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Carp: Anxious Times Await NHL Players

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Welcome to Anxiety Week.

It’s that time of the year where if you’re an NHL player, you start hearing rumors that you’ll be moved at the trade deadline. You get texts from friends. Your wife or girlfriend asks you what’s up. Your kids, if they’re old enough, are freaked out at the idea they may have to move and leave their friends and have to go to a new school.

Anxious? You bet.

For a lot of NHL players, they need not be worried. Some have no-move clauses in their contracts or, if you’re someone like Marc-Andre Fleury, have a list of teams they would agree to be traded to.

But for others, this is a tough week. The trade deadline is eight days away (April 12) and trying to maintain one’s focus on their job is not an easy task. Especially if your team is currently struggling and change is imminent.

The stock answer players give when asked if they’re worried about being shipped out is “It’s out of my hands” or “I don’t worry about things I have no control over” both of which are true. They understand the business side of the game and let’s not fret over where their next meal is coming from because everyone is well compensated for their services. If they have to go to Detroit or Ottawa, so be it. They’ll pack their stuff, head to the next destination, and try to quickly assimilate within their new team.

For the Golden Knights players, being moved on or before the April 12 deadline is even more disconcerting. You’d be leaving a team that is built to compete for the Stanley Cup, was leading its division for most of the season, and has been one of the best in the entire NHL since Opening Night. Can you imagine how bummed a player would be if he got a call from Kelly McCrimmon and he tells you you’ve been traded to Buffalo?

It could happen, to pretty much anyone. Especially given the recent events of this week that have seen Vegas drop three in a row, fail to hold the lead in the 3rd period, and a power play that has been more dismal than what we’ve come to expect.

Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota was especially grating given Fleury’s solid effort was wasted and the team knew the importance of the game. Now, with 21 games remaining, road games at St. Louis Monday and Wednesday, and another roadie beginning a week from today in L.A. and Anaheim, the anxiety level may well have been raised a couple of notches.

GMKM has said publicly he doesn’t expect the Knights to be major players at the deadline and he may prove correct. But I still don’t believe the Knights are going to stand pat entirely. Even with the recent offensive exploits of Tomas Nosek and even Will Carrier perking up, the Knights need to boost their bottom-six forwards. It would help if the top six found the net with a bit more regularity. The power play is a disaster and could use a big boost too.

As it currently stands, the return of Alex Pietrangelo means the team remains cap-stressed and it would likely mean making a dollar-for-dollar trade to acquire the help they need and in doing so, would likely impact the current roster. Would it be worth it?

And that’s why even if you’re a Golden Knight, even if you have term and are making millions, you may not be entirely safe.

Remember when the Jonathan Marchessault trade rumors were being bandied about a couple years ago? He tried to blow it off but you could tell he seemed stressed over it. Marchessault remained in Vegas and he has had a very good season in 2021. Do not construe from this that he is on the market this year. I’m just saying to get something you’re going to have to give up something tangible.

That doesn’t mean Marchessault and his teammates won’t come to the rink wondering every day this week and wonder how much longer they’ll have to remain here.

And while it’s a challenge for the players to keep their focus and not think about being traded, it’s also on the coaching staff to keep the players’ minds on the present. It’s a stressful time for coaches too.

Peter DeBoer’s experience will no doubt be critical during the coming eight days. He has been on both sides of the coin, losing good players while acquiring great ones. His job is to lower the anxiety temperature in the room and maintain the status quo.

They’ll be in Los Angeles next Monday. Ironically, the Knights were in L.A. their inaugural season on trade deadline day when they traded for Tomas Tatar from Detroit and had just picked up Ryan Reaves a couple of days earlier from Pittsburgh.

Las Vegas was a new NHL city then, so neither had much experience with the town other than the one time their teams visited The Fortress. Tatar basically grabbed his gear, put some clothes in a suitcase, locked up his Detroit apartment, and flew to California to join his new team. Reaves, who has a family, left them in Pittsburgh and also flew to L.A. Imagine how stressful that had to be?

Fortunately, they were going to a team that was enjoying great success and they embraced the change of scene. That Knights team made it to the Stanley Cup Final, so that took some of the sting out of being traded. This Knights team, as it is currently constructed, may not be good enough to get that far. I’m not sure it can beat Colorado or Minnesota in the first or second round, even when it gets Chandler Stephenson, Zach Whitecloud and Reaves back.

So while we throw names out on social media and debate whether this guy would help or what it would mean to shake up the roster, let’s not forget these are human beings who have emotions and obligations and, in some cases, families that are part of the equation. Yes, they signed up for this. No one forced them to be professional hockey players and they are well compensated for their work. But that doesn’t lessen the anxiety level this week. Oh, and in case you have forgotten, there’s still a pandemic we’re dealing with. So there’s going to be potential quarantine issues for players who get traded to a Canadian team and potentially from the North Division to a U.S.-based team. That won’t be fun to navigate.

Yes, it’s a time to be treading on pins and needles for some players. Here in Vegas, the stress level may be reduced, but it will be lurking nonetheless this week. Especially given the team’s performance the past four days.

**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**

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27 Comments

  1. Melvin Hallerman

    Maybe they could trade for someone who can win Faceoffs?

    Disproportionate loss of Faceoffs recently has resulted in goals against them and, in the Ozone, killing of their attacks.

    • LVsc

      Luke Glendening of Det is leading the league in faceoff %, but he is basically Nic Roy with a better FO %

      It is more about when and where you need to win faceoffs. iow, winning the faceoff on the PK in your zone is vital, same for the FO to begin the PP in their zone. Or, course, winning the FO in your zone late in a game protecting a one goal lead, etc

      winning the faceoff at center ice, or after an offside, not so vital.

  2. LVsc

    4 years later, and the Knights STILL have the same problems on the 3rd line and the PP

    and got themselves in cap hell as well, which makes improving the team very difficult.

    that sounds to me like poor mgmt by McCrimmon, McPhee and company.

    yes, I know they have taken an expansion team to early success. yes, I know we could be Buffalo. But I also know the old saying, “what have you done for us lately?” Gerard Gallant heard that saying from VGK mgmt last January

    • Maybe they should consider changing PDB buddy the one he brought with him to make the PP effective. If he was on a grading system it would be a “F” for sure. They have had many opportunities to end the game winning and couldn’t get a shot on the net or worse yet get to the OZ. Vegas having the man advantage and sometimes two is a joke. Which leads to them being man handled without any worry of them scoring the majority of the time. Based on their current performance all of them should be concerned they might get traded to Buffalo or wherever . Trading Fleury versus Lehner I don’t see as the answer as 2 mill isn’t going to make that much difference IMO. The three losses could just as easily been wins if the PP worked at all.

      • LVsc

        yes, Steve Spott is his name, and he is doing a crappy job on the PP.

        all the opponent has to do is overplay the side of Pacioretty, because the Knights PP seldom uses other options except the one timer from the circle, or the Theodore soft wrister from the blue line, with no screen in front, no tips, no rebounds, no net front presence, no problems for their goalie

  3. Sullivan

    If a team that is on Fleury’s trade list is willing to take him full salary none-retained then McCrimmon needs to deal him. The salary cap shenanigans need to STOP! Having 5m or 7m just sitting on the bench is not going to win the cup. The FO NEEDED Pietro and now we are forced to do clown fiesta cap management.

  4. thomas pilkington

    My sense of watching them shows a lack of consistency in their’jump’. From a skill standpoint, on paper, they have all they need. From a blue-collar solid 60 minutes of work…..woefully inadequate. Seems like a rare game when they are all going hard…last night a perfect example. VGK with more talent and the Wild, as usual, more effort. Maybe a bigger shake-up than we think is coming…something needs to kick them in the pants.

  5. normbob

    Lally gaggin when the game is on the line seems to be the trend now.. Goalies bust their butts and for what? Shots from the outside with no net presence won’t do it. Neither will turnovers. The skill is there but the desire doesn’t seem to be there. Worried about being traded? As the saying goes, this is a business and anything can happen. The question needing answered is attitude or maybe who is willing to get dirty in front of the net for both offense and defense?

  6. Henderson Knights

    Reilly Smith is one who needs to worry about a trade. He is having a terrible season, after having a very good one last season.

    Nic Hague and Martinez on defense each have more points than Smith……. Nosek, playing far less than Smith, has the same # of pts. Smith has only 12 pts in 36 games. his 2 linemates have 52 pts, Smith has only 12.

    since major money has to leave to bring anyone in, then Smith, AAV $5mill, is the most logical candidate to go bye bye.

    • Henderson Knights

      btw, Stone and Pacioretty have not scored one single point since Stephenson, their legs, went out of the lineup. His speed is important to that line.

  7. Daryl

    We’ve known these issues for awhile now…. we just wonder what PDB and management are going to do to fix the problems

  8. THE hockey GOD

    Stardate (1) 47634.44
    Captain’s log: nothing more than the stardate entered.

    Zoom in

    Bridge of the Starship (1) VGK.

    The Captain is sitting in command chair is vigorously pointing and pushing buttons on the control desk in front of him. The control desk has a small engraved name plate on it engraved with letters PDB. The Captain is sporadically covered with small frozen carbon dioxide chunks subliming into the surrounding air, He flicks a chunk off which immediately vaporizes leaving behind a small burn mark.

    He frantically is pushing the buttons on the control desk: “Nothing seems to be working here. I hit no.9, come on ‘Howe’. Come on ‘Hull’. Nothing. I hit no. 27 come on Big ‘M’ how about ‘Espo’ no. 7 . Nothing is happening. No. 9 seems to be broken beyond repair”

    First officer (FO) Spock; “Captain you should not have by passed re orientation training after emerging from the deep space hibernation chamber after nearly 40 years. No. 7, 9, and 27 have long been retired!!

    Capt ignores him bangs on the control panel once more yelling “come on no. 4 BOBBY ORR! Dang it”. Then he grabs the name plate and tosses it to Lt. Uhura.

    “Lt. Uhura (LU) can you take care of this, please, also get me the medical doctor I need an update on Capt. Pike PDB and the others”.

    Then he turns to FO: “Mister Spppplock..Splick…Spock
    (flings another piece of solid CO2 from neck) sorry about that. Let me understand . The Enterprise lost Capt. Pike to sudden time – space continuum disturbance about three weeks ago. He has been unable to answer any questions correctly since then and simultaneously the ship has been drifting in space towards this unknown planet?”

    tbc

    • THE hockey GOD

      FO Spock ” That is correct Capt. except this is not the Enterprise this is the Starship VGK. A privately owned vessel commissioned by the Foley Corporation under the direct command of the COO known as the GMGM. Also we need to secure working push buttons. As you can see they are failing at an increasingly rapid rate That is our mission. Sir”.

      Capt: “LU get me the Chief Mechanic on the line immediately”.

      LU ” Chief Mechanic please respond, please respond to the bridge immediately”.

      “Mr Peabody(2) here” (LU and FO are seemingly taken a back).

      Capt. ” Give me on update on status of this this push button machine”.

      Mr Peabody” It seems to be failing due to interference from the Wayback Machine. We can’t seem to be able to get way back to where we where operating efficiently. I am afraid the Wayback machine is on the fritz!”

      Capt. ” I Need new push buttons, what do you have down there in inventory”

      Mr Peabody'” We have no more space for push buttons in inventory, we ran out of space (3) weeks ago..”

      in background “Marty..Marty. Where are you Marty??”

      Capt. “Who is that?

      Mr Peabody. “That is professor Brown. He wants…”

      Doc Brown (4) “Capt!! Capt !! Marty has stolen the flux capacitor. We are stuck without the flux capacitor….we can’t get back unless we get the flux capacitor back”

      Capt. “back to where.. back ?”

      • THE hockey GOD

        LU : Capt. Chief Engineer Scott is on the line he says it is important”.

        Capt” Scotty report when will the warp engines be back on line?”

        Scotty ” Aye captain we got our best people on it. The di lithium crystals have been drained and we are trying to re charge them as fast as possible.

        Capt. “What about the Wayback machine and the flux capacitor?

        Scotty ” The what ?? the who ?? I am doing the best I can Capt. I can’t defy the LAWS OF PHYSICS. Who you been talking to ? Those clowns in mechanics department forget them and their toys ?”

        CApt. “Get that warp drive on line ASAP, SCotty”

        Scotty “Aye Capt.”

        LU ” Doc McCoy is on the line, Capt.”

        Capt. “Bones what you got”?

        Bones” Two down with upper body injuries, one down with head injury. one down with lower body injury. And CApt. Pike is just staring out into space. I cant’ find anything physically wrong with him. ”

        CApt. ” I need them back ASAP , those are key personnel to the ship’s operation !!”

        Bones “Damn it, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a fu –” (fading out)”

        Spock” Capt. may I direct you to the main screen (unknown planet Titan comes in view). I have completed a search in the Universal Inter Galaxy Data Base (UIGB) and determined that this is previously unexplored planet is known as Titan (5). In last few minutes I scanned the planet for any signs of life….”

  9. THE hockey GOD

    n a few minutes ship was approaching from the planet. The VGK picked up a transmitted signal that Mr. Spock identified with the UIGB as music entitled ‘Hooked on a Feeling’

    Capt. “Mr. Spock scan that ship”.

    Spock ‘ There appears to be a alien being with a big blue marble like head, a tree shaped alien, a half human, an intelligent monkey or fox pilot and a green female alien”

    Capt. ” did you see GREEN female alien ?? BEAM THEM ABOARD!”

    Spock ” Jim what is your intent with these aliens?”

    CApt. ” I intend to make them a deal ?”

    Spock ” A deal ?”

    Capt. ” a Deal …deal. Maybe they are Republicans!?”

    Fade out…Let the dealing begin.

    footnotes:
    (1) stolen from Star Trek series, forgive me.
    (2) stolen from Mr. Peabody/Sherman and Felix the cat
    cartoon series, forgive me
    (3) reference to salary cap, forgive me
    (4) stolen from Back to Future I , II, III movie series , forgive me
    (5) stolen from the Marvel Comics Guardian of Galaxy and Infinity war series.

  10. Tim

    Right now the trade deadline is a problem to many teams are still in all the races. To start trading when you still have a chance for the #4 seat would be a slap in your fan bases face. Most teams only have 4 games to the deadline so if teams are treading water cuts down on available players. I think Fleury has done a great job this year but if the Penguins will somehow can figure out how to eat the 7 million you’ve got to trade him. I doubt if it’s possible but who knows.

    • Tim – what am l missing here despite what Ken posted a while back why would you trade the pony that got you to front of the pack. Lehner can’t tie Fleurys skates and missed more games than he has played. He is not the save all answer mgt thought they were getting. If he was or has been that great in the pass why was he available in the first place?. No one wants to answer that question from what l have seen. I am talking strictly performance nothing else.

      • Daryl

        I agree with you on MAF, but it’s not about him, its about the money. They can’t trade Lehner and PDB/Management thinks Lehner is capable of leading this team. I would also rather have MAF but I can see where a trade might help VGK overall. You take a step back by trading MAF but you could gain several steps forward if they trade for the right person. What worries me is they haven’t been trading/signing the right people (Petra/Lehner) for a couple years now.

  11. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    So, I have an acquaintance who lives in Pittsburgh, a Pens fan of course. He told me today that the news around there is that the talk of the Pens getting Flurey, has basically stopped the last 2-3 weeks.

    I guess both their goalies have been playing well recently?

    Just throwing that out there with all the Flurey trade talk,

    • Daryl

      I am a Pens fan…. first and foremost. Don’t live near Pittsburgh anymore but still have lots of friends in the area. You are correct, the talk has died down a bit due to the play of Jarry, but he just got hurt and the talks have started to pick up again. MAF would be a huge pickup for the Pens, even if it’s on a one and done deal

  12. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Lehner had a CONCUSSION!

    Look up his stats for the games he has played as a Knight. (very good)

    Flurey got a concussion, early in year one with the Knights. He missed a ton of games. Were people saying: gee why did we get this guy? NO! … Were people saying: WHY did Pittsburgh let him go. ! NO

    So give Lehner the same damn consideration! Christ!

    • Daryl

      You miss the point when it comes to Lehner and most of the fans… it’s not that we are against Lehner, we are against having two high priced goalies when we have other important needs. Most of us think MAF is better, yes, but if they traded MAF to free up space and signed a top Center, we would be okay with it. We just don’t see the point of having two starting goalies especially when our backup goalie could play in every regular season game and still get us to the playoffs

  13. So who would be the b/I Of those in Henderson? Also tell management stop overpaying and getting in cap hell!

  14. Howard

    The right move is to trade Theodore, Glass, Roy, MAF for 2 top centers. I know a lot of VGK fans will think I’m crazy to mention Theodore, but the guy can’t back check worth a crap, isn’t a very good stick, and turns it over too much. We have Piets for an offensive minded DMAN. If you want VGK to win a cup, this move has to be made. If Vegas likes Theodore’s offense so much, make him a damned forward, but as a pure Dman, he quite frankly sucks.

    Vegas is all East to west, Glass was a terrible 6th pick as he is way too weak and slight of build. Roy would provide some value to another team along with MAF who I’d hate to see go but again, you want a cup or not? This team cannot win the cup as they are currently constructed, and anyone who knows anything about The NHL and is being honest within themselves knows it.

    2 top centers mean we move Chandler and Karlsson down to 3 and 4 where they belong. This trade can be done via multi teams. One team would be SJS = Couture.

    Go ahead, laugh at me, but I believe I am right on this one.

  15. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Everyone thinks they’re right. But none of us know what will be done, if anything.

    I certainly don’t think they will trade Theo. The key, to me, is trading away significant money, to get the trade(s) all seem to want. But, the players must be of value to another team. Smith & MAF meet this.

    We’ll know in a week or so, then all this speculation can stop, for now, anyway!

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