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Golden Knights Building Dangerous Reputation Concerning Loyalty

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are on the verge of landing the biggest fish in NHL free agency, Alex Pietrangelo. The former Stanley Cup-winning captain of the St. Louis Blues is expected to make his decision at any moment and it would come as a shock to the entire hockey world if he ends up anywhere but Las Vegas.

Like they did with Robin Lehner, Mark Stone, and Tomas Tatar at the last three deadlines, or Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny in prior offseasons, the Golden Knights will have made a splash in the name of bringing Vegas one step closer to winning the Cup.

However, as Isaac Newton taught us, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction.

I worry about the Vegas reputation now. They are trying to win, which is admirable, but if they are getting a reputation for being a place that talks you into coming, what do you think the free agents today that are watching these guys get shipped out are saying to themselves? ‘That can be me in two years if I go there.’ There’s a fine line between trying to win and having some organizational loyalty. –Brian Burke, former Stanley Cup winning NHL GM

That reputation might end up getting even stronger after the fallout from the Pietrangelo deal too.

As Burke said, it’s all done in the name of winning, which is great, but when dealing with highly-paid professional athletes with families, that loyalty piece has to be kept in mind.

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What The Golden Knights Look For In A Draft Pick – 2020 Edition

The Golden Knights are set to participate in their fourth NHL Entry Draft. This year Vegas enters with just five picks including a 1st and two 3rds which make it their lightest draft ever. In 2017 Vegas selected 12 players then followed it up by picking eight in each of the previous two years.

Thus, the Golden Knights have made 28 draft picks to help us get a feel for exactly the type of players they prefer. The Vegas front office remains untouched but we might see a bit of variance this year with a new head coach behind the bench. First, we’ll dig into the style of player the Golden Knights prefer. (Here’s last year’s edition of this same article.)

6 – Skilled Forward (Suzuki, Elvenes, Dugan, Kruse, Dorofeyev, Donovan)
5 – All-Around Center (Glass, Morozov, Cotter, Krebs, Primeau)
5 – Two-Way Defenseman (Hague, Corcoran, Bouchard, Korczak, Ahac)
4 – Offensive Defenseman (Brannstrom, Campoli, Demin, Diliberatore)
4 – Goalie (Zhukov, Patera, Kooy, Saville)
3 – Defensive Forward (Leschyshyn, Rondbjerg, Jones)
1 – All-Around Winger (Kallionkieli)

Last year Vegas opted for two skilled forwards, two all-around centers, and a pair of two-way defensemen. They shied away from both offensive defensemen and defensive forwards for the first time. Vegas has selected a goalie in each draft.

Next we move on to the “word cloud” which helps illustrate the traits the Golden Knights looks for in draft picks. These are descriptions used from our two draft favorite Draft guides (NHL Black Book and Draft Recrutes). Only positive terms were used for this portion.

The most commonly used terms are skill (14), two-way (11), hockey sense (11), strong (10), skating (9), quickness (9), and long-stride (8). The Golden Knights also seem partial towards players who are good in transition (7), have good sticks (8), play in all situations (6), are physical (5), and have a high work rate (5).

When it comes to negative traits, the most common one we see is inconsistent which showed up on five different players. The term we rarely find, literally has been mentioned as a negative for just two VGK draft picks, is skating.

Next, we move to the league in which players come from. The OHL remains atop the leaderboard with the USHL and WHL right behind it. In the 2019 Draft, each of Vegas’ first two selections (Krebs and Korczak) were from the WHL.

6 – OHL
5 – USHL
4 – WHL
3 – Sweden
3 – US High School
2 – BCHL
2 – Russia
1 – NCAA
1 – QMJHL
1 – OJHL

Through three drafts, the Golden Knights have still never selected a Brandon Wheat King, the team Kelly McCrimmon previously owned, managed, and coached. The connection remained strong though as Marcus Kallionkieli joined the Wheaties after being selected by Vegas in the 2019 Draft.

As for size, the Golden Knights have continued to run the gamut hitting all shapes and sizes. Though they do seem to love kids that are exactly 6’2″ as 10 of their 28 draft picks hit that exact height.

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The Inevitable Goalie Controversy Has Arrived For The Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo tweeted by Allan Walsh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s agent)

Goalie controversy, this is the Vegas Golden Knights. Golden Knights, goalie controversy. It’s been six months in the making, but the time has now come for you two to get acquainted with each other.

The inevitable was put into place on February 24th when the Golden Knights traded then back-up goalie Malcolm Subban for starter-to-be Robin Lehner. Despite the words of positivity coming from the front office and head coach about Fleury’s place atop the Golden Knights goalie depth chart, his role changed on that day, and it’s devolved ever since.

Today, one day before the Golden Knights begin their second round series with the Vancouver Canucks, what went from a potential hazard lurking in the distance stormed into the forefront and is now here to stay.

That’s a tweet from Allan Walsh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s long-time agent. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one really only needs to be worth four.

Fleury is not happy.

This isn’t a new move from the Walsh playbook though. He’s always been very active on Twitter and has even used the platform to stand up for another one of his clients in a nearly identical situation.

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McPhee: 30 Players Expected To Skate At City National Arena This Week

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

City National Arena was re-opened a few weeks ago with the beginning of Phase 2 of the NHL’s return to play plans. It called for only six players to be on the ice at a time and the facilities to be under strict safety protocols.

Despite the rough news over the weekend regarding positive cases, it was reported this week that the number of players allowed in the building is being increased to 12 as the league continues on the path towards the opening of training camps on July 10th.

The Golden Knights confirmed early on that six players, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden, and Deryk Engelland, participated in a skate the very first day of Phase 2. Since, they’ve sent out a couple more videos showing the exact same group of six players.

However, with most players in town, and a few others confirming they’ve skated, it’s been clear that the total number of players heading to skate each day was larger than six. Speaking on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central yesterday, George McPhee confirmed that nearly the entire roster is back.

We had I think 24 players skate the first week, 28 the second week, and we’ll probably have 30 this week. –McPhee on Hockey Central

To make matters even better, he also gave an update on the overall health of the team, which was seemingly a bit more dire than it appeared over the course of this season.

Everyone (is healthy). I don’t know what players that you were aware of that were injured. We weren’t public with all of them but they are all healthy. We had a couple of those high ankle sprains that take forever to heal and sometimes you need the summer for them to heal and we’re fortunate that we’ve had this kind of time for them to heal. –McPhee on Hockey Central

The expectation is that the league will allow teams to carry 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies when play resumes at the hub cities. Meaning for Vegas, just about everyone who will play is back to training and for the most part, has been for the last two weeks.

Kelly McCrimmon confirmed last Monday that the organization has not experienced any positive tests for Coronavirus.

All in all, it’s looking good for the Golden Knights as they prepare to return to the ice for real and accomplish what they couldn’t in years one and two. It might look even better by the end of the week too as SinBin.vegas sources indicate the players have been told the current plan is for the Golden Knights to stay in Vegas and play at T-Mobile Arena.


The Golden Knights have sent out three videos showing the six players mentioned above one the ice. Here’s the latest of those videos.

Reaves Scores In Contract Negotiations On VGK Again

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the past two and a half seasons since Ryan Reaves was acquired via trade he’s become one of the most popular, recognizable, and marketable members on the Golden Knights.

From the water commercials to the beer company to his unmistakable style on and off the ice, Reaves is one-of-a-kind in today’s NHL.

He’s become a real valuable player to our team, he’s well-respected across the league by both teammates and opponents. He’s not cheap, he’s honest, he’s tough, he’s hard, and he’s a really intelligent player. The coaching staff really appreciates what he does for our team. We’re excited to have him remain in our organization. -Kelly McCrimmon

It’s been clear for some time that both sides wanted to get a deal done and Monday it became official as Reaves signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.75 million.

The number is perfectly fair for a player with his offensive production, taking into account the intangibles he brings and his consistent availability having missed just two games since joining the Golden Knights. But the question that must be asked about this contract is one of leverage in negotiations, which was clearly on the side of the team yet didn’t appear to be taken advantage of.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love it here and that I wanted to stay. I’ve heard people say they could have gotten me cheaper because I have the business thing but at the end of the day hockey comes first for me. The hockey business decision had to be before the beer business or whatever else I do in the community. The hockey had to come first but it had to make sense for me and my family. -Reaves

The “people he’s heard” are me. And they should be anyone else who is concerned with the Golden Knights salary cap too.

As he mentioned in his media availability on Tuesday, it was no secret that he wanted to remain in Vegas. He has multiple endorsements, started a budding beer company that has grown immensely in the past 12 months, built a house in Summerlin, and has never done anything but profess his love for the Las Vegas valley.

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Where Do The Golden Knights Stand Against The Cap Following The Reaves Signing

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s still way too early to really start worrying about what the Golden Knights will look like next season, considering there’s still a Cup to be won this season. Plus, the salary cap for the 2020-21 season remains a mystery.

But with plenty of time to go before the Golden Knights hit the ice and a few contracts hitting the books over the past few weeks, we thought it’s a good time to take a look at the Golden Knights salary cap snapshot to give you an idea of what kind of wiggle room they have to operate with whenever the offseason does get underway.

The current salary cap is $81.5 million, a number the Golden Knights flirted with all season. Heading into next year, they currently have 19 players under contract that are likely to be a part of the 23 man roster. Plus, there’s still that pesky $500,000 cap hit that remains from the Tomas Tatar trade.

Here’s the full breakdown (salary numbers provided by CapFriendly.com).

Forwards (11 – $48,413,333)

Mark Stone – $9,500,000
Max Pacioretty – $7,000,000
Paul Stastny – $6,500,000
William Karlsson – $5,900,000
Reilly Smith – $5,000,000
Jonathan Marchessault – $5,000,000
Alex Tuch – $4,750,000
Ryan Reaves – $1,750,000
William Carrier – $1,400,000
Cody Glass – $863,333
Nicolas Roy – $750,000

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Golden Knights Playoff Roster And Lineup Projections

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Whenever the league gives the green light to go ahead with the 24 team playoff format that was unveiled earlier this week, the Golden Knights are going to have some tough decisions both in roster and lineup construction.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the league is expected to allow teams to have 28 skaters on their active roster along with an unlimited number of goalies. Normally, the entire AHL squad is available to any team still remaining in the NHL playoffs, but with the pandemic restrictions, the league likely wants to keep the numbers down.

So, let’s start with the 28 skaters that I project will make the cut for the Golden Knights.

Locks (21) (13 F, 8 D)

William Karlsson, Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson, Nick Cousins, Nic Roy, Ryan Reaves, Tomas Nosek, William Carrier, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Alec Martinez, Shea Theodore, Jon Merrill, Nick Holden, Zach Whitecloud, Deryk Engelland

This is the roster Vegas was expecting to go into the playoffs with had the league continued with the regularly scheduled season. Assuming health when the league is ready to return, there’s no way any of these 21 won’t be listed among the Golden Knights allotted 28.

AHL Locks (3) (2 F, 1 D)

Brandon Pirri, Valentin Zykov, Nic Hague

When I set out to do this I actually expected this group to be a little larger, but the group behind these guys is so large, McPhee and McCrimmon can really go a lot of different ways. Will they load up on defensemen because they have a little bit more of a variety of styles? Will they go with more veteran players to be safe? Or will they put a bunch of kids in the mix so they get a taste of “playoff” hockey? No matter which way they choose, these three will be among the 28 selected.

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McPhee’s Success In NHL.com’s Redrafts Bodes Well For VGK’s Future

Whether it means making great selections and developing those players into NHL stars or trading picks/prospects for NHL-ready players, the Draft is the most important tool for a GM to consistently improve his team.

Through three seasons, the Golden Knights have made 28 selections in the Entry Draft. Four have played in NHL games but just two have appeared for the Golden Knights. That being said, Vegas used the selections of the two that didn’t, Erik Brannstrom and Nick Suzuki, to acquire Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

So, it’s a bit too early to judge how well they’ve drafted as a team, but there’s no questioning they’ve already been able to utilize the Entry Draft to improve to what ended up being the best roster ever constructed from an Expansion Draft. The future of the franchise will continue to hinge on the successes and failures in the Entry Draft.

During the NHL Pause, NHL.com has been conducting “NHL Redrafts” in which they go back over a previous year’s Entry Draft and reselect them using what we know now. They’ve completed eight years, from 2005 to 2012, which consists of a majority of the players playing in the league right now.

When those eight drafts occurred, George McPhee was the GM of the Washington Capitals. He had 10 1st round picks yet managed to select 13 players that wound up being 1st rounders in NHL.com’s Redrafts. Here’s the full rundown of how McPhee did…

(Click each year for a link to that Redraft)

2005

1st Round Pick (14) – Sasha Pokulok (Not Drafted in Redraft)

2006

1st Round Pick (4) – Nicklas Backstrom (#3 in Redraft) UP 1
1st Round Pick (23) – Semyon Varlamov (#8 in Redraft) UP 15
2nd Round Pick (34) – Michal Neuvirth (#27 in Redraft) UP 7

2007

1st Round Pick (5) – Karl Alzner (#28 in Redraft) DOWN 23

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George McPhee In Favor Of Entry Draft In June

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the NHL’s constant struggle to stay relevant since the season was put on hold on March 12th, one of the ideas that’s drawn the most ire from GMs is the thought of conducting the Draft during the pandemic rather than waiting until the season is completed.

We’ve detailed all of the challenges an Entry Draft prior to the conclusion of a season presents to the league and the minimal effect it would have on the Golden Knights.

Speaking to Brian Blessing on the Vegas Hockey Hotline, Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations, George McPhee, took about as positive a position as any NHL exec regarding the Draft being held in June.

We’re ready to go, if the league wants to do it, let’s go do it. If the league wants to move it up we’re fine with it. This is complicated enough for the league and everybody else. –George McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline

As the days pass it appears to be less and less likely that the league will indeed head that way, but the possibility still exists.

I don’t particularly find it very challenging. I don’t know that anything changes if you wait another three months to have a draft. We can work out all of the conditional picks. I just don’t find it that difficult. –McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline

Contrast that to the quote Elliotte Friedman published from an unnamed GM on the idea.

This is terrible, and I don’t support it.

Every team is in a different spot in regards to the impact holding the Draft in June would have, with some having much larger hurdles to cross than that in which the Golden Knights would face.

Any team in the lottery could have their fates changed, any team with an important conditional pick yet to be settled, and any team on the playoff bubble could get burned by the irregular draft. Those are likely the teams making the most noise in opposition of the idea. As for Vegas, it really wouldn’t matter, and thus…

There’s going to be no whining from the Vegas Golden Knights. Whatever the league wants to do, we’ll do. –McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline


The entire interview with George McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline can be found here.

George McPhee Says Two Weeks Will Be Enough To Get Players Ready To Play

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If there’s one thing the NHL has made clear since the moment they placed the season on hold it’s that they will do whatever they can to make sure it was postponed and not canceled. Every piece of news that’s come out of the league since March 12th has pointed towards a devotion to return to the ice this year and award the 2019-20 Stanley Cup, no matter what that means for the future schedule.

However, with every day that ticks away without any concrete plans to return, it feels less and less likely that it will ever become a reality. Most return to play scenarios being thrown around are scheduled to take months before the teams ever hit the ice to play a game.

But, according to the Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations, George McPhee, it shouldn’t take nearly as long as what most expect to get the players back up to speed and ready to start playing meaningful games.

I think after a week or 10 days of skating they’d be fine. Are they really going to want four weeks? I don’t think so. After a week of hard skating, they’ll probably be saying ‘You know what, I’d rather be playing than practicing, so let’s get going.’ –George McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline

That’s a drastic difference from what we’ve normally been hearing in regards to how long the “camp” has to be to get the players fully conditioned.

And this is coming from a guy who not only has been a GM in the NHL for over 20 years, but also played more than 100 NHL games himself. Like everyone, he’s never been through something like this, but if anyone can predict how players will react to a situation it’s him.

If the league says you’ve got two weeks or a week to 10 days, ok, let’s go. It doesn’t matter to us, we’ll just be ready to go. –McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline

The fans will be ready too.


The entire interview with George McPhee on Vegas Hockey Hotline with Brian Blessing can be found here. We’ll have another story from this interview later in the week.

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