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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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VGK’s Top-Line “Phenomenal” Against MacKinnon And Colorado’s Best

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To beat the Colorado Avalanche, you must neutralize their top line. The trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog scored 70 goals and tallied 183 points in the 56-game regular season. Since the playoffs have begun, they’ve actually upped their pace with 16 goals and 36 assists in seven games.

In the three games against the Golden Knights, the Avs best have scored seven goals and added five more assists. If that continues through the series, the Golden Knights have little to no chance to come back and win. But, when we break the numbers down a bit, Vegas have actually had much more success against the Colorado top line recently and it’s the main reason they have a chance to even the series in Game 4.

I haven’t seen the stats, but go ahead and check the numbers on our top guys tonight and see what they did compared to their top guys. It’s not close. -Jared Bednar, COL coach (after Game 3)

In Game 3, Vegas’ top line shared the ice with MacKinnon for a little more than 10 minutes. The Golden Knights outshot the Avs 7-3, they outchanced Colorado 11-4, held the Avalanche’s best to zero high-danger chances while creating six, and most importantly, scored the game-winning goal.

Digging deeper, the numbers have been that way the entire series, even during the terrible Game 1. To simplify, we’ll look just at the centers playing against MacKinnon, but the numbers are similar for each of their lines as a whole.

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Pacioretty: We All Thought We Were Capologists

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Golden Knights goal leader Max Pacioretty opened up this week when he joined former NHL’er Ray Ferraro and NHL reporter Darren Dreger on the Ray and Dregs podcast. The forward that recently crossed 600 career points and 800 career games touched on the competitive culture in Vegas, his bromance with Mark Stone, and trying to resolve the Golden Knights salary cap issues.

It’s a pretty volatile league right now and we have been steady. A lot of that has been our depth. We have run into salary cap problems where we couldn’t dress enough players and on some nights even two. Currently, we have a D-man stepping in the forward position. I think all of that adversity and all of those different situations brought us together a little bit closer as a group. I think everyone has felt a little more important about their role on the team. –Max Pacioretty on Ray and Dregs Podcast

When word got out that the Golden Knights organization would have to juggle the lineup in order to be cap compliant, the locker room stepped up. However, it didn’t take long for the players to realize they weren’t qualified.

It was wild because we all thought we were capologists. ‘Why don’t we this and do that? We could’ve played that guy.’ Nobody knew the rule that you have to miss one game and then call up an emergency. We were so out of touch with what the rules were. It was funny at first. Everyone was trying to figure out a solution and it just never came. The fact that everybody has had the right mind set in those situations it’s let our team play differently on some nights and being able to adjust that and being able to win hockey games ultimately while doing so. –Pacioretty on Ray and Dregs Podcast

Maneuvering through murky cap waters was just one example proving Vegas’ dedication towards their future endeavors. It became apparent to Pacioretty how driven the players and front office were when arrived in the summer of 2018.

The 13-year veteran also came to realize how many of the NHL’s top players want to play in Vegas, and the organization was willing to acquire them. The Golden Knights win-first culture is no secret around the league.

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League Leading Top Lines

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The Golden Knights are leading the league in several categories this season but one in particular is a bit surprising. Vegas forward Max Pacioretty scored two 1st period goals last night to give him a total of 16 on the season. Pacioretty’s production has him five goals behind superstar and league leader Auston Matthews. However, that’s not a shocking statistic.

Most Goals Scored By Line
VGK: Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone (24)
BOS: Pastranak-Bergeron-Marchand (17)
NYI: Lee-Eberle-Barzal (16)
VAN: Boeser-Miller-Pettersson (16)
COL: Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen (15)

Not only is Pacioretty scoring, but his linemates are as well. The support from captain Mark Stone and center Chandler Stephenson have transformed Vegas’ top line into the best scoring trio in the NHL. Considering the heavy offensive lines in Boston, Edmonton and Toronto it’s unexpected to see the Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone lead the entire league.

Vegas fans have seen the chemistry all season. All three complement one another and serve important roles when they’re on the ice together. We know Pacioretty is out there to sling the puck, but Stone and Stephenson have elevated the entire line by their playmaking abilities. The captain has 24 assists, meanwhile, the top line center has 11. The trio combined has a running total of 83 points or 33% of all Golden Knights points.

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Film Breakdown: Chandler Stephenson #1 Center

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Coming into the season one of the biggest concerns for the Golden Knights was center depth. With Chandler Stephenson set to fill the role as the top center and options like Cody Glass, Nic Roy, and Tomas Nosek behind Stephenson and William Karlsson, we knew Stephenson needed to be great for this team to succeed.

So far, Stephenson has been just that and the more I watch him the more I realize why his skill set fits perfectly between Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. In the pantheon of the NHL, Stephenson would still rank all that highly among the #1 centers in the league, but for this team and that line, he’s the perfect fit.

Vegas’ Cup Contending Offense On Display Last Night

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No matter how many games an NHL regular season has, no game’s are alike. Sure, the first few games had similarities, Vegas won all three but didn’t look good doing it.

Something had to break.

We were talking before the game that we hadn’t really pitched in too much… It’s kind of convenient that we did tonight, and I thought it definitely helped our overall game. -Shea Theodore

With the exception of the first few minutes, the Golden Knights put together their best attack of the season and were handsomely rewarded from it. Ten players collected points in Vegas’ 5-2 victory against Arizona and not a single one of them were cheap empty-net points either.

All five goals were examples of how dangerous this club can be. Alex Tuch scored Vegas’ first power play goal of the season, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty paired up once again, and the star defensemen found the net three times.

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2020 VGK Free Agency Tracker

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  • Paul Stastny has been traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Carl Dahlstrom and a 4th round pick. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Robin Lehner has signed a 5-year $25 million ($5 million AAV) to remain with the Golden Knights. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Lehner’s contract includes a modified no-trade clause which allows him to submit an eight team list for year’s one through three and then a five-team list in the final two years. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Chandler Stephenson has agreed to a 4-year deal with $2.75 million AAV. (Source: @FridgeHNIC)
  • Tomas Nosek has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Reid Duke and Jimmy Schuldt signed one-year contracts for the league minimum of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
    • Both are two-way deals. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Gage Quinney agreed to a one-year two-way deal with an NHL value of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Tomas Jurko to a one-year one-way deal worth $700,000. (Source: @simiinko_97)
  • Danny O’Regan has signed a one-year deal with the Golden Knights at $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the Golden Knights did NOT extend a qualifying offer to Nick Cousins. He becomes an unrestricted free agent. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Cousins signed with the Predators for two years at a $1.5 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Jimmy Schuldt and Keegan Kolesar. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights will make a significant pitch to Alex Pietrangelo. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Torey Krug is expected to sign with the Blues further paving the way for Pietrangelo to sign in Vegas. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • Pietrangelo is taking a private flight to Vegas to visit with the Golden Knights today. (Source: @gm_mark)
  • Keep an eye on Erik Haula, we’ve heard some rumbling that there could be a reunion coming. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed he does not expect Deryk Engelland to return to the Golden Knights this season. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Jon Merrill has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. One year deal worth $925,000. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Malcolm Subban has re-signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for $850,000 AAV for two-years. He is expected to be given a shot to win the starting job in camp. (@Tramyers_NHL)
  • Max Lagace has signed a one-year two-way deal with the Penguins. (Source: @Penguins)
  • Daniel Carr signed a one-year two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. (Source: @Capitals)

The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney. This page will update throughout the day as more information comes in.

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