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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Author: Ken Boehlke Page 2 of 212

Examining Each Golden Knights Quality Of Competition Faced

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the most powerful tools to measure a hockey player’s importance to a team is by examining how often his coach puts him on the ice. The simple idea is that the coach will play his best players for the most minutes, against the toughest competition, and in the most important situations.

There are all sorts of variables that affect different players’ overall numbers which makes breaking down time on ice very challenging. It’s easy to see who plays the most overall, at even-strength, or on special teams, but who plays against the opposition’s best players, that’s a lot tougher to spot.

Luckily, there are incredibly smart people in the hockey community that dedicate insane amounts of time to figuring it out. One such person is Patrick Bacon (@TopDownHockey). Patrick derived a complex mathematical formula to calculate the quality of every NHL players’ competition using opponent’s ice time. (Here’s the formula if you are interested.)

To dumb it down, this formula uses the fundamental concept that the best players play the most. Thus, the more ice time the players you share the ice with see, the better the quality of competition you’ve faced. For example, if a player plays a majority of his shifts against Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who both average nearly 22 minutes a night, his TOIQoC% will be much higher than his teammate who saw most of his ice time against Jujhar Khaira and Sam Gagner, who each average around 14.

The reason these numbers can be so interesting is that they give a peek into the minds of the coaching staff making the decisions. NHL coaches don’t always have the ability to match lines and pairs with the matchups they prefer perfectly, but they are able to get them more often than not. Despite Pete DeBoer’s weird infatuation with starting the 4th line every night, both he and Gerard Gallant were meticulous in setting up the matchups they preferred over the course of the Golden Knights first three seasons.

The numbers speak for themselves, but I’ll do some talking for them after you see the chart. You can sort each season by double-clicking the year at the top. The higher numbers indicate stronger quality of competition.

**For the entire league, check out Patrick’s Tableau page.**

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Henderson Silver Knights Unveil Jerseys

The Henderson Silver Knights have revealed their first jerseys. The jerseys are available at Lifeguard Arena (Livery), as well as at City National Arena (Arsenal), and T-Mobile Arena (Armory).

*All images are courtesy of the Vegas Golden Knights.*

5 Knights To Sparkle In Silver This Year

The Henderson Silver Knights take center stage this week with the unveiling of their jerseys today, the opening of Lifeguard Arena tomorrow, and an open house at The Orleans on Friday and Saturday.

The current plan is for the AHL season to start on February 5th with the Silver Knights playing in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference (the Wolves were in the Central).

There’s still a lot to be determined as to exactly how the Henderson roster will look when they play their first game at Orleans Arena, but here are five lesser-known Silver Knights to keep an eye on.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jonas Rondbjerg

Rondbjerg was impressive in Development Camp in 2019 and followed it up by playing well early in training camp before being re-assigned. The Danish forward only played one game in the AHL before breaking his arm and missing the rest of the year. This year, he’ll look to rebound and put up the season that was expected from him last year. He’s a two-way forward who is an excellent forechecker and has enough finishing ability to turn defensive errors into goals. As long as he’s not a different player following the injury, he should push to become the yo-yo player this year at the bottom of the VGK depth-chart.

Ryan Murphy

Returning from a season in Russia, the former 1st round pick (12th overall in 2011) boasts an NHL resume matched by no one on the projected Silver Knights roster. Murphy has played 175 NHL games, just 20 short of his 195 AHL games. He was an alternate captain and played nearly 20 minutes per night for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk. He’ll have a lot of younger defensemen to hold off for playing time in Henderson, but there’s no way Manny Viveiros will be able to keep Murphy out of his lineup. He was a sneaky good signing by the Golden/Silver Knights, and it’s not out of the question he comes into VGK camp and pushes for a spot on the big club.

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SinBin.vegas Podcast #211: The Livery

We try to stay focused on hockey while wandering off into jousting, Halloween, horses, among other topics. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • The Henderson Horsie practice pen is opening soon
  • Jousting
  • Improving on the team through top six/top four additions
  • Stamkos FTW?

And much more…

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

Line/Pair Deployment In Playoffs Under Gallant vs. DeBoer

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the bigger changes expected with Pete DeBoer taking over for Gerard Gallant was a little more reliance on top players as opposed to rolling four lines and three pairs.

We expected to see a lot more Mark Stone, Shea Theodore, and William Karlsson, while less Nick Holden, Ryan Reaves, and Tomas Nosek. In the regular season, we saw just that with the defensemen, but the forwards actually saw their TOI decrease slightly after the coaching change.

The playoffs are a different animal though, one where coaching decisions are magnified. The largest of coaching decisions is deployment, which players play when and for how long. The expectation was there would be more of a hierarchy under DeBoer than Gallant, while in reality, there were slight changes, but not what you might expect.

 2019 (Gallant)2020 (DeBoer)Difference
1st Line31.0%31.0%0.00
2nd Line29.3%27.9%-1.46
3rd Line24.6%25.1%0.52
4th Line15.1%16.0%0.94
1st Pair36.0%37.9%1.91
2nd Pair35.7%36.4%0.78
3rd Pair28.3%25.6%-2.69

Both DeBoer and Gallant used the Pacioretty/Stone line (which was centered by Stastny in 2019 and Karlsson in 2020) for exactly 31% of the game. That’s a little less than 19 minutes per night.

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Carl Dahlstrom Will Get His Chance To Make VGK Roster In Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The first domino in the Golden Knights offseason was the trade of Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets. It was widely regarded as a salary dump as Vegas got out from under Stastny’s $6.5 million contract to help pave the way for the signing of Alex Pietrangelo.

In that trade though the Golden Knights acquired a player, 25-year-old Swedish defenseman Carl Dahlstrom.

There’s an argument to be made that Dahlstrom became a Golden Knight, or really a Silver Knight, because of his $900,000 one-way contract. (That means he gets paid $900k whether he’s in the NHL or AHL, a cost many NHL franchises aren’t looking to incur on AHL players.) But, what if he’s more than that.

Dahlstrom was a 2nd round pick (51st overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2013. From 2014-16 he was one of the more reliable defense-first defensemen in the entire SHL. Then, when he came to North America, he’s bounced between the AHL and the NHL.

Standing 6’4″ tall and weighing 231 pounds, Dahlstrom is the largest skater on the Golden Knights (only Lehner is bigger at 240 pounds). His skating is certainly above average for a player of his size and he’s been reliable enough in his own end during his 64 game career. Primarily a player that starts his shifts in the defensive zone, Dahlstrom’s Corsi has been above 50% in two of his three seasons in the NHL.

The Golden Knights are going to be up against the cap for as long as Marc-Andre Fleury remains on the roster. So, they’ll always be looking for affordable, usable options to fill rosters spots, especially early on. Dahlstrom joins a group of less than $1 million per year defensemen including Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jake Bischoff, Brayden Pachal, and Jimmy Schuldt.

It’s probably unlikely he can wrestle a spot away from Whitecloud, but if he can be at least close to Nick Holden, the difference in salary could be his ticket to playing for the Golden Knights.

In the end, it’s probably safe to say Dahlstrom will spend a majority of his time in Henderson horsing around with the Silver Knights, but even despite the lack of interest he garnered following the trade, he’s going to be given a shot and the front office will be cheering for him to run with it.

Pairing With Pietrangelo – 5 Options For The Golden Knights Blue Line

Adding Alex Pietrangelo changes the look of any defensive unit in the NHL. It’s no different for the Golden Knights who through the years have seen quite the morphing of their blue line.

Vegas will head into 2020-21 with just one remaining starter from their inaugural game in Dallas, two from the Cup Final roster, and three from last year’s Opening Night.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2017-18 Opening Night

Sbisa-Schmidt
McNabb-Engelland
Garrison-Miller

2018 Stanley Cup Final Game 1

McNabb-Schmidt
Theodore-Engelland
Sbisa-Miller

2018-19 Opening Night

Theodore-Engelland
McNabb-Miller
Merrill-Holden
*Schmidt Suspended

2019-20 Opening Night

McNabb-Schmidt
Merrill-Theodore
Holden-Engelland

How they run it out for 2020-21 is still to be determined, but the options are fairly minimal. Three of the six projected starters are absolutely locked into one side of the defense with a fourth basically a foregone conclusion. The three are Pietrangelo (right), McNabb (left), and Whitecloud (right). Theodore is the fourth, he played 90 of 91 games on the right side last season, including the playoffs.

That leaves just a few moveable pieces thus limiting the combinations Pete DeBoer has to work with. Here are each of the possible options, starting with the one most likely to be used by the Golden Knights when they open the 2020-21 season.

Option 1
McNabb-Pietrangelo
Martinez-Theodore
Holden-Whitecloud

This combination leaves two pairs intact from the playoff run and slots Pietrangelo in with a good fit in McNabb to play first pair minutes. Martinez has shown to be a great option with Theodore and the Holden/Whitecloud pair have held the fort on the third pair. The main question with this grouping would be how much McNabb holds back Pietrangelo’s offense. At times, Schmidt’s offense was neutered a bit playing with McNabb as they found themselves hemmed in the defensive zone against the opposing top line. Pietrangelo is an upgrade over Schmidt which should help that issue, but he wasn’t brought to Vegas to spend a majority of his shifts trying to exit the zone. The Golden Knights want offense from Pietrangelo, and if it’s not coming in bunches with McNabb by his side, they won’t hesitate to switch things around. Probability: 80%

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2020-21 Pressure Index: Defensemen, Goalies, Coach, Front Office

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday we tackled the Pressure Index for the forwards, now we move on to the rest of the roster and the front office.

Alex Pietrangelo

The Golden Knights franchise is not new to working in new players, and more recently, new stars. Some have thrived immediately, others have taken some time. With Pietrangelo, he’s going to have to have it figured out pretty quickly or this team is going to struggle along with him. Dealing with the new environment, first time with a new team, and the pressure to perform having signed the mega-deal all add up to the new guy feeling some heat, but he’ll have plenty of built-in excuses plus $61 million to relieve a lot of it. Pressure Index: 5

Brayden McNabb

The likely partner for Vegas’ newest superstar has been one of the steadiest players in Golden Knights history. It’s hard to believe anyone would be a bad match for Pietrangelo but any failures Alex has early will be blamed at least in part on his partner. Throw in the fact that as a pair they’ll be playing against the opposition’s best players every night and likely starting a majority of their shifts in the D-zone and it’s a tall task for anyone. Simply put, McNabb has to have a great season or his place as VGK’s most reliable defensemen will be lost quickly. Pressure Index: 6

Shea Theodore

No one has higher expectations for the 2020-21 season than Shea. After a masterful postseason most believe Theodore’s name should be in the mix for the Norris trophy this year. The statistical expectations most have for Theodore are probably unrealistic though. He was able to post 19 points in 20 games in the playoffs which leads many to believe he should be pushing 80 points in the regular season. His career-high is just 46 in 71 games. Maybe he can reach the insane numbers he’ll be projected for, but more than likely he’ll be looking at about a 50 point season with 10-15 goals. He needs to drive offense consistently for this team to succeed. There’s no reason to believe he won’t, but the weight of expectations will be heavy. Pressure Index: 8

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2020-21 Pressure Index: Forwards

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The weight of expectations is often the determining factor of success and failure in professional sports. In Year 1, the Golden Knights had absolutely no expectations and they helped ride that wave of pressure-free hockey all the way to the Cup Final. The following year, the pressure ramped up a bit as they had to prove they weren’t a fluke. They did it, but it still ended sadly. Then, last year, the expectations were at an all-time high, with something close to a Cup-or-Bust mentality. They reached the Western Conference Final, a success for most teams, but it felt like a missed opportunity because of the preseason expectations.

Now, they are all in on the Cup, and the pressure has risen not only on the team as a whole, but on plenty of individuals. New titles, big contracts, elevated roles, and high expectations will have a lot of players feeling the heat coming into the Golden Knights’ fourth season.

To illustrate the pressure on each player I’ve ranked them from 1-10 with 10 being the most pressure and 1 being the least. First, we start with the forwards. Tomorrow we’ll complete the roster with the defensemen, goalies, coach, and GM.

William Karlsson

With a full season between Stone and Pacioretty, it would be awfully difficult for Karlsson to be the problem. As long as he holds down the fort defensively and doesn’t get destroyed in the circle he’ll have the typical strong year we’ve come to expect from him. The contract is fair as long as he’s the only truly reliable center on the team. He has almost no pressure on him at all, but he is the #1 center on a team that doesn’t really have much behind him, so there’s got to be a little. Pressure Index: 3

Mark Stone

Assuming he’s named captain, which we expect to happen near the beginning of camp, he’ll be under the most pressure of his career this season. He has to continue performing at a near point per game pace, he needs to be on the ice for 18+ minutes a night every single night, and if the going gets tough, he’s going to be the one they look at to pull them out. Team performance is where the pressure lies on Stone. If they are good, he’s in the clear, but if they aren’t that C might as well be a bullseye for where people point to the problems. Pressure Index: 9

Max Pacioretty

Max is coming off a tremendous regular season on which he led the team in scoring, but then the injury bug hit and he disappeared at the biggest time in the playoffs. The pressure on him is simply to score. He needs to get to 30 goals (or the equivalent if the season is shortened), otherwise that $7 million cap hit is going to look like a major burden on a contending team. Pressure Index: 8

Cody Glass

It’s not really, because he’s just 21-years-old, but it really feels like it’s now-or-never for Glass. The Golden Knights have moved out two useable centers in Paul Stastny and Erik Haula over the past two years and replaced them with virtually nothing leaving the job wide open for Glass. He’s going to get his chance. He has to stay healthy and he has to look like a bonafide #2 center in the NHL. If he doesn’t, he’ll fly down the depth chart, likely end up back on the wing, and will certainly look like a bust if Stephenson and Roy are clearly outperforming him. Pressure Index: 8

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VGK And The 2021 World Junior Championships

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the NHL’s next season, there is meaningful hockey on the horizon. The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship starts on Christmas Day and multiple Golden Knights prospects will be there participating.

The tournament is scheduled to be played inside the Edmonton bubble from December 25th to January 5th.

The Golden Knights have five players with a chance at participating.

Peyton Krebs
Canada

Krebs participated in camp with Team Canada ahead of last year’s World Juniors. Having just returned from his Achilles injury Krebs was left off the final roster that ultimately went on to win the gold medal. This year, Krebs will be a focal point to the Canadian roster, likely centering one of its top two lines.

Team Canada will be stacked this year with a host of 1st round picks that will include the 2nd overall pick in this past Draft, Quinton Byfield, and may even include the #1 selection, Alexis Lafreniere as well.

No matter how it all shakes out though, this will be Golden Knights fans first chance to see the most important prospect in the VGK system play meaningful high-level competition.

Kaedan Korczak
Canada

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It would be a surprise if Korczak misses out on the final roster but his role on the team is very much in question. There are six 1st round pick defensemen that have been selected to the initial 46-man Team Canada roster. But, only two, Bowen Byram and Thomas Harley, were selected in the 2019 Draft with Korczak.

Being older and right-handed will likely give Korczak a leg up but these are still tough waters to navigate to get significant playing time on a roster brimming with talent.

Hopefully, for the Golden Knights sake, he has a strong camp in November and the claims a spot for the important group stage games in late December.

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