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VGK Players Undervalued In Fantasy Hockey Rankings

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It goes without saying fantasy sports are not an accurate measurement of how a player or a team will perform. Nonetheless, taking on the challenge of creating a winning lineup is an annual hobby for thousands of NHL fans. Right now, fantasy outlets are releasing their top player lists trying to accurately project the league’s point leaders for the 2022-23 season.

The same names lead the rankings as they have in previous years. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Cale Makar, and Nathan MacKinnon round out the top five best overall players according to NHL.com, ESPN.com, TSN.com, Sportsnet.com, and anyone else with eyes.

Locally, center Jack Eichel is the first name to appear for Vegas (44th) on NHL.com’s list of top 250 NHL players ranked. Mark Stone (45th), recovering from back surgery, is one behind his teammate. Defenseman Shea Theodore (99th) is the only other Golden Knight to be ranked in the top 100. While it may look like the fantasy experts are disrespecting some of VGK’s stars, others are being considered a sleeper pick for 2022-23.

With Robin Lehner on the shelf for the season, Vegas’ No. 1 job is ripe for the taking and at this point, it’s Logan Thompson’s to lose. In 19 appearances last year, 17 of which were starts, the 25-year-old posted a 10-5-3 record to go along with a 2.68 goals-against average, .914 save-percentage, and one shutout. –Nick Alberga, Sportsnet.ca

Although Sportsnet noted the position is officially up for grabs, they feel comfortable suggesting Thompson as VGK’s first goaltender to go in fantasy drafts around Canada and the United States. Of course, there needs to be a ‘buyer beware’ prompt for those interested in any of VGK’s netminders. Experts would tell you to wait until the later rounds.

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Feisty Golden Knights Head Into Camp With Similar Misfit Energy

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Last season the Golden Knights missed the playoffs. This offseason they traded away Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan and watched Mattias Janmark leave in free agency. Then, they found out starting goalie Robin Lehner will be out for the season after undergoing double hip surgery.

The combination of all of this has many believing the team not only is no longer a true Cup contender, but wondering if they are even a playoff team at all anymore.

The Golden Knights captain has taken notice of these opinions.

That’s fine. People can think what they want. After spending the summer in Canada, you wouldn’t believe how often I was told how bad we were. It’s great. I like that. All of a sudden we’re David instead of Goliath. It’s alright. I believe in this team. I believe in the guys, I believe in the leadership. –Mark Stone to Gary Lawless on NHL.com

So has the presumptive starting goalie.

It was too long of an offseason for us, and I think we’re hungry. The whole hockey world is doubting us right now, so we’re looking forward to getting back at it and showing people wrong, proving people wrong. It’s similar to how my career is, everyone has always pushed me to the side. I like it for our group, like I said we’re going to come out hot and hopefully prove a lot of people wrong. –Logan Thompson to Fox 5 Las Vegas

Even Jack Eichel got in on the action, seeing himself listed at #41 on NHL Network’s top 100 players list.

Obviously, I haven’t put a lot on tape over the last two years so I’m not going to argue with that. Do I think I’m the 41st best player in the NHL? No, but I don’t care about their rankings. –Eichel to Gary Lawless on NHL.com

It appears the Golden Knights are officially past the woe-is-me stage and are into the fiesty, almost angry, prove-you-wrong phase many non-playoff teams go through.

Vegas isn’t used to missing the playoffs and they really aren’t used to entering a season anything other than the Pacific Division favorites and Stanley Cup favorites.

They are neither this year and it appears to have struck a nerve with the roster. To a degree, it’s similar to the first season when the team banded together under the Misfits moniker. That team had an axe to grind with every team in the NHL and they made it their mission to embarrass as many as they could. This team seems to have its anger more pointed towards the rest of the world, which could be even more powerful.

The Golden Knights are confident in themselves and they are confident enough to take on all those who challenge them head-on. Now they need to do what the Misfits did and transfer that energy to the ice.

McCrimmon Shares Details On Stone’s Health, Hague’s Contract, And Goalie Outlook

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Training Camp is right around the corner. Trust me, it actually is, the long wait is so close to being over. With it a number of questions will begin to be answered for the Golden Knights. From lineup to systems to personnel to health, much of the picture will start to clear up every day we get closer to October 11th.

Until then, we must rely on snippets of information from the most important people in the organization, and recently we got some from the general manager. Speaking on the VGK Insider Show on Fox Sports Radio, Kelly McCrimmon dipped into the latest on Mark Stone’s health, contract negotiations with Nic Hague, and the goalie picture.

First, on Stone. A few days prior to Stone’s surgery at a press conference McCrimmon shared the news of what they expected the offseason to look like for the captain.

Mark Stone has been seeing consultants and meeting with doctors and it appears quite likely he’ll have back surgery on Wednesday. He would be available for Training Camp and rehab over that period of time. That’s not 100% for certain but it’s certainly the most likely outcome at this time. -McCrimmon on May 16th

Three days later, following the surgery, the team released this statement via Twitter.

Mark Stone underwent a successful lumbar discectomy with Dr. Robert Watkins, IV at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital. He is expected to be ready to play for the regular season. -Golden Knights Official Statement

McCrimmon has spoken a few times and reiterated the expected timeline of Stone returning to the team for the first game of the season. In the interview with Fox Sports Radio, McCrimmon continued along the same path.

No different than what we’ve been saying all along. Mark’s in town, he’s skating. Our expectation is that he’s going to be available for the opening of the season. What that means exactly with respect to training camp, we’ll see. When you have these offseason surgeries, Laurent Brossoit is another one, really you don’t have that definitive timeline until the players get here, they get with the medical team, you see how they respond to certain treatments to certain levels of intensity. There’s a reason that teams at times appear to be vague with respect to timelines on injuries because it’s hard to pinpoint. My answers I’m giving here today are exactly I think as what we’ve said throughout the offseason and that’s the information we’re working with and the expectations we have. So that’s how we’ll play it out and once we get on the ice and see how players react that are coming off injuries or surgeries or lengthy rehabs we’ll know more at that time. –McCrimmon on VGK Insider Show

So, it still appears Stone is on track to be in uniform with the team on October 11th, but his availability to start Training Camp on September 24th remains in doubt.

On to the next order of business, restricted free agent Nic Hague.

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What The Acquisition Of Adin Hill Says About VGK’s View Of Their Goalie Situation

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It was just five days ago when Kelly McCrimmon said the Golden Knights’ plan was to head into the season using the tandem of Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson in net. He said after internal discussions the team felt they really liked the two guys and they both “earned the opportunity” to take the reins between the pipes.

Then, yesterday, they went out and surrendered a 4th round pick to add 26-year-old goalie Adin Hill and his $2.175 million cap hit.

With NHL front offices, actions speak much louder than words. So, what exactly does this move say? Quite a bit actually.

First of all, it’s important to note that what McCrimmon said last week was the correct statement to make in the moment because it set the Golden Knights up nicely whether they wanted to add a goalie or not. If they were considering it, which we now know they were, it made sense to keep that information close to the vest to ensure they were not taken advantage of on the trade market. Plus, if any deal for a goalie fell through, it was best to portray confidence in Brossoit and Thompson in the event they did enter the season as the tandem.

But, despite it being the correct thing to say, it’s unclear whether or not the statement was actually what the Golden Knights truly believed. The acquisition of Hill says two different things depending on its validity.

If VGK did truly believe five days ago that Brossoit and Thompson were the plan, then the trade shows they think Hill is either already, or has a strong chance to be, better than both this season. If VGK projected Hill to be third behind Brossoit and Thompson, they never would have rushed out to spend a draft pick and use up cap space to make this move.

If VGK did not truly believe in their goalie tandem as they were presenting, the move can be viewed as insurance or even another lottery ticket. If you like the two guys in the organization but aren’t completely sure they can get the job done over the course of an 82-game season, it makes perfect sense to burn through a little draft capital to have another legitimate option in the system.

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Organization May Lean On Brossoit When Fully Healthy

Many Golden Knights fans would like to see Logan Thompson named as the starting goaltender for the 2022-23 season. It’s a strong argument considering how well Thompson performed late in the season when injuries promoted him as Vegas’ number one. So, are Bruce Cassidy and the Golden Knights coaching staff leaning towards Thompson? He’s confident, skilled, and younger but he’s not as experienced or expensive as the other goalie on the team. Which could lead the organization to eventually select last season’s planned backup, Laurent Brossoit.

Our last update from the organization on Brossoit was promising. The 29-year-old is rehabbing from his offseason surgery and is feverishly working his way back to form. There is no announced date or timeline for his return, but many assumed it would be awhile based off the limited information we’ve received over the summer. Last week NHL.com reporter Kevin Woodley reported Brossoit could be available sooner than later.

He isn’t ready to be on the ice yet, but there was some talk that he isn’t that far away from skating. All indications are he is ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean he will be ready for opening night. It could be a few weeks into the season. –Kevin Woodley, NHL.com

Woodley participated in an NHL goaltending camp which happened to be presented by the agency that represents Brossoit. The Golden Knights goaltender wasn’t in attendance, but representatives gave Woodley some positive news about the veteran’s potential return.

The camp that I was at last week was put on by his agency and LB wasn’t there. Not ready to be on the ice yet. There’s a lot of examples of guys having it done in the same window. Having this exact surgery and being back by training camp. Maybe not the beginning of camp but on the ice and doing drills early in the season if not for the start of the season. -Kevin Woodley, NHL.com

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Toronto Talking Heads Count Vegas Out For 2022-23

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the news dropped that Robin Lehner was scheduled to have hip surgery and miss the 2022-23 season, the hockey world reacted.

Your season is done. I credit them for what they accomplished that first season. Ever since that success they’ve been drunken sailors. They’re in video game GM mode. Trade this guy, sign that guy, don’t need that guy, dump that guy, trade this pick, trade that prospect. It’s karma in a way, you’ve been too reckless. –Bryan Hayes on OverDrive radio show on TSN1050 Toronto

For the second time in team history, Vegas isn’t considered a Stanley Cup favorite. The first year was a shock to everyone, this time around, there is concrete evidence based on history for doubters to point to. The Golden Knights missed the playoffs, swapped scoring for dead money, and are without their starting goaltender for the entire season.

Losing Lehner was the breaking point for some around the sport.

I think somebody can really hold up Vegas right now. This is a team that’s built to win now. You can’t go a year without a goaltender if you’re built to win now. They have no money but they also have no goaltender. –Dave Poulin on OverDrive radio show on TSN1050 Toronto

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Distance Stats Illustrate Cassidy’s “Goaltender-Friendly” System

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When Bruce Cassidy was asked to describe his coaching style, one of the first adjectives he used was “goaltender-friendly.”

There are a lot of different ways for hockey systems to assist the goalie and Cassidy’s does a lot of them. Things like making the game predictable, not allowing cross-ice passes, limiting the number of odd-man rushes, and keeping the puck away from the center of the ice.

There’s one specific metric that illustrates the way Cassidy’s teams play which helps any goalie sitting behind them. It’s a distance stat and it’s one Golden Knights fans are actually used to being on the other end of.

WaveIntel’s Jason Paul compiled stats on shot and goal distance for a three-year span between 2017 and 2020. The NHL average distance of any goal scoring during those seasons was about 22.4 feet away from the net. For Tukka Rask, Cassidy’s primary goalie, that number was just short of 25 at 24.93, much further than the average. It was the second furthest average distance of goal allowed behind only Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray. As for all shots, the average was 36.7 feet while Rask was seeing shots coming from an average of 38.1 feet away.

In comparison, Marc-Andre Fleury was in the bottom third of the league in both categories, allowing goals from an average of 20.3 feet and all shots at 36.4 feet away.

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Buy, Sell, Or Hold? What To Do With VGK Assets

Well, you can probably tell where my mind is today. The stock and crypto markets are tumbling and like everyone with money invested I’m forced to decide if it’s best to buy more, sell what I have, or simply hold. I run a hockey website for a living and many people don’t even respect my opinions on sports, so I’m not even going to begin to give you any advice on what to do in this bear market. Instead, I’m going to try and spin this concept into the world of the Golden Knights.

So, here’s how it works. I’m taking four Golden Knights whose stock has risen or dropped over the course of the last 12 months and making a call on what a wise investor would do with the asset. Buy, sell, or hold!

Note: This is meant to be viewed completely independent of the Golden Knights’ salary cap situation.

Mark Stone

A Selke Finalist and thriving as a captain of a good team, Stone was making his $9.5 million contract look like a steal. After dominating in the Colorado series including netting an overtime game-winner in Game 5, Stone’s value was at an all-time high heading into the Conference Final against Montreal. Then, it started to descend.

Stone was shutout (or skunked as he called it) in the series with the Canadiens. He followed that up by missing a portion of the preseason due to a freak injury. Then, he suffered a non-contact back injury in the 2nd game of the season which plagued him all year. Through it, he managed to post 30 points in 37 games but when the moment was biggest, he just didn’t look himself. This offseason, he underwent a successful back surgery which has the skeptics out in force wondering if he’ll ever return to his dominant old self.

For me, based on the history of Mark Stone and the knowledge I’ve gained through Dr. Pinegar on the injury, this is an easy decision for me. Buy, buy, buy!!!

There’s obviously a risk that the injury could reoccur and he’ll have to undergo a series of back procedures, but most athletes that deal with these issues do return to form in between the surgeries. As long as he’s on the ice, and we expect him there on Opening Night 2022-23, he’s going to be awesome. Stone will regain his form at some point, probably soon, and the public perception will skyrocket on him when he does. There will be a time to sell, and it may not be that far away, but that time is definitely not now. Decision: BUY

Logan Thompson

The 25-year-old underdog story won the hearts of pretty much the entire Golden Knights fan base. From an undrafted goalie playing games in college in Canada to the AHL Goalie of the Year to stepping in as Vegas’ starter down the stretch of a playoff chase, Thompson’s rise has been meteoric.

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Organization Requested Injured Lehner For Failed Stretch Run

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night the Golden Knights were officially eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas failed in shootout for the third straight game, ending what was supposed to be a highly successful season. Over the past week, the team was desperate for points, and Logan Thompson, on no rest, gave them the best chance to succeed. It wasn’t ideal. Late season back-to-backs, four straight extended games, and endless pressure was one of the reasons the organization pleaded with Robin Lehner to play out the final few games.

He was unhappy with some of the criticism he was getting and being pulled. There were talks about how can we make this work, can you at least play through the season. Then he saw the doctors, he’s legitimately injured. They announced one surgery but I think there are two or three different injuries. –Elliotte Friedman, The Jeff Marek Show

Surely, had Lehner been available coach Pete DeBoer would have considered starting him against the Blackhawks. Or at the very least use him to support Thompson. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and the team was left with one option while Lehner prepares for season-ending surgery.

Lehner’s playing with two, possibly three really tough injuries. I just don’t know if it’s one thing or more than one thing. He’s left the team at times, he’s been injured at times. He’s tried to play through it, he’s competitive. It’s definitely effected his ability to be at his best. He’s not at his best but he’s competing. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman reported the team had asked Lehner to finish out the season and fight through his injuries. I’m sure that’s a common conversation players have with coaches this time of year. In this case, Vegas’ goaltender was battling too many ailments to suit up. Playing through injuries and being publicly criticized must have annoyed and frustrated Lehner. Which shouldn’t surprise DeBoer or the front office.

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Lehner’s Plan For Season Ending Surgery Another VGK Communication Breakdown

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Coach Pete DeBoer had time to reflect on Wednesday’s season saving comeback win against Washington. His team controlled the puck overtime and in a matter of minutes Vegas remained in a playoff hunt. Also, with yesterday’s day off the Golden Knights head coach was able to further internalize his controversial but successful goalie change in a 1-1 tie.

The decision to start him, we pay him to start games like this. It’s the most important time of the year. He’s healthy he’s fresh he’s got a lot of energy. We need him at this point of the year. After that NJ game I felt like I wanted to give him the opportunity to bounce back. -Pete DeBoer, 04/20

After Wednesday’s victory the head coach answered questions about why he decided to start Robin Lehner in net. DeBoer explained that the higher paid goaltender should get the nod in big games. 20 minutes into the game he clearly felt differently. The veteran coach also emphasized that Lehner was not injured and that the goalie was rested.

He’s healthy he’s fresh he’s got a lot of energy.-Pete DeBoer, 04/20

But the latest information refutes DeBoer’s claim. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and The Athletic’s Jesse Granger both reported that Lehner will undergo season ending surgery.

Normally, these type of conflicting reports are further cleared up by the organization. That is if, they had the same information about Lehner’s health. However, today after Golden Knights practice things got weird.

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