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Bubbles Offered Unique Challenges And Benefits In Player Evaluation

Aside from the format of the 16 team tournament, not much about the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was like any year in the past. As hard as the NHL tried, and they made the absolute best of the situation they could, the culmination of this season will always be viewed as an outlier.

That shouldn’t be used to take anything away from the team that ultimately wins, nor the players who put in the effort to make the playoffs the best they could be. But, simply put, this postseason was completely different in so many ways that moving forward, while it shouldn’t have an asterisk in the record books, it absolutely should in terms of player evaluation.

Likely there will be some players that struggled with the challenge of the bubble a little bit more than others and there might be a handful of players that having no distractions and only hockey to worry it about helped. -Kelly McCrimmon

The 2020 Playoffs offered different challenges both mentally and physically than any other in the league’s 100+ year history. It’s impossible to put a value on the sum of all of these aspects, but it’s clear it must be considered when projecting future performance.

58 or 59 days is a long time. It’s a hard situation to describe to somebody unless you are there doing it… I think in general terms it’s always a body of work you use when you make decisions on players and we have a pretty good takeaway of what players actually were by the time we were done our work there. -McCrimmon

This is much more likely to be used in giving a player a pass for a poor playoff season as opposed to praising a breakout year. Everyone who watched the Golden Knights in the playoffs this season knows there were a handful of guys who didn’t quite play to the level we’ve come to expect.

The challenge for the front office lies in weighing those underwhelming performances against the “body of work” they’ve seen historically from each player.

Decisions must be made every offseason and they’re never easy, but this one is set to be especially tricky due to the oddity of the 2020 Playoffs. In that way, the bubble may offer one of the greatest player evaluation challenges front offices have ever faced, however, there was one major benefit the bubbles did offer in that respect.

We had a buffet of hockey literally five minutes from the door of your hotel room to watch all these teams playing playoff hockey and I personally took a lot out of it. It was a good opportunity for us to look at the reports our pro scouts have in the system on certain players and we had the takeaway of how good our pro staff is doing based on what they say these players were is exactly what we saw. -McCrimmon

More than 50 games were played in the Edmonton bubble while the Golden Knights were there. That included games from 11 other teams all during the best time to evaluate players, the playoffs when the games matter most.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have a knack for using in-person viewings to find hidden gems on other rosters. Nic Roy and Patrick Brown, both members of the Charlotte Checkers team that beat the Chicago Wolves, Chandler Stephenson found his way to the Golden Knights after his line was crucial in defeating Vegas in the Cup Final, and it took a while, VGK’s familiarity with Alec Martinez certainly made an impact in that acquisition at this year’s trade deadline.

They’ll have plenty to choose from this time around, but they have to be careful because no matter how much hockey they got to watch, it was still bubble hockey, something we hopefully should never see again.


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  1. Tim

    Not being in the bubble we have no idea how hard it was and who it affected the most. Kelly and George who I now refer to as the Splash Brothers for the following reasons. They like the big signing Stone, Patch, Lehner, and you can bet Pietrangelo will be next.

  2. THE hockey GOD

    impressed that they managed to do , what none of other major US sports accomplished: containing the virus without losing a game.

    Well done, when people listen and follow the rules (. Unlike in USA where you have half the brain dead people walking around burning things, looting, stealing, shooting, etc. Need I say more ? )

    • The hockey god – Probably, no actually the most relevant post l have seen on this site. There is only one real God to have a capital G and l am absolutely sure it’s not you. But your post was dead on.

  3. VGK Fan

    There was always something about Ken’s view that didn’t sit right. The answer came on a podcast, what are you best at…Ken’s answer…..Bowling and FIFA video games. It hit me, Ken has never played a real sport at any competitive level. He’s only really watched and analyzed hockey for 3 years but never played. Credit to you for the time you have put in learning the sport. On the flip side you have no idea what it’s like playing a sport at the collegiate or professional level. I went from playing college to pros to coaching. I feel like you think you could get behind the bench and make better decisions than Deboer has made. I love everything VGK, I listened and read everything you did because I can’t get enough. Then you started into goalie controversy (Fleury makes 7 million a year, he will be ok he’s a pro) to how the organization lies to the fan base…VGK is a business, a very successful one at that. They are all business decisions in the end, no different then Apple or google making decisions. You just seem to take it personal, like they are lying to you. They really don’t need to tell us anything they just need to win. Blaming management or coaching because a former series got in the goal scorers heads would only come from someone who has no experience in pro level competition. You have been so negative since the bubble I just can’t listen or read anymore. It’s a shame, I want to consume everything VGK.

    • Kodiak

      You do know that statement about getting into there heads came from the coach and not Ken. Your comparisons to apple and google is so far off its unbelievable. You talk about knowing what your reporting on, its apparent just because you played a sport that makes you an expert on hockey and how it runs. No it makes you are spoiled athlete who still thinks that the sun rises and sets an your ass. Guess what your time in the spotlight is over and nobody cares what you think about hockey because the difference between hockey and baseball are night and day. You are right about one thing sports is a ruthless business and there is no loyalty to players including you I’m sure. But as you say you are everything VGK and that comes with being passionate for your team and its players. No fans don’t look at the business because to them it is personal. There is enough cold hearted pricks in the front offices, let the fans be fans. As with all sports its the fans that create the hero’s and villain’s and I sincerely hope they don’t change. That is what makes the fan experience so great and people like Ken need to continue allowing those fans to be just that FANS!!!!!

  4. Tim

    VGK Fan no idea what sport you were involved in my mine was baseball I played and coached all my life. Your right about one thing a sport is a sport and the principle is the same

    VGK Fan you played college to pro ball what sport was that if I may ask.

    • VGK Fan

      It was baseball. I will be the first to tell you I don’t know much about hockey but it’s the best sport in the world to follow.

  5. VGK Fan

    It was baseball. I will be the first to tell you I don’t know much about hockey but it’s the best sport in the world to follow.

  6. VGK Fan

    Baseball for me as well. As much as I love baseball, there is no better sport to watch and follow than hockey. I’m completely insane over it. I would argue losing hits me harder than anyone else I’ve ever met. I’m a big baseball fan too but losses don’t affect me near as much. It’s my first true home team.

    • Sorry guys but baseball is a little like watching the grass grow. No wonder you like hockey it’s just the opposite for fans. When you are raised in a cold country skating and hockey is it for the most part.

  7. Tim

    I just read an article above that had similar trade thoughts as i’m been saying for a while. The first order of business is Fleury trade or buyout which is necessary but sad for what he’s meant to the team. Next Stantsy will get traded 6.5 million is a lot for what he provides. Marshy one goal in the last 19 games isn’t going to get it done he’s gone. McNabb is a penalty machine with zero offense he’s gone. I like Nosek but I’m afraid he’s gone. It’s a given Merrill and Engelland are gone. Now they should have some cap space to sign Lehner, Stephenson, and Cousins with cap money to spare.
    Now the Alex Pietrangelo situation which scares me he’s 30 and is a player but north of 8 million for 7 years doesn’t work for me maybe 4 years. I’m sure he wants a longer contract but I wouldn’t do it just ask San Jose how the Erik Karlsson contract is working out. The problem is the Splash Brothers probably won’t be here down the road so they want to win now and the hell with 5 years from now.

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