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4 Golden Knights Ready To Breakout

(Photo Credit: @_jkarsh on Instagram)

Just about every player to step on the ice for the Golden Knights this season will have already fulfilled their goal as a hockey player. Now, they are all working together to do it again. Individually though, there’s room for improvement for many players on the Vegas roster. With a few departures and an 82-game season in store, there will be opportunities for many Golden Knights, especially the younger ones, to take a step forward. Here are four candidates who could be in store for breakout seasons.

Brett Howden

Howden’s career high in points in a season is just 23 and he scored only 13 for the Golden Knights last year. Of course, his contributions in the playoffs ramped up significantly after he found himself as the third wheel on a line with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson. Howden scored five goals (including an OT GWG in the WCF) and added five assists for 10 points in 22 playoff games.

This year, he’ll likely start the season right back in that same spot on the second line and might even find his way onto a power play unit. Howden’s skill set clearly matched up well with Stone and Stephenson which should equate to a lot more playing time than he’s seen in the past. Last season he averaged just 13:04 per game. That number jumped by almost a minute per night to 13:59 in the playoffs. It’d be easy to project him to play closer to 15:00 a game this season as long as the chemistry holds with his linemates.

He’s never reached double-digit goals nor has he eclipsed 25 points in a season in his career. He has a great chance to do both, and potentially much more, this year.

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2023 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A roundup of all the signings, rumors, and rumbling surrounding the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights as free agency opens in advance of the 2023-24 season.

*This article will be updated throughout the day as more information rolls in.*

  • Adin Hill has been re-signed to a two-year contract with $4.9 million AAV (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Reilly Smith has been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 2024 3rd round pick, VGK’s original selection (Source: @KevinWeekes)
  • Ivan Barbashev has agreed to a five-year contract extension with $5 million AAV (Source: Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have tendered qualifying offers to RFAs, Brett Howden, Jiri Patera, and Pavel Dorofeyev (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Jonathan Quick is expected to sign with the New York Rangers. (Source: @KevinWeekes)
  • Silver Knights captain Brayden Pachal has signed a two-year two-way contract with an NHL salary of $775,000 AAV. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Teddy Blueger signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks worth $1.9 million. (Source: @Canucks)
  • Laurent Brossoit signed with the Winnipeg Jets for one-year at $1.75 million. (Source: @reporterchris)
  • VGK has signed defenseman Mason Geertsen to a two-year two-way contract with an NHL league minimum value. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Mason Morelli has signed a two-year two-way contract with the Golden Knights at the NHL league minimum. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Jiri Patera has signed a one-year two-way deal with VGK. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Gage Quinney has signed a two-year two-way contract to remain with the Golden/Silver Knights. (Source: @PuckPedia)

Former VGK players

  • Mattias Janmark has signed a one-year contract worth $1 million to remain in Edmonton. (Source: Edmonton Oilers)
  • Dylan Coghlan has been extended a qualifying offer by the Carolina Hurricanes. (Source: @WaltRuff)
  • Ryan Reaves is expected to sign a multi-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs (Source: @TheFourthPeriod)
    • Reaves has signed a three-year deal with $1.3 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Erik Brannstrom signed a one-year contract worth $2 million to remain with the Ottawa Senators. (Source: @Senators)
  • Evgenii Dadonov signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.25 million with the Dallas Stars. (Source: @DallasStars)
  • Erik Haula re-signed in New Jersey for three years at $3.15 million AAV. (Source: @KevinWeekes)
  • Oscar Dansk returns to the Calgary Flames on a one-year two-way contract for the league minimum. (Source: @NHLFlames)
  • Colin Miller was traded to the New Jersey Devils for a 5th round pick. (Source: @NJDevils)
  • Max Pacioretty has signed with the Washington Capitals for one-year at $2 million plus $2 million in bonuses. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Patrick Brown has signed with the Boston Bruins for two years at $800,000 AAV. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Cody Glass has re-signed with the Predators for two years at $2.5 million (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Malcolm Subban has signed a one-year two-way contract with St. Louis for the league minimum.
  • Ryan Carpenter has signed with the Sharks on a one-year two-way deal worth the league minimum.
  • Jimmy Schuldt has signed a one-year two-way contract with Seattle for the league minimum.

Simplified Salary Cap Tracker

  • VGK are approximately $3,576,683 UNDER the salary cap with a 19-man roster (11 F, 8 D, 2 G)
    • Eichel, Stone, Karlsson, Marchessault, Barbashev, Roy, Stephenson, Carrier, Kolesar, Cotter, Amadio – $45,487,500
    • Pietrangelo, Martinez, Theodore, McNabb, Whitecloud, Hague, Hutton, Pachal – $28,769,150
    • Hill, Thompson – $5,666,667
  • Qualifying Offers – Howden^ ($1,500,000), Dorofeyev ($874,125), Patera^ ($787,500)
  • Expected LTIR – Lehner ($5,000,000)

^Arbitration eligible

**This is an inexact salary estimation designed to give a rough outline of how much cap space the Golden Knights have to operate with. For exact up-to-date salary cap information, visit PuckPedia.com.**

March Was Madness For The Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last 31 days for the Golden Knights have been amazing, terrifying, and in many ways unbelievable. The month began with Vegas taking on two of the Eastern conference’s best teams before staring down one of the most brutal on-paper road trips any NHL team can endure. In between, there were multiple trades, injuries galore, and impressively, a whole heap of wins.

Let’s take a look back on the madness that was March for the Golden Knights.

March 1st – VGK acquire Teddy Blueger & Beat CAR

On the first day of the month, the Golden Knights pulled off a bit of a surprising trade, their second of three at this deadline. Blueger was not exactly the type of player most people saw Vegas targetting and the price wasn’t exactly cheap, a 3rd round pick. Coupled with Ivan Barbashev who was acquired earlier, VGK was adding depth that would come in handy as the month wore on.

That night, the Golden Knights pulled off the biggest upset at T-Mobile Arena since Year 1, beating the Hurricanes 3-2. VGK were tremendous defensively and got a statement game from Jack Eichel.

March 2nd – Jonathan Quick acquired 

Let the goalie controversy begin! Amidst a rash of injuries, Vegas felt they needed to add another goaltender to the mix. Instead of going the quiet low-key route, Kelly McCrimmon chased the shiniest object on the market, the two-time Stanley Cup winner who had just been traded from the team chasing the Golden Knights.

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Golden Knights Prospect Rankings – February 11th, 2023

As the NHL trade deadline nears, the prospect pool will likely come into the spotlight as the Golden Knights are expected to once again be buyers on or before March 3rd.

The Golden Knights’ prospect pool is one of the shallower in the NHL, but there are still plenty of players capable of making an impact down the road for the big club.

In this update, we have a new #1 skater and a new #1 goalie, three players have graduated out due to NHL experience, and a few familiar names continue slipping down the rankings.

**To view the full SinBin Prospect Rankings including the criteria used to rank the players, click here.**

Recently Removed: Korczak (NHL experience), Cotter (NHL experience), Pachal (NHL experience)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

1) Jakub Brabenec (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #102 overall
Age: 19 (September 11, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 4

It’s been an eventful year for the 19-year-old 4th round pick. After impressing during his time wearing a VGK sweater both in the summer and fall, Brabenec headed back to the QMJHL where he continued producing both goals and assists. He was traded to the Sherbrooke Phoenix where he has picked up his pace even more. But, the most impressive portion of Brabenec’s year was the trip to World Juniors. He was excellent the entire tournament, one of Czechia’s most influential offensive players. He averaged a point per game and made plays against the biggest teams and players in the tournament. He sees the game at the speed necessary to play at the next level.

More on Brabenec
8/16/22 – Ranking: 4 – The fastest riser in the rankings, Brabenec finished off an excellent season in the QMJHL and then impressed at Development Camp. It’s a shame he didn’t go to World Juniors because he could have easily turned heads. There’s really not much to dislike about his game. He’s an excellent passer, he has a knack for being in the right place around the blue paint, and he forechecks with ferocity. He’s definitely not ready for the NHL, maybe not even the AHL, but the future is bright.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 10 – In his first season in North America, Brabenec is lighting it up with one of the league’s best teams. He’s tallied 28 assists in 34 games and added 12 goals too. Plus, he was named to the Czechia team at World Juniors where he looked decent in his appearance. He still has a long way to go as he’s still very young, but the ceiling on Brabenec now is much higher than it was a year ago.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 25 – One of the youngest players in the entire Draft, Brabenec has plenty of time to develop and move up this list. He’s done well internationally but has been underwhelming in the Czech league. He’s expected to be much more of a defensive center than anything else though.

 

2) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 21 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 2

Brisson’s first full year as a professional has not gone the way he and the Golden Knights wished. He’s not scoring at the pace expected for a 1st round pick sniper, and his physical game hasn’t matched the level of the AHL level to this point. 19 points including seven goals simply isn’t good enough in 37 AHL games. He still has the elite shot, and he still has some high-end vision with the puck, but there still needs to be quite a bit of improvement if he wants to become the player the Golden Knights expected when they picked him 29th overall.

More on Brisson
8/16/22 – Ranking: 2 – It would have been great to have seen more out of Brisson at Development Camp. He didn’t score a goal in the scrimmages and aside from his well-known elite one-timer, he didn’t pop as the only 1st round pick on the ice. Often times players aren’t quite themselves in the summer, especially after a long season. So it’s possible he comes into Rookie Camp, lights it up, and claims a spot. But as of right now, he still appears to need some professional seasoning in the AHL.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 1 – Brisson has shot up this chart in large part due to his stellar sophomore season at Michigan but also his inclusion and impact on Team USA at the Olympics. Brisson continues to be dangerous on the power play, and his hockey sense has started to shine through. He’s not afraid to stick his nose into traffic to grab a loose puck and he has a good knack for where loose pucks are going to end up. When chaos happens, Brisson is usually there to clean it up. He continues to look like a bonafide NHL prospect with a ceiling in the top six.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 4 – Brisson had a solid freshman season at Michigan scoring 10 goals and adding 21 points in 24 games. He’s a power play weapon and will continue to be a point producer at the NCAA level this season. However, with Michigan’s stacked lineup, his playing time will be interesting to monitor. Michigan had four of the top five picks in the 2021 Draft and all are expected to be on the roster this year. As a late 1st round pick from the year prior, Brisson should be able to hold down a permanent spot, but we’re definitely going to learn a lot about him as to where coach Mel Pearson has him in that stacked lineup.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 3 – Brisson’s selection to the eventual gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Juniors was incredibly impressive considering how stacked that team was. He offers something unlike anything we’ve seen from a VGK prospect to this point and that’s an unbelievable shot. He loves to sit in the circle on the power play and rip shots past goalies who know it’s coming and still can’t stop it. He definitely has a ways to go in regards to strength and experience and the offensive play can improve in other areas aside from the shot, but there’s no doubt Brisson has an exciting future. 

 

3) Matyas Sapovaliv (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #48 overall
Age: 18 (February 12, 2004)
Most Recent Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Previous Ranking: 11

As he’s set to hit his 19th birthday tomorrow, Sapovaliv has soared up the list. This actually has a lot more to do with others dropping, but Matyas has done everything you can ask for in his first season post-draft. He posted seven assists in seven games at World Juniors and was utilized as a defensive specialist as well. He’s also posting strong numbers in the OHL with Saginaw. His forechecking continues to be a strong suit and his ability to read the game as a defensive center is strong. He certainly looks like he has an NHL future.

More on Sapovaliv
8/16/22 – Ranking: 11 – The concern during the draft on Sapovaliv was his skating. At Development Camp, it was not notably poor which is a good sign having stepped on the Vegas ice just days after being drafted. He’s a strong forechecker and his awareness in the defensive and neutral zones is great. He potted a goal at World Juniors, but there were definitely some signs that he was struggling to keep up as the tournament went along. He’s a real boom or bust type prospect, and it’s not hard to see some of the characteristics that make VGK believe he’ll boom.

 

**To view the rest of the SinBin Prospect Rankings, click here.**

GOALIES 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Jiri Patera
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #161 overall
Age: 23 (February 24, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

Patera has been excellent in the Silver Knights’ goal despite playing behind one of the worst teams in the AHL. He’s been clearly better than NHL veteran Michael Hutchinson and at times he’s even looked better than another NHLer, Laurent Brossoit. VGK’s future between the pipes is very cloudy heading into next year, there’s a real chance Patera inserts himself into that picture.

More on Patera
8/16/22 – Ranking: 2 – Patera is going to get a shot to state his case in camp, then preseason, and then early in the regular season likely at the AHL level. With the VGK goalie room either inexperienced and banged up, opportunity is there for the taking for everyone wants to take it. Patera has shown out well in some chances and not as well in others.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 2 – When given the chance, Patera has looked every bit an AHL caliber goalie, and I mean that in a good way. Despite bouncing between the AHL and ECHL this season, he’s been strong when he’s been in the net in either Henderson or Fort Wayne. It’s incredibly close between he and Ferguson, but they are both miles behind Thompson.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 2 – It was definitely good to see Patera getting plenty of time with the NHLers at the end of the season on the taxi squad. His AHL numbers were a bit of a mess however as he went 2-4-0 on a team that won the division. It’ll be interesting to see if he wins the job as the backup in Henderson this season. There will be a battle to back up Thompson, and Ferguson absolutely might win it.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 3 I probably dock players for injuries more than I should, but it’s just tough to keep guys up in the rankings when they aren’t healthy. Value certainly has dropped on Patera as he was likely to compete for the backup AHL job and now he’s on the sideline watching Ferguson and Thompson compete for it. His injury isn’t expected to be too long-term, but every day missed hurts.

4/16/20 – Patera had a masterful year in the WHL playing for his NHL GM’s team. He was easily the best goalie in the league and showed the promise that had him as the second goalie ever selected by the Golden Knights. Now it’s time for Patera to really face some challenges. He’ll likely sign a contract and end up in the ECHL where he’ll have to compete for a starting role. He went from #4 to #1 in these rankings in a short time, which proves just how close this group of goalies still is.

11/16/19 – Patera has found himself in a bit of a battle just for playing time in Brandon. He has started just eight games, while draft eligible Ethan Kruger has seen the nets 14 times. Patera’s stats are better, but playing time is a good indicator of form in Canadian juniors.

7/5/19 -He dropped down to 4th on the list last time due to a shoddy performance at World Juniors. He stays at #4 now because the guys in front of him all look very good. As a whole the goaltenders had their best camp yet, with all four of them looking good for the most part. Patera definitely seems to be progressing and is starting to track the puck a bit better than he had the previous times we’ve seen him. I was down on the goalie prospects in the system, but after doing this exercise again, ranking Patera 4th, and realizing how good he was in camp, the depth in the system actually looks pretty good.

1/8/19 – Patera is the only one of the Golden Knights goalie prospects to have made a World Junior roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good while playing with the Czech team. He had a miserable game the one he was in the net and even had the blooper of the tourney tripping while trying to get back to the net. His numbers in Brandon have been pretty good though, so don’t go crazy. These are 19-year-old goalies we are talking about, if any of them pan out it would be amazing.

9/12/18 – Despite having the best stat line of any of the three goalies, he was the least impressive. It may have a lot to do with the fact that the Kings rookies did not generate much offense, but Patera seemed to lose track of the puck quite a bit. It’s important to note though that the gap between #1 to #4 is fairly slim here. Couple good periods and Patera could be first.

7/28/18 – Patera was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and is looking forward to trying his hand against better competition this season. He made a couple of incredible reactionary saves during 2018 Development Camp, one in particular that still boggles the mind as to how he kept the puck out. He seems to have quick reflexes and is a fairly large guy for his age.

 

**To view the rest of the SinBin Prospect Rankings, click here.**

Observations On Every Player Who Put On A VGK Sweater At The Rookie Faceoff – Defensemen & Goalies

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.

Defensemen

(Photo Credit: Robert Schneidmiller, IceTimeHockeySW.com)

Daniil Chayka (3 games, 1LD, 1 LD, 1LD)

Chayka was steady but never really seemed to get his footing adding any offense. In his own end, he was able to use his strong frame to push guys off the puck as well as protect it when he had it. The decision-making could probably have been a bit quicker, though it got better as the weekend wore on. For a first impression, there was a lot more good than bad.

Kaedan Korczak (2 games, 1RD, 1 RD)

As expected, Korczak looked like he was on another level compared to almost everyone else on the ice. He was calm on the puck, quick in retrieval, and always made the right decisions. There’s probably never going to be much offense in his game, but his willingness to push the puck up the ice will certainly generate chances for his teammates in the future.

Artur Cholach (3 games, 2LD, 2LD, 3 LD)

The first game he looked a step behind pretty much everyone rushing at him, but as the games continued he was able to gain his footing and improved. The concern about his ability to get to pucks and get them off his stick quickly enough to succeed at this level remains though. Overall, it wasn’t a bad weekend for him, but it was far from great.

Lukas Cormier (2 games, 2RD, 2RD)

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Prospect Rankings – Goalies – July 5th, 2019

In the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings, goalies are always listed last. So, today we decided to bring the new goalie rankings to the forefront by giving them a post of their own. So, here goes.

Criteria to qualify for rankings:

  • Must be younger than 23 years old
  • Cannot have played more than 10 NHL games
  • Must be either under contract or drafted by the Golden Knights

Players are ranked based on value to the organization. The most important factor is the player’s ceiling, or how good they can eventually become, but also taken into consideration is how close they are to playing in the NHL and how likely they are to play in the NHL. This is NOT a ranking of which players are the best if a game were to be held today.

Recently Removed: Maxim Zhukov (forfeited rights)

GOALIES 

1) Isaiah Saville
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 18 (September 21, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

Saville has been by far the most impressive goalie in his first appearance with the Golden Knights. He looked incredibly confident in the goal and his technique was terrific for an 18-year-old. Dave Prior is constantly working with goalies to try and make minor changes to their game, often times throwing them off a bit, but with Saville that wasn’t the case. Prior wanted Saville to challenge shooters further out of the goal cutting down angles. He did it, and it seemed to make him even better as the week went on. Of the goalies remaining in the Golden Knights system, he’s the highest draft pick and he looks like he’s on the right path to becoming a solid prospect.

 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2) Dylan Ferguson
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 20 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

The one aspect of Ferguson’s game that shows up the most when watching him is his compete level. He looks like he wants to save every single shot, no matter the situation or likelihood he should actually save it. In the scrimmage that he was able to play in Development Camp (he was hurt and missed the final two), it appeared like he was planning on winning the game singlehandedly for his team. The intensity is there, his style is aggressive, and he’s getting more and more consistent. For a smaller guy, his ability to look big inside of the goal is impressive and his athleticism is exciting. It appears like the Golden Knights’ plan for Ferguson is to hand him the reigns as the backup in Chicago, which says a lot about what the organization thinks of him as well.

More on Ferguson
1/8/19 – Ferguson has put up similar numbers to his other seasons in the WHL saving a little over 90% of shots. Due to his age he seems to be a bit further along than Kooy but the physical tools aren’t as promising. Don’t forget that he was the first to sign a contract, he was specifically targeted by VGK in a trade and he was seemingly the highest rated goalie in rookie camp. It’s neck and neck with Kooy but ties are no fun so Dylan drops down a spot.

9/12/18 – Ferguson didn’t play in any of the rookie games, which in theory should be a bad thing. Instead though, it indicates the Golden Knights rank him the highest, by giving him the first preseason game rather than a rookie game. We’ll heed VGK’s rankings and leave him atop the list.

7/28/18 – You might remember young Dylan from his short stint with the Golden Knights, but you should remember him from his solid showing at Development Camp. He looked confident in the goal, something he didn’t look while in the net in Edmonton or even at Development Camp in 2017. Ferguson has a little bit of an edge to him, and it seems to translate to confidence and swagger on the ice. Plus, he’s awesome interacting with kid fans when he comes off the ice.

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Former NHL Star and Czech Juniors Coach Evaluates Vegas’ Top Prospects

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Patrik Elias is one of the finer European players to ever play the game. The future Hall of Famer was considered a highly smart two-way player with elite skills. The two-time Stanley Cup champion is New Jersey’s franchise leader in points, goals, and assists, which is doubly impressive since Elias played a good chunk of his career in the Dead Puck era.

Elias was in town last month to assist with the NHL’s new player tracking technology, and to watch his Devils face off against the Golden Knights. So, I tracked down the retired star to get his thoughts on the youngsters in the Vegas pipeline.

After all, the Czech was an assistant coach for his home country at this past World Junior Championships. Elias was enthusiastic by what he saw from the Golden Knights prospects.

Cody Glass

Before I could finish my question, Elias cut in…

He’s an NHL player no question about it. I watched not only minutes but a couple of hours of video on him because of the way he runs a power play. He’s got a great poise. Obviously, right handed shot. Hockey smarts, great skater. He was one of the better, most fun players to watch. He’s going to be an NHL pro. -Elias

Elias wasn’t committing to a timetable for Glass but he expects it won’t be long.

You see a lot of the guys making the jump quickly. If they work hard, they’ll get the chance. It is a young man’s league. But nothing wrong with playing in the minors for a little bit. Adjust to it a little, even though it’s a different game. -Elias

Erik Brannstrom

Just as he was with Glass, Elias was incredibly high on Vegas’ spitfire defenseman.

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