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Tag: Evgenii Dadonov

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.

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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

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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?

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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

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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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Golden Knights Can’t Afford To Wait For Power Play To Come Around

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4 for 43.

It’s a number that has been on the mind of every Golden Knight, every coach, and every member of the front office through the offseason and into the new year.

The Golden Knights were shutout on the power play against the Montreal Canadiens (0 for 15) contributing to an NHL worst 9.3% power play in the 2021 playoffs. In fact, it was actually the worst conversion percentage of any team to play at least 17 playoff games since power play stats started being kept in 1977-78.

It must improve.

As a group we all have to be better, individual players, the coaches, the additions, all those things. I think the fresh start will help. I really believe the power play, like the penalty kill, is a real confidence-based piece of your game. When it starts to snowball the wrong way, everything goes in. I think we fell into that last year. -Pete DeBoer

DeBoer’s hope is that the offseason will go a long way towards a reset on a unit that played an integral part in the Golden Knights’ demise.

It was really average during the regular season and obviously it was well below average during the playoffs. So I think the break, the reset, the additions, the challenge of everybody being better, it’s going to be better. -DeBoer

He’s not relying on just time to heal the wound though.

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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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Playing Around With Lineup Combinations

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When talking about the Golden Knights, there’s always a chance of the next blockbuster move being right around the corner, but for now, it appears the dust has settled on the offseason and the roster as currently constructed is the one they plan on bringing into the regular season.

The additions of Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Patrick, and Brett Howden, along with the possibility of Peyton Krebs, Jack Dugan, and Lucas Elvenes being ready to make the NHL leap, leave the Golden Knights with plenty of options as to how to roll out their forward lines.

Alex Tuch’s injury and the departure of Ryan Reaves will force at least some shuffle to the lineup, the question is how much coach Pete DeBoer is going to go with.

The simple answer is to keep everything as close to what it was last year and allow the new and young players to battle for the final few spots on the bottom-six, but what if they get creative? Let’s run through a bunch of different potential options to show just how versatile this group has a chance to be.

Continuity

Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone
Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Janmark-Roy-Dadonov
Carrier-Howden-Kolesar

This is essentially the same group the Golden Knights ran out during the postseason run. Dadonov goes in for Tuch and Howden replaces Nosek and we’re looking at a lineup we know can dominate the Pacific Division.

Karlsson As 1C

Pacioretty-Karlsson-Stone
Marchessault-Patrick/Krebs-Smith
Janmark-Stephenson-Dadonov
Carrier-Roy-Howden

Getting Karlsson on the ice with Stone has always been somewhat intriguing. The move requires someone to fit in his spot on the Misfit Line, which is definitely easier said than done. There are two good potential options in 1st round picks from 2017 and 2019. If one can do it, the center depth will look much stronger.

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Tuch’s Injury Creates Power Play Opportunities And Roster Options

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It’s been a tough week for Golden Knights fans. First the organization traded away two fan favorites only to have word come down that Alex Tuch will be out for six months with an injured shoulder. That’s a lot of difficult news in only five business days in the middle of summer.

Sticking with who’s left, filling Tuch’s role for an extended period of time will be difficult for coach Pete DeBoer. The good news is the roster has several options to help create offense, but will it be enough to improve Vegas’ lackluster power play?

(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

This week general manager Kelly McCrimmon acquired forward Evgenii Dadonov from Ottawa as another weapon to aid the power play, where he’s found high levels of success. Since his return to the National Hockey League in 2017-18, the 31-year-old Russian has registered 25 power play goals. In that span, he’s tied in PPG with offensive studs like Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. Even more impressive, Dadonov posted those numbers without scoring on a man-advantage last season with Ottawa.

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