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McCrimmon Shares Four Ways VGK Can Make Up For Lost Offense

When the Golden Knights pulled off the blockbuster trade to acquire Jack Eichel, it became clear they would have to do some serious work to on their salary cap. That work is now complete and it has resulted in the departures of Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan.

The trio of players shipped out accounted for 42 goals last season with Pacioretty missing more than half of the year due to injury. Also, while still unsigned, it’s possible Mattias Janmark and his nine goals exit Vegas as well. That’s more than 50 goals leaving the organization without a single new player being added to the fold (at least to this point).

So, how do they make up that offense?

That question was posed to GM Kelly McCrimmon at today’s press conference and his answer was essentially four-pronged. Let’s go through each of them.

“We anticipate a healthy lineup will put more offense into our lineup”

McCrimmon specifically singled out Stone, but the larger point is that without virtually every important player on the team missing significant time, as we saw last year, there will be an influx in scoring.

Stone, Eichel, Karlsson, and Smith will all likely generate more this coming year than they did last year. Between them, they scored 51 goals and tallied 128 points in 2021-22. The career averages of those four players calls for something closer to 98 goals and 245 points. Throw in Martinez, Howden, and Hague and there’s room for even more.

It’s pretty clear that if the team is significantly healthier, scoring will go up.

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How Shea Weber’s Salary Will Impact The Golden Knights

If you’re asking yourself, why did the Golden Knights just trade for a 36-year-old defenseman who has a massive cap hit of $7.85 million per year, missed the entire 2021-22 season, and is not expected to ever play another game in the NHL, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

The simple answer is Shea Weber’s salary will be placed on LTIR and won’t count against the cap the same way a healthy does. Thus they were able to shed Evgenii Dadonov’s contract and now have $5 million of salary cap space in which to use. And they did it without even having to trade a pick like they did in that horrible deadline deal that got reverted!

While all of that is true, it’s unfortunately not quite that simple, and it’s definitely not as much of a slam dunk as many are making it out to be for the Golden Knights.

Yes, the Golden Knights did just create $5 million more of cap space. This will help to sign free agents like Nic Roy, Nic Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Reilly Smith and/or Mattias Janmark. That portion of it is great.

However, it comes with a bit of a price.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The first part is easy to understand, they don’t have Dadonov anymore. Like him or not as a player, he did score 20 goals, register 23 assists, and account for 4.2 point shares while being named the Golden Knights’ First Star for accumulating the most “points” from the three stars in VGK home games. He’s gone, and the Golden Knights did not get anything they can use on the ice in return.

The second part is one that doesn’t really matter all but one person, but it does exist. Weber’s contract still has $6 million in actual salary that has to be paid out. There is not an insurance policy on it, so The Creator will have to cut him a check for $3 million this season, and then $1 million each of the following three. Luckily, I think he’s good for it.

EDIT: Recent reports indicate that there is indeed an insurance policy on the contract, which will pay out some, if not all, of the $6 million owed.

The last part is a lot more complicated. It has to do with the fact that the Golden Knights will now operate over the salary cap for the next four seasons with the assistance of LTIR. That has its drawbacks, and while they won’t appear significant now, they could be in the future.

There are four main detriments that a team faces when they use LTIR. (I don’t expect you to understand what any of them mean, heck you can probably even skip over them because I’m about to explain how each works.)

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GOLDEN KNIGHTS TRADE EVGENII DADONOV TO MONTREAL FOR SHEA WEBER

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have agreed to send forward Evgenii Dadonov to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the contract of injured defenseman Shea Weber.

Weber fought through multiple injuries in 2020-21 leading him to miss the entirety of the 2021-22 season. He is not expected to ever be healthy enough to play again.

Thus, Weber’s salary of $7.85 million which was acquired by the Golden Knights will be placed on long-term injured reserve. (This means a few things for VGK of which we will explain in an upcoming article.) The contract runs through 2025-26, or the next four seasons.

In exchange, the Golden Knights clear $5 million of (more useable) cap space by shedding Evgenii Dadonov.

108 Forward Line Combinations In 2021-22 For Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the Golden Knights’ 82 games this season, they used a total of 108 different forward line combinations. 23 forwards, Dylan Coghlan, and Daniil Miromanov comprised the 25-man group contributing to them.

In 52 different instances, a forward line was used just a single time. This included wacky combinations like Pacioretty-Kolesar-Stone, Baertschi-Leschyshyn-Janmark, Krebs-Patrick-Dadonov, and Rondbjerg-Brooks-Kolesar. It doesn’t include the seven times the Golden Knights used just 11 forwards and were left with only three full lines to start the game.

On the flip side, there were just four line combos that were rolled more than 10 times. They were Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith, who saw 40 appearances together, Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone who got 22 games as a line, Janmark-Roy-Dadonov and Janmark-Roy-Kolesar who were used 12 and 11 times respectively.

In other words, very rarely would players see the same linemates over an extended period of time. And most of the time, it was unique to see the same three guys on a line in back-to-back games.

Here’s a rundown of how many different lines every VGK forward (including the two defensemen) played on this season.

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VGK Shedding Cap Rumors Continue To Swirl

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are not afraid to quickly erase their mistakes. As aggressive and encouraging as that is it usually ends up costing them a hefty price to do so.

Sort of like losing a deposit after terminating a timeshare you foolishly signed up for the day before. Of course, it sounded great at the time. The vacation club, the free drinks and lunch, the tour of the facility, heck they even threw in three free nights at Excalibur! How could you possibly say no to the guy pressuring you as if his life depended on your enrollment?!?

Now compare that to several notable subtractions made by the Golden Knights over the past few seasons.

It seems likely the Golden Knights will once again be wheeling and dealing for cap space this summer. Under their current situation, Vegas will need to rid themselves of several contracts this offseason.

It may be ridding themselves of contracts they recently signed (Martinez, Brossoit) one they traded for last Summer (Dadonov), or even a few that now look like overpays from the past (Karlsson, Pacioretty, Lehner). Whatever direction they head it won’t end well from a return on investment standpoint for the Golden Knights. Whether it be shipping expendable prospects, retaining salary, or most detrimental, trading away another draft pick with another unwanted player.

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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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