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Golden Knights With The Most To Gain/Lose With The Coaching Change

Somehow almost every player I picked ended up in this picture. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Often times when teams swap coaches they see a shift in usage among players on the roster. Some guys see dramatic upticks in their ice time while others watch their’s decrease or even diminish entirely.

Of course, we still don’t know who the next coach will be, but we do know who benefitted most from Pete DeBoer’s system and who didn’t. So, here are the four players with the most to gain and the four with the most to lose as the Golden Knights switch coaches.

Most To Gain

William Karlsson

It’s no secret Karlsson’s best days in the NHL were under Gerard Gallant. The forecheck-reliant, free-flowing, transition-heavy style fit Karlsson’s game perfectly. Not only was he at his best offensively, but he and his line of Misfits were always the best defensive line as well. Under DeBoer, it often felt like Karlsson was overthinking the game which led to hesitancy in the offensive zone in favor of making the “right” play to keep them safe defensively. This seemed to sap his confidence which has proven to be a huge factor in Karlsson’s success. The new coach will likely improve his power play numbers as well. In his first two seasons in Vegas, Karlsson notched 15 PP goals in 164 games. The last three years, he had five in 186.

Jack Eichel

It’s not like Eichel struggled under DeBoer, he clearly didn’t, but there’s a pretty good chance a new coach will tailor his system more to Eichel’s skillset than we saw from DeBoer. Center was a demanding position defensively under DeBoer, and that simply isn’t Eichel’s strong suit. He’s likely to be matched with at least one stellar defensive winger, which under a less defensive-minded system could free up Eichel in the offensive zone. Also, there’s a good chance the new coach is less reliant on working the puck from low to high which very well may unleash more of Eichel’s creativity.

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Chronicling VGK’s Failing Power Play Overhaul

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Heading into the offseason, 10 months ago, the Golden Knights had one area they really wanted to clean up.

The obvious one is the power play, that’s at the top of the list to fix. For me the power play isn’t a this year problem. I didn’t feel it was dangerous enough in the Bubble, I thought it was mediocre. At the most important time in the Bubble as we went through to the Dallas series it got cold at the wrong time. We shuffled some things, put a new set of eyes on it this year and it stumbled again. That’s going to be the priority moving forward. -Pete DeBoer in June 2021

The front office felt the same way and they got to work instantly as the new league year opened.

Evgenii Dadonov was a player we identified as a priority. We had him ahead of all players that were available in Expansion. That effectively addressed the need of adding one good foward. -Kelly McCrimmon in July 2021

To start the season, DeBoer urged fans and media to be patient with the power play, calling it a work in progress and even going as far as to dissuade questions until we see it for a full season.

Vegas started the season 0 for 19 on the power play and the concerns grew larger and larger.

Again, the front office did not sit and wait for it to fix itself, instead, they went out and made yet another blockbuster trade, acquiring superstar Jack Eichel. Of course, though, he was injured, so once again, patience was required.

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Dadonov‘s Back But League To Address Voided Trade At GM Meetings

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

He’s not the most popular player but last night even the most critical Golden Knights fans had to feel happy for Evgenii Dadonov. In his first game “back” the 33-year-old forward scored Vegas’ third goal of the game and is now tied for the second most on the team.

Dadonov began a flurry of three total Golden Knights power play goals. The crowd roared when #63 backhanded a loose rebound into the net and his teammates wrapped him in a tight group hug on the ice.

I felt that support from the stands. Probably pumped me up even more. I always loved playing here… Great experience playing here in front of this crowd. Still think it’s the best fans in the league. -Dadonov

In the end the trade was voided and Dadonov is back in line with the rest of his Vegas teammates. However, this messy deadline incident will not go away. Player protection clarity will be a future topic of conversation with league officials. The NHL never wants this to never happen again.

I think there’s going to be some fallout. They are going to be talking about this at the GM meetings. A no-trade list is submitted solely between a player agent and the club. The league does not keep track of no trade list, the NHLPA doesn’t. Which by the way, is crazy. –Pierre LeBrun on TSN

Clearly, there were miscommunications from several parties and it wasn’t the league’s finest moment. On a spotlight day like the NHL trade deadline the eventually voided Dadonov deal led headlines. The league would rather make player protection awareness a more streamlined and transparent process.

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EVGENII DADONOV TRADE CANCELLED BY NHL

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

The NHL released a statement confirming that the trade of Evgenii Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks has been cancelled.

The National Hockey League announced today that it has invalidated Monday’s trade of Player Evgenii Dadonov from Vegas to Anaheim. The trade could not be concluded because Dadonov’s contract includes a limited no-trade clause, which has not been complied with. -NHL

NHL Pundits Puzzled By Dadonov Dilemma

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

It’s been almost 48 hours since the Golden Knights front office attempted to trade forward Evgenii Dadonov. While we wait for the league’s decision the coverage and speculation has been non-stop across the US and Canada.

You tell me how the NHL can do anything except void this trade. This is not on Ottawa. The Ottawa Senators right now should be telling the NHL, Anaheim and Vegas, scram. –Nick Kypreos on Sportsnet 590

Like all of us, pundits are puzzled as to how the deal was approved and how widely available trade protection information was missed by the NHL and the Golden Knights.

Vegas is saying that when they made the trade with Ottawa there was no trade list submitted. They had no idea that he had a no trade list. How is it possible in today’s age? You can click on CapFriendly and come up with every trade protection to every player in the NHL, yet the NHL and Vegas Golden Knights didn’t know. There’s a lot of finger pointing right now. This deal could get voided. –Darren Dreger on TSN Toronto

The deal in itself makes sense. Vegas would gain cap relief and have room to activate Mark Stone off LTIR. There is also an argument to be made that Dadonov’s depth scoring may have come in handy in the playoffs. Also, that Stone might not be fully healthy or as effective as he can be.

If this trade doesn’t go through it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to activate some of the players they have on LTIR. I do think it’s possible that another team, like Arizona, would step forward and say ‘if you’re willing to give us an incentive we can potentially help you out here.’ I’m asking people that are smarter than me to do the math and they’re telling me that they don’t see without this deal happening that Vegas can activate some of its players. -Elliotte Friedman on NHL Network

It has to be frustrating for Vegas’ front office. The NHL is carefully working on a solution all the while the Golden Knights regular season continues without either Dadonov or Stone in their lineup. Not only that, management has to be prepared if the trade is voided. Will they throw extra incentives for another team’s assistance? They’re not in an envious position.

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Kevin Iole’s Deadline Blueprint

This season, diehard VGK fan and legendary combat sports columnist Kevin Iole will be delivering columns a few times a month on usually on Sundays. Today, Kevin lays out what he believes is the correct course of action for the Golden Knights at this deadline.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The trading deadline is Monday and in the first four years of the VGK’s existence, it was a joyous time. We were like children waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree.

There was no question that the Golden Knights were going to add at the deadline in any of those four seasons. The question was how big would they go?

This season figured to be no different. But then, the Knights have gone 11-14-4 since Jan. 1 and just completed an 0-5 road trip largely against the dregs of the league. The win against Florida last night was great, but it doesn’t change what has happened over the course of the last three months.

This time, the trading deadline arrives and the Knights are a team in disarray, no longer a Stanley Cup contender and perhaps a team that may play its way into the draft lottery.

The deadline will still come, and it’s clear the VGK need a lot of work — for next season. The bulk of that can be done in the summer, but this trade deadline can give it a start.

Here are moves I would make if I were Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon to help fortify the team for a run at the 2023 Stanley Cup:

1. Shut down Alec Martinez for the remainder of the season: There is something seriously wrong with the guy, and it goes well beyond getting cut in the face by a skate in November. Nobody in the game is tougher than Martinez, and the fact he’s not playing five months later is an ominous sign.

This season is lost; even if they somehow miraculously sneak into the playoffs, they’re not winning the Stanley Cup this year. So shut down Martinez for the remainder of the year and hope he comes back in September fully health.

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Pete DeBoer Speaks On Managing Individual Goal Droughts During The Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL is a wins and losses business, and with that comes the harsh reality that most players are judged by one single measurement of production, goals.

Simply put, the more a player is paid, the more he’s expected to put the puck in the back of the net. When they do, everything is great. It’s when they don’t that things start to get a lot more complicated.

For the Golden Knights, this is amplified even further as they have crashed out of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in large part because of their inability to score, and more specifically, the best players’ inability to score.

I think we have these conversations every day and someone is always riding a goal drought. That’s just how it is. It was Reilly Smith for a while. It was Max Pacioretty after he got back from injury. I just think that’s the NHL today. If you look around the league, there’s very few guys that score consistently all the time, or lines. -Pete DeBoer

The Golden Knights have just five players with at least 10 goals this season, and all of them have had at least some sort of drought.

The most consistent of the bunch, Jonathan Marchessault, is currently riding his longest goal drought of the season of five games. Max Pacioretty, the team’s second-highest scorer just busted an 11-game drought. The aforementioned Smith has gone 10 games between goals twice this year with the most recent spanning the entire month of January. Evgenii Dadonov hasn’t found the net in any of the team’s last 11. Even Chandler Stephenson, in his breakout offensive season, had a stretch of seven games scoreless.

Everybody wants to score, everybody wants to contribute, everybody wants a good stat line. You can talk all you want about the details and intangibles but those guys, especially the guys we’re talking about, measure it by those statlines. -DeBoer

Managing those droughts is a huge part of keeping a team together over the course of a season.

I think everybody handles it differently but I think guys start to wear it for sure. You can see their frustration come out the longer it goes. It’s trying to minimize those droughts to shorter periods and not let it snowball into something gigantic. -DeBoer

That’s been a challenge for both this season and in previous postseasons for the Golden Knights. Injuries have certainly compounded the issue as well this year.

The team’s attitude seems to be pretty good about it though. They’ve mentioned a “natural frustration” that sets in when individuals or the team is not scoring, but as a whole, it hasn’t affected their ability to win games. Unlike many teams that rely on top scorers to contribute the lion’s share of the team’s goal production, the Golden Knights have gotten it throughout the lineup, and especially from defensemen.

When you are winning games it’s a lot easier than when you are losing. -DeBoer

Individually, the droughts will continue for certain players at times during the rest of the season, but as long as the collective keeps chipping in as they have all year, they too shall pass.

Learning Lessons From Evgenii Dadonov’s Hot And Cold Start To The Season

It’s been an interesting start to the season for Evgenii Dadonov. A player acquired by the Golden Knights this offseason as a potential solution to the scoring droughts, Dadonov’s impact will be judged almost exclusively on point production.

His first couple weeks in Vegas were underwhelming. He posted just one assist (on a meaningless goal late in a blowout vs LA) in his first five games as a Golden Knight and he was nearly invisible on the ghastly power play.

(Photo Credit: @GoldenKnights on Twitter)

Then, things turned around. In the next five he scored a pair of goals, added an assist, and notched a game-winner in shootout. The most recent six games have have seen Dadonov score three more times, giving him five goals and eight points on the season.

Over that time, a lot has changed with the Golden Knights roster, and you can clearly see it when you look through the line mates Dadonov has played with. In his first five games in Vegas, he never played on the same line in consecutive games and played with five different line mates.

Krebs-Patrick-Dadonov
Dadonov-Patrick-Kolesar
Dadonov-Stephenson-Roy
Dadonov-Patrick-Kolesar
Dadonov-Roy-Kolesar (5 games)
Carrier-Stephenson-Dadonov (4 games)
Dadonov-Stephenson-Kolesar
Dadonov-Stephenson-Stone (2 games)

As he’s settled in with players, he’s found success. In the his first seven games with new linemates, Dadonov posted just one assist and was goal-less. In games with repeat linemates, he has three goals and two assists.

It’s not just who he’s playing with though that’s impacting his output. It’s how often.

Dadonov has played in 16 games this season. He’s played 22 or fewer shifts in 11 games. In those 11, Dadonov has not scored a single goal, has added just two assists and amassed a 0 rating. In the five games in which he’s reached at least 23 shifts, he’s scored all five of his goals, notched one assist, and has posted a +4 rating.

It’s just a few extra shifts, but that added minute or two has really mattered for Dadonov’s production so far in Vegas.

There are really two ways to look at this. First, with all the injuries, Dadonov is likely to be relied upon a little more over the next few months, which means the production from the last 11 games should be more of the norm than the first five. On the flip side though, once the Golden Knights do return to health, it’s likely Dadonov’s role will slip to a third line winger, which will mean a decrease in time on ice.

Even with Jack Eichel in the fold, the Golden Knights are going to need Dadonov to produce in the postseason. He was brought here to score goals when others can’t, and do it while playing a bit further down the lineup than he’s been used to.

It’s a small sample size, but so far Dadonov’s production has been minute and linemate reliant. When he’s played for longer stretches with better players, he’s scoring in bunches. When he’s been relegated to the third line with spare parts, he goes quiet. This isn’t horribly surprising and is almost expected for any player, but Dadonov was specifically acquired to be immune to this issue.

The Golden Knights have plenty of time to figure out if this is a momentary thing or if this is what they should expect to get out of their 32-year-old offensive reinforcement. If he needs the minutes to score, or has to play with elite playmakers to put up points in the postseason, they better find someone else to produce down the lineup, otherwise, he’s end up being a main contributor to the scoring droughts he was brought in to fix.

Can The Golden Knights “Find” Three Goals Per Game?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After Wednesday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues, Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said his team needed to find a way to score three goals per night. Averaging 3+ goals per game almost guarantees an NHL team, and specifically the Golden Knights, a victory or at worse an overtime loss.

In 2020-21, the Golden Knights were 35-2-1 when they scored three or more goals in a game. Also, ten games ended in an overtime period or shootouts capturing at least one point.

So let’s pretend the Golden Knights will be without their weapons for 20 games. It could be more, hopefully less, but the length of time Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone are on the shelf won’t matter for this exercise.

The idea here is to try and add up averages to see if it’s actually possible for this lineup as currently constructed to reach three goals consistently.

Thanks to DeBoer, he solved the first part of the equation for us.

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5 Bold And 5 Not-So-Bold Predictions About The 2021-22 Vegas Golden Knights Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s finally here… tomorrow.

The preseason is over and the Golden Knights are ready to embark on their fifth NHL season. Expectations are understandably very high both from a team perspective and for a multitude of individuals.

Here are 10 predictions for the upcoming season. We’ll start with the milder five.

The Golden Knights will be the only Pacific Division team to reach 100 points

There are a few other teams in the division who I expect to be a little bit better, but the full 82-game schedule will really show the weakness of the Pacific. The division will struggle mightily against the Eastern Conference and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see both Western Conference wild cards come from the Central.

Max Pacioretty will lead the team in goals for a third straight year

While I expect a number of Golden Knights to take a step forward in some of their goal-scoring numbers, the 35-40 you can basically slot Pacioretty in for is just too many to expect any other Golden Knight to reach. Maybe Jonathan Marchessault or Evgenii Dadonov can hit 30, or maybe this is an up year for pending UFA Reilly Smith, or maybe even we see the return of William Karlsson’s goal-scoring prowess. But, no matter which one happens, I still can’t see them getting past Pacioretty.

Three Golden Knights will represent Vegas as the city hosts the All Star Game

It’s tough to get three All Stars on the same team, because it basically means only one other team in the division can have multiple players from the same roster. But, the host city has had at least three players each of the last five seasons, and the Golden Knights have enough star power to keep that streak alive.

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