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Latest NHL Power Rankings: VGK A Multimillion-Dollar World Of Imagination

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Since the start of the new year the Golden Knights haven’t been at their best. Vegas is 1-2-2 in 2022 but still managed to add four points to their Pacific Division leading 23-14-2 record. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the Golden Knights dominate opponents like they did throughout the month of December, which may have changed minds across the league. When in reality, Vegas picked up four points in five games without playing up to their potential and missing a myriad of starters.

Every so often we like to check in on NHL power rankings across the league. Vegas was a preseason Top 5 team but ever since the injuries piled up they’ve mostly been stuck in double digits. According to aggregate site Power Rankings Guru, this week the Golden Knights checked in at #11.

The consensus was, Vegas had an incredible month of December but took a step back once the calendar year ended. A little dramatic if you ask me.

Let’s start with the league’s site. Vegas rounded out the top ten for the second straight week on NHL.com. Up until they’re fully healthy expect Vegas to be ranked in bottom part of the top ten.

NHL.com – #10 (Previously #10)

The Golden Knights won an NHL record 14 straight regular-season games decided in overtime before losing 5-4 to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, the first time they lost in OT since Dec. 19, 2019 (5-4 at the Vancouver Canucks).

ESPN had a little fun by publishing a Disney themed NHL power rankings. Greg Wyshinski and crew went light on Vegas, only dropping them one position.

ESPN – #12 (Previously #11)

To honor this magical place, and with no small amount of corporate synergy, we’ve decided to use this week’s NHL power rankings to match all 32 teams with the Disney World attractions — rides, food, characters — that best fit their vibes.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. A multimillion-dollar world of imagination that offers thrilling rides, lasting memories and the unwavering feeling that it never goes quite as far as you’d like it to go. That weird feeling in your stomach about the Golden Knights in the playoffs is not because you drank too much blue milk …

Sportsnet has routinely had Vegas outside of the top ten. One of the reasons for the lower grade is the injuries to Jack Eichel, Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez. Once those three impact players return I’m sure SN will raise the local boys in their rankings.

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Using Numbers To Solve The Upcoming Chandler Stephenson Problem

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Chandler Stephenson has been one of the main centers of attention this season for the Golden Knights for many different reasons.

To start the year, there was a question of whether or not he was good enough to be a #1 center on a Stanley Cup-winning team. Following a playoff series that saw Mark Stone go pointless and Stephenson chip in just one point, the Golden Knights took matters into their own hands, acquiring Jack Eichel and giving themselves an unquestioned top-line center.

But all the while, Stephenson has been producing at more than a point-per-game pace playing in the #1 center role. He’s played 12 games between Max Pacioretty and Stone and has four goals and 10 assists for 14 points. That has shifted the question to, is it really wise to move Stephenson once Eichel is ready?

Then, there have been a couple of stretches in which Stephenson played without Stone or Pacioretty and continued to produce. In 16 games without either star winger, Stephenson has put up 13 points entering a new question into the ether; if he still produces without the top guys, maybe moving him down to fit in Eichel does make the most sense.

All the while, he’s been dubbed as Vegas’ most indispensable player by ESPN, he has a bit of an underground All Star campaign going, and his teammates have consistently pumped his tires often proclaiming he is the most skilled player on the team.

All of this has turned Stephenson into somewhat of an enigma. There’s just so much data pointing in so many different directions with him. I wanted to dig into some numbers to see if the picture can be made any clearer.

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Who Is Vegas’ Most Indispensable Player?

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This week ESPN chose one player from each NHL team that they deemed indispensable, the “Worldwide Leader” made a surprising choice for the Golden Knights’ most vital performer.

Most indispensable: Chandler Stephenson

We may not have pegged Stephenson as the Golden Knights’ top-line center or leading goal scorer when the season started. But here he is, having a terrific year. He’s averaging a point per game and the most ice time of any Vegas forward. On a team that stumbled out of the gate, Stephenson has been an irreplaceable player helping to keep the Golden Knights afloat.- ESPN.com

It’s hard to argue Stephenson’s value this season. The seven-year veteran is having a career season, leading Vegas in points, shooting percentage (50 shot minimum), and faceoff wins. Overall, Stephenson has been essential to the team’s turnaround since their early 1-4 start.

As a point-per-game player, the highly productive center anchored the top six when Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and William Karlsson were on the mend. In the games that his two linemates were absent, Stephenson emerged as Vegas’ go-to for much-needed offense. Since the season began the Golden Knights are 7-3 when he scores.

As steady as Stephenson has been, ESPN is way off. Here are players more indispensable than Stephenson.

Alex Pietrangelo

Most Golden Knights fans are in agreement that Pietrangelo became Vegas’ most impactful player since last postseason. The former captain led his new team in postseason time on ice, shots, power play points, and is second in total points behind William Karlsson. In 31 appearances this season, the Golden Knights are 13-4 when the defenseman registers a point. Since the postseason, much of Vegas’ offense flows through the experienced defenseman.

To be fair to the critics, Pietrangelo is frequently on the ice for goals scored by the opposition, but it’s inevitable when he skates 25+ minutes per game. The alternate captain has been on the ice for 32 even-strengthened goals which is 9th worst in the NHL. However, Pietrangelo is 4th best in the league for being on the ice when his team scores. You know which Golden Knight follows Pietrangelo in those columns? You guessed it, Stephenson.

On Ice Even-Strength Goals For

  1. Pietrangelo 38
  2. Stephenson 38
  3. Hague 37
  4. Theodore 31
  5. Smith 29

On Ice Even-Strength Goals Against

  1. Pietrangelo 32
  2. Stephenson 28
  3. Hague 28
  4. Smith 25
  5. Marchessault 25

I understand deep stats overwhelmingly disregard the 31-year-old’s impact so this comes down to a simple eye test. Pietrangelo is more indispensable.

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Islanders’ Barry Trotz On VGK: “They’re Legit”

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It was the perfect road trip for the Golden Knights last week along the Eastern Seaboard. Winning in Boston, New Jersey, and two in New York sent a loud message across the league. Vegas’ four-game sweep had some hiccups but collecting eight points was all that mattered. Three of their opponents were openly impressed by how the Golden Knights found ways to win.

They’re a legit, deep, big, fast, well-coached hockey team. A good sign for us. We measured up against a pretty good hockey team. -Barry Trotz, NYI coach

The Cup-winning coach knows Vegas well, and has had some success against them. We’re all aware of Trotz and the Capitals eliminating the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Finals but the results have been different in the regular season.

Outside of the postseason the current New York Islanders coach is 2-5-1 against Vegas. However, most games were tight and Trotz’ players were always prepared.

We played composed, we played with some urgency when we were down a goal to come back like this against a team like Vegas that keeps pressing. I thought we did a really good job tonight to come back and get the lead. It’s unfortunate to give up a goal at the end like this and lose that point. -Jean-Gabriel Pageau, NYI forward

The Islanders forced the Golden Knights into a hard-fought 60 minutes. Vegas’ skill and speed stood out to the Islanders, and specifically some of their quicker players.

You watch [Stephenson] play now, there’s no governor and he realizes it. He’s got himself to the next level. And he’s a good player. -Trotz

Vegas was sharp for several periods in New York and were hampered in others, but it never cost them in the end. Against the Rangers, the Golden Knights were completely in control of the game after the opening 20 minutes, but the remaining 40 were challenging.

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Golden Knights Shining With Own Net Empty

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Throughout the course of this season the Golden Knights have been in survival mode. Whether the reasons have been self-inflicted or not, this version of the Golden Knights hasn’t looked anything like the ones we’ve grown accustomed to watching in the past.

Often times we hear coaches talk about the process over the results. Basically saying that over a long season it’s more important how a team is playing than whether or not they get a win on any given night. This season, the process for the Golden Knights hasn’t been great. They’re allowing far too many chances, the power play is pushing historically bad levels, and they aren’t finishing the opportunities to the same degree they are capable of. The results have been ok, but everyone’s aware they could be much worse.

There is one place where the process has been stellar, if not elite. It’s when the Golden Knights have trailed late in a game and have been forced to remove their goalie to push for the comeback goal.

Vegas has spent 11:40 with their net empty this year which has resulted in just one goal for and three against. Not exactly the results a team is looking for with the goalie pulled, but not terrible. However, the process has been excellent, and there was no better display of it than last night.

Trailing by two, Pete DeBoer opted to pull Laurent Brossoit from the goal with 4:08 left in the final period. At that moment, Vegas had Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Nic Roy, Reilly Smith, Chandler Stephenson, and Jonathan Marchessault on the ice.  With the help of a timeout 68 seconds in, all six of those players put in more than three minutes of ice time in the final four, and Pietrangelo and Theodore were on the ice for a three minute and 47 second long shift.

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Golden Knights Must Manage Minutes Amidst Injuries

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

It’s no secret the Golden Knights are banged up. Heck, I think I’ve started every one of the last 10 stories I’ve written with some version of that statement. But the fact of the matter is whether it’s the play on the ice, the discussions off it, or anything in between, it’s affecting everything surrounding the team right now.

One such place we’re seeing that effect is in playing time. The Golden Knights have played a lot of hockey and traveled three times (one of which had complications) in the past eight days. Pete DeBoer is convinced fatigue is one of the main reasons his team threw away a three goal lead last night.

It’s that time of year, you look around the league and there’s a lot of blown leads. Teams don’t quite have things locked down yet. I think you combine that with five games in eight nights this week and some tired guys. We put some big minutes on guys with some of the injuries and I think we ran out of a little bit of gas and lost some momentum there. -DeBoer

Of the Golden Knights top four minute-getters at forward and defense, six are on pace to set career highs in average time on ice per game.

 This SeasonLast SeasonCareer High
Stephenson19:4818:0618:06 (20-21)
Smith19:0117:5218:37 (15-16)
Karlsson18:5618:4018:52 (19-20)
Marchessault18:2717:2518:09 (18-19)
Pietrangelo26:2324:2626:18 (15-16)
Theodore23:2822:3322:33 (20-21)
Martinez22:3022:3422:52 (17-18)
Hague17:5516:0016:00 (20-21)

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Hunting Career Highs: Forwards

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Part 1 of this article was on Tuesday, now we’re moving on to Part 2 where we are looking at the Golden Knights forward group. Again, we’re looking for the statistic each player is most likely to surpass their career-high in.

Mark Stone
Stat: Even-Strength Assists
Career High – 31

Mark Stone is a superstar, there’s really no way around it. He’s been one for a few years too, so hitting career-highs in just about anything won’t be easy. But the one number that jumped off the page was even-strength assists. I’d expect Stone to be pushing 40 assists this year (his career-high in a season is 42), and with VGK’s power play struggles most of them should come at 5-on-5. Plus, he’s awesome at 3-on-3 which could nab him a few more.

Other options: Assists (42), Games Played (80), Shorthanded Goals (1)

Max Pacioretty
Stat: Shots
Career High – 307

Pacioretty is a high-volume shooter, especially since he’s been in Vegas. It’s not uncommon to look up and see him on the board with five, six, or seven shots in a game. In 2019-20 he amassed his career-high 307 shots in just 71 games. This year, assuming he gets to around 80 games, he could easily be pushing 350. His numbers did pull back a bit last year, which is concerning, but he’s not exactly a guy with a lot of reachable career-high options.

Other options: Faceoffs Won (51), Assists (34), Power Play Goals (10)

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5 GM Do-Agains We Wish The Golden Knights Could Make

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We started out with the do-overs, moves made by the Golden Knights we wished could be redone. Today, we’re flipping the script and looking at some of the best moves in team history. These are moves that unequivocally advanced the roster and have made the Golden Knights much better.

Note: This is all post-Expansion Draft, otherwise it would have just been an Expansion Draft recap article.

Here we go…

5) Trading Colin Miller for a 2nd and a 5th

Even though the Golden Knights have never truly replaced Miller, especially on the power play, the value they were able to get out of a player who was a healthy scratch in a VGK playoff game is immense. Miller has simply not been the same player in Buffalo, amassing just 23 points in two seasons where he had 41 and 29 in each of his two seasons in Vegas.

Miller’s contract looked decent at the time but it’s now headed towards a pretty significant overpay for his performance. It’s hard to say where he’d be in his career had this trade never happened, which is why it’s not higher on this list, but the return on investment Vegas got for the player who has been in Buffalo is excellent.

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2021 VGK Free Agency Tracker

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*This article will be updated throughout the day as more information rolls in.*

  • Alec Martinez has re-signed with the Golden Knights for a three-year contract worth $5.25 million AAV. (Source: @ frank_seravalli)
  • Laurent Brossoit has signed with the Golden Knights on a two-year contract worth $2.325 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Nick Holden and a 3rd Round Pick have been traded to the Ottawa Senators for Evgenii Dadonov. (Source: SinBin.vegas + @KevinWeekes)
  • Mattias Janmark will stay with the Golden Knights. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Vegas is reportedly interested in signing Montreal’s Phillip Danault (Source: @GeorgesLaraque)
    • Danault has signed with the Kings. Six years for $5.5 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • VGK have signed Sven Baertschi to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • Patrick Brown has re-signed in Vegas. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • Gage Quinney has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year, two-way deal. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • The Golden Knights have extended qualifying offers to both of their RFAs, Dylan Coghlan and Nolan Patrick (Source: @DavidSchoenLVRJ)
  • Tomas Nosek has signed with the Boston Bruins for two-years at $1.75 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Jimmy Schuldt’s agent confirms he will not be re-signing with the Golden Knights. (Source: @VeritasHockey)
    • Schuldt signed with the Buffalo Sabres for one-year at $750K (Source: @SabresPR)
  • Erik Haula has signed with the Boston Bruins for two-years at $2.375 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • Carl Dahlstrom signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Source: @MapleLeafs)
  • Ryan Murphy signed with the Detroit Red Wings. (Source: @DetroitRedWings)

For up-to-date salary cap information, check out PuckPedia.com.

VGK’s Best Postseason Players All Had One Important Thing In Common

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If there’s one thing the Golden Knights were not short on as they headed into their fourth Stanley Cup playoff journey, it was experience. Before the 19 games they each played on their path to the Semifinals, the Golden Knights entered the playoffs with 1,086 games of postseason experience on the roster.

On top of that, they also boasted four prominent players that have won Stanley Cups. Between Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez, and Chandler Stephenson, this version of the Golden Knights had players who had won seven of the last 13 Stanley Cups.

When you hear people talk about players like Fleury, Pietrangelo, Martinez, and Stephenson you’ll often hear them mention that accolade. In Martinez’s case, when he was acquired it was literally the only thing anyone wanted to reference when describing him as a player. And, after this season concluded, Martinez himself went right to it when talking about Pietrangelo.

He’s got that championship pedigree. He’s been through a lot of playoff runs. We actually went head-to-head quite a few times. -Alec Martinez on Pietrangelo

Personally, I’m usually a little skeptical when it comes to pedigree making a difference, but this year has made me re-think it a bit seeing the performances of the Cup-winners on the Golden Knights’ roster.

Think about it. Who were Vegas’ best three players on this postseason run?

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