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Observations On Every Player Who Put On A VGK Sweater At The Rookie Faceoff – Forwards

Golden Knights rookies spent the weekend in Phoenix competing in three games against fellow rookie squads from the Coyotes, Sharks, and Kings. A total of 25 players suited up for Vegas, here’s are my observations on every single one of them.

Peyton Krebs (2 games, 1C, 1C)

Literally 15 seconds into Game 1, Krebs made the best move of the weekend by any Golden Knight, carrying the puck over the blue line, stopping on a dime, and stickhandling through a defender’s legs to set up a Grade A scoring chance. His compete level is always on display and it really kicked up in the third game when it was clear he took a leadership role both on and off the ice. He came away from the two games without much to show for on the scoresheet but his impact was obvious.

(Photo Credit: Robert Schneidmiller, IceTimeHockeySW.com)

Pavel Dorofeyev (3 games, 1LW, 1LW, 1LW)

The first thing you’ll always notice about Pavel’s game was once again on full display, and that’s his ability to hold the puck and create space for himself and his teammates. He had a few really dangerous scoring chances but wasn’t able to slot one home. He and Marushev looked good together, but there’s no doubt Dorofeyev was at his best in Game 3 playing with Krebs and Dugan.

Maxim Marushev (3 games, 1RW, 1RW, 3RW)

Marushev plays a simple but effective game. He’s reliable with the puck on his stick and he’s always in quickly on the forecheck. He hit the post on a 2-on-0 shorthanded chance and was both creating chances for others as well as collecting them himself all weekend. For a 7th round pick, there’s not much to dislike about his game.

(Photo Credit: Robert Schneidmiller, IceTimeHockeySW.com)

Mason Primeau (3 games, 2LW, 3C, 2 LW)

No one’s stock raised more in my book this weekend than Primeau’s. His skating looks very good for a player of his size and his hands were worlds better than what we saw a while back when he was in Development Camp at City National Arena. Primeau was constantly making plays all over the ice. Some helped generate scoring chances but more often we’d see plays along the wall, in the neutral zone, or exiting the offensive zone that relieved pressure for his teammates. Officially, he goes down in the books with just one assist, but there was another goal clearly created off his play in the D-zone and a bundle of chances he was in on that weren’t finished.

Zach Dean (3 games, 2C, 1C, 3C)

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Vegas Coaches “Barking” At Jack Dugan To Shoot More

Early in the 2nd period of rookie game number two, the Golden Knights were awarded a power play. The puck worked its way around the four forward, one defenseman Golden Knights power play unit when it found itself sitting on the stick of Jack Dugan.

Dugan collected the pass, looked straight at the goal, and fired a low hard shot that beat the goalie clean to for Vegas’ first goal of the game.

It was a classic power play goal, one we’ve seen scored by a number of different players wearing a VGK sweater, but there was a bit more significance to this one because of whose stick it came off of.

I don’t know if you saw the reaction on the bench (when he scored the goal) but we’ve been barking at him on the bench to shoot the puck more. -Manny Viveiros

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Following his excellent sophomore season at Providence College where he tallied 52 points in 34 games, Dugan signed with the Golden Knights and played the entirety of last year in the AHL in Henderson. The point production continued as Dugan posted nearly a point per game, 33 points in 37 games.

If you dig into the numbers though, you’ll see that throughout his college career and his first year as a pro he’s produced assists at a rate double that of goals. The coaching staff in Henderson believes his mindset with the puck on his stick is making him predictable and they are trying to break the habit.

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Why Forward Line And D-Pair Combinations Matter In Rookie Games

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When it comes to prospects, we’re always on the hunt for information, trying to differentiate between players who have an NHL future and those who are simply along for the ride.

Rookie camp, and especially rookie games, are crucial in that sorting process as they stand as one of the rare times a large collection of Golden Knights prospects gather and compete on the same sheet of ice. Comparing Lukas Cormier’s 54-point QMJHL season to Kaedan Korczak’s five-game stint in the AHL playoffs only offers so much, but when they step on the ice together and compete against the same competition, much more can be gathered.

Most of that information comes from what we see on the ice. However, every once in a while we get some crumbs that give us a look into how the organization views these players, which will massively affect their chances of becoming future Golden Knights.

One such crumb was shared by this weekend’s coach, and Henderson Silver Knights head coach, Manny Viveiros.

Management and the scouting staff, they’ll put the lines together for us cause they’ve seen these kids over the last few years. They’ve been a big help in that part by putting who they want to see together including the d-pairs as well. So we’re going to decide who’s playing this weekend and with who and we’re going to go out there and support the kids and coach them on the bench. -Viveiros

This means every lineup we see being put out on the ice this weekend offers a look into the minds of the front office.

Pavel Dorofeyev and Maxim Marushev playing with Peyton Krebs on the top line tells us something about the two Russian standouts. While Mason Primeau playing on the wing of 2021 1st round pick Zach Dean and the more experienced Jack Dugan speaks volumes to where they feel the career of the 6’5″ 20-year-old who spent a portion of last year in the ECHL is headed.

Every player, every position, every decision is done with a purpose and there’s a reason behind every purpose.

Here’s the lineup the Golden Knights used in their first rookie game against the Coyotes, one they dropped 5-2 in a bit of a sloppy, penalty-filled affair.

Dorofeyev-Krebs-Marushev
Primeau-Dean-Dugan
Pearson*-Brabenec-McCallum*
D’Amato*-Demek-Gaucher*

Chayka-Korczak
Cholach-Cormier
Lajoie*-McCormick*

Patera
Vikman
*  = Free Agent

This is just one lineup of three we’ll get to examine this weekend. With them, we’ll get more information on players like Layton Ahac, Marcus Kallionkieli, Jermaine Loewen, Zack Hayes, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Peter DiLberatore.

In the end, it’s just a weekend, and placement in the lineup, as well as subsequent performances, will always be just a piece of the puzzle to how the Golden Knights view each prospect moving forward.

But it’s neat to get a peek behind the curtain a bit, now that we know where to look.

Golden Knights Whose Stock Can Rise In Training Camp

Training Camp is right around the corner, and while the Golden Knights depth chart is fairly set due to the sheer number of returning players, there are still plenty of guys who can use this next month to make their move into bigger roles this season. Players who put in excellent training camps are often those who are called upon first when the team experiences injuries or even just needs a shuffle in lines.

So, even though we can pretty much plot out the Golden Knights’ lineup for Opening Night right now, these players all have a chance to position themselves for larger roles on the team as the season rolls on.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jack Dugan

The odds Dugan makes the roster out of camp are nearly insurmountable, but that certainly doesn’t mean he can’t show up and show out to move up the ranks once the waiver situation clears. In camp, the forward battle will be between guys like William Carrier, Brett Howden, Nolan Patrick, and Keegan Kolesar, but once the roster is set and the games get underway, there will be a pecking order as to who is called next in the event of an injury. Last year, Dugan was never even in the conversation and didn’t even see a sniff of the NHL. This year, it starts with Rookie Camp, the tournament in Phoenix, and then main camp. If Dugan can dominate against the kids and then make an impact in main camp as well as preseason games, he’ll certainly jump up the line in the “next man up” rankings. We know he has the scoring touch and he plays a style of game coaches love. Plus, he has a bit of a nasty streak in him which could be needed if the season isn’t going as planned early for the Golden Knights. A big month of September would go a long way for Dugan to earn his NHL debut, even if that doesn’t come until the calendar flips to 2022.

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Internal Upgrade Options For 2021-22 Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the past couple of seasons, we’ve started to see a bit more of an influx of younger players into the Golden Knights’ lineup. From Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague taking up permanent spots on the blue line to Keegan Kolesar, Nic Roy, and Cody Glass pushing for their places in the bottom six, Vegas has been looking to inject more youth into a roster that’s growing increasingly older each year.

With a clear need for upgrades, especially offensively, the Golden Knights promised to “turn over every stone” this offseason in a search to make this team better, get them over the hump, and bring Las Vegas the Stanley Cup. One such stone they may be wise to search under is the prospect pipeline.

The surprise addition of Kolesar to the opening night roster and him sticking with the club for the entirety of the 2020-21 season proves the team is willing to give a young player extended time at the NHL level if deserved. Unlike most young players though, his situation was complicated by the waiver process in that he was not exempt like most other VGK prospects. Placing him on waivers would be exposing him to be lost to another team for nothing, a risk the Golden Knights clearly were never comfortable taking.

This season, another young player is in a similar situation. 23-year-old Dylan Coghlan heads into this offseason as a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, the same spot Kolesar was in a year ago. Coghlan is due to be extended a qualifying two-way one-year offer worth $750,000 at the NHL level. Without much negotiating power, that offer is likely to be signed by Coghlan. However, this season, unlike the last, Coghlan is no longer waiver-exempt. Thus, if the Golden Knights want to place him in the AHL, as they did on multiple occasions (using the taxi squad) last season, he would be required to clear waivers.

Like Kolesar’s situation a year ago, Vegas may see Coghlan as a valuable enough piece that they will not be willing to expose him to waiver, especially with a 32nd team entering the league.

Coghlan played in 29 games last season for the Golden Knights scoring three goals (all in the same game) and adding three assists. He’ll represent an affordable option that has shown some offensive upside and could grow into a bigger role on what is expected to be a revamped power play.

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JACK DUGAN (F) SIGNS TWO-YEAR ENTRY-LEVEL CONTRACT

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights announced today that Jack Dugan signed a two-year entry-level contract.

Dugan was selected in the 5th round of the 2017 Draft and has played at Providence College the past two seasons. He led the NCAA in points in 2019 and was widely considered one of the best players in college hockey.

He is currently the #2 ranked skater on the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings.

It was a unique situation. For me I knew what I wanted to do at the end of my college season. I knew I wanted to sign or join or whatever with the Vegas Golden Knights, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. We were kind of taking it in stride and seeing what was going to happen. -Dugan

Why Jack Dugan Committed To The Golden Knights Without Actually Signing A Contract

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Jack Dugan news broke via press release from the Golden Knights it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Instead of an announcement of a contract or trade, this press release indicated that Dugan had “agreed to join the Golden Knights organization.”

The announcement expressed that Dugan was done with college and he was set to sign a contract with the Golden Knights. However, the wording made it clear that the pen had not officially hit the paper on that contract.

As we’ve done before, we immediately started to “read into” the why behind this peculiar announcement. Why not just sign the contract? Other teams have done it with prospects leaving college, what’s different with Dugan?

The answer lies in the desired start date of the contract.

Since the league went on hiatus, 81 players have joined NHL teams. Most of them were announced with the same language we are used to hearing, “signed to an entry-level contract.” The ones that had more information all indicated that the contract would begin in 2020-21. In other words, they are signing contracts for next season, not for the one that is paused.

This is common in the NHL. When a player’s season wraps up, whether from Candian Junior, the NCAA, or overseas, a team can sign the player immediately for the following season even if that team is still playing this year. This makes the player ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the ongoing season and their contract begins for the next year.

Or, a team can do what Vegas has done each of its first two seasons. They’ve signed players for the current season, brought them directly onto the NHL roster, and in the case of two (Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt) of the three (Nikita Gusev is the other) actually played them in an NHL game right away. By doing this, it “burns” the year off the entry-level contract.

Let me show you the difference using an example.

Method 1 – Sign player for the following season

Player signs 2-year entry-level contract
Ongoing season (2019-20) – Ineligible to play
2020-21 – Year 1
2021-22 – Year 2
Contract expires on July 1, 2022

Method 2 – Sign player for the ongoing season

Player signs 2-year entry-level contract
Ongoing season (2019-20) – Year 1
2020-21 – Year 2
Contract expires on July 1, 2021

As you see, using Method 2, a player becomes a free agent (restricted in most cases) 365 days sooner even though they are signed to the exact same contract on the exact same day. The only difference is the start date.

So, let me go back to Jack Dugan. Based on the multitude of contracts that have been signed since March 12th when the league was paused, we know NHL Central Registry (the office in charge of approving contracts) is allowing contracts to be signed. However, not a single contract has been announced as signed for 2019-20.

When the NHL suspended this season March 12, the league instructed teams that no contracts for draft picks or college, junior and European free agents could be signed with a start date of this current season. All contracts had to begin in 2020-21. –Michael Russo, The Athletic

According to Jesse Granger of The Athletic, Dugan is hoping his contract will begin in 2019-20 instead of 2020-21.

Dugan’s preference is to begin his professional career immediately when hockey resumes, a source told The Athletic. -Jesse Granger, The Athletic

The Golden Knights should want that as well. (I’ll explain in a moment.)

So, if the league won’t allow a contract to be signed for 2019-20, then… don’t sign a contract. That’s exactly what Dugan did. Instead, he “agreed to join the Golden Knights organization.”

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Late Round Pick Success Stories Give Hope For Jack Dugan

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 2010, the Ottawa Senators took a flier in the 6th round on an 18-year-old awkward skater from Winnipeg. The Golden Knights took a similar chance in the 5th round in 2017 on Jack Dugan, a player with close to the same build.

As a young player, I had to do a lot of things to even make it here… I wasn’t a very good skater. That was documented when I was 12 years old. Everyone told me I couldn’t skate. -Mark Stone

Going back to the 2012 NHL draft, only 106 of the 729 players selected in the 5th round or later have suited up to play in an NHL game. Only 28 have played more than 100 games.

A few have been successful in the NHL, but none have become elite like Stone. The former Wheat King, Senator, and current Golden Knight is an outlier when it comes to late draft picks. Stone has enjoyed eight seasons in the NHL, scoring 385 points, 601 takeaways, and is valued at $9.5M per year. Finding a player with that resume after the first three rounds takes incredible scouting, trust, and let’s face it, luck.

We’re still probably a year or two away from Jack Dugan even breaking into the NHL, but he’s trending in the direction of a late-round steal just like Stone.

At the time of the draft, Dugan’s scouting reports were lukewarm. Some thought he had the skill and eventual size to play a bottom-six role in the NHL.

Jack Dugan Scouting Reports:

The Hockey News
Every draft has sleepers, dark horses and late bloomers and Dugan may be a hidden gem that encompasses all three. A big, aggressive and raw talent who was passed over.

Dobber Prospects
Dugan is a late bloomer who is big, aggressive and is loaded with raw talent.

HockeyProspect.com Black Book
Isn’t a smooth skater but moves well and handles the puck at his top speed. We like his potential, has size, skill and a good hockey IQ.

Mark Stones Scouting Reports:

Hockey’s Future
Probability of success: C
The size and hands are there as is the willingness to work the boards and get to the dirty areas. The one noticeable weakness is his choppy stride which he’s working on and has spent time with the Ottawa skating coach improving his foot-speed. Smart on the ice and well-spoken off of it, Stone has the talent, intensity and work ethic to get himself to the NHL in time.

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JACK DUGAN AGREES TO SIGN CONTRACT WITH VGK

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jack Dugan ELC Could Be Coming Soon

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Though games are halted, the business of hockey continues on. Over the past few days, both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings have signed contracts with draft picks that were playing in the NCAA.

K’Andre Miller (NYR) and Alex Turcotte (LAK) each signed entry-level contracts after their college seasons wrapped up at the University of Wisconsin. Both players’ contracts will begin for the 2020-21 season.

When the NCAA made the decision to cancel the remainder of all winter and spring sports, it meant the end of his sophomore season for Golden Knights prospect Jack Dugan. Dugan led all of college hockey in points and is the favorite to win the NCAA’s top award, the Hobey Baker.

After being selected in the 5th round of the 2017 NHL Draft (142nd overall), Dugan played a season in the USHL before heading off to college. In his two years at Providence, Dugan put up 91 points in 75 games, more than any player in the NCAA over that time.

Dugan said earlier this year that he wants “dominate” the level he’s currently playing at before moving on to the next one. With the points lead in hand and the Hobey Baker soon to follow, it appears he’s accomplished that goal.

Dugan is eligible to play for the Golden Knights this season, assuming it is to resume, as well as during the playoffs. However, if he does so, it will burn up one of the three years of his entry-level contract. With the uncertainty of the current times and the Golden Knights history of “over-cooking” prospects, it’s much more likely that Dugan’s contract would begin in 2020-21. The contract is expected to be a three-year, two-way deal with an NHL salary of around $925,000 AVV and performance and signing bonuses.

Now it’s up to Dugan and the Golden Knights to ink that deal. As long as the league still allows it during the pause, it should come much sooner than later.

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