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With Training Camp Underway GM McCrimmon Happy For Some Normalcy

(Photo by Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights training camp begins today representing the return of the players and finally the fans. The start of a normally scheduled camp has the Golden Knights brass ecstatic as well. The Golden Knights’ GM addressed the media yesterday to give his expectations on training camp and making another chase for the Stanley Cup.

Really excited about 82 games. Really excited about playing 31 other teams. Last year was a challenge for a lot of people and for a lot of different reasons. We’re really optimistic that this will feel a lot more like a normal NHL season. We’re pleased with our offseason, pleased with the makeup of our team as we head into the season. -Kelly McCrimmon, Vegas GM

While the GM was satisfied with his offseason changes he’s also eager to learn more about what’s in the cupboard. Entering their fifth NHL season, Vegas’ front office would like to add contributions from some of their more experienced prospects.

I always get excited about the evolution of young players. I’m excited to see Keegan Kolesar, Dylan Coghlan, Nic Hague, Nic Roy, that group of young players. I’m excited to see their progression because that’s a big part of how your team improves. Zach Whitecloud, still a young player. I’m excited to see those players. -McCrimmon

The list of players the Golden Knights GM rattled off are under contract for one more season before entering restricted free agency. Of course, it’s an established roster but the Golden Knights at some point will need impact from the younger generation. McCrimmon also mentioned centers Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden but there are different expectations considering both are new to the organization.

Coach Pete DeBoer will have the luxury of roughly three weeks and seven preseason games to examine his younger players. DeBoer will need some to quickly become everyday NHL players. There may not be many openings in Vegas’ opening day roster but there could be bottom-six minutes up for grabs.

This year has seven preseason games, last year did not. I think there’s real value in that. Not only for your veteran players but it’s a great opportunity for young guys… I believe our forwards as a group are better than they’ve been at any point in our existence. I think we made our team better at the forward position. -McCrimmon

McCrimmon stated, and few would disagree, Vegas has a roster that only a handful of teams can match. The general manager never mentioned direct expectations but the goal has to be the same under The Creator’s ownership.

With the franchise’s best-ever forward unit, star-studded defense, and superb goaltending, it has to be a Cup or Bust type mentality behind closed doors. Expect another fun ride.

Roster Battles Incredibly Limited At 2021 VGK Training Camp

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When you take a hard look at the Golden Knights roster you’ll quickly realize there aren’t many question marks when it comes to lineup construction. The top-six is all but guaranteed to remain intact, the entire blue line is locked in, and there’s no longer a goalie competition for either the starting role or the backup.

There are at least 15 players out of the allowed 20 that will dress on October 12th we can essentially write in with a Sharpie marker. There would actually be a 16th if Alex Tuch were healthy, but his injury leaves at least one more spot open for discussion.

Of course, the lines and pairs could shift, but here are the names that I’d be willing to go out on a limb and guarantee (if healthy) are in the lineup in 27 days at T-Mobile Arena.

Pacioretty-Stephenson-Stone
Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith
Janmark-(Open)-Dadonov
(Open)-(Open)-(Open)

Martinez-Pietrangelo
McNabb-Theodore
(Open)-Whitecloud

Lehner
Brossoit

Thus, there are reasonably five slots that could be interchangeable.

At forward, there are five players currently under one-way NHL contracts. William Carrier, Brett Howden, Keegan Kolesar, Nic Roy, and Patrick Brown. Then, there’s Nolan Patrick who is an RFA but will likely have a contract prior to Opening Night. Throw in the waiver-exempt Peyton Krebs, Jack Dugan, and Lucas Elvenes and we’re looking at a group of nine players with a chance of suiting up against the Seattle Kraken.

Roy is probably the closest player in this group to having a guaranteed spot in the lineup, especially considering his strong postseason and massive goal in Game 4 against the Canadiens.  The other three spots truly represent the only roster competition in VGK Training Camp.

Kolesar would seem to have the next strongest case considering he was protected against waivers for the entire 2020-21 season. His game certainly progressed over the year and there’s really no reason to believe they’d be willing to risk him on waivers this year when they were in an even tighter spot a year ago.

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2021 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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

  • Alec Martinez has re-signed with the Golden Knights for a three-year contract worth $5.25 million AAV. (Source: @ frank_seravalli)
  • Laurent Brossoit has signed with the Golden Knights on a two-year contract worth $2.325 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Nick Holden and a 3rd Round Pick have been traded to the Ottawa Senators for Evgenii Dadonov. (Source: SinBin.vegas + @KevinWeekes)
  • Mattias Janmark will stay with the Golden Knights. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Vegas is reportedly interested in signing Montreal’s Phillip Danault (Source: @GeorgesLaraque)
    • Danault has signed with the Kings. Six years for $5.5 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • VGK have signed Sven Baertschi to a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • Patrick Brown has re-signed in Vegas. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • Gage Quinney has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year, two-way deal. (Source: @GoldenKnights)
  • The Golden Knights have extended qualifying offers to both of their RFAs, Dylan Coghlan and Nolan Patrick (Source: @DavidSchoenLVRJ)
  • Tomas Nosek has signed with the Boston Bruins for two-years at $1.75 million AAV. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Jimmy Schuldt’s agent confirms he will not be re-signing with the Golden Knights. (Source: @VeritasHockey)
    • Schuldt signed with the Buffalo Sabres for one-year at $750K (Source: @SabresPR)
  • Erik Haula has signed with the Boston Bruins for two-years at $2.375 million AAV. (Source: @PierreVLeBrun)
  • Carl Dahlstrom signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Source: @MapleLeafs)
  • Ryan Murphy signed with the Detroit Red Wings. (Source: @DetroitRedWings)

For up-to-date salary cap information, check out PuckPedia.com.

GM For A Day: Jason’s 2021-22 Vegas Golden Knights

Welcome to GM For A Day, the second in a pair of articles in which the founders of SinBin.vegas take control of the Vegas Golden Knights and reshape the team in a way we each believe will bring the Stanley Cup to Las Vegas.

These articles are NOT meant to be taken as a prediction as to what we believe is going to happen this offseason. This is what we would do, not what we think the Golden Knights will do (that article is coming tomorrow).

Today, I (Jason) am on the hot seat. Let’s go.

Here we go…

*TRADE: Marc-Andre Fleury + 2022 3rd round pick to Toronto Maple Leafs for center Alex Kerfoot + 2022 2nd round pick and 2023 2nd round pick*

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In a flat cap world, there’s no way I can continue to allocate $12M in goaltending. As general manager, I would entertain every inquiry coming in from opposing front offices. In the long run, the NHL is a cold, hard business and it wouldn’t be a secret that I’m looking to move a goaltender. I understand that it could hurt my negotiations but in the end I’m trying to move money and build some depth.

There are contending teams with issues in net and one that could use a steady tender like Fleury is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are loaded with talent but consistently underachieve in the playoffs. Adding a leader that just so happens to be the Vezina winner would be a big confidence boost for a franchise that hasn’t been to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1967.

To make it work I asked for center Alex Kerfoot ($3.5M x 2) to help my club down the middle. I considered asking for defenseman Morgan Reilly but he’s on an expiring contract with an AAV of $5M. At that rate, I would find a way to re-sign Alec Martinez. At a $3.5M AAV Kerfoot isn’t exactly cheap, but he’s only locked in for two more seasons. Personally, I don’t love the trade, but it was necessary. It gave me agita dealing Fleury over last season’s mismanagement. Finally fixing the roster to pay just one one starting goaltender allows for much-needed cap relief, a solid third line center and a future draft asset we can use as capital at the deadline.

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The Roster Juggle Rolls On

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights are so close to the cap that the first five games this season are the only in their 240 regular season game history in which they’ve gone without a single healthy scratch.

On top of the limited roster, each night they’ve had to decide which of three options they hate the least. Waive Keegan Kolesar and likely lose his rights to another team, bench Cody Glass, or dress a lineup with just five defensemen.

Through five games, they are in an excellent position with a 4-1-0 record, but one has to wonder how long will this charade continue, especially if it continues to look like it’s catching up with them as it did last night.

Clearly, benching Cody Glass is not in the best interest for either the Golden Knights or Glass. He needs to develop into the team’s 2nd best center or at least a high-end 3C before the trade deadline, otherwise, he’ll need to be replaced. Playing sparingly won’t help his development nor will it give the team enough data to draw the necessary conclusions this season.

Leaving Glass in the lineup leads to taking Nic Hague out and forcing the defense to play a man down. Game 5 of the season was the third time the Golden Knights have used the 13/5 lineup. Unsurprisingly, these are the three games in which the Golden Knights have struggled most defensively, especially in the 2nd period when it’s more challenging for defensemen to change.

Vegas has allowed five 2nd period goals when they have five defensemen and just two when they have six. Aside from goals, they’ve had more trouble breaking out, they’ve turned the puck over more often, there have been more odd-man rushes against, and just as a whole they haven’t been nearly as good.

It’s actually impacted their offense as well. In the two games with six defensemen, Vegas has seen three goals and five assists from blue liners, while the defensemen have chipped in just one goal and five assists over the three games with five on D.

It’s definitely different. You are rotating through partners and you can’t exactly get into the rhythm with one guy. -Shea Theodore

Theodore went on to say they can’t really use it as an excuse, but the eye test and the stats bore out that they are indeed better across the board with six defensemen rather than five, albeit in a tiny sample.

But really, there’s no way the Golden Knights can solve this issue with the current roster construction which should have all eyes focused on the front office. How long are they going to let this continue? What will it take to force a change?

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Why I’m In Favor Of Scratching Cody Glass To Save Keegan Kolesar From Waivers

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It should have happened for the first two games. Now it’s happening tonight.

I’m talking about the decision to send Cody Glass to the AHL/taxi squad, and thus take him out of the lineup, inserting Nic Hague into the defense, and keeping Keegan Kolesar on the active roster and away from waivers.

Due to the massive offseason move of signing Alex Pietrangelo, the Golden Knights spent every day between the moment they lost to the Stars to Opening Night 2021 over the cap. We knew some “salary cap gymnastics” were going to be necessary to make the team compliant before the first game against the Ducks.

They came on the final day of Training Camp. The Golden Knights waived Nick Holden, risking losing him to another team for nothing, then released a peculiar looking roster of 13 forwards, five defensemen, and two goalies. Vegas went on to play two games voluntarily down a defenseman and pulled out a pair of wins to start the season.

Admittedly, the Golden Knights were not in love with the idea of playing short a d-man, but their willingness to do it proved they believed it was necessary.

Why? While we don’t have an answer to that question on the record, we have a pretty good educated guess. That guess is that the Golden Knights have knowledge that if they placed Keegan Kolesar on waivers he would get claimed by another team.

How do they know this? Again, another educated guess, but GM’s talk to each other often, and the Golden Knights were probably one of the most active teams this offseason trying to maneuver their roster after signing Pietrangelo. Somewhere in one of those conversations, there was likely a clue that another team coveted Kolesar. If someone’s willing to trade for a 23-year-old forward with limited NHL experience and a league minimum contract, they’ll certainly be willing to scoop him up for free if he hits waivers.

So, the Golden Knights avoided it. Now, two games in, they are still trying to avoid it, but the options remain limited.

They could continue with five defensemen, but through two games, the Golden Knights have the two league leaders in average time on ice per game and all five defensemen rank in the top 15 across the entire NHL. For now, that’s fine, but over the course of an entire season (especially one that is as tightly packed as this one), that’s not a viable long-term option.

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2020 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

  • Paul Stastny has been traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Carl Dahlstrom and a 4th round pick. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
  • Robin Lehner has signed a 5-year $25 million ($5 million AAV) to remain with the Golden Knights. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • Lehner’s contract includes a modified no-trade clause which allows him to submit an eight team list for year’s one through three and then a five-team list in the final two years. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Chandler Stephenson has agreed to a 4-year deal with $2.75 million AAV. (Source: @FridgeHNIC)
  • Tomas Nosek has re-signed with the Golden Knights on a one-year deal worth $1.25 million. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • Reid Duke and Jimmy Schuldt signed one-year contracts for the league minimum of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
    • Both are two-way deals. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Gage Quinney agreed to a one-year two-way deal with an NHL value of $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Tomas Jurko to a one-year one-way deal worth $700,000. (Source: @simiinko_97)
  • Danny O’Regan has signed a one-year deal with the Golden Knights at $700,000. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed the Golden Knights did NOT extend a qualifying offer to Nick Cousins. He becomes an unrestricted free agent. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Cousins signed with the Predators for two years at a $1.5 million AAV. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Qualifying offers were extended to Jimmy Schuldt and Keegan Kolesar. (Source: Vegas Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights will make a significant pitch to Alex Pietrangelo. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
    • Torey Krug is expected to sign with the Blues further paving the way for Pietrangelo to sign in Vegas. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • Pietrangelo is taking a private flight to Vegas to visit with the Golden Knights today. (Source: @gm_mark)
  • Keep an eye on Erik Haula, we’ve heard some rumbling that there could be a reunion coming. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Kelly McCrimmon confirmed he does not expect Deryk Engelland to return to the Golden Knights this season. (Source: SinBin.vegas)
  • Jon Merrill has signed with the Detroit Red Wings. One year deal worth $925,000. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
  • Malcolm Subban has re-signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for $850,000 AAV for two-years. He is expected to be given a shot to win the starting job in camp. (@Tramyers_NHL)
  • Max Lagace has signed a one-year two-way deal with the Penguins. (Source: @Penguins)
  • Daniel Carr signed a one-year two-way contract with the Washington Capitals. (Source: @Capitals)

The Free Agency Tracker is brought to you by Adam S. Kutner and Associates, the best Las Vegas personal injury attorney. This page will update throughout the day as more information comes in.

What I Learned About 11 Golden Knights Prospects While In San Diego

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the past weekend, I spent four days in San Diego watching the Chicago Wolves play three games in the Western Conference Final of the AHL’s Calder Cup. My focus was specifically on the Golden Knights draft picks and the players Vegas has under control for beyond this season.

To make this easiest to write, and hopefully to read, I’ve listed every player that either played or I was able to talk to while in San Diego, that has time left on their contract with VGK or are RFAs.

Cody Glass (1st Round, 6th overall in 2017, $863,333 AAV through 21-22)

Anyone who reads/follows me closely knows I haven’t been as high on Glass as the rest of the world seems to be. I’ve come to the realization that the reason for this isn’t because I necessarily view him as a player much differently than most, but that my expectations are substantially higher. As the 6th overall pick in a draft class that includes Elias Petterson, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, Nico Hischier, and many others that have already had major impacts in the NHL, my expectation for Glass is massive. Top-six forward, impact player, one of the faces of the franchise. That’s what I’m looking for, and still, even though the next paragraph is going to make it sound otherwise, I’m not sure he’s going to be that guy.

Glass literally does everything on the hockey rink that you want to see from a center. The skill that jumped out most to me over the three games was his backchecking and breakouts. Every time his line turned it over in the offensive zone, he was flying back to negate any transition chance. His skating speed really showed in that sense, but also showed once the Wolves recovered the puck and began their transition back into the offensive zone. He’s terrific carrying the puck out of the D-zone, through the neutral zone, and into the O-zone. I’ve seen him do it with ease at the CHL level, but to see it look exactly the same at the AHL level gives me a strong belief that it’ll continue in the NHL.

I liked how he played along the walls, I loved his vision, his positioning, his movement in the offensive zone. Pretty much everything he did, I thought, yep, this guy is pretty darn good. But still, over the course of three games, there wasn’t enough shown in his ability to create offense. It’s the only thing I can knock him for, but at the same time, it’s the thing I value most in a high draft pick forward. Aside from the occasional chance created directly off an entry (which I do believe will continue in the NHL), there wasn’t a ton created beyond rebound chances. Again, I’m aware that my expectations are gigantic, and I’m asking a lot out of him having played a month in the AHL, but I still didn’t see enough of what I needed to in order to completely change my mind and say he’s going to be a superstar in the NHL.

Cody Glass is going to be an NHL player, and I’m probably going to be on the bandwagon calling for him to make the roster out of camp, but I’m still on the fence of whether I think he’s closer to a Cody Eakin or a William Karlsson. When all is said and done I’m confident he’ll fall somewhere in between these two, however, my opinion still shades more towards 21 than 71.

Nic Hauge (2nd Round, 34th overall in 2017, $791,667 AAV through 21-22)

I came into the weekend expecting to come out saying Hague is the surefire #1 defensive prospect in the Golden Knights system. That’s not what I ended up seeing. That’s not to say Hague was bad, because he certainly wasn’t, it’s just that the fears I had, which I’ve been told by multiple high-ranking people that I shouldn’t have, didn’t go away.

The biggest among those is whether or not his skating is good enough to keep up with the elite skaters at the NHL level. The place it showed up most was in gap control. When a player would enter the zone, sometimes not even moving that quickly, far too often Hague would be more than a stick length away from him (which is a long way with his long arms and stick). Then, once he did enter, it took too long to close down that space which often led to an easy pass or on multiple occasions a dangerous shot. It’s important to note that I watched him play against the same team, on the road, three times, so there could be a gameplan piece here that I’m missing (and when speaking to Rocky Thompson about Hague he didn’t seem to have any issues with the way he was defending). However, that style won’t work in the NHL and his recovery plan (reaching out with that long stick and poking pucks away) won’t work as often against Nathan MacKinnon as it did Corey Tropp or Sam Carrick.

I still love Hague in the offensive zone and on the power play though. His instincts at the blue line are tremendous and he’s going to be a threat to do some damage when he does eventually make it to the NHL. Really looking forward to watching him play in the preseason against NHL level forwards, but at this moment, he no longer ranks as the “most likely defenseman to make the NHL roster in the Golden Knight system” on my list.

Zack Whitecloud (Undrafted, Signed as free agent, $925,000 AAV through 2019-20)

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The Golden Knights Age Gap

It would be nice if more of these guys were between 20-22 years old. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Historically, building a roster through expansion isn’t the ideal way to create a winner. Teams are often left devoid of talent, specifically high-end talent and have to wait years before they can build via trade and/or through the draft.

Luckily, for the Golden Knights, that wasn’t the case. The new expansion rules, coupled with George McPhee’s dominance in exploiting them left the league’s 31st team with a Cup-contending roster.

However, due to the nature of the Expansion Draft, the Golden Knights roster has been left with a major hole. It’s not the lack of talent hole most previous expansion teams were put in, but it’s a hole in the age distribution of the roster.

Age Range# of Players
<2020
20-224
22-249
24-2614
26-2816
>288

The Golden Knights have 20 prospects under the age of 20 years old, but just four between the ages of 20 and 22. The reason for this is that Vegas did not participate in the Entry Draft prior to 2017.

The four players are Zach Whitecloud (undrafted college free agent), Keegan Kolesar (acquired via trade at Expansion Draft), Dylan Coghlan (undrafted free agent), and Jack Dugan (2017 Draft, 5th round).

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Development Camp Day One Interviews And Observations

The fist day of Development Camp is in the books and there were certainly some standouts. Here are our observations from the afternoon at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

  • Two players really stood out, one in each session. In the first session it was Alex Tuch. He looked like a man among boys on the ice. The other was Keegan Kolesar, the player acquired in the draft day trade with Columbus.
  • Reid Duke seemed to take on somewhat of a leadership role on the ice. It’s possible we made this up, but Jason and I both recognized it separately, so we are going with it.
  • None of the goalies really stood out. One in particular had a rough day, but I’m choosing not to say who it was because it was the first day of camp and that’s just mean.
  • Gallant’s role was somewhat secondary. Dave Prior did most of the coaching with the goalies, and Gallant stayed to the side until it was time to address the team in huddles.
  • The main focus from the management team, and specifically Wil Nichol, Director of Player Development, who said it in a media scrum, was to teach the players the culture of the Golden Knights. That mainly meant, take care of your business on the ice and get out in the community and be great people off the ice.
  • The Creator was present in the rink for the first half of the day before he took off for Montana. He was having a great time watching his players, talking to the media, and even taking some pictures with fans.
  • We spoke to a ton of players after the practice and there was a majorly positive attitude accross the board. All seemed to be pumped to be in Vegas, but even more so understood the expansion team likely offers them the most opporunity, and you could tell many expect to seize it.

Here’s our recap of a few players we were able to interview including Tuch, Kolesar, Duke, Nick Suzuki, and Jack Dugan.

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