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Category: Personnel (Page 1 of 18)

Blueline Needs To Chip In To Replace Departed Offense

Theodore scored the first playoff goal in team history. Might need a lot more of that in Year 2. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you think of scoring and the Golden Knights, rarely do names like Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, or even Shea Theodore come to mind. Aside from the occasional Colin Miller blast, the Golden Knights weren’t exactly known for offensive from the blueline. Last season, Golden Knights defensemen scored 37 goals. Good enough for 18th most in the NHL.

Nashville: 56 Goals
Columbus: 51 Goals
Arizona: 50 Goals
Philadelphia: 50 Goals
Tampa Bay: 48 Goals
Florida: 44 Goals
Anaheim: 42 Goals
Minnesota: 42 Goals
St. Louis: 42 Goals
Colorado: 41 Goals
*18. Vegas: 37 Goals

Thankfully, the Golden Knights never needed to rely on blueline scoring. However, more output would help the team return to the playoffs. Colin Miller led all Vegas blueliners with 10 goals and 41 points. He was handsomely rewarded with a new $15M contract extension.

As it stands right now, Vegas defensemen are projected to score around 40 goals in 2018-19. Not far off from last season’s totals.

2017-18 VGK Defensive Scoring
Colin Miller: 10G, 31A
Nate Schmidt: 5G, 31A
Shea Theodore: 6G, 23A
Deryk Engelland: 5G, 18A
Brad Hunt: 3G, 15A
Brayden McNabb: 5G, 10A
Luca Sbisa: 2G, 12A
Jon Merrill: 1G, 2A
Totals: 37 Goals, 142 Assists, 179 Points

When you subtract Luca Sbisa’s contribution and add Nick Holden’s offense, it’s a virtual wash.

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Forward Lines And D-Pairings Shift Drastically As Seasons Progress

This man was the top line center for the Golden Knights… for nearly a month. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

One of the favorite offseason time wasters for fans and media types alike is to project lines for the upcoming season. Where does Paul Stastny fit in? Is Erik Haula a center or a wing? What are the chances of Erik Brannstrom or Zach Whitecloud cracking the lineup out of the camp? They are all legitimate questions, and who am I to stop those debates, but while writing the article on Vadim Shipachyov’s hatred for Vegas I stumbled across a line chart from early in the season last year. It looks quite a bit different from what we saw in the Stanley Cup Final and it might put a bit of pause on some of those line projection discussions.

Last year the Golden Knights were a brand new franchise with a collection of players who had never played together. There were no clear-cut lines or pairings to bank on heading into the year. So, obviously, things are a bit different going into 2018-19, but take a look at the line charts from Game 1 and Game 6 of last season.

Cody Eakin, top line center. Brayden McNabb, scratched for Brad Hunt, Jon Merrill, and Luca Sbisa. William Karlsson and Erik Haula, interchangeable at wing and center. Oscar Lindberg, relied upon center. Shea Theodore, in the AHL.

The point is, things change, and in a hurry. The Golden Knights are almost certainly going to head into 2018-19 with Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson as the top line, but beyond that, almost everything is flexible.

The roster that broke camp and headed to Dallas included eight players that did not play a second in the Stanley Cup Final. Eight out of 23 is 35% of the roster. 35% of the Golden Knights roster at the start of the year was not there at the end.

It wasn’t until Game 8 that the Karlsson line was created. Schmidt wasn’t paired with McNabb until Game 18.

The Golden Knights middle six and all three defensive pairings are far from set in stone. However, when we finally get to camp and we finally get to see what’s on the reigning Jack Adams’ Award winner’s mind, remember what you see then probably isn’t what you’ll be seeing when the games really start to count.

Ok, now go back to projecting your favorite line pairings and D pairings. Here’s what I’m thinking…



Fleury’s Idols Proved Success Into Late 30’s Is Not Impossible

If Fleury really is elite, he’ll continue being great well into his 30’s. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

During Golden Knights training camp last season, Marc-Andre Fleury told about players that influenced him growing up. The 33-year-old idolized and eventually studied the careers of Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, and Martin Brodeur. All three Hall of Fame goaltenders had wildly successful careers and played well into their thirties. Fleury’s new contract extension suggests the Golden Knights believe he’ll retire a decorated Hall of Fame goaltender like the three above.

When Patrick Roy retired in 2003 at the age of 37, he left the league as the all-time wins leader with 551. At that time, Brodeur was 30 and was far behind. He remarkably retired 11 seasons later at the age of 42, passing Roy by 140 wins. Both goalies were consistently successful throughout their careers and continued to have major success after the age of 33.

Belfour was another outstanding goaltender that got better with age. After the age of 32, Eddie the Eagle posted 30 or more wins in six of his last nine seasons. He led the Stars to back-to-back Cup finals in 1999 and 2000 at the age of 34 and 35. Dallas won their only Stanley Cup in ’99 behind Belfour, who posted a ridiculous 1.67 postseason GAA.

Check out the success Roy, Brodeur and Belfour had after Fleury’s current age. Vegas fans should feel even more confident about their newly extended 33-year-old goaltender.

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VGK’s Secret, Semi-Secret, And Not-So-Secret Weapons; They’re All Named Tomas

One was signed before the Expansion Draft, another was selected in the Expansion Draft, and the third was acquired at the trade deadline. Tomas Hyka, Tomas Nosek, and Tomas Tatar combined to play 97 games for the Golden Knights in 2017-18 in which they scored 12 goals and tallied 12 assists.

Aside from a few magical moments from Nosek and a couple solid postseason efforts from Tatar, the trio of Tomases were nothing but role players for the Golden Knights in their run to the Stanley Cup Final.

In 2018-19, that should change.

By letting David Perron and James Neal leave via free agency and signing just one NHL-caliber forward, George McPhee has signaled that he believes the team has enough fire-power already within the organization to pick up the 90 points he let walk out the door.

That’s where the Tomases come in. All three should have expanded roles as Tatar is expected to move up the depth chart to become a second line winger, Nosek has a legitimate shot at making his way onto the third (or even second) line and any production out of Hyka would be a bonus compared to the Brendan Leipsic era.

More of this would be good. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tatar is a perennial 20 goal scorer but never hit his stride after coming over from Detroit at the deadline. He’s almost certainly going to be placed in a more offensive role, likely playing with some combination of Erik Haula, Paul Stastny, and Alex Tuch. Tatar posted a 94.0 PDO in his 20 game stint with the Golden Knights, a full five points below his career average, and the worst on-ice shooting percentage for and on-ice shooting percentage against numbers of his career. These are heavy indicators that as poor as Tatar appeared, it’s probable he’ll bounce back. (If you forgot what PDO is, click here) He’s the not-so-secret weapon. A weapon the Golden Knights can’t afford to have struggle again.

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What To Do With William Karlsson’s Contract

Wonder what the Blue Jackets think of all this? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

While most of the hockey world is focused on Erik Karlsson, the Karlsson Vegas already has might be just an interesting a story this offseason. William Karlsson’s monster season has him in line for a massive raise, but as an RFA, and with just one dominant year in the books, the right contract for both sides could look many different ways.

The 25-year-old Swede scored 43 goals, became a top line center on the Western Conference champions, won the Lady Byng Trophy, and finished top 10 in both Selke and Hart voting. He posted career highs in goals, assists, points, time on ice, shots on goal, shot attempts, shooting percentage, face-off percentage, takeaways, Corsi for, and just about every other advanced stat hockey keeps. It was, in every sense of the word, a career year.

But, it was a career year playing on a new team, in a new situation, with new linemates, a new coach, and totally new responsibility. Moving forward, Karlsson will be expected to play the same role with the same responsibility for the Golden Knights. The question is, how should he be paid?

There are really two ways a deal for Karlsson can go, either a short-term “bridge deal” that would make him an unrestricted free agent in two years or a long-term deal that keeps him with the Golden Knights until he’s into his 30’s. So let’s play the pros and cons game for both sides to illustrate how challenging these negotiations are likely going to be.

Short-term deal

  • Golden Knights
    • Pros: The biggest benefit would be to protect the team against the possibility of last year being an outlier. A short-term deal would allow the Golden Knights to see if Karlsson is closer to the 43 goal scorer or the six goal scorer before they commit major money to him long term. If he’s the same guy, you pay your superstar, if he’s not, you saved yourself against a miserable contract that will be tough to get rid of in the future. Another ancillary benefit is the short-term deal would likely be much cheaper as it’s setting Karlsson up to get paid again in a few years. He’d likely be in the $3-5 million range for the next two years giving the Golden Knights even more flexibility to pull off that big trade everybody’s been waiting for.
    • Cons: The team would be in danger of having their best player be eligible for unrestricted free agency sooner rather than later. That means either they pay him the massive contract he’s worth (assuming he remains 2017-18 Karlsson) or be exposed to the possibility of losing him to another team for nothing.
  • William Karlsson
    • Pros: The more times a player comes up for a new contract, the more money he stands to make. Right now there’s some doubt if 17-18 was a fluke or whether it’s the norm. A short-term deal allows Karlsson to bet on himself, prove it, and then be worth double what he’s worth now.
    • Cons: Regression is probably more likely than not. This may be the only chance he’ll ever have to make $40+ million and be set for life, taking a short-term deal would be passing that up.

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Pothier: The Golden Knights Are Not Better Today Than They Were On June 7th

As much as we love Paul Stastny, and we do love Paul Stastny, creating a dynasty involves more than Paul Stastny. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s a simple question, are the Golden Knights a better team today than they were the day they came up three wins short of winning the Stanley Cup? The answer is also as simple, at least in my opinion, and it’s no.

We want to be stronger next year than we were this year. I can’t say we’re going to win more games, or go further in the playoffs, but we want to be a better team next year…That’s the goal. George is working on it right now. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline on 6/22/18

The Creator said he has daily discussions with George McPhee on how to improve the team. Since that conversation, some can make the argument the Golden Knights got worse.

Let’s start with what they lost.

David Perron: 67 Points (16G, 50A), 0.94 Points Per Game, 0.71 Assists Per Game, 22 Goals Created, 17:49 ATOI, +1

James Neal: 44 Points (25G, 19A), 0.62 Points Per Game, 2.85 SOG Per Game, 17:11 ATOI, -11

Luca Sbisa: 14 Points (2G, 12A), 54 Blocks, 30 Total Goals For, 30 Total Goals Against, 19:32 ATOI, +8

Now let’s look at the Golden Knights additions.

Paul Stastny: 53 Points (16G, 37A), 0.68 Points Per Game, 0.47 Assists Per Game, 54.9 Faceoff Win %, 18:18 ATOI, +1

Daniel Carr: 16 Points (6G, 10A), 0.42 Points Per Game, 1.37 SOG Per Game, 12:08 ATOI, +2

Nick Holden: 17 Points (4G, 13A), 83 Blocks, 64 Total Goals For, 73 Total Goals Against, 19:00 ATOI, -5

It’s not fair to compare the loss of Neal and Perron, to Vegas’ new offensive additions. Stastny’s a fine player, but he’s not an elite center that can make up the production of two lost wingers. There’s only a few of those, and one of them passed for Toronto.

We have a lot of money to bring in some quality players. If we can get the players we’re going to spend the money. -The Creator

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Paul Stastny Adds To The Golden Knights In Every Way

He’s not Tavares, but Stastny is the splash acquisition the Golden Knights needed. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Sunday, John Tavares was introduced to the media, on stage unveiling his new #91 Maple Leafs jersey. Across the continent, Paul Stastny met the Vegas media over speakerphone.

In the end, sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling. Sometimes it’s just one of those things that is the best fit, hockey wise, family wise and everything in between. -Paul Stastny

The Stastny deal didn’t create nearly the waves of Tavares and it didn’t instantly vault the Golden Knights to the top of the William Hill odds to win the Cup, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t impactful.

Term matters… a couple of summers ago we had a lot of older guys getting five and six-year deals. I think everybody realized that was a mistake. We’re trying to be a little more circumspect and it looks like the league is trying to do that. That’s why we went three years on Stastny. -George McPhee

The Golden Knights GM addressed many areas by signing the 32–year-old US Olympic Silver medalist. Stastny adds another well-rounded center to go along with William Karlsson. It also installs incredible depth down the middle. The Golden Knights now have eight players who can play center (Karlsson, Stastny, Haula, Eakin, Bellemare, Nosek, Lindberg, and Carpenter) But maybe most importantly, Stastny bridges the gap between now and the future. When Stastny’s three-year contract expires, future centers Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki will be 22.

There are always ideas of maybe where you can potentially end up, but you always want to go places where you want to be and go places that want you. It has to be a happy medium. -Stastny

Immediately, the newest Golden Knight gives the depleted second line some positive options. David Perron signed with St. Louis and James Neal is on his way to Calgary, leaving Eric Haula as the lone returning second liner. With Stastny, the Golden Knights now have a second line with two strong centers and numerous options on the wing. The newly signed center is strong on faceoffs (career 53.9%), will make plays on even-strength and man-advantage situations, and will help out on the penalty-kill.

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VGK Free Agency Tracker

)(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

  • Ryan Reaves has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a two year $2.775 million AAV deal. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • David Perron has signed with St. Louis on a four year $4 million AAV deal. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Paul Stastny has signed with the Golden Knights for three years at $6.5 million AAV. (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • Nick Holden has signed with the Golden Knights for two years at $2.2 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • A trade for Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan still appears very much in play (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • James Neal has signed with the Calgary Flames for five years at $5.75 million AAV. (Source: @TSNBobMcKenzie)
  • Brandon Pirri has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one year, two-way deal worth $650,000 NHL, $250,000 AHL. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • The Golden Knights have re-signed Maxime Lagace on a two-way deal at $650,000. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • Zach Fucale has signed a one year two-way deal worth $650,000. He’s a waiver exempt goalie who has yet to make his NHL debut. Previously in Montreal’s system. (Source: @renlavoietva)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Curtis McKenzie, a 27-year-old winger previously with the Dallas organization bouncing between NHL and AHL. Deal is two years worth $750,000 AAV. (Source: DhaliwalSports)
  • Daniel Carr has signed with the Golden Knights. Scored 14 goals in 98 games with the Canadiens including six last season in 38 games. One year, $750,000. (Source: @BBarts, @PierreVLeBrun)
  • Golden Knights announced the signings of Alex Gallant and Jimmy Oligny. Both career AHLers. (Source: VGK Press Release)
  • Luca Sbisa will not be re-signing with the Golden Knights (Source:
  • George McPhee will hold a press conference at 2PM to discuss today’s transactions.


The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney.

Development Camp Takeaways

Brannstrom remains the most exciting prospect in the VGK pipeline, but there’s a ton to look forward to both on and off the roster. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2018 Golden Knights Development Camp is now over and there is plenty to talk about. From the progression of the 2017 rookie class to Zach Whitecloud’s shot at the NHL roster to the recruitment of Jimmy Schuldt, Development Camp leaves us with many questions, but plenty of hints to the answers.

  • The progression of the 2017 Draft picks was noticeable
    • Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki both looked more comfortable in camp. Like last season, Glass’ finishing ability and Suzuki’s hands jumped off the page.
    • Nic Hague continues to look like a monster on the ice and his stick is Brayden McNabb like. Still feels like the skating needs a bit of improvement, but his offensive ability is really exciting. Plus, the “Nic Hague toe drag” is real. He pulled it off multiple times in the scrimmages to get from the point to the slot, or the circle to directly in front of the goal. It rhymes too, which is awesome.
    • Erik Brannstrom remains the dynamic superstar in the making we remember. His confidence on the ice is infectious. When he has the puck, there’s almost an aura that makes everyone watching (including the other players on the ice) believe something special is about to happen. It doesn’t always happen, but every once in a while it does, and in those moments it really happens. It reminds me of a home run hitter in baseball, where every time he steps to the plate, even though he only gets a hit about 30% of the time, you feel like this is going to be the one. It’s electrifying. The problem is, like the home run hitter, 70% of the time it doesn’t happen, and for a defenseman in the NHL, that’s way too much. He’s 18-years-old though. He’s not ready for the NHL yet, as much as that pains me to say.
    • Jack Dugan and Jonas Rondbjerg were the standouts among the other draft picks from the 2017 Draft. After about the 8th time saying “oh, nice play Rondbjerg” or “wow, look at Dugan” I realized their good moments weren’t flashes. It’s certainly exciting to see a few non-first round picks separate themselves from the pack a bit.

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The Player At Development Camp With The Best Shot Of Playing In The NHL In 2018-19

This guy is the answer to the title of this article. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When it comes to young defenseman, organizations like to take their time.

Every defenseman wants to play right now. But he’s got to go through the process of taking step one before taking step two. They have to defend well, they have to read what’s coming at them. -Ryan McGill, Golden Knights defense coach

Last year fans watched forward Alex Tuch skate amongst boys in Development Camp. His maturity and professional experience were on full display up against the younger prospects. Zach Whitecloud wants to be that guy in 2018.

As far as maturity wise, I pride myself in doing the right things at the right times. I’d like to think I’m ready for every situation that was handed to me. Being with the Knights, it’s key that I come in here and help the guys that are new to the experience. -Zach Whitecloud

Whitecloud’s age, body development, and NHL experience made him stand out in Thursday’s prospect scrimmage and even more so in Friday’s. The 21-year-old is attending his second NHL development camp (last season with LA) and has picked up a lifetime’s worth of knowledge over the past four months.

I signed on March 8th, and met the team in Buffalo and ever since that day I’ve been taking everything in. I don’t think words could explain how much it meant. Just learning how to be a professional hockey player all the time, on and off the ice. -Whitecloud

Since arriving from Bemidji State, the right-handed defenseman soaked up the experience like a sponge.

To have that experience and learn from guys like Deryk Engelland, Nate Schmidt, Marc-Andre Fleury, Coach Gallant… everyone has helped me try to become the best player and person I can be. -Whitecloud

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