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NHL 19 Golden Knights Rankings

The kids call it Chel, we call it EA NHL 19, the only video hockey video game still being made yearly and the one officially licensed by the league. This year’s game dropped publicly yesterday and the rankings are not kind to the Golden Knights.

While certainly better than last year, the defending Western Conference Champions come in with an overall team rating of 90, good for 6th in the Pacific Division and tied for 17th (with seven others) in the league. The Golden Knights are tied with the Oilers, Blackhawks, Avalanche, Stars, Devils, Islanders, and Rangers. Only two of those teams made the playoffs, and the Golden Knights won more playoff games in the first round than both of them combined!

The Coyotes, Panthers, Canadiens, Ducks, Flames and Sharks are all rated 91, a point better than the best team in the Western Conference in 2017-18. The only thing more ridiculous than the team rankings is the player animations in the game. There are 10 more below, but try this one before you go further. Who is this player supposed to be? (Click/tap the image to reveal the answer.)

Here’s another oddity, Vegas was given a 91 ranking on offense, 92 on defense, and 92 in goal, yet the overall ranking is 90. Good math EA.

On to the part they actually did kind of get right, the player rankings. We’re already over the appalling fact that not a single VGK player ranked among EA’s top 50, but when you look at the order of the players, there’s not much room for argument. Here’s a list of every VGK player.

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Max Pacioretty Loves Vegas, You Are Going To Love Him

Give it a year or two and there will be as many #67s in the stands as #29s.

Max Pacioretty met with the media for the first time today, and he could not stop gushing about how much he loves Las Vegas.

He’s genuinely really excited to be here, and in time, he’s going to become a fan favorite.

I’m very excited to be in Vegas, this is a new chapter in my life and I’m ready to be a part of something that they are building here in Vegas which is really special, so I’m honored to be here. -Pacioretty

The best way to put it was, if I had gotten taken by Vegas in the Expansion Draft I wouldn’t be feeling the way I am today. Everyone had questions marks about what this franchise was going to be like. Everything thinks of Las Vegas about what it is on the Strip and nobody knew this was going to turn into a hockey town. We played here late in the season last year and before we played here friends around the league were reaching out and talking about the experience. Until I saw it with my own eyes, I didn’t really believe it. I’m not sure exactly what I said something along the lines of it was one of the most amazing hockey experiences of my life. -Pacioretty

Right now I know I’ll be put in a position to succeed, this is a team that had a lot of success last year. As I spoke to George and Turk on the phone in that window they reiterated that this is a team that wants to win and I’m going to be a part of that. I’m not someone who is chasing dollars, I just want to be a part of this team right now. -Pacioretty

I woke up this morning around 4:30 and I was just wandering around here (City National Arena) at 5:00 in the morning and came in the rink and the guy downstairs in front said, “you want to go see the room.” I said sure. So I was in the room at 5:30 and was looking around, then I came back around 8:00 or 8:30 and I’m just completely blown away. Just like when I came when we played here in February, they just do everything the right way. When I talked to George, I never heard him say it, but I got the feeling that’s what they did. I feel like their goal was to go out and seek the best in every department and make the dream team. You see it here at the facility and with the locker room, there’s nothing missing. It’s got to be the best I’ve seen. -Pacioretty

When I had to agree on an extension, my kids are old enough to kind of know what’s going on and they said what team are you going to and I said Vegas. So he went up to his bed sheets, and he has all the teams on his bed sheets, and he said “which ones Vegas,” and the bed sheets are old so it didn’t have Vegas. So I said, no no no, it’s not these teams, it’s the one with the show in the playoffs. And he’s like “oh my God,” he couldn’t believe it, so we went on YouTube and we put in the show and it was all the playoff shows. It was the Imagine Dragons playing before the teams came out, it was the ceremony before each round and I feel like this organization has changed the game. -Pacioretty

Right now it’s that first game. I put on the gear today and it was special, but that first game, hopefully, I get my family here, it’s going to be really special. -Pacioretty

I’ve gotta be honest, yeah she was worried about the kids and the schools. As soon as I left the rink, I still had goosebumps, I was all fired up after we played them. And I said, if I’m a free agent, we’ve got to come here, this place is unbelievable. And she said it’s crazy there, the Strip, you know, it’s not good for kids. It’s crazy how we have this misconception and you don’t know what the reality is so we just assume you are all living in a casino. (After speaking to Fleury’s wife) Now she’s very very very excited to come here and to bring the kids here and to start this chapter of his life. -Pacioretty

It’ll be fun to go into the Bell Centre (Canadiens) wearing the shield. -Pacioretty

How do you not love this guy?

Still Seemingly No End In Sight For The Shea Theodore Contract Negotiations

Call it a holdout, call it a contract dispute, call it a player not showing up to camp because of a weird situation in the CBA, but whatever you call it, it’s starting to look and sound more and more likely that Shea Theodore will not be with the team when full training camp opens in less than a week.

Don’t call it a holdout. Or… Do call it a holdout. Doesn’t really matter either way. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Theodore remains without a contract and thus, he almost certainly (even though McPhee said he’s welcome to) won’t be in camp with his teammates. The situation remains a tricky one for the Golden Knights and Theodore because the team is only required to offer him a deal worth less than $1 million and the player’s only recourse to attempt to coax more money out of the Golden Knights is to “hold out” of camp and possibly even regular season games.

(If you are new to this situation, read this article, then this one and you should be caught up.)

GM George McPhee, speaking with the media at City National Arena yesterday did not make it sound like the two sides are on the verge of an agreement.

It’s always best to have all of your guys available, but I don’t feel any particular pressure. We’ll do a deal when the deal is right. If he’s not here, then someone else will play. -McPhee

He went into fairly good detail about why a deal is not in place yet.

It’s an interesting part of our collective bargaining agreement that there’s a group of players, like Shea, that don’t have arbitration rights. And as much as some people dislike arbitration, I’ve always liked it because it’s a tool to get a contract done. People get pressured into getting a deal done or you go to arbitration and you have a contract after arbitration. There’s a group of 10 or 15 good young players in the league that don’t have arb rights and don’t have contracts right now and it takes a while to work them out. It would be nice if they have arb rights because then it’d be done by now. -McPhee

What he’s really saying is that there’s no formal deadline, and because of it, there’s hardly any pressure for either side to bend their stance of what they want to get out of the negotiations.

Like every negotiation, it’s about leverage and timelines. Theodore’s only recourse to force the Golden Knights into seeing things his way (meaning giving him more money) is to stay away from the team, hoping his absence will be enough to change their mind.

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McPhee Walks Back Support Of Schmidt In Clearing Team’s Involvement With Illegal Substance

For the first time since the 20 game suspension of Nate Schmidt was handed down by the league, GM George McPhee met with the media to answer questions. He opened with a quick statement explaining that he is unable to talk about the specifics of the situation but, admittedly against his better judgment (“I probably shouldn’t even talk about this”), did to go into a bit of detail about how the Golden Knights handle supplements with their players.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Prior to this press conference, based solely on the statement the team released following the NHL’s announcement, the Golden Knights seemed to be strongly backing Schmidt, however, McPhee’s statements today did a lot to separate that support from any accusations of wrongdoing by the team in this situation.

The organization isn’t responsible for (pause)… It didn’t come from us. Everything we have, any supplements, any vitamins are all NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved, we know where our food comes from. So there are no issues with respect to the club. So now you are going to say the onus is on him but I can tell you in this process a lot of you can go for a protein shake at a health food store around here and test positive tomorrow. -McPhee

This is a pretty stark contrast to Schmidt’s statement six days ago.

The fact that I’m issuing this statement is surreal to me as I have only used supplements provided by my NHL team and I have always been extremely careful about what I put into my body. -Nate Schmidt

McPhee was pressed further on the discrepancy.

With what we supply in terms of food and supplements and vitamins and in terms of the way we test our players, and I’m certainly not going to give away all the ammunition of how we do things for other clubs, but we do a lot of testing and we do defensible documentation and we are in a good place with that. -McPhee

McPhee also offered a comment about what he told other players on the team, furthering his stance that the substance which caused Schmidt to test positive did not come from the Golden Knights.

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Young Defensemen Presented With Rare Opportunity

Yesterday it seemed nearly impossible for Brannstrom to make the roster. Today, it’s absolutely realistic. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. -Albert Einstein

Yep, started an article with an Einstein quote, deal with it. But seriously, that quote could not be more perfect for Erik Brannstrom, Zach Whitecloud, and Nic Hague.

Prior to the suspension of Nate Schmidt, the Golden Knights appeared to have a bit of a logjam of defensemen which was going to make it nearly impossible for a waiver exempt player to win a job out of the training camp. However, with Schmidt out 20 games, and the potential of Shea Theodore missing games due to contract negotiations, all of a sudden at least one spot appears to be wide open for one of the Golden Knights young blueliners.

Whitecloud is the obvious leading candidate to claim that roster spot being the eldest of the trio and having spent over three months with the team during the playoff run a year ago. Whitecloud is also a physically mature 21-year-old who plays a fairly responsible defensive game suitable to fit into an NHL roster.

That being said, Brannstrom and Hague suddenly enter camp with a much more realistic shot of sticking in Vegas rather than heading to Chicago come October 4th. Brannstrom will have to prove he’s trustworthy and isn’t the insanely high risk-reward player we’ve come to know him as, and Hague will have to prove he can skate with NHL caliber wingers.

The question will come down to usage. In order to make it worthwhile for any of these three players to be on the NHL roster, they’ll have to prove they should be in the lineup, not just on the team. There’s no sense in putting a waiver-exempt player in the press box when he could be developing in the AHL.

Unlike the scenario Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore found themselves in last year, where despite clearly being among the top 23 players on the team they were not given spots on the NHL roster, Whitecloud, Brannstrom, and Hague (and you can throw in Coghlan, Bischoff, and Oligny if you please) simply have to prove they’re good enough to play in the NHL and they’ll be on the roster.

It’s a tall task, no doubt, but this year is a lot different than last year… at least for the defenseman. Sorry, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Lucas Elvenes, and Tomas Hyka the forward spots are almost certainly not going to anyone with waiver-exempt status.

Don’t Expect A Golden Knights Captain Any Time Soon

One of the biggest reasons the Golden Knights don’t have a captain is that this guy won’t let his teammates anoint him as one. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year the Golden Knights were one of just a handful of teams that did not have a player wearing a “C” on the ice. Instead, they opted for what they called a “leadership group” which was a rotating cast of about seven alternate captains.

They went on to have an incredible season on the ice and players still rave about how amazing the group was off it. Plus, they were able to integrate new players starting a few days before the season began with Malcolm Subban, a waiver add in December in Ryan Carpenter, and the trade deadline acquisitions of Ryan Reaves and Tomas Tatar, without a hitch.

Yet, the question still seems to be floating around the organization, who will become the team’s first captain?

The short answer, and the right answer, is no one.

Nothing’s been said. I don’t think anybody is too worried about it. We have a ton of really good leaders. Old guys, young guys, so it’s really a collective group thing and I think everybody in the room is absolutely fine with that. –Deryk Engelland to NHL Network

Before Opening Night last year, the team announced Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, James Neal, David Perron, Luca Sbisa, and Reilly Smith would wear “A’s.” However, throughout the course of the season and into the playoffs Pierre-Edouard Bellemare became a staple as an alternate as well.

With Garrison, Neal, Perron, and Sbisa all gone, there certainly could be some consideration to hand the captaincy over to Engelland. However, the more likely scenario is for the team to add players like Nate Schmidt, Jonathan Marchessault, Cody Eakin or even a newcomer like Paul Stastny or Nick Holden to Smith and Bellemare in the leadership group.

The Golden Knights organization, especially when it comes to symbolic things, are very much believers in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. Thus, as Western Conference Champions, don’t expect to see a “C” on any players sweater any time soon.

Although, the argument can be made that it is broke. No team since the 1972 Boston Bruins has won the Stanley Cup without a captain. The Golden Knights were three wins away from bucking that trend, but they didn’t. Personally, I’m skeptical that the lack of a “C” on a jersey was the reason, but hockey players are weird, so who knows what they believe.

Major Trade Before Opening Night? Don’t Count On It

GM George McPhee recently made a comment that has many feeling like a trade is imminent.

We’re happy where we are. If there’s an opportunity to upgrade at the forward position at any time over the next year we will. –George McPhee to Las Vegas Sun

But for those hoping he’ll find that forward, or even those still holding out hope for an Erik Karlsson trade, don’t bother until the year begins because August and September mega-trades simply aren’t in McPhee’s nature. Since McPhee started his general managing career in 1997, he’s made six trades from the period of August 15th to opening night. All six transactions were minor with the exception of one.

McPhee did make a deal last year before VGK’s first game, but it wasn’t quite the blockbuster most are hoping for. Calvin Pickard for Tobias Lindberg and a 6th round pick. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s not just McPhee, plenty of moves are made from now until opening night, but not many are significant. In fact, since 1997 there were 123 trades during that window. Only two could be considered significant. So don’t expect the Golden Knights to pull off a blockbuster trade any time soon.

(See below the article for a complete list of all trades between August 14th and Opening Night)

Could the current climate in Ottawa change the preseason’s transaction activity? Sure, but based on the past 20 season it seems very unlikely. Especially going off of McPhee’s history. In 18 seasons at the helm, the GM only made a handful of moves from the middle of August to opening night, and most were depth additions.

Asking any general manager to pull off a franchise-altering move before October is a tall order. As much as it would make them better, adding Karlsson before the Golden Knights season begins is not likely to happen. However, rumors with Ottawa will be floating all season, so expect McPhee to show interest later in the season.

Or not at all. There’s always free agency.

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Nine Golden Knights Games On National TV In 18-19

Nine games tie VGK for 9th most national TV games. Chicago has the most with 19. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen) 

Following the most successful expansion season of all time, a division and conference championship, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it should come as no surprise that the Golden Knights are a bit more of a national TV draw now than they were at this time last year.

NBC Sports released its national TV schedule, including 109 regular season NHL games, and the Golden Knights are set to be featured nine times. All nine games will air on NBCSN with the season opener the first on the schedule.

10/4 – vs Philadelphia – 7:00 PM
10/10 – at Washington – 5:00 PM
10/30 – at Nashville – 5:00 PM
11/14 – vs Anaheim – 7:30 PM
11/27 – at Chicago – 5:00 PM
1/23 – vs Nashville – 7:00 PM
2/20 – vs Boston – 7:00 PM
3/17 – vs Edmonton – 7:00 PM
3/27 – at Colorado – 7:00 PM

Five of the nine nationally televised games will take place at T-Mobile Arena with the start time of just one being pushed back to 7:30 PM.

Last year the Golden Knights were on national TV just five times in the regular season. The gain of four ranks Vegas fifth behind Tampa Bay, Nashville, Colorado, and Winnipeg for largest increase in NBC/NBCSN games.

NBC plans to bring a roaming studio, and some of their top talent, to many of the doubleheader sites to add more flavor to the broadcasts. NBC Sports President Sam Flood said one objective of the new strategy is “to show what’s happening in the newer markets.” –Kevin Allen, USA Today

 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, that decision was “heavily influenced” by the crowds outside of T-Mobile Arena prior to Golden Knights playoff games.

However, it’s not all great news when it comes to nationally televised games. As always, games broadcast on NBCSN are not aired locally on ATT Sportsnet. So, unless ATTSN decides to do what they did in the playoffs, there will be no local pre and post-game shows.

Also, six of the nine Golden Knights games on NBCSN are part of a doubleheader, meaning another game is broadcast right before it. The first game is always scheduled two and a half hours before the second. In the event of overtime and/or shootout, the second game begins before the first ends. Thus, it’s likely at least a few Golden Knights games will be joined in progress rather than being aired in their entirety.

Offseason Shoulder Surgery The Latest “Why Tatar Was Bad” Theory

Don’t really care what the problem was last year, Tatar needs to be good this year. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There have been a lot of excuses made for Tomas Tatar’s struggles after coming to Vegas in a trade just minutes before the deadline in February. The winger who had scored 19 or more goals in each of his previous four seasons only netted four in 20 games with the Golden Knights before finding himself a healthy scratch during a majority of the postseason.

The preeminent theory for Tatar’s decline was a lack of continuity in linemates.

It wasn’t fair to Tomas really. When we got him at the trade deadline we were trying to add depth to our hockey club and our team was playing so well at the time it was tough for him to get into the lineup. Here he is a 20 goal scorer who can play with any team in the NHL but the way our lines were going and the way our team was playing at that time it made it really tough to put him in a situation in which he could succeed. –Gerard Gallant on Technically Correct w/ Tyler Bischoff

In his first 14 games in Vegas, Tatar played with the same pair of players just once.

I think (consistency of linemates) is huge. He played some right wing when Reilly Smith was out, he played some left wing when James Neal was hurt so he was back and forth with the top three lines. He’s a guy that can play all over the place but he really never had any linemates where he could get comfortable with and that makes a big difference. -Gallant

However, there’s another theory, which was recently brought up by George McPhee on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio that may make even more sense.

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Front Office Confidence Rankings

“Are these idiots aware we just took an expansion team to the Stanley Cup Final? 11th place. Sheesh.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

How confident are you in the Golden Knights front office?

That’s the question The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn asked more than 2,000 fans in an attempt to rank all 31 teams. The entire breakdown of how it was conducted and full results can be found here, but since there’s a paywall at The Athletic I’ll tell you some stuff myself. The most important piece of info is that very few Golden Knights fans voted, so a majority of the poll is viewed through the eyes of other teams’ fans.

That being said, the Golden Knights fans that did vote showed supreme confidence in George McPhee, Kelly McCrimmon, and the front office, while the rest of the fanbases weren’t nearly as kind.

11th place seems a bit ridiculous for the Western Conference Champions whose roster didn’t exist at this time 13 months ago. Even the fanbase only voted high enough to rank the Golden Knights 7th too.

Here at SinBin.vegas, we were not able to vote, so here’s how we would have voted with a little description of why for each section. We’re also going to extend the voting to you guys using polls on Twitter. Vote on Twitter, see the results below. (Note: We don’t have the exact questions, so we are simply going off the words listed in the poll results. Therefore, as you’ll see in our responses, there can be different interpretations for each category.)

Roster Building
Ken – 5
Jason – 4

Ken: This roster was supposed to be absolute garbage. Even with the better Expansion Draft rules, most people (myself included) looked at it and said they would be the worst team in the league. They are so far from that it’s not even funny. Instead, they have an elite first line, a ton of balance throughout the rest of the forward group, a solid defense corps with a bunch of upside, and a Vezina quality goalie. Quite frankly, no one in the world could have built a better roster than this one from what was available, and the only team capable of beating McPhee’s new team was his old one. If there was a number higher than 5, I’d vote for that.

Jason: Coming to terms with William Karlsson was the biggest priority for Vegas this offseason. Karlsson signed a team-friendly deal that could set him for a big payday down the road. Extending Colin Miller was another move the Golden Knights should be happy with. Controlling young talent is a major benefit Vegas management takes advantage of, which is a smart strategy building a future roster.

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