Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Iole: Front Office Focus Can’t Be Solely On Winning Now

This season, diehard VGK fan and legendary combat sports columnist Kevin Iole will be delivering columns a few times a month on Sundays. Kevin’s back today to take a look at a position of depth, one that’s been notoriously thin in years past.

Over the next 40 or so days, George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon will spend most of their waking hours trying to figure how to ship out a highly paid player or three without destroying the Golden Knights’ chances of winning the Stanley Cup.

If Jack Eichel plays in the regular season, that means there are significant pieces of this team that won’t be part of a potential Cup run.

That’s life in a salary cap world.

But they’re also going to need to keep an eye on the future, because they know as well as anyone it is unsustainable trying to make a franchise a consistent Cup contender via trades and via agency.

It’s imperative that they mine the draft and land some impact players. Contrary to popular opinion, there are impact players chosen in nearly every draft after the first round and in a lot of cases, after the first three rounds.

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

Two of the three Golden Knights’ representatives at the 2022 All-Star Game fit that criteria. Jonathan Marchessault was undrafted, while Mark Stone was picked in the sixth round in 2010 by Ottawa.

Stone was chosen higher than Dallas’ Joe Pavelski, though, who was a seventh-round pick by San Jose way back in 2003. Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov and Anaheim’s Troy Terry were products of the fifth round of the 2015 draft. And Kaprizov’s Wild teammate, goalkeeper Cam Talbot, went undrafted.

If you go back, nearly every draft has impact players taken late.

The point of this is that if the Golden Knights are to remain an annual Cup contender, they’re going to have to replenish the system through the draft and hit on some players late. It’s the only way to compete when you’re paying top talents like Eichel, Stone, and Alex Pietrangelo.

McPhee and McCrimmon undoubtedly will have to trade someone they don’t want in order to fit Eichel onto the roster salary cap-wise. It’s going to hurt when it happens, especially if, as has been rumored, the Knights part ways with Reilly Smith, an original misfit. Smith is still a significant contributor and if he goes, he won’t be easily replaced.

The Knights have largely done well in the draft. Nick Suzuki looks like he’ll be an impact player, albeit with Montreal. Nic Hague, a 2017 second-round, has developed well and is showing signs of being a top pair defenseman; but if he’s not a top pair guy, he’s clearly someone the Knights can count on in the top four for years.

Zach Whitecloud was an absolute steal as an undrafted college free agent, and reports are promising on recent draftees Brendon Brisson, Lukas Cormier, and Zach Dean.

But because the Knights have traded so many picks, their farm system doesn’t have that much depth, which is why most of the outlets that rank these kinds of things have the Knights placed in the early 20s.

As McCrimmon works the phones, he needs to try to get picks for whoever he moves to make the Knights’ cap compliant. The worst part of the Marc-Andre Fleury deal is that the Knights’ got zero for him, not even a late-round pick.

The Knights’ staff has shown itself to have a good eye for talent. The Silver Knights don’t have any players on the roster now who are going to be impact players, but there are several who show the ability to be NHL regulars. That is the lifeblood of a solid franchise.

Henderson’s Jonas Rondbjerg and Jake Leschyshyn have shown they can play regularly in the NHL with more development, as to a lesser degree has Paul Cotter. Logan Thompson isn’t going to win the Vezina, but he looks to be at the worst, a very good No. 2. Pavel Dorofeyev has some promise but needs to get bigger. Kaeden Korczak can be an NHL regular. And defenseman Peter DeLiberatore has grown on me and he might develop into a bottom-pairing guy.

Not all of them will develop and fulfill their potential, which is why franchises need so many players.

If they wanted to, the Knights could probably dump a Smith or an Evgeni Dadonov in Arizona and have the Coyotes keep the entire cap hit, which would be significant in Dadonov’s case since he has term remaining. But the Coyotes wouldn’t want either guy unless they got picks in addition for helping the Knights out of salary cap hell. That just doesn’t seem to be a wise move for the VGK.

To lessen the impact of whatever may happen, the Knights could try to trade from their depth. Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry is having an outstanding year, but backup goaltender Casey DeSmith, who was so good the last two years, has been awful this year.

Smith is in the final year of a deal that pays him $1.5 million. The VGK could send Laurent Brossoit and his $2.5 million salary to Pittsburgh either for a pick or for a pick and Smith. The Knights could then send Smith to Henderson and use Thompson as Robin Lehner’s backup.

Waiving guys like Adam Brooks and Ben Hutton will save a million or so. Maybe trade William Carrier for a late pick. If the Knights look to move Dadonov, the Islanders could be a place. They are tight on the cap — Aren’t all contenders (even though the Isles aren’t doing much contending now)? — but they need guys who can put the puck in the net and not only can Dadonov do that, he’s shown a pretty good two-way game that Barry Trotz demands.

Maybe the Knights can get a mid-round pick for him.

The point is, the Knights can’t afford to think exclusively about 2022, because that will come back to haunt them very quickly. They need to accumulate picks, and they need to hit on a lot of them.

They’ve done that fairly well so far with the picks they’ve had, but they haven’t really had a late-rounder come through. If they could pull that off, their future will look as bright as their present.

**You can find all of Kevin’s tremendous boxing and MMA work at Yahoo Sports here.**


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  1. knights fan in minny

    the fountian thing i liked it must have been nuts there with the hockey game and the pro bowl more then ready for the 2nd half hopefully the squad can back to full strength

  2. Tim

    Kevin so true. I do see where we gave draft choices away like candy look no further then the Tomas Tatar trade with Detroit. I will disagree with you on the state of our minor league prospects. I’ll start with Brendon Brisson last I looked he along with Matty Beiners were leading Michigan in goals and points. Goals are the key word here I put a much higher value on goals over assists. Did I mention Beiners was the #2 pick in last years draft. Another unknown Knight is Ivan Morozov who should be coming over from Russia this spring. I understand he spent time in the KHL as one of the youngest players.I could go on and mention the others you listed above but how good they’ll be is a question only time can answer. The people in the know have our system rated in the 20’s not sure that’s accurate but again time will tell. I think the two kids we picked up Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden can become useful pieces in our system. Where you see doom and gloom I see potential.
    Jack Eichel is going to be a challenge no doubt and the obvious choices are Dadonov, Smith, and Martinez of the thee I’d keep Martinez he’s a warrior. I’d hate to see Smith go but Dadonov and him are replaceable when your talking about a player of Eichel’s talent. It will be interesting and I think after our trip this week in Alberta the ax will fall on one of them. I’m betting Dadonov is first to go and then they’ll wait and see how the injuries shake out.

    • Pistol Pete

      It does look like it will be Avs and Kings at home next week for the earliest we’ll see Jack. I’m going to the practice tomorrow where I expect to see him in a regular contact jersey. One sole contact practice is probably not enough preparation for next weeks back-to-back on the road vs EDM and CGY. Two more contact practices on the road and Eichel plays CGY? Maybe.

      • Mike StG

        Pete, more likely about 2 weeks in contact practice before he’d actually play a game. Maybe the Feb 26th COL home game , or a game during that 3 game home stand.

    • Galdom

      Dadonov is a tougher piece to move. While his cap hit is 5 million the contract was back loaded by Ottawa which means he is owed 5 million this year and 6.5 million actual dollars next year. there’s a chance to take a sweetener on Vegas is and to trade Dadonov. Since Reilly Smith is the better player and on a expiring contract he is much easier to move.

      Obviously the market still has to be set but I’m gauging the worth of these players by logic.

      I think they can get a second round pick in return for Reilly Smith. I think they would have to give up their own mid round draft pick to move Dadonov.

  3. Pierre S Martin

    It will be interesting to see how the Knights and Kraken compare three to five years down the road. Vegas may see a steep drop while the Kraken may see a steady rise. Time will tell, what happens with both teams at the trade deadline will have a major impact .

    • Pistol Pete

      I don’t see VGK fading anytime soon. There’s a couple key players that will have to go to fit Eichel in but it will be worth it. As long as Foley owns the team players will thrive here and there should be no trouble bringing the prospects up as they are acquired and developed.

    • Tim

      Pierre the Kraken have no farm system there #2 pick Matty Beiners in the draft is tied with the Knights 27 th pick Brandon Brisson for point lead at Michigan. They went all in for goaltender in Paul G. hows that working out. The truth is with any team it’s hit and miss and The Kraken whiffed big time this year. There fans wanted at least a competitive team and the only thing they got were good looking sweaters which I really like.

      • Tim I would like to see Brisson drop out of Michigan and play for HSK. He’s 20. the sooner he get his feet wet as a pro the better. Plenty of competition for him over there. No time to waste getting established. It won’t be easy. Tough to land a spot on the VGK roster.

        • I think you’re right about Rondbjerg. He’s headed for the roster. Producing around a point a game at HSK after a credible showing on the VGK is exactly what they want to see.

        • Tim

          Pistol Pete I agree, With his dad being big time agent Pat Brisson I’m sure they’ll make the right decision for his future hopefully it’s with the Silver Knights. It will be interesting with Ivan Morozov coming over plus Jonas R. and Pavel D. who we both like add Brissom to those other young forwards and theres a lot of promise. Plus a host of other young players we should be fine.

  4. It is going to prove interesting down the line what has greater value six players for 28mill or three which is what they currently have. In the final analysis ROI is really all that matters to sustain itself which in Vegas’ case could turn out to be a big problem. There is no question they are blinded by the light trying to prove you can buy your way to the Cup but then what. Many teams have taken that approach in the past only to find out it can’t or doesn’t work – take your choice of the two the results are the same. It’s great to have an owner who wants to win, and apparently willing to do so but maybe they are operating under an unrealistic goal. I am relativity sure he didn’t become as successful as he has overnight which when you consider the goal many teams have taken years to achieve. When Vegas came into the league everything fell into place, a lot to do with the horrible circumstance which brought the entire city behind them. The original team, a bunch of misfits (rejects if you may) from their prior teams had a lot to prove to themselves and their former employers was a recipe for the success they had. Probably set unrealistic expectation going forward which has proven to be the case and not duplicated to date with all the millions they have shelled out. I am not sure such a disparity in pay is the recipe for success. Time will tell.

    • Tim

      hdbiker, Tell me how many teams have ever had 4 captains on it I venture to say never. We didn’t get lucky in the expansion draft we were smart and being smart has led to our success if everyone else wants to boo hoo tuff shit. We may not win a Stanley Cup but we’ll be competitive long after I’m dead.

      • Tim – I hope you live forever, not sure why you would think having 4 Captains is significant in the scheme of things. I don’t believe l indicated we were lucky with the expansion draft l only said we assembled a bunch of rejects who had something to prove to themselved and their former employers. Who’s boo hoo ing anything not sure where that came from if anything cheering would be more appropriate for the success they have experienced. I recall you expressing how important winning is for the fan base otherwise they would just disappear which you indicated happened in the past. True fans are around thru the thick and thin so vegas mgt has been fortunate the team has been winning. I would point out the stands aren’t full like they were initially and seats are available for most if not all games. I would also point out that being captain doesn’t equate.necesarly to being the best player which l would believe you know is fact. Hope they keep winning as anything positive is a plus to what’s going on in.this country.

        • Tim

          HDbiker, Having 4 captains shows how there teams respected them which I assume makes for a good room. That was an easy answer.

          • Tim – if you want to play that game explain to me why their respective teams where they were captains decided to let them go, given they were that valuable. It’s interesting to note the knight function well with zero captains. Be careful about using the word assume – I know your old enough to know or have heard – using the term can mean many things like making an ass – u – me. If I am not mistaken the same question about other teams allowing or not interested in keeping could apply to a number of others – just an observation as I know you know who the others are.

          • sb

            Having four captains shows the depth and character this team has. Everyone’s always crying for these characteristics to be in their players. But when they get it they still find ways to complain. This team has depth and character. That’s what wins Cups. Detroit’s 2003 Cup team had four captains – Stevie, Hull, Lucky Luc and Shanahan.

      • Kevin Iole

        Pittsburgh had a ton of captains in 91-92: Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, Brian Trottier, Rick Tocchet and Bob Errey

      • Daryl

        I disagree, vhk did get very lucky in the expansion draft. We saw with the Kraken draft and the available players. Now I’m not saying VGK was given anything at all as they were expected to finish dead last but being the first ever draft like it was, GMs sure would have done things differently, again as we saw with the Kraken draft

    • Roper

      Patches comes off the book next year or they can trade that 7 mill piece

      • knights fan in minny

        is his contract up i could see him taking a discount i think he has five kids guess it depends on the wife if she wants to move the family that would be a lot of work with 5 kids hard to say who knows if vegas wants him back

  5. Pistol Pete

    I don’t agree in that the team has done well every year after the special year one. They have suffered from a lack of scoring in the later rounds of each third round they made it too which was not the case year one, so in that sense they went downhill. Clearly they needed an elite 1C who was Karlsson year one which proved to be an outlier for him. Imo Eichel was the smartest move they could make. They have enough cap to build around Eichel, Pietrangelo, Stone and Pacioretty who total $35.3. I doubt that is an outlier looking around the league. The skill set is for the FO to build the roster around the elite salaries with prospects and standard price players like all the other best teams do.

  6. John W

    As I have said before, VGK has some huge built in advantages, to play the free agent game:

    – No tax state (assuming Sisolak and his buddies don’t F that up)
    – Desirable place to live, in comparison to most other NHL cities
    – Great team culture and facilities

    If you add in strong management and the commitment to win every year, you may have a better situation for building/maintaining a team through free agency then possibly ever…..

    I do agree, however, that it would be very useful to have a few of the recent picks (Brisson, Morozov, Korzcack, et al) to “hit”.

  7. knights fan in minny

    i see jack hughes has covid hope it did not spread

  8. Galdom

    They need to show some restraint in trying to go after every new toy. They clearly draft well since Brannstrom, Suzuki and Krebs were appealing to other teams and were used to acquire Stone, Pacioretty and Eichel. Now it’s time to keep prospects and draft picks and develop future replacements for players whose contracts will end in 2025 and onward . In there short existence they appear to develop players well as various Silver Knights have made contributions.

    • Pistol Pete

      They have done excellent acquiring D talent as evidenced by Hague and Whitecloud plus several really decent prospects over at HSK. With Suzuki and maybe Krebs gone, we are waiting for high impact talent at forward—possibly Brisson, Dean and Morosov. I am optimistic VGK will continue to draft well. I am aware I continue to appear to view the future through rose colored glasses but it’s hard not to give how successful this team has been.

      • Mike StG

        Rondbjerg is also responsible defensively, so that will be a big plus to him moving up to VGK. If (big IF) they win the cup this year I could see him playing VGK next season. If not, then maybe mid year at the earliest, depending on injuries.

    • Mike StG

      Gal, They have all the major pieces in place. They have center depth, with top 3 Cs signed for 3-6 years out. Five of six D are signed for 3-6 years out. Winger is probably where prospects will fill in as existing large contracts expire. And they also acquired a number of young forwards in the 22-25 y/o range, two of them former 1st rounders. I don’t see any reason for the complaints that seem to linger about their drafts and prospect pool.

      One thing to remember about prospects and draft picks that VGK traded after and during season 1 is that they acquired those picks in their expansion draft deals FOR THE PURPOSE of using them in deals later, which they did.

      As for Kraken expansion draft, teams were unwilling to make the kind of deals they did with Vegas. So it appears Francis just drafted the best he could and decided that if they weren’t in the mix for playoffs they could acquire picks via trades at deadline. I can see them adding at least an additional 1st and 2nd 2022 pick at TD. They have several players that could net them a good return – Giordano, Larsson, Eberle, Gourde, Taney.

      • Mike StG


      • Tim

        Mike, Then what? They trade there best players on a team that stinks get all these draft picks that take how long to develop and what percentage will bust? Believe me the Kraken better get used to the basement because there going to be there for years to come. Now you have a fan problem you think Seattle is a sports town I beg to differ. Seattle Pilots baseball team lasted one year 1970. How about the Seattle Supersonics basketball team they won a championship in 1979 and still couldn’t keep the team. People gloss over the facts and they hyped the Krakens like they were the best thing since sliced bread. They were going to equal what we did Right. Like I said the only thing I like about the Kraken are there sweaters.

        • Mike StG

          Tim, I wasn’t saying I agreed with Seattle’s strategy, just speculating on what it appeared to be since teams weren’t going to make the same mistakes they did with Vegas. Several of SEA expansion picks are in the last year of their current contract. And there will be interest from playoff bound teams looking to improve their rosters.

          Actually, Vegas’s basic strategy was the same. They selected several players who were in the last year of their contract, assuming they could flip some of them at TD for picks or prospects they could then use to sign better players. They just didn’t expect to get to the playoffs.

          I think Kraken will move at least a few veterans in their last contract year to get picks or prospects.

      • sb

        Francis isn’t in the same league as McPhee. Evidence Year 1 both teams. McPhee has been an outstanding GM for two decades. Both of his teams met in the Stanley Cup Finals 2018. Quite a trick.

  9. Everybody kinda forgets Jackson Hallum. 21 and 26 in 36 for the Green Bay Gamblers. Exciting kid going to Michigan next year. Next level speed and can score in many different ways. Did I say speed for days?

  10. Tim

    Michael, There you go another Vegas Knight draft pick no one knows about. How about this Dean kid we drafted last year I hear he’s a keeper. Another one we drafted a Russian kid who’s been playing in Canada for a few years another keeper from what I understand. So when they tell you our farm system is weak I laugh because the whole hockey world is so jealous of the Knights they can’t stand it.

  11. james

    Trade Karlsson hes the worst of the top 4 centers when eichel ready. His effort isn’t there nor is he ever getting close to his goal amount that gave him that contract. Eichel Stevenson Roy. 6.5 mill for Karlsson ? Bring eichel back for playoffs thats the best answer

    • sb

      Right, kinda. Karlsson’s the best two way center on the team. Dependable. Trade Wild Bill. No way. He is the prototype second line center every team dreams of. It’s Smith that’s moving. Expiring contract. He’ll want $5 mil for 5 more seasons. Let some other team make this mistake. A good guy Vegas can no longer afford.

  12. S

    No love for Miromanov, Cotter, Dugan, or the soon to be here Morozov?

  13. Zane

    When you’re trying to win a Cup, this year is all that matters; you can figure out the cap issues and what the team will look like moving forward after the parade but if you’re worried about that in the midst of a Cup run, you may miss the mark

    • THE hockey GOD

      @Zane, the cup goes through Florida this year. TBL or Panthers. That is tall order. That is why the odds are 1 in 800 or more, that VGK will do it.

      Don’t get your hopes too high.

      • You are correct the East is a Beast and I agree with you on the two teams from Florida! I would also not count out the Penguins and the NYR to the list as possible Stanley Cup teams from the East. Both teams have had great goaltending and the Rangers have a ton of cap space.

  14. Scott

    Why is Karleson’s name never mentioned when we talk about dumping salary? He really hasn’t had an impact since year 1. He’s not particularly strong on the draw and Chandler Stephenson has really stepped up and produced. Stephenson’s salary is only a fraction of Karleson’s. It would make sense to me to move Wild Bill, and then move Stephenson to the 2nd line Center when Eichel comes in to play 1st line center between Patch and Stone. What say you SinBin?

  15. More Jackson Hallum. I know there are some lighter guys in the NHL but I’d like to see him go from 170 to 195. He’ll still be fast like McDavid.

  16. THE hockey GOD

    Since this article and whole thread is thoroughly projection and fantasyland mixed with some “hockey based pulp fiction”, and I am back from my yatth trip in South Pacific. Waiting for slip to open up in SoCal.

    If FO was smart they would go the TBL route and hold off on bringing the ten million dollar man back until the playoffs. That is there only chance of winning the SC this year. Then after they unload 10 million in off season, after coming up short again in winning the SC this year, they will unload and bring in new faces next year. Allowing the new faces to blend in during the season to build up team chemistry. The worse thing you can do with a contending team late in season is to upset the apple cart. The coach would be put into a terrible position to hold the team together if face of losing key players. On other hand the coach has been doing a decent job of scrambling this year in a very competitive division.

    Consider during the off season that the franchise will see loss of it’s owner putting more of a financial restraint on the organization. Many a franchise after seeing an owner change wind up in long trend of SAL CAP ceiling, dealing with over bloated due contracts, with no room to grow or spend. Then the whole desert in hockey idea will come crashing down like what is going on in Arizona. The team will be forced to move to northern clime where there are real hockey fans and the weather suites the team. Regina is on the horizon, and the team will change it’s name to the Regina Power Vaginas, with first female goalie in net as a fan attraction and tribute to Bettman’s far left liberal idiocy to bring diversity into NHL.

    PS what will the Regina’s new team mascot be ? A rainbow feathered big bird ?
    -0- -0-

  17. Daryl

    I agree with Iole here. VGK FO has concentrated on a win now philosophy and I think it will hurt them in a couple years. Look at contracts of Petra and some of the others with trade restriction. These guys will be here for another 5 years and they will start declining in production and VGK won’t be able to ship them. VGK is in the bottom third of oldest teams and these guys will still be around for a very long time. If VGK doesn’t win it all this year, the FO will turn around and against go after a good, high priced player and give him a very favorable contract which will again hurt this team in a couple of years

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