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Golden Knights Post-Expansion Draft Trade Grades

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have never failed to keep things interesting when it comes to the trade market. From the offseason to the deadline, Vegas is always looking to get in on the action. Since the Expansion Draft (where they made 15 trades), George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon have made 17 NHL level trades.

I went back and put three grades on every single one of them. The first grade is the short-term grade which is intended to judge just the season in which that deal was made. Mid-term grade looks two to three years into the future, and long-term grade is four years and beyond. Here are the grades.

October 6th, 2017
Calvin Pickard for Tobias Lindberg and 6th round pick (Peter Diliberatore)

Short-term grade: F
Mid-term grade: D
Long-term grade: B
Salary Cap Driven: NO

Literally a week after the deal went down, Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion and the Golden Knights had to turn to a goalie they had just declared “not ready to play in the NHL” in Malcolm Subban. Then he and Oscar Dansk got hurt and suddenly the net was Max Lagace’s with 19-year-old Dylan Ferguson as the backup. This is on a team that would eventually win the division and reach the Cup Final. The goalie injuries could have derailed the season and Vegas had traded a useable NHLer for peanuts just weeks earlier. Luckily it didn’t, and the pick they got out of it might actually turn into a useable player in Diliberatore, but boy was this a bad trade in the moment.

February 23rd, 2018
Tobias Lindberg and $2 million retained salary (Derick Brassard) for Ryan Reaves and 4th round pick (Slava Demin)

Short-term grade: B
Mid-term grade: C
Long-term grade: D
Salary Cap Driven: NO

It’s well-documented my feelings for the player the Golden Knights acquired in this trade, which is why the grades are so low. If the deal is never made, do they ever sign him to the ludicrous $2.75 million deal? He did score a game-winning goal in the Western Conference Final and then another goal in the Cup Final which makes that short-term grade look good.

February 26th, 2018
Brendan Leipsic for Philip Holm

Short-term grade: F
Mid-term grade: C
Long-term grade: C
Salary Cap Driven: NO

Our sources say this trade was a precursor to an Erik Karlsson deadline trade that fell through. Once it didn’t happen though, Vegas had given away a useable player for an unusable one on a team headed to the playoffs. The only saving grace on this trade is that Leipsic ended up having some off-ice stuff that occurred on Washington’s watch instead of Vegas’.

February 26th, 2018
1st round pick (Joseph Veleno), 2nd round pick (Robert Mastrosimone), 2021 3rd round pick for Tomas Tatar

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2020-21 Pressure Index: Defensemen, Goalies, Coach, Front Office

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday we tackled the Pressure Index for the forwards, now we move on to the rest of the roster and the front office.

Alex Pietrangelo

The Golden Knights franchise is not new to working in new players, and more recently, new stars. Some have thrived immediately, others have taken some time. With Pietrangelo, he’s going to have to have it figured out pretty quickly or this team is going to struggle along with him. Dealing with the new environment, first time with a new team, and the pressure to perform having signed the mega-deal all add up to the new guy feeling some heat, but he’ll have plenty of built-in excuses plus $61 million to relieve a lot of it. Pressure Index: 5

Brayden McNabb

The likely partner for Vegas’ newest superstar has been one of the steadiest players in Golden Knights history. It’s hard to believe anyone would be a bad match for Pietrangelo but any failures Alex has early will be blamed at least in part on his partner. Throw in the fact that as a pair they’ll be playing against the opposition’s best players every night and likely starting a majority of their shifts in the D-zone and it’s a tall task for anyone. Simply put, McNabb has to have a great season or his place as VGK’s most reliable defensemen will be lost quickly. Pressure Index: 6

Shea Theodore

No one has higher expectations for the 2020-21 season than Shea. After a masterful postseason most believe Theodore’s name should be in the mix for the Norris trophy this year. The statistical expectations most have for Theodore are probably unrealistic though. He was able to post 19 points in 20 games in the playoffs which leads many to believe he should be pushing 80 points in the regular season. His career-high is just 46 in 71 games. Maybe he can reach the insane numbers he’ll be projected for, but more than likely he’ll be looking at about a 50 point season with 10-15 goals. He needs to drive offense consistently for this team to succeed. There’s no reason to believe he won’t, but the weight of expectations will be heavy. Pressure Index: 8

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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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