Cup Final and nearly completed the fairy tale, there’s a strong argument that the 18-19 team was better. But, since they were bounced in the first round it’s tricky to compare the teams.

There’s a fairly new stat bouncing around the hockey world called “expected goals” which could help not only sort out the difference between the first two teams, but also predict the future of the 2019-20 team. What expected goals calculates is how often a team should have scored compared to how often they actually did. It’s based on shot location compared to the league average. The closer the shot to the net, the better chance it has to go in.

The stat is measured in “expected goals for,” “expected goals against,” and then a difference is calculated based on the actual numbers that were scored and allowed.

 17-1818-19Difference
Goals Scored175173-2
Goals Allowed157162+5
Expected Goals182.3201.218.9
Expected Goals Against175.0171.93.1
exDIFF+11-18-29

As you can see, the Year 2 Golden Knights should have scored much more, but didn’t.

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VGK Were In On Micheal Ferland In Free Agency

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Wednesday the Vancouver Canucks signed Micheal Ferland to a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.5 million per year. Ferland is winger who plays a 200-foot game, forechecks hard, plays in all situations, and has the ability to play up and down a lineup.

At the trade deadline, Ferland’s name was consistently tossed around in the rumors and the Golden Knights were apparently hot after him.

Fast forward to free agency, when Ferland was looking for a new contract as a UFA, and somehow, once again, the Golden Knights were in the mix.

I like Ferland, the only question you have about him is his health, his injuries, but there was a lot of interest in him. I heard Calgary was in on him, I heard Vegas was in on him, someone told me St. Louis was very interested in Ferland and Vancouver gave him the 4th year and they got him. Of all the guys who waited later, I think he was the guy who most teams were interested in. –Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts Podcast

With what money?

Of course, we aren’t sure exactly what the Golden Knights offered, but it’s reasonable to think it was somewhere in the $2-$4 million ballpark. The exact range the Golden Knights are looking at with Nikita Gusev.

If they were willing to sign Ferland, they must have had a plan to make another move to offset the cost against the salary cap.

It makes sense why the Golden Knights would be interested as he’s essentially a safer Gusev. He’s done it year in and year out, plus he’s much more of a stylistic fit for Gerard Gallant than Gusev appears to be. But again, if they had an interest in him, there must be a blueprint to sign a 3rd line wing between the range of $2-$4 million.

Signing Ferland would have almost certainly meant the departure of Gusev, but missing out may signal something else. The offseason now rolls on, and the Gusev situation just keeps getting weirder and weirder without any conclusion seemingly in sight.

SinBin.vegas Podcast #161: The Answer To The Cap Mess

A long, winding conversation which starts with Nikita Gusev but travels to many different places regarding the Golden Knights. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Why burn the ELC?
  • McPhee’s next presser
  • Personnel mistakes are not always McPhee’s fault
  • The ultimate best solution to the cap situation
  • Eating ice cream alone as a grown man

And much more…

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

Comparing Recent Contracts To Nikita Gusev’s Asking Price

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Nikita Gusev’s contract resolution is the great mystery of the 2019 offseason. Reportedly, both sides would like a two-year deal with Gusev looking for $4 million per year and the Golden Knights wanting $2 million.

He’s arguably the best hockey player in the world to have never stepped foot on NHL ice. He might be Vadim Shipachyov. He might be Nikita Kucherov. He’s probably somewhere in between.

His situation is unique though as he’s a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. However, his ability (willingness) to return to the KHL leaves the Golden Knights in danger of walking away with nothing if a deal is not reached.

The eventual outcome of the negotiation will likely determine where Gusev ends up playing next season. If it’s closer to $2 million, he’s probably a Golden Knight, but if it’s pushing $4 million, he might end up being sent away via trade.

Since June 1st, 18 players have signed NHL contracts between $2-4 million AAV. They range from ages 22 to 35 including RFAs, RFAs with arbitration rights, and UFAs.

 AAVGPTOIPS
Alex Chiasson$2.15 M223816:584.0
Mattias Janmark$2.3 M62515:131.3
Artturi Lehkonen$2.4 M113115:332.3
Alex Iafallo$2.425 M153316:502.3
Joel Armia$2.6 M132315:482.0
Colin Wilson$2.6 M122713:342.2
Carl Hagelin$2.75 M51914:441.2
Richard Panik$2.75 M143316:373.2
Danton Heinen$2.8 M113413:583.3
Valtteri Filppula$3.0 M173114:163.9
Kasperi Kapanen$3.2 M204416:354.4
Ryan Dzingel$3.375 M265616:495.7
Andreas Johnsson$3.4 M204313:404.9
Micheal Ferland$3.5 M174014:064.7
Alexander Kerfoot$3.5 M154214:533.4
Brett Connolly$3.5 M224613:205.2
Brandon Tanev$3.5 M142914:072.7
Joonas Donskoi$3.9 M143713:253.4

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@SinBinVegas Twitter Q&A – July 11th, 2019

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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Patrick Brown Could Be Next Diamond In The Rough

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whether it’s through an Expansion Draft, Entry Draft, waivers, free agency, or a trade, the Golden Knights have a type. They like a well-rounded, 200-foot player who plays in all situations, but beyond all, they really value “character.”

On July 1st, the Golden Knights signed Patrick Brown, a 27-year-old right-handed center/winger who has spent a majority of his career in the AHL. He’s scored 125 points in 334 AHL games plus another 14 in 24 playoff games.

An undrafted free agent out of Boston College, Brown signed with the Carolina Hurricanes in May of 2014. Each of his first three seasons as a pro he bounced between the Charlotte Checkers and the Hurricanes, playing a total of 28 games in the NHL. Then, he found his niche.

Brown was named an alternate captain of the Checkers in 2015-16 before being named captain of the team in 16-17. He’s held that title for each of the past three seasons including through the Checkers run to the Calder Cup this year.

Patrick served as captain in Charlotte again last season and was the heart and soul of the team. He is a tremendous leader on and off the ice and is a reliable, hard-working player. We are excited to keep him in the organization again next season. -Don Waddell, Hurricanes GM on June 6th, 2018

Brown was one of the first forwards called up to the Hurricanes during the 2018-19 season and even found himself in the playoffs after Andrei Svechnikov was hurt in a fight.

This is yet another example of the Golden Knights finding hidden gems to fill their AHL roster with while also creating depth at the NHL level. As Ryan Carpenter, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Daniel Carr, Brooks Macek, and Tomas Hyka walk out the door, one of the players to fill that void will be Brown. Plus, if you ask another new Golden Knight, Nicolas Roy, Brown’s teammate in Charlotte, Brown might make some noise with the new opportunity.

Our captain Patrick Brown has been in the AHL for most of his career but he’s a really good player, a really good teammate, leader. He brings a lot too, playing the same style as me, good offensively and defensively, but I think he’s been overlooked a little bit. He’s a really good player. –Nicholas Roy on Popternative

Obviously, the Golden Knights saw something they liked in the Calder Cup Final as Brown captained his team to a win over the Wolves. He seems to now fit into a group of current Golden Knights with Tomas Nosek, Nicolas Roy, Curtis McKenzie, Gage Quinney, Valentin Zykov, and Stefan Matteau. There’s probably room for one, if not two, of those guys to make the NHL roster.

Don’t be shocked if Patrick Brown makes a push towards that 4th line center spot when training camp rolls around. But even if he doesn’t, Rocky Thompson and the Wolves are going to be glad to have him.

The Future Of The Goalie Position For The Golden Knights And Malcolm Subban

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have re-signed Malcolm Subban to a one-year $850,000 contract lining him up to once again fill the role as the back-up behind Marc-Andre Fleury.

Since claiming him on waivers a few days before the first game in franchise history, the Golden Knights have never wavered on their belief in Subban. He was immediately installed as the back-up and has kept the position through rough patches, injuries, and inactivity. The main reason for this is because of Dave Prior. Anyone who has ever spoken to Prior knows that he has confidence in Subban’s ability, and if he has it his way, Subban will be the next full-time goalie when Fleury’s time is up.

On the flip side, there are Golden Knights fans, who for the most part want to bury their head into a pillow every time they see Subban’s name on the lineup sheet. Most fans point to his disastrous 2018-19 season in which Subban as their reason for concern (or hatred). He went 8-10-2 with a .902 save percentage, allowed three or more goals in 14 of his 20 starts, and lost each of his first five starts and five of his last six starts in 18-19. Along the way, Subban has been injured on four different occasions including during the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

Then, there’s me, who falls somewhere in between but not really in line with either side.

First off, Subban is not bad… as a back-up.

Before we go into the future, let’s take care of the present. With the Golden Knights salary cap situation, it doesn’t get much better than Subban. There are 70 goalies with a contract equal to or greater than Subban’s new $850,000 deal. So monetarily, it’s perfect, if not cheap.

But beyond the money, Subban is exactly what you want as a back-up when you have a starter like Fleury. In a perfect world, the starts are split about 55/27 and Fleury takes the goal throughout a long playoff run. In that perfect world, all the back-up has to do is tread water. Subban has proven he’s more than capable of doing just that. In his Golden Knights career, he’s 21-14-4, has posted a .906 SV%, and allowed 2.81 goals per game. He’ll steal you a few, he’ll lose you a few, and he’ll hold down the fort in the rest. In short, he’s not going to be the downfall of a team.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s the imperfect world that makes Subban an even better option though. Physically, he’s gifted enough to take the reigns and become a legitimate starter, he’s just never had the chance to do it. In the event Fleury is unable to play for a playoff run (or he just gets old and stinks), the Golden Knights need someone with upside. Filling in a player like Ryan Miller, Calvin Pickard, or Antti Niemi simply won’t work. This isn’t to say Subban will be Fleury, but the capability is there, even if the probability is rather slim. Backup goalie is an insurance policy, and with Subban the Golden Knights get a player that’s affordable, won’t hurt them, and could help them in the event of a disaster. It’s a win, win, win.

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Can We Stop With The Maybe’s On Nikita Gusev?

Nikita Gusev has never played a game in the NHL. There’s no getting around that. But Nikita Gusev was not dropped onto the Golden Knights from some other unknown planet.

Gusev won the MVP award in the KHL, the world’s second-best league, each of the past two years. He led the league in points in 2018-19 by 13. He broke the record for assists in a season with 64. He’s been more than a point per game player for four years running. He’s won a Gagarin Cup and he’s scored 68 points in 66 playoff games. He even shredded as a kid, scoring 192 points in 120 games in the Russian Junior league, the MHL.

And these are just his Russian accomplishments.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Gusev helped Russia win the gold medal in the Olympics a year ago, scoring the game-tying goal (and the one before it) in the gold medal game and assisting on the game-winner and led the tournament in points.

He scored 16 points in the IIHF World Championships this summer, second only to William Nylander, matching Nikita Kucherov and Jakob Voracek, and outdoing Mark Stone and he’s put up 1.11 points per game in all international competition.

In 2011 at the World Junior Championships, Gusev scored nine points in seven games, which was outdone by only five players (two of which are Mark Stone and Evgeny Kuznetsov).

Literally, every place this guy has played hockey, he’s scored. And he’s done it alongside or against hundreds of players that have played in the NHL, and have had massive success.

In World Juniors his numbers matched Clayton Keller (2016), Auston Matthews (2015), Matthew Tkachuk (2015), William Nylander (2014), Filip Fosberg (2013), Anthony Mantha (2013), Nikita Kucherov (2012), Mark Scheifele (2012), Johnny Gaudreau (2012), Mark Stone (2011), and Jason Zucker (2011).

All of those guys are either bonafide NHL stars or on their way to becoming one.

In international play, his numbers compare to Alexander Radulov, Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Leon Draisaitl, Anze Kopitar, Mats Zuccarello, and William Nylander.

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Prospect Rankings – Goalies – July 5th, 2019

In the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings, goalies are always listed last. So, today we decided to bring the new goalie rankings to the forefront by giving them a post of their own. So, here goes.

Criteria to qualify for rankings:

  • Must be younger than 23 years old
  • Cannot have played more than 10 NHL games
  • Must be either under contract or drafted by the Golden Knights

Players are ranked based on value to the organization. The most important factor is the player’s ceiling, or how good they can eventually become, but also taken into consideration is how close they are to playing in the NHL and how likely they are to play in the NHL. This is NOT a ranking of which players are the best if a game were to be held today.

Recently Removed: Maxim Zhukov (forfeited rights)

GOALIES 

1) Isaiah Saville
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 18 (September 21, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

Saville has been by far the most impressive goalie in his first appearance with the Golden Knights. He looked incredibly confident in the goal and his technique was terrific for an 18-year-old. Dave Prior is constantly working with goalies to try and make minor changes to their game, often times throwing them off a bit, but with Saville that wasn’t the case. Prior wanted Saville to challenge shooters further out of the goal cutting down angles. He did it, and it seemed to make him even better as the week went on. Of the goalies remaining in the Golden Knights system, he’s the highest draft pick and he looks like he’s on the right path to becoming a solid prospect.

 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2) Dylan Ferguson
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 20 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

The one aspect of Ferguson’s game that shows up the most when watching him is his compete level. He looks like he wants to save every single shot, no matter the situation or likelihood he should actually save it. In the scrimmage that he was able to play in Development Camp (he was hurt and missed the final two), it appeared like he was planning on winning the game singlehandedly for his team. The intensity is there, his style is aggressive, and he’s getting more and more consistent. For a smaller guy, his ability to look big inside of the goal is impressive and his athleticism is exciting. It appears like the Golden Knights’ plan for Ferguson is to hand him the reigns as the backup in Chicago, which says a lot about what the organization thinks of him as well.

More on Ferguson
1/8/19 – Ferguson has put up similar numbers to his other seasons in the WHL saving a little over 90% of shots. Due to his age he seems to be a bit further along than Kooy but the physical tools aren’t as promising. Don’t forget that he was the first to sign a contract, he was specifically targeted by VGK in a trade and he was seemingly the highest rated goalie in rookie camp. It’s neck and neck with Kooy but ties are no fun so Dylan drops down a spot.

9/12/18 – Ferguson didn’t play in any of the rookie games, which in theory should be a bad thing. Instead though, it indicates the Golden Knights rank him the highest, by giving him the first preseason game rather than a rookie game. We’ll heed VGK’s rankings and leave him atop the list.

7/28/18 – You might remember young Dylan from his short stint with the Golden Knights, but you should remember him from his solid showing at Development Camp. He looked confident in the goal, something he didn’t look while in the net in Edmonton or even at Development Camp in 2017. Ferguson has a little bit of an edge to him, and it seems to translate to confidence and swagger on the ice. Plus, he’s awesome interacting with kid fans when he comes off the ice.

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