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Goalie Of The Future A Question That May Be Answered Soon

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s a spot that’s been a real point of contention with the fan base that at some point is going to stop hiding in the shadows and actually make its way to the forefront. As much as we don’t want to admit it, Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t going to be the goalie of the Golden Knights forever. Whether age catches up to him in the next few years while under contract or whenever he decides to hang it up for good, the goalie of the future still seems to be somewhat up in the air.

The clear frontrunner is Malcolm Subban. After being claimed off waivers three days before the Golden Knights first ever game, Subban has been on the NHL club ever since firmly entrenched as the backup. However, as a restricted free agent and coming off another year filled with injuries, Subban’s long-term future is not exactly a certainty.

You don’t want to look too far ahead, I like to live in the moment. Right now I just take care of what I can control and that’s having a good offseason and coming into camp next season ready to go. -Malcolm Subban

Subban will be extended a qualifying offer worth $715,000. As a 25-year-old with a few years of NHL experience, he’s eligible for arbitration, which he will likely file for. Backup goalie salaries range widely, but Subban likely won’t be in line for much more than $1 million, if he even reaches that high.

That being said, the Golden Knights will have to make a decision on where they stand with him. At this very moment, Oscar Dansk, who under contract in 19-20 for $675,000 is leading the Chicago Wolves in a Western Conference Final series in the AHL. Dansk has taken over the starting spot and has played every playoff game for Rocky Thompson’s Wolves. He hasn’t been amazing, but he’s been good enough to be considered for a job behind Fleury moving forward.

Then there’s Max Lagace, who the Golden Knights have turned to every time they’ve needed an extra goalie at the NHL level. He’s an unrestricted free agent, but will almost certainly not command more than the league minimum.

The group of prospects, Dylan Ferguson, Maxim Zhukov, Jiri Patera, and Jordan Kooy are all still a ways from making their ascent to the NHL level. (According to, VGK must sign Zhukov to an entry-level contract by June 1, 2019 or they will forfeit his rights.)

The question of “who will be Vegas’ backup goalie in 2019-20” and “who is the goalie of the future” are two separate questions, but at some point they need to overlap and this offseason may be the beginning of that process.

When Subban was asked about being “the guy” on a team, his answer was non-committal, consistently saying he likes to live in the present, but when asked if he wants to remain in Vegas, he instantly answered, “Yes, of course.”

The options are wide open for the Golden Knights front office, and the cost shouldn’t be prohibitive on any front to retain each of the Golden Knights three options. However, what they decide to do will tell a strong story about what they believe they have in their future.

Subban’s contract isn’t going to be the most noteworthy one this offseason, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for the organization. A one-year qualifying offer tells a much different story than a multi-year $1.5 million AAV deal.

The franchise has displayed nothing but faith in Subban with its words, but actions always speak louder, and that action is coming fairly soon.

Nikita Gusev Opens Up On Wide Range Of Topics In Russian Interview

“The only thing I know for myself – I want to play there” -Gusev

As of this moment, Nikita Gusev is a restricted free agent under Golden Knights control. He’s also currently shredding the IIHF World Championships with his linemate, and best friend (more on that later), Nikita Kucherov.

From his next contract, to how he liked Vegas, to his connection to Vadim Shipachyov, the list of questions surrounding the newest Golden Knight are endless. Luckily, a pair of Russian reporters had an extended sit down with Gusev where they pretty much ran the gamut.

(The article was written by Igor Eronko and Alexey Shevchenko for It can be found in its entirety here. We have used all of our resources to translate it as accurately as possible, but be aware that nuance is often lost in translation.) You have burnt a year of your contract, do you already have any offers from Vegas for next season?

Gusev: I’m waiting and expecting an offer from them. I liked it there: good guys, good team. And the city. I don’t know who would not like it, the city is really good. And the atmosphere at the stadium, I think, is one of the best, as everyone says. Vadim Shipachyov did not like the smoky hotels, casinos, and lobbies.

Gusev: In fact, there are many places like this. But if you play in Vegas, you’ll be renting a house or an apartment instead of living in the casinos. Yes, sometimes you have to pass by, but I don’t think very often. I didn’t sit where it was smoky. Vadim never gambled in the casino, did you?

Gusev: Yes, I played one time. Did you win?

Gusev: Yes. Roulette?

Gusev: No, I do not like roulette. Blackjack?

Gusev: Yes. I will not say that I played for big money though. I went there with roughly 100 dollars with me. I won a bit and enjoyed it but I never planned to continue. A lot of people were concerned when head coach Gerard Gallant said, “I don’t know any Gusev. Let him come, but nobody guarantees him anything.” Didn’t that bother you?

Gusev: No, of course not. I went there and knew what was waiting for me. That’s why I didn’t see any problems. I understood. I was going to the NHL and had to prove my place on the ice. It so happened that I did not play. So, next season. Did you talk to Gallant himself?

Gusev: No. He never spoke to me. I only talked to the general manager, George McPhee. I didn’t talk to my coach before I got there. He had a lot of work to do, with the playoffs and such. Shipachyov was given freedom during training (practice), but as soon as the games began they said that some things were prohibited to do. Are you afraid of the same?

Gusev: When I signed the contract and could play for Vegas the coach showed me the tactics during a class. And I realized that I would feel good about it. Everything was explained to me in a similar way. There will be no problems. Vegas is a team with almost the largest amount of movement (other possible translation: speed or quickness) in the NHL. Do you like running without a puck?

Gusev: I’m not going to tell you all the secrets of Vegas. Maybe I’m not the fastest player, but there are other guys out there too that aren’t that quick. What I saw is that many hockey players act very cleverly. Like Mark Stone and Reilly Smith?

Gusev: That’s right. But nevertheless, Shipachyov’s situation could repeat with you.

Gusev: Everyone has their own lives. I do not know what and how it will work, but I think that I am able to perform what the coaches want. If they tell me something definite to do, I’ll do it. At the same time, I’m going to continue to play the way I play. What do you think of Stone, Smith, and the other NHL players? Nothing special, right?

Gusev: This is the wrong question. Those guys are very good, but I understand that it is easy to play with them, everything will be well in this regard. Can Vegas trade you?

Gusev: I’m expecting an offer from them first. And then we will see what happens. In principle, there could be other offers, but I think it would be wrong to accept one of them because Vegas helped me. I want to reciprocate. In the NHL the rules say that first I have to get an offer from the club which has the rights to me, which is Vegas. I am a rule follower so I will wait for it. I perfectly understand what I want and what I need. If Vegas offers $4 million, will you accept?

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“We Are Not A Budget Team”

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the league calendar gets set to turn to 2019-20 all eyes seem focused on the color red.

Through the first two seasons, the Golden Knights have not had to worry much about in terms of the salary cap. In Year 1, the floor was as much in view as was the cap. In Year 2, money was being thrown around left and right for Marc-Andre Fleury, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, Nate Schmidt, Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, and Mark Stone, but there still was no concern for reaching the cap. Now, as decisions need to be made on William Karlsson, Deryk Engelland, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Nikita Gusev, Jimmy Schuldt, and others and suddenly the salary cap is the main point of focus in Vegas.

George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the Golden Knights front office have plenty of ways to manage the cap. The most obvious way would be to make a trade or two to move some salary out. This may very well happen. But, despite what you may hear/read, it also may not.

The salary cap in the NHL is incredibly complicated. There are pages and pages of legalese that govern the league’s cap. It’s so complicated that almost every team in the league has a specific person on staff whose job is to do nothing but focus on the cap. For the Golden Knights, that’s Andrew Lugerner.

From the outside looking in, we don’t get to see the whole picture. We don’t have the entire rule book. Instead, we tend to rely on a birds-eye view of simply adding all of the contracts together to come up with a total number. In the Golden Knights case, that number is too high already, and they’ve still got work to do. But that’s not how the salary cap works. There’s daily accumulation, long-term IR, performance bonuses, two-way contracts, assignment clauses, buried contracts, buyouts, discounted cap hits, and probably numerous other loopholes we aren’t aware of.

Luckily, we don’t need to be, we just need to know that whatever is necessary, the Golden Knights have the ability to make it happen.

We are fortunate that we are not a budget team. We aren’t one of those teams that is always on the edge in terms of its financial performance. In fact, our financial performance has been very good and as a result, we can make some things happen that maybe some other teams couldn’t have made happen. -The Creator

That comment was made in regards to promoting Kelly McCrimmon to GM, but it can easily be applied to just about everything else with the organization. If there’s a way to gain an advantage, the Golden Knights owner is going to be willing to pay for it.

He did it in the Expansion Draft by allowing McPhee to add bad contracts for draft picks, he’s allowed the organization to go from an expansion team to one pushing up against the cap in Year 3, and there have been numerous stories of what he’s done in and around the facilities to make Vegas one of, if not the, best place to play in the NHL.

So, if there’s a way to use some of The Creator‘s money to help the Golden Knights get under the cap, McPhee will have the green light to do it.

Just never forget that when we see the red number next to Vegas’ name that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Things do need to happen for the Golden Knights this offseason, but they may not always be things we see. The reason that’s possible is ownership’s willingness to do whatever it takes to create, in his words, “a dynasty.”

Mark Stone/Jonathan Marchessault Combo Dominating In Slovakia

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This morning in Slovakia, Mark Stone scored a hat trick for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championships. He has five goals in five games and his linemate, Jonathan Marchessault, has put up two goals and four assists of his own. Simply put, the Golden Knights duo has been shredding defenses for Team Canada.

Their success together has led to a pretty obvious question, should that pair be a part of a line when they get back to Vegas?

Any time I consider the possibility of a new line combination the first thing I do is check how they’ve done while playing together. In the case of Marchessault and Stone, it’s been almost all on line changes when one gets stuck out on the ice with the other. In the regular season and playoffs combined, that happened for a total of 20:15 at 5-on-5.

In those 20 minutes, the Golden Knights scored twice and generated 12 shots on goal. They also created 10 scoring chances with five coming in high danger areas. Pretty darn good for a pair that doesn’t actually play together.

So, if it were to happen, who would play in between them?

Well, that could go one of two ways, either with Paul Stastny or William Karlsson. Here’s how I’d project it with each player in between Marchessault and Stone.



Both options look pretty good, but the third line on that second option is downright scary. The idea of replacing Marchessault with Gusev makes a lot of sense as they play a similar style of game. Also, Gusev’s defensive deficiencies (which we aren’t even sure if they are real yet), would be covered up by Karlsson and Smith. Of course, this is assuming Haula does indeed take a center spot, which may not happen.

Either way, the options are going to be there for Gerard Gallant when the Golden Knights return to Vegas for training camp in September. It will be interesting to see how much tinkering he does with his new glut of highly skilled forwards.

The Golden Knights have seven preseason games. You’d have to think Stone and Marchessault find their way on a line together in one of them, it’ll be up to them to make it as successful here as it’s been in Slovakia. Podcast #155: Hand Pass

We have no choice but to continue talking about referees and rules, but we quickly transition into Golden Knights conversation. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Time to change the rules after San Jose gets another gift
  • Can all these ridiculous moments for the Sharks make us feel better about VGK’s loss?
  • The impact of trading a player like Pacioretty, Schuldt, or Whitecloud
  • Stone and Marchessault forcing a change in top-six in Vegas?
  • Shea Theodore’s voice twin

And much more…

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

Drafting A Goalie In 1st Round Rarely Wise

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the 17th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights select, Spencer Knight, goalie, US National Team Development Program.

It’s just too perfect, right? There’s literally a guy named Knight, who plays a position of need for Vegas, who happens to be slotted right around where the Golden Knights select in the Draft. Seems like fate. (Or a really stupid reason to pick a player, but people seem to do it anyway, so here we are.)

But before we even get into how good Spencer Knight is (and believe me, we will over the course of the next four weeks), I thought it was a good idea to take a look at highly drafted goalies to even begin to consider whether the match made in heaven should even be considered on June 21st.

Year1st RoundNumber(s)Player(s)Notable(s)
2018039Lindbom (NYR)Kooy (VGK, 208)
2017126Oettinger (DAL)Zhukov (VGK, 96), Patera (VGK, 161), Ferguson (DAL, 194)
2016048Hart (PHI)Woll (TOR, 62)
2015122Samsonov (WSH)Blackwood (NJD, 42)
2014034McDonald (CGK)Demko (VAN, 36)
2013036Fucale (MTL)Saros (NSH, 99)
2012219, 24Vasilevskiy (TBL), Subban (BOS)Dansk (CBJ, 31), Murray (PIT, 83), Andersen* (ANA, 87), Hellebuyck (WPG, 130)
2011038Hellberg (NSH)Gibson (ANA, 39), Binnington (STL ,88)
2010211, 27Campbell (LAK), Visentin (PHX)Grubauer (WSH, 112), Mrazek (DET, 141), Andersen* (CAR, 187)
2009031Koskinen (NYI)Lehner (OTT, 46), Kuemper (MIN, 161)
2008218, 30Chet Pickard (NSH), McCollum (DET)Markstrom (31, FLA), Allen (STL, 34), Holtby (WSH, 93)
2007036Gistedt (PHX)Darling (PHX, 153)
2006411, 15, 23, 26Bernier (LAK), Helenius (TBL), Varlamov (WSH), Irving (CGY)Neuvirth (WSH, 34), Mason (CBJ, 69), Johnson (PIT, 125)
200525, 21Price (MTL), Rask (TOR)Pavelec (ATL, 41), Quick (LAK, 72), Bishop (STL, 85)
200446, 14, 17, 26Montoya (NYR), Dubnyk (EDM), Schwarz (STL), Schneider (VAN)Greiss (SJS, 94), Ramo (TBL, 191), Khudobin (MIN, 206), Rinne (NSH, 258)
200311Fleury (PIT)Crawford (CHI, 52), Howard (DET, 64), Halak (MTL, 271), Elliott (291, OTT)

Since Marc-Andre Fleury went #1 overall in 2003 to Pittsburgh, there has been a goalie drafted in the 1st round of just eight of the 15 drafts. A total of 18 goalies have gone in the 1st round since 2004, and their success has been extremely limited.

Just five of the 18 have made more than 10 starts with the team they were drafted by. That’s 13 1st round goalies who had absolutely no impact on the team that spent a 1st round pick on them. Even the five that did work, only two ended up having a significant impact on the team that selected them (Price, Vasilevskiy). 14 years of NHL Drafts and TWO turned out to be stars for the correct team.

It’s a little better for the guy calling the shots in Vegas though.

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Winning The Calder Cup Doesn’t Mean Much For NHL Parent Club’s Future

Tomas Hyka is one of the many Wolves to watch in the Calder Cup Semi-Final. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomorrow night the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, will play in the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Obviously, winning a championship is always good, no matter what level it’s at, but just how well does winning the Calder Cup translate to future success for their NHL parent club? The answer is… not so well.

Here is what the last 10 Calder Cup Champions have seen their parent club do over the next three seasons.

YearCalder Cup WinnerYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Toronto (TOR)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Grand Rapids (DET)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsN/A
15-16Lake Erie (CBJ)1st Round1st Round2nd Round
14-15Manchester (LAK)1st RoundMissed Playoffs1st Round
13-14Texas (DAL)Missed Playoffs2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
12-13Grand Rapids (DET)1st Round1st Round1st Round
11-12Norfolk (TB)Missed Playoffs1st RoundCup Final
10-11Binghamton (OTT)1st Round2nd RoundMissed Playoffs
09-10Hershey (WSH)2nd Round2nd Round1st Round
08-09Hershey (WSH)1st Round2nd Round2nd Round

And the same table with Calder Cup Final runners-up.

YearCalder Cup WinnerYear 1Year 2Year 3
17-18Texas (DAL)1st RoundN/AN/A
16-17Syracuse (TBL)3rd Round1st RoundN/A
15-16Hershey (WSH)2nd Round*Stanley Cup*1st Round
14-15Utica (VAN)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
13-14St. Johns (WPG)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
12-13Syracuse (TBL)1st RoundCup Final3rd Round
11-12Toronto (TOR)1st RoundMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
10-11Houston (MIN)Missed Playoffs1st Round2nd Round
09-10Texas (DAL)Missed PlayoffsMissed PlayoffsMissed Playoffs
08-09Manitoba (VAN)2nd RoundCup Final1st Round

So, over the past 10 years, only one team that has participated in the Calder Cup Final have seen their parent club win a Stanley Cup within three years of their AHL playoff run.

To make matters worse, you can extend it out to six years from the time the AHL team makes the Calder Cup Final, and there’s still only one team in the previous 10 years to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

That being said, of the 55 seasons listed in the tables, only 18 teams missed the playoffs.

All in all though, the next couple of weeks of hockey for the Chicago Wolves aren’t exactly about winning for the Golden Knights perspective.

This does not mean the games are not important and/or interesting to watch. Individual players who stand out in the Calder Cup Playoffs often go on to have success in the NHL. Here’s a list of a the last 10 Calder Cup Playoff MVP’s.

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What Do The Golden Knights Look Like Without William Karlsson?

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Sometime in the next 2 months, William Karlsson will file for arbitration as a restricted free agent. At that point, the most important contract negotiation in the history of the Vegas Golden Knights will officially be on the clock.

Don’t believe me on that claim? Keep reading.

The options are endless with what might happen with Karlsson moving forward. One year deal, bridge, long-term, arbitration, offer sheet, trade, you name it, the ultimate outcome of the negotiations could go any which way.

Each option leads the Golden Knights down a different path, and the concern for many Vegas fans (and tall skinny bald dudes who write about the team) is that it could end up seeing #71 on the back of a different jersey before too long.

As crazy as it may sound, there are multiple ways Karlsson ends up with another team, as soon as this offseason; especially if he values money above all else. So, I thought, let’s take a look at what the Golden Knights roster would look like without him. Then, we’ll all head to the Vatican and tell the newest VGK fan to urge McPhee, McCrimmon, and company to not let this happen.

The first issue is who would fill the void on the “first line.” The answer likely isn’t simple as the Golden Knights only true replacement for Karlsson are prospects. Paul Stastny, Cody Eakin, and Erik Haula are all very different players than Karlsson. Karlsson is a well-rounded center who excels at just about every aspect of the game aside from faceoffs. He’s superb defensively, he drives offense, he scores, he has excellent vision, his stamina is second to none, and he makes the right play 99 times out of 100.

Vegas’ other centers are all excellent players, but none have all the assets of Karlsson. This being said, Cody Glass, Ivan Morozov, Paul Cotter, or whoever Vegas picks at 17 in the upcoming draft may, we just don’t know yet. Glass is obviously the closest, but even he probably isn’t going to be ready to be a top-six center in the NHL in 2019-20 or even 2020-21. Morozov and Cotter definitely aren’t ready, and the draft pick only has a chance if the Golden Knights move up from 17 (and even then it’s a longshot).

Cody Eakin would likely get the spot, but even if he thrives, it still leaves a major void down the Golden Knights depth chart. It would almost certainly force the Golden Knights to bring back Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and/or Ryan Carpenter, and it might even lead to Tomas Nosek becoming a full-time center.

Otherwise, we’re looking at T.J. Tynan (UFA), Gage Quinney, or Brooks Macek (UFA) from within the system or someone from the outside coming in. Realistically, we’re talking about a player like Marcus Johansson, Colin Wilson, Ryan Dzingel, or Tyler Ennis. And even then, the price may be too high as the Golden Knights would be looking for a bargain.

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For Brandon Pirri “It’s All About Opportunity” This Offseason

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Brandon Pirri was one of the best stories in the entire NHL this season. He went from being passed over in favor of Stefan Matteau, Tomas Hyka, Reid Duke, Paul Thompson, and Daniel Carr to becoming a fan favorite, scoring seven goals in his first eight games and nearly cracking the Golden Knights top 10 in goals scored in franchise history.

A player who has always been regarded as an offensive threat but a defensive liability got his call back to the NHL on December 18th, 2018. He would not play another AHL game the rest of the year, and would eventually draw into the Golden Knights lineup for the most important game of the year, Game 7 in San Jose.

Looking back I’m really proud of myself. I wasn’t supposed to be on this team. I think there were four or five forwards called up before me. I finally got the opportunity and I made the most of it. -Brandon Pirri

But now, Pirri is an unrestricted free agent, and he’s in a much better bargaining position than he was either of the previous two offseasons when he signed one-year league minimum deals with the Golden Knights.

Instead, he’s now a 12 goal scorer in 31 games. He proved he was able to force his way onto one of the best rosters in the NHL and into the lineup at the most crucial time. This offseason he’ll be viewed a potential diamond in the rough, rather than an AHLer with potential upside.

What is he looking for in his next contract? One very specific thing.

Opportunity, it’s all about opportunity. -Pirri

He wants a chance to play in the NHL for good.

I controlled what I can control this year and I did get an opportunity and I proved myself. I’m not going to be given anything, I’ve never been giving anything. -Pirri

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Center Or Winger? Erik Haula’s Position Determines VGK’s Future Roster

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Coming into the 2018-19 season the Golden Knights appeared to be overloaded at the center position. With William Karlsson centering the top line, Stastny on the second, and Cody Eakin, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Erik Haula all options for the final two lines, Gerard Gallant was not short on choices. When the dust settled, Haula wound up being the odd-man out being pushed to the wing to play with Stastny and Max Pacioretty.

However, Gallant never had a full roster of players to work as Alex Tuch was missing for the first eight games, and by the time he returned, Stastny had gone out with a major injury. So, we don’t know exactly what may have happened had the Golden Knights been fully healthy. All indications through training camp, preseason, and the beginning of year indicated the plan was to use Haula as a winger, but a quick rash of injuries forced Haula back into the center until he was eventually lost for the season in early November.

As we head into 2019-20, there’s a possibility of some change in regards to the center position. Bellemare is an unrestricted free agent, former #6 overall pick Cody Glass could potentially fight for a roster spot in camp, and Haula still has to prove he’s fully healed from his brutal knee injury.

Aside from center though, the Golden Knights have much more depth on the wings now than they did heading into Year 2. With the additions of Mark Stone and Nikita Gusev, the Golden Knights now have nine legitimate top-six quality forwards. But, depending on Erik Haula’s position, they may only have two centers of those nine (Karlsson and Stastny).

On locker cleanout day, we asked Haula about returning to center. The words that came out of his mouth were not exactly telling, but the way they were delivered certainly made it seem as though he views himself as a center.

That’s… yeah that’s something that I need to talk about, but yeah that’s my… Possibly. I don’t know. I don’t know yet exactly, so just focus on getting to 100 (percent) then figure that out. -Haula

It’s an important decision for the Golden Knights as their lines would look drastically different with Haula as the 3rd center or as part of a group of seven stellar wings.

Haula as Center

Haula as Wing

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