On the eve of Training Camp, we talk about Nic Hague’s pending holdout. Plus, we touch on Mark Stone’s status, highlight some standouts from the Rookie Faceoff, and discuss the top storylines heading into camp.
Author: Ken Boehlke Page 2 of 280
Injuries. They’re story that have followed former #2 overall pick Nolan Patrick for longer than anyone would have ever wanted.
It goes all the way back to his early days in the Western Hockey League. It started the very first year after he was drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings. While playing with the Winnipeg Thrashers in 2013-14, Patrick was summoned to join the Wheat Kings due to a rash of injuries the team was having. However, a shoulder injury kept Patrick from heading to Brandon.
The following year, 2014-15, Patrick missed 17 games of his rookie season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. He was able to play every game in his second season in Brandon but underwent surgery for a sports hernia after year concluded. That same injury lingered into the 2016-17 season as Patrick missed nearly half the season with complications from the surgery.
Then, after being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, Patrick stepped right into the NHL as 19-year-old and managed to pot 13 goals and 30 points in 73 games. He missed just nine games his rookie year and ten the following. Things took a turn for the worse after his second season though.
Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder that was described as “not related to hockey,” but instead something that was hereditary. This caused him to miss the entire 2019-20 season. He appeared close to returning prior to the COVID shutdown in March 2020, but when the league started back up, he was not on the Philadelphia roster.
That meant 650 days had elapsed between NHL appearances when Patrick stepped on the ice again for the Flyers on January 13th, 2021. He was in the lineup for 52 of the next 56 games, only missing a few after taking a puck to the ear from a teammate’s shot.
Next, he was traded to the Golden Knights, where the hope was that he’d get a brand new start in the NHL. Unfortunately, Patrick suffered an upper-body injury on October 22nd in Vegas’ fourth game of the year. He returned to action just as the calendar turned to 2022, missing 30 games along the way.
A little more than a month later, Patrick took a nasty hit to the head from Nathan MacKinnon. This was described as a concussion and kept him out for a little less than a month. Finally, on March 24th, Patrick left the game against the Predators in the 1st period and did not return the rest of the season.
This summer, the update on Patrick from Kelly McCrimmon was focused much more on Patrick’s well-being off the ice.
I talked to Nolan a couple of weeks ago and there’s no significant progress. He’s got a couple of things that they are working with our medical team they are going to look at doing to hopefully move this along. When these injuries linger you really have to boil it down to just life stuff. Just get to the point where everyday life starts to feel normal again. Then, when you get to that point you can talk about what lies ahead. I think right now focusing on hockey is putting the cart ahead of the horse. Some stability with day-to-day is what we are shooting for first and then we’ll see what happens after that. -McCrimmon on July 14th, 2022
A few days ago, on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman expounded.
I had heard a rumor in the summer that Nolan Patrick was going to retire and I was told that’s not the case. Nolan Patrick has a salary for this year of $1.2 million, so there’s no point in him retiring as he has a salary to collect. I don’t really want to editorialize other than I wish him the best, but I think there are a lot of people who would be surprised to see him play this year, and they wonder about his future as well. Hopefully, everything works out for him. -Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast
Obviously, the most important piece of all of this is the health of the player at hand. No matter the ramifications for the team on the ice, no one ever wants to see a player’s life impacted off it.
That being said, it appears the Golden Knights will have to plan on not having Patrick available any time this year, and possibly never again. Patrick’s contract expires at the end of this season when he becomes a restricted free agent.
The Golden Knights rookies finished off the annual Rookie Faceoff tournament in San Jose with a record of 1-1-1, winning on Friday against Arizona. Most VGK prospects participated in two games with a few hitting the ice for all three. Goalie Jesper Vikman started the second two games while Isaiah Saville played the first and came on halfway through the third.
We’ll have a full update to the SinBin Prospect Rankings towards the end of main training camp, so for now let’s just highlight a few guys whose stock is rising and a few whose stock is falling.
Prior to this tournament in his time with the Golden Knights, the 6th round pick was most known for representing Ukraine at the most recent Draft. After this tournament, he’s should be known much more for what he does on the ice than where he’s from off it. Cholach looked like a dominant shutdown defenseman in all three games. Each of the first two games he was paired with an offensive-minded defenseman and he held down the fort as his partner ventured forward. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s positionally sound.
The most notable aspect of Hemmerling’s game this weekend was his motor. Quite simply, he never stops. You can find him busting his butt all over the ice trying to make the next play no matter how far away he is from the puck. There’s still a ways to go in his offensive game, but the groundwork is there. Playing against him has to be such a pain.
New coach, new system. That will be the main focus of the Golden Knights training camp when it opens next week. It’s not just the NHL-level players that are being drilled on the ins and outs of how Bruce Cassidy likes his teams to play hockey though. The Golden Knights plan on running the system as soon as in the rookie games in San Jose this weekend.
You’re not going to see his system midseason form, just like you probably won’t see that in the first or second exhibition game, it’s going to take some time and reps. But yes we are trying to implement some of the teaching points and some of the language he uses. We’re going to try to implement it as much as we can without it being too much. -Wil Nichol, Director of Player Development
The Golden Knights rookies, including first round picks Brendan Brisson and Zach Dean, and a few other NHL hopefuls like Kaedan Korczak and Ivan Morozov will play three games this weekend at the Sharks’ brand new practice facility.
Vegas’ first game is tonight at 4:30, then they take the ice again tomorrow at 2:00 and Monday at 12:30.
There’s a new system, so we needed to go over that. Especially for the guys who will more on to the main camp, we kind of need to know the system, so there was a lot of learning today. -Zach Dean
Cassidy’s system calls for keeping pucks to the outside, limiting high danger chances, and making zone entries difficult by stacking the blue line. Also, the hybrid zone defense is a bit of a change from the high-pressure overload style the Golden Knights are used to. But, both Nichol and Dean said it’s not a radical change from what they have been doing.
In the end, it’s hockey. You have the system, but you have to read the play as well. It’s not overly different, it’s a little bit, but you still have to play hockey and read the play. -Dean
Things like pressure points, where you pressure and where you don’t are the main difference. -Nichol
Typically, rookie games are a bit frantic, so it’s likely not going to be the best indicator of exactly how the systems will look when they are operating at peak form. Nonetheless, it is the first opportunity to start seeing some of the differences and keeping an eye on how VGK’s future adapts to them.
Last season the Golden Knights missed the playoffs. This offseason they traded away Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan and watched Mattias Janmark leave in free agency. Then, they found out starting goalie Robin Lehner will be out for the season after undergoing double hip surgery.
The combination of all of this has many believing the team not only is no longer a true Cup contender, but wondering if they are even a playoff team at all anymore.
The Golden Knights captain has taken notice of these opinions.
That’s fine. People can think what they want. After spending the summer in Canada, you wouldn’t believe how often I was told how bad we were. It’s great. I like that. All of a sudden we’re David instead of Goliath. It’s alright. I believe in this team. I believe in the guys, I believe in the leadership. –Mark Stone to Gary Lawless on NHL.com
So has the presumptive starting goalie.
It was too long of an offseason for us, and I think we’re hungry. The whole hockey world is doubting us right now, so we’re looking forward to getting back at it and showing people wrong, proving people wrong. It’s similar to how my career is, everyone has always pushed me to the side. I like it for our group, like I said we’re going to come out hot and hopefully prove a lot of people wrong. –Logan Thompson to Fox 5 Las Vegas
Even Jack Eichel got in on the action, seeing himself listed at #41 on NHL Network’s top 100 players list.
Obviously, I haven’t put a lot on tape over the last two years so I’m not going to argue with that. Do I think I’m the 41st best player in the NHL? No, but I don’t care about their rankings. –Eichel to Gary Lawless on NHL.com
It appears the Golden Knights are officially past the woe-is-me stage and are into the fiesty, almost angry, prove-you-wrong phase many non-playoff teams go through.
Vegas isn’t used to missing the playoffs and they really aren’t used to entering a season anything other than the Pacific Division favorites and Stanley Cup favorites.
They are neither this year and it appears to have struck a nerve with the roster. To a degree, it’s similar to the first season when the team banded together under the Misfits moniker. That team had an axe to grind with every team in the NHL and they made it their mission to embarrass as many as they could. This team seems to have its anger more pointed towards the rest of the world, which could be even more powerful.
The Golden Knights are confident in themselves and they are confident enough to take on all those who challenge them head-on. Now they need to do what the Misfits did and transfer that energy to the ice.
Of course, we know about the power play and we’ve detailed a bit about the new “goalie-friendly” zone defense structure the Golden Knights will run under Bruce Cassidy, but today we got another tidbit into the changes we can expect to Vegas’ systems under the new bench boss.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Jesse Granger, Cassidy expounded a bit on why he believes his defensive system helps goalies. One of his explanations actually starts before the puck ever gets near the blue paint.
When I say goaltender-friendly, we want to protect the high danger and slot chances that are more difficult stops. So we’re going to try to minimize those opportunities. Some of those are odd-man rushes, breakaways, two-on-ones. We’ll take less risk in our game through the neutral zone. –Bruce Cassidy to The Athletic
As different as the Golden Knights are expected to look with the man-advantage and when defending their own zone, this might be the biggest change to the way they will play.
Defensively, under both Gerard Gallant and Pete DeBoer, Vegas were aggressive in the neutral zone. They did it in different ways under each coach, but each demanded high pressure through the center of the ice.
Last year, DeBoer adopted the popular 1-1-3 neutral zone “trap” that helped the Tampa Bay Lightning hoist back-to-back Stanley Cups. The idea was to make entries incredibly difficult against the Golden Knights while also baiting opposing teams into turnovers that would feed the Vegas rush. The year prior, most notably in the Colorado series, Vegas hounded puck carriers at both the center (red) and defensive (blue) lines to force the other team into skating through players or dumping the puck in. Under Gallant, odd-numbered pressure in the neutral zone forced uncomfortable, or in some cases unwinnable, situations for opposing forwards leading to turnovers and a feeling of Vegas pressure coming in waves.
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter has been around the NHL for a long time. He’s heading into his 22nd season as a head coach, has won multiple Stanley Cups, led four different teams to the playoffs, and posted a winning record with every franchise he’s been with.
The change he’s had on the Flames has been impressive seeing them go from missing the playoffs to posting 111 points last season before being dispatched in the second round by the Edmonton Oilers.
Sutter is an old-school head coach. He believes in many of the long-standing traditions in the game of hockey and his no-nonsense yet almost aloof-sounding attitude makes him one of a kind. There’s no questioning his knowledge of the sport and what it takes to win in today’s game though.
Lucky for us, he’s willing to share exactly what he thinks it takes. In an extended sit-down with Sportsnet’s “The Big Show” Sutter was asked a myriad of questions about the team he currently coaches. Many of them were about his new players and the wild offseason his team just went through, but along the way he mentioned three different aspects of the game he believes a team must have to win the Cup.
Bottom line is we were not good enough at center ice. It showed up in the playoffs. The top teams in this division are three centermen deep and it really exposed us. –Darryl Sutter to Sportsnet’s The Big Show
Sutter was speaking about the importance of his team adding Nazem Kadri to go along with Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund.
Since the addition of Jack Eichel, the Golden Knights are strong down the middle. William Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson will likely begin the season as the next two centers, but the option to use Nic Roy or Brett Howden gives the team even more flexibility.
Historically, center has been a bit of a weak spot for Vegas with Karlsson clearly filling the role as the team’s best. With him slotting down to 2nd or even 3rd best, VGK can go toe to toe with just about anyone. Also, the Golden Knights have a nice mix of players including an insanely talented scorer, a lockdown defender, and a speedster.
Next, Sutter pointed to the blue line.
Everyone loves a good hot take, so I’m here to provide a few of them using a format I’m borrowing from NFL Network’s Fantasy Live show. First, I’ll give my four predictions, and then I’ll share some of the best ones we got from our Discord server. Then, I want to see some from you all in the comments.
Call me crazy, but Keegan Kolesar will score more goals than Phil Kessel this season
Despite converting at a dismal 7.4% shooting rate, Kolesar still found a way to notch seven goals in his 77 appearances with the Golden Knights last year. He was constantly around the net and showed on multiple occasions he has the talent to score difficult goals. At some point, the floodgates are going to open for him and he’ll start scoring at a much more “normal” rate for NHLers. That would mean somewhere closer to 10%. I’d honestly be a bit surprised if Kolesar doesn’t hit double-digits this year and 15 or so is not out of the question.
Which brings us to the other side of the coin, Kessel. It’s mostly about the situation I expect him to find himself in as the season progresses. I just can’t see a 35-year-old suddenly committing to defense, which will lead to a decrease in minutes for a team trying to win games. He’ll probably end up struggling to get to 10 minutes and night and it wouldn’t shock me at all if he draws out of the lineup from time to time after he breaks the ironman record. His passing will still be there, so I’d suspect he can reach 30 to 40 points, which Kolesar may not, but the goal scoring is not going to jump as much as many believe.
Recording from Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, we dig into the newest moves to the roster, Mark Stone’s injury outlook, and wonder if expectations need to be altered to give a better sense of what this upcoming season will be about. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.
- Not 100% = Concern
- William Hill odds have VGK 3rd in the Pacific
- Cassidy vs Management on when to win
- New center circle
- Go Aces!
- SIGN UP FOR BINBALL!!! https://bbbsn.org/binball
And much more…
Training Camp is right around the corner. Trust me, it actually is, the long wait is so close to being over. With it a number of questions will begin to be answered for the Golden Knights. From lineup to systems to personnel to health, much of the picture will start to clear up every day we get closer to October 11th.
Until then, we must rely on snippets of information from the most important people in the organization, and recently we got some from the general manager. Speaking on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, Kelly McCrimmon dipped into the latest on Mark Stone’s health, contract negotiations with Nic Hague, and the goalie picture.
First, on Stone. A few days prior to Stone’s surgery at a press conference McCrimmon shared the news of what they expected the offseason to look like for the captain.
Mark Stone has been seeing consultants and meeting with doctors and it appears quite likely he’ll have back surgery on Wednesday. He would be available for Training Camp and rehab over that period of time. That’s not 100% for certain but it’s certainly the most likely outcome at this time. -McCrimmon on May 16th
Three days later, following the surgery, the team released this statement via Twitter.
Mark Stone underwent a successful lumbar discectomy with Dr. Robert Watkins, IV at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital. He is expected to be ready to play for the regular season. -Golden Knights Official Statement
McCrimmon has spoken a few times and reiterated the expected timeline of Stone returning to the team for the first game of the season. In the interview with Fox Sports Radio, McCrimmon continued along the same path.
No different than what we’ve been saying all along. Mark’s in town, he’s skating. Our expectation is that he’s going to be available for the opening of the season. What that means exactly with respect to training camp, we’ll see. When you have these offseason surgeries, Laurent Brossoit is another one, really you don’t have that definitive timeline until the players get here, they get with the medical team, you see how they respond to certain treatments to certain levels of intensity. There’s a reason that teams at times appear to be vague with respect to timelines on injuries because it’s hard to pinpoint. My answers I’m giving here today are exactly I think as what we’ve said throughout the offseason and that’s the information we’re working with and the expectations we have. So that’s how we’ll play it out and once we get on the ice and see how players react that are coming off injuries or surgeries or lengthy rehabs we’ll know more at that time. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show
So, it still appears Stone is on track to be in uniform with the team on October 11th, but his availability to start Training Camp on September 24th remains in doubt.
On to the next order of business, restricted free agent Nic Hague.