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Marchessault’s Low Mileage A Draw For Vegas And Other Suitors

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As we all know by now, Jonathan Marchessault was a late bloomer. He dressed for just four NHL games before the age of 25 and didn’t hit the 70-game mark in a season until he turned 26. It was probably a frustrating journey. Well, maybe up until his 30-goal breakout season in Florida which captured the eyes of the Golden Knights. Since then, it’s been gravy for Marchessault. He’s become a fan favorite, a 40-goal scorer, a Conn Smythe winner, and a household name.

Now, it’s time for the player, his agent, and the Golden Knights front office to decide on the future. Sure, Marchessault is 33 years old and coming off his best season as a pro, so it’s reasonable to be concerned with his age, term, and future value. If Vegas uses a traditional evaluation they would likely pass and let the player walk. However, if they factor in intangibles such as character, leadership, and career usage, then re-signing Marchessault should be the first decision made this offseason.

Don’t forget he didn’t become an NHL regular until he was 27. There’s an argument to be made that the mileage on him is not as great as the mileage on other 34-year-olds. I’ve heard that they were really having a difficult to time to find a term. –Eliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Unlike most, Marchessault has seen much less wear and tear than the average 33-year-old NHL player. For example, Jordan Eberle was born in 1990 and has played 380 more games than his fellow millennial. Sure, Eberle was a coveted prospect and a rookie by age 20 but he has fewer postseason games, goals, points, and hardware than Marchessault. He may have more NHL service, but he hasn’t impacted the league like Marchessault has. And in 38% less ice time.

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Golden Knights Fend Off Doubt In Toronto As Guentzel Rumors Heat Up

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Until last night the Golden Knights hadn’t been on the right side of a lopsided result (against an NHL team, San Jose doesn’t count) since the All-Star break. Over that period the reigning champions were 3-4-1 and failed to win four of five home games. Yesterday’s offensive outpouring from Vegas wasn’t entirely unexpected but it came at the right time of the season.

Pretty good game for us, to be honest. I still think the leaders and the guys who have been in the league for a while have to step up in this little stretch, especially with Stoney and Jack out. Hopefully today was a turnaround for us. -Ivan Barbashev

When healthy, there’s no question the Golden Knights could put up five against a team as iffy on defense as the Maple Leafs. Doing it on the road, without several key players was reminiscent of last season’s extended results without captain Mark Stone.

Vegas received six goals from five different players, two from depth forwards. Along with their abundance of offense, the Golden Knights sturdy defense frustrated some of hockey’s most lethal weapons. The same formula catapulted Vegas to their first Stanley Cup championship.

They’re good enough to win. If you think you’re good enough to win then you go for it. There’s not a feeling of being easily satisfied. Last year was last year. I do believe they’re one of the teams in and around Jake Guentzel. The Penguins want guys that can help them now. If Pittsburgh is looking for young pros, (Vegas) have that in their organization. I find it very hard that Vegas is not going to take a swing at the biggest player available. – Elliotte Friedman on The Jeff Marek Show

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ESPN Questions VGK’s Future After Standing Pat In Offseason

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights entered the All-Star break with the fifth best record in the Western Conference and sit in second place in the Pacific Division. Considering their obstacles the reigning Stanley Cup champions should feel good about where they stand through 50 games. However, the worldwide leader in sports has doubts that Vegas’ roster is built to repeat.

Vegas failed to add or change much in the offseason following its Stanley Cup victory. Now, standing pat looks like a questionable call. The Golden Knights have fizzled following a hot start, with predictable problems piling up for a team susceptible to fatigue. This is when a lack of fresh legs can become one major regret. –Kristen Shilton on ESPN.com

The Golden Knights were indeed relatively quiet in the offseason. They took care of their unsigned players and added outside depth to the organization. Michael Amadio, Ivan Barbashev, Adin Hill, Brett Howden, and others were offered summertime extensions. No NHL players of significance were signed off the open market. It’s unfair to grade any of the Golden Knights acquisitions at the moment due to injuries, juggled lineups, and on-the-fly chemistry.

The front office did make news by trading original misfit Reilly Smith to Pittsburgh for some cap relief. Overall, their offseason transactions weren’t notable enough to make ESPN’s bottom scroll but they were the necessary decisions coming off a championship run. Since the blueprint was to repeat with the same weapons, the organization didn’t need to look too far.

ESPN’s argument for fresh legs has some credence to it though. Right now Vegas could use healthy, impactful, and lesser worn-down players in their lineup instead of a slew of Silver Knights. Local fans have enjoyed seeing the pipeline grow but Vegas is a championship team built around veterans.

It’s reasonable for the Golden Knights to feel comfortable running out the same lineup to start the year. Their plan might have included a retool at the March deadline if needed. It’s looking like they will. A deadline option could be a way to get fresh legs and outside impact in the lineup.

(Sean) Monahan has enormous respect around the league for how much he’s come back from. This was a guy who a couple of years ago, people were thinking is he going to be able to continue playing. Not only is he playing, he’s thriving. –Elliotte Friedman on Hocey Night In Canada

Some names that are circulating are Anaheim’s Adam Henrique, Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, and the aforementioned Sean Monahan. Is Vegas in desperate need of any of them? Likely not, but an extra weapon for a deep playoff run could boost up a tired team attempting to repeat as league champions.

Are the folks at ESPN right to question Vegas’ offseason inactivity? On the surface, sure. However, Vegas is still in a position of power. They’re looking like they’ll land in a desired playoff spot and will hopefully be fully healthy. And we all know how magical it can be when the Golden Knights have their full lineup.

“The Question Is Just When” VGK Will Make A Trade Deadline Add

The NHL Trade Deadline is still 31 days away, but the Golden Knights have just 10 games before they have to make their decision on what to do.

Many of the question marks from the beginning of the season remain and a massive new one has popped up along the way. The health of Mark Stone will clearly be the most important determining factor as to the choices Vegas make at the deadline.

No matter where they are with Stone though, the Golden Knights’ place amongst the Western Conference will also play a part in the VGK front office’s decision-making. The numbers haven’t been pretty lately including 0-2-2 in the last four, 2-6-2 in the last 10, and 16-16-4 since the red-hot start. The Golden Knights currently sit in 2nd in the division and fourth in the conference, but are almost exactly as far from the playoff cut line as the top of the division in points percentage.

As was the case last year as the Golden Knights slipped down the standings around deadline day, there’s certainly an argument for the Golden Knights to hold or even sell before March 3rd. However, don’t expect that to happen.

That Vegas thing, they are really struggling and I think they are going to do something, the question is just when. –Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman has thrown out a few names for Vegas but the two he’s keyed in on are a pair of forwards from the St. Louis Blues.

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VGK’s Frustration Visibly Noticeable To Opponents

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been eerily quiet since the Golden Knights season finale. There hasn’t been a peep from any of Vegas’ players, coaches, or executives since their postgame press conferences on Friday night. It’s almost as if The Creator and his staff are choosing the next Pope.

Without any knowledge of the conversations being held it’s impossible to guess which direction Vegas is heading. Whatever it may be, it was apparently obvious to many lineups across the NHL.

I had a few teams tell me today that Vegas was always a very together team. Through good and bad. This year was the first year they really saw them as a frustrated team. Doors slamming in games, players showing frustration or snapping at each other occasionally during games. I don’t want anyone to take that I think the Vegas Golden Knights all despise each other because I don’t know if that’s true. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It’s no secret, Golden Knights fans witnessed their team’s frustration almost weekly. That’ll happen with extensive injuries, poor performances, and a struggling power play. However, we can’t hear the doors slamming or snapping on the bench. Mark Stone and other team leaders keep their locker room tight but it’s hard to believe it felt the same without the captain for most of the year. Add in injuries to Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez and the chemistry had to have taken a hit.

When you’re losing and your season is slipping away that’s normal. Teams noticed it more this year. Was that just as frustration of the injuries and the season slipping away or is there any chance the fabric of this team has been changed and they have to address that. I don’t know. Teams noticed it this year, more than ever. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman’s advice to the Golden Knights is to address the goaltending situation. Over the weekend, the Sportsnet reporter continued to stress that Robin Lehner’s frustration and season ending injuries were sensitive matters.

The number one thing they have to deal with is Lehner. People are telling me wait. This is not over. There’s still more to go here. What’s everyone going to say? This is going to take some skill and handling. There are the possibilities of aftershocks. Is this something that the league and the Players Association are going to have to get involved in? Depending on where all of this goes. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It doesn’t take a spyglass for an opposing team to hear or read about the tension between Lehner and the coaching staff down the stretch. It was on full display after Vegas’ late-season loss against the New Jersey Devils.

Is there a way to deal with this so that it can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction mentally, and physically, and emotionally without a series of aftershocks that further damage the franchise. If it’s not dealt with in a proper way it’s going to get worse before it gets better. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight, unfortunately without the Golden Knights. On the bright side, missing the cut allows Vegas more time in the offseason. A head start helps examine prospects, target free agents, trades or anything else they feel they need to get sorted out. The next few days will reveal what the organization’s plans are going forward. Lehner, DeBoer, slamming doors, and teammates snapping are areas that need immediate attention.

Organization Requested Injured Lehner For Failed Stretch Run

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Last night the Golden Knights were officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas failed in shootout for the third straight game, ending what was supposed to be a highly successful season. Over the past week, the team was desperate for points, and Logan Thompson, on no rest, gave them the best chance to succeed. It wasn’t ideal. Late season back-to-backs, four straight extended games, and endless pressure was one of the reasons the organization pleaded with Robin Lehner to play out the final few games.

He was unhappy with some of the criticism he was getting and being pulled. There were talks about how can we make this work, can you at least play through the season. Then he saw the doctors, he’s legitimately injured. They announced one surgery but I think there are two or three different injuries. –Elliotte Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show

Surely, had Lehner been available coach Pete DeBoer would have considered starting him against the Blackhawks. Or at the very least use him to support Thompson. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the team was left with one option while Lehner prepares for season-ending surgery.

Lehner’s playing with two, possibly three really tough injuries. I just don’t know if it’s one thing or more than one thing. He’s left the team at times, he’s been injured at times. He’s tried to play through it, he’s competitive. It’s definitely effected his ability to be at his best. He’s not at his best but he’s competing. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman reported the team had asked Lehner to finish out the season and fight through his injuries. I’m sure that’s a common conversation players have with coaches this time of year. In this case, Vegas’ goaltender was battling too many ailments to suit up. Playing through injuries and being publicly criticized must have annoyed and frustrated Lehner. Which shouldn’t surprise DeBoer or the front office.

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Pietrangelo Discusses Eichel’s Impact, VGK Depth And Post Hockey Career

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s hard to imagine the Golden Knights without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. The alternate captain has only played in 88 games with Vegas but feels like he’s been a part of the organization for much longer. That’s one of the reasons why he’s here. Pietrangelo is an owner’s dream, the ultimate pro on and off the ice, and understands where to set life’s priorities.

The 14-year-career veteran joined 32 Thoughts: The Podcast and shared his thoughts on Jack Eichel’s debut, Vegas’ depth, being a family man, and Chandler Stephenson winning suitcases full cash on Super Bowl Sunday.

Mr. Stephenson won the two big squares. He walked away, it was a good day for him let’s just say that. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Last night Vegas fell 2-0 to the highly-skilled Colorado Avalanche. The loss I’m sure stung but quickly healed after watching Eichel skate 17+ minutes in a playoff-type game against the West’s top team. It was the first step for Eichel and Pietrangelo towards their ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.

A player like Jack with the amount of skill that he has and the way the game is played now, as soon as he starts feeling more comfortable with the physicality after what he went through the skill will take over, the hockey sense will takeover and off he’ll go. I don’t think any of us expect it to be too long. He’ll still be an impact player right away but we all understand it’s going to take a little bit of time for him. Even if he feels 75% of where he was a year ago that it’s pretty darn good. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

At this moment, and over the next five seasons, both are arguably the two most important figures in the organization. Future championships will be won or lost with Eichel and Pietrangelo on the ice. Their success will be tied to the hip.

You can really see the skill level. The movement with the puck. The puck skill at high speed. You look at the goals he’s scored, the highlight reel goals. He’s doing everything at full speed. It’s only a compliment when you have players like Patch on the side, especially for a guy that shoots the way he does. That’s only going to be a better thing for Patch. He’s excited. It’s been a long time. –Pietrangelo on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Most likely, Eichel will have his “A” stitched on a jersey, maybe even by next season. If all targets are reached by the time their contracts expire, we could be looking at two retired numbers. Among others.

The former St. Louis Blues captain understands the adjustments that Eichel made going from one franchise to another. Having to build a foundation in a new city and get comfortable with a new coach’s systems at the same time. We pointed out several times last season when Pietrangelo looked out of sorts and how it affected certain games. When it all came together he was the Golden Knights’ most reliable player.

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