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Golden Knights Arrive In Dallas Without Vadim Shipachyov

We’re finally here, the first real game in franchise history, Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars. Starting on the first line for the Golden Knights will be Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and… Oscar Lindberg?

That’s right, Vadim Shipachyov, who has been playing exclusively with Smith and Marchessault throughout all of training camp and the preseason is not only not on the top line, he’s not even on the opening night roster. In fact, Vadim Shipachyov isn’t even in Dallas!

This whole chain of events started with Shipachyov being sent down to the AHL in what appeared to be a complicated roster maneuver to outsmart the waiver process. The thought was, the Golden Knights would make a roster move, which they did by waiving Calvin Pickard, and Shipachyov would be added back to the roster. Instead, the charade now continues as the Golden Knights activated James Neal off IR and he will fit into a line with David Perron and Cody Eakin.

We assigned Theodore, Tuch, and Shipachyov (to the AHL)… because we could. They did not require waivers. We are doing roster maneuvering with our roster like many clubs are at this time of year and we will see where this goes in the next few days. -George McPhee

As we’ve seemingly been trying to do the past few days now, let’s try to give some background to this “roster maneuvering.”

As McPhee said, Shipachyov is waiver exempt. If you read often you probably know this, but if you don’t, that’s a fancy way of saying, “can move a player to the AHL without any risk of losing him to another club.” So that’s what the Golden Knights did. But when they opened the roster spot, they went with an injured (and still pretty badly, we believe) Neal instead of Shipachyov. This is the perplexing part.

The first big question is, whether or not Shipachyov will ever play a game with the Chicago Wolves. He’s technically on the roster for the Wolves in their game tonight, ironically, a few hours up the road in Austin playing the Texas Stars. Making an educated guess, we do not believe he will NOT play in that game, nor will he play in tomorrow’s Wolves game either.

Then we get to the interesting part, where we move on down the road. The most obvious solution is that McPhee would make a trade and/or place a player on waivers to open a roster spot back up for Shipachyov. But what if that doesn’t happen?

How long can this go on? Will the $9M man spend any significant amount of time playing in the AHL? Are they waiting for an injury? Is there a deal nearly in place that just didn’t quite get done in time?

The answers to those questions remain unknown. However, the decision to leave Shipachyov off the NHL roster in the first game in franchise history hammers home a point about McPhee’s belief system on the 2017-18 season.

This season doesn’t matter.

Winning and losing in 2017-18 simply isn’t important to the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s got one of his top five players off the roster for a day (so far) so he can protect the likes of Griffin Reinhart, Brad Hunt, Tomas Nosek, and Brendan Leipsic. He has Theodore and Tuch in the AHL, two of the major pieces to the future of the Golden Knights down there with Shippy for the same reason.

Just like he did with Expansion Draft rules, waiver order, the free agency window, or the players he’s acquired to this point, the 2017-18 season is an asset. The combination of time, roster spots, and the lack of pressure to compete allows McPhee to tinker with the roster in ways a team with aspirations of winning simply cannot do.

It’s why he could trade Marc Methot for a 2nd round pick three years from now, he could claim a 23-year-old goalie who he himself says is “not quite ready to play at this level,” and he can take on $10M+ of cap space in injured players in exchange for a few picks.

McPhee cares not about winning now. He cares about making the playoffs in three and hoisting the Stanley Cup before The Creator turns 80. Leaving Shipachyov behind is just another example of that.






  1. Da Yoopers

    Personally, I’m fine with what the G.M. is doing. Keep getting these guys that will produce in the future (3 years from now).

  2. RJ

    Are there any other teams with their top line center starting the season off the roster as McPhee should have us believe? Many clubs do this at this time of year? This is losing on purpose and it is shameful.

  3. Cody

    Great analysis and my thoughts exactly. Chess game McPhee is playing well.

  4. DanK

    “Still injured pretty badly we believe?” From all I’ve read Neal’s been out of a red shirt for over a week and looking ready to go in practice.

    Shipachyov is certainly a talent, but would he crack the first line on any other team? His one assist in the preseason was a beautiful pass, but was otherwise absent from the score sheet against mostly AHL opponents. Spending a month or 2 in Chicago becoming more accustomed to the smaller ice surface certainly doesn’t hurt the Knights in the long run. Plan A? Probably not. Disaster? Definitely not.

    • To give you a little more in detail. I hung out by his locker for quite a while this morning. Don’t want to give any specifics beyond, he’s still hurt pretty bad.

    • Bent Hermit

      They probably have a team interested in him and want to see him play. That’s the only reason I can think to rush him back. Neal would be the best forward on the market right now. Ottawa is looking to add either a top 6 or bottom 6 forward. There would have to be a creative deal to fit his salary under their cap.

      • VGK has two more “retained salary” slots. They can make anything work if the deal is sweet enough.

        • Bent Hermit

          Yeah that’s what I was thinking. If I remember right it’s only 1 mill they would have to retain.

  5. Bent Hermit

    I think Shipachyov looked lost at times during the preseason. The older the player is the harder it is for them to make the switch from KHL to NHL. Some very good KHL players are never able to make the switch. Letting him play some in the AHL, no pressure and a little slower, might help him find his game. This also let’s the team show case players they might want to move.

  6. Hoov

    “Great move by McPhee”??? Except having no consideration to his players. Do you think they care by any of that? Shipachyov CHOSE Vegas and the NHL because he wanted a challenge. He chose Vegas but will play in the AHL instead. Did you guys ever consider if he regrets his choice now? By the way, his contract is only 2 years so he’ll surely GTFO of the organization by the time the team reaches 3 years when they’ll be “ready”.

    If McPhee is such a genius, how come he didn’t prevent this situation beforehand?

  7. Terracrest

    Rationalize it as you will. Leaving Shipachyov off the roster amounts to nothing more than a brain freeze and bonehead situation. Let the star play and get his moxie going. He was ranked so high in fantasy draft lists for a reason.

  8. ranndino

    Whatever the roster and long term considerations I’m sure Shipachyov, a star in the KHL, didn’t come over to sit in the stands or play in the AHL. He’s probably not exactly happy with how his NHL career is starting.

  9. Rick Dames

    I really appreciate Ken’s remarks earlier about Shipachyov being “hurt pretty bad” I’ve seen video of his play in the KHL and the IIHF, and the player I saw on the Ice at T-Mobile did not look like the same player. I understand the “waiver-shuffle” however, I’ve been thinking that “Shippy’s” play has been awful (playing in pain would be a great explanation) He has seemed lost; giveaways, bad passes, tentativeness in one to one battles, faceoff issues, lost in his own end – both while playing Center and Wing. I know he’s a better player than we’ve seen and hope he can get healthy and we can see the real player! A short time with the Wolves and if he impresses nearly as well as our guys have done for Chicago in Cedar Park the last two nights, he’ll give us a great return on investment!!

    • Terracrest

      Good eyes on commentary thanks. I’ve been struggling with dropping him or not from my fantasy roster. If he’s playing hurt or without confidence that’s not good for fantasy value for now. Hopefully he can bounce back.

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