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GM For A Day: Jason’s 2022-23 Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Our week of hypothetical managing rolls on. Today, it’s my (Jason) turn to play GM for a Day, and we’re going a little calmer than Ken’s plan.

I have no choice, I’m going for it now. There was an order given six seasons ago and I agreed to it. So, it’s time to deliver.

Vegas’ current roster has enough talent up and down the lineup but it hasn’t fully succeeded. However, under the right conditions, the Golden Knights can defeat almost every team on any given night. Sure, changes will be made but for the most part, I’m going to use what I already have.

TRADE – Alec Martinez traded to the Detroit Red Wings for a 2022 4th round pick.

On Tuesday I predicted the Golden Knights front office would aggressively try and unload Alec Martinez’s contract. It’s rare, but I’m in agreement with VGK’s FO. Detroit is a team that’s maturing, has cap room, and could use some veteran leadership. As the Golden Knights have done in the past with Brad Hunt, sending Martinez to Detroit would be looking out for the player as well. It’ll hurt to some capacity to lose the almost 35-year-old but Vegas opens cap space and replenishes a 4th round pick. It’s not ideal but I’d rather shed defense in order to keep my offense intact. My only fear is the Red Wings management asking for a sweetener.

Look, I’m not a miracle worker but my task is to win the Stanley Cup this year, not in 2028. With that in mind, immediately after trading Martinez I’m picking up the phone and reassuring Max Pacioretty he’s not going anywhere. It’s time for a heart-to-heart. Like Brad Pitt said to the actor playing David Justice in the movie Moneyball, “I want to milk the last ounce of baseball you got in you.” The same goes for Pacioretty. He’s on an expiring contract seeking another lucrative deal, and I need goals. I’m looking for 70+ games and 30+ goals from Pacioretty next season. In the end it could work out well for both parties.

It’ll be no secret, the pressure is on Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and yep, Jack Eichel. When a player signs a contract worth $10M annually he’s also agreeing to accept the pressure that comes along. I anticipate Eichel to play like a ten-million-dollar center this season and I expect him to get the most out of his teammates. He may not wear a C but this will be Eichel’s team. It’s just a matter of when. He wasn’t an original Misfit but The Creator’s demand of winning a Cup in six seasons applies to the top center as well. To keep the trio of Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Jack Eichel together, someone else will need to go.

TRADE – Laurent Brossoit and a 2022 7th round pick to Dallas Stars for 2023 5th round pick

Brossoit’s contract was another example of overspending on an unnecessary need. Vegas had Robin Lehner’s backup already yet overpaid for an underwhelming, established goalie. The Golden Knights didn’t get enough from Brossoit last season to continue to carry his salary. Since 2020, the Golden Knights have severely overpaid their goaltenders and last offseason the club was forced to sell off a Vezina winner for nothing. I’m going to follow suit by shipping out Brossoit, and like Vegas’ front office I’m not concerned with the return.

I’ve successfully managed to get underneath the cap without tearing apart the team. Now, it’s time to examine what I have left on the books.

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Stone Expresses Optimism After Cassidy Hire With NHL Radio

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was a difficult season for the Golden Knights and specifically captain Mark Stone. The 30-year-old forward skated in the least amount of games since his second year in the league. Injuries plagued not only his season but the entire Golden Knights roster as well. According to Stone, the locker room felt foreign due to the shuffling of player. Not only were the players dealing with injuries, they were frustrated nightly by their underperforming power play. As Stone put it, the Golden Knights tasted their first slice of humble pie.

We had some pretty fluky injuries that were really hard to recover from during the season. We’re a veteran group so it’ll be nice to get the bodies healed and ready to go for the start of the season. Kind of prove that we’re good as we think we are. Got a little taste of humble pie this season and wasn’t fun to be a part of.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

The ten year veteran watched the team flounder without his services and the likes of other vital Golden Knights players. Not only was it troublesome on the ice the club was having difficulties in the locker room as well. Stone never mentioned the roster was fractured but it was noticeably different from years past.

Everybody in that dressing room has to take a good hard look in the mirror and get back to the way things were done in the past and get back to our roots a little bit. It was a difficult year as far as adding 10-15 new players. It seemed like we had to reintroduce ourselves every night. We got to get back to being that hard working team out working our opponents. That’s when we allow our skill to take over.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

As VGK fans heard all season, extended injuries severely impacted their results. Stone openly discussed his back surgery and also mentioned the Golden Knights may be without their number one stopper for an unspecified amount of time.

Considering I got back surgery a month ago I don’t think there’s much to debate. I’m battling a pretty bad back and ended up getting a discectomy and should be ready to go first day of training camp. In the bubble Robin was one of the best goalies on the planet. As it goes for most guys this year in our team he battled tons of health issues. He got shoulder surgery and probably going to be out for quite awhile. He’s just looking to get healthy and prove everyone wrong again.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

At this point the injury plagued season is in the past and Stone is preparing mentally and physically for a bounce back season. With the addition of new coach Bruce Cassidy the captain expects more ferocity from his teammates.

I think he’s going to bring a lot of intensity to the room. I think he’s going to get the best of our players. I love the way Boston plays. They are so hard to play against. I’m excited. I love our talent and now I’m excited to see we’re we can go with him and see if he can push all the right buttons to get us over that hump. And have even more success.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

Another reason for optimism is Stone will finally be able to build chemistry with star center Jack Eichel. The Golden Knights front office traded for the high end center to match up with their highly paid, two-way winger. Barring no injuries the two will anchor VGK’s most lethal line. It’ll be up to Cassidy to figure out who will skate with Eichel and Stone.

Yeah I can’t wait. I only got to play eight games with him. I almost felt so bad for him. When he came back pretty much all of us left the lineup and weren’t able to help him. There are so many wrong takes on Jack Eichel the player and the person. More than anyone he works on his game as much as anyone I’ve ever played with him. I’m excited to get him feeling comfortable and ready to go for opening day come October.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio

Unprovoked, Stone addressed the swirling comments that have surrounded Eichel since his days in Buffalo. For the most part Golden Knights fans don’t care what happened in Buffalo. It’s not their problem, he plays in Vegas now but clearly Vegas’ captain felt the need to praise his teammate’s work ethic.

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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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Q&A w/ Dr. Pinegar On Mark Stone’s Lumbar Discectomy

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

On Wednesday, Mark Stone underwent a surgical procedure to repair a back issue that has been plaguing him for several years and basically ruined his 2021-22 season.

The Golden Knights announced Thursday that the lumbar discectomy surgery was a success and added he is expected to be ready to play for the regular season.

We consulted our resident injury expert, Dr. Caleb Pinegar of Crovetti Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to give us more information on anything and everything surrounding this type of surgery.

Here’s the full Q&A with Vegas Sports Doc, Dr. Pinegar.

How do you pronounce lumbar discectomy and what is it?

When you say it you say the word “disc” first then “ectomy” which means removal. So lumbar discectomy means they’ve taken part of the disc out of the vertebrae.

Between every bone of the spine is a little shock absorber and each of those shock absorbers is pretty stout and strong but if you take the wrong hit or fold or just actively mobilize the spine while you change positions and if you do it just right you can squirt this little inner shock-absorbing material out of the rim that’s supposed to be real strong.

Wait, “squirts out”?

Yeah. The material is called the nucleus pulposus. It’s a jelly-like substance that looks like crab meat. So this little gooey stuff squirts out of your shock absorber and it causes the nerve near it to get really inflamed and irritated or it’s big enough of a squirt that it will pinch the nerve and cause the nerve to not work.

The initial major injury happened in October and then he came back multiple times and played. So do we think this “crab meat” shot out then?

Probably. The odds are very good that disc herniations get better over time. They don’t necessarily go away but the body can reabsorb some of the disc material and if you give the person time, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and physical therapy a lot of people can skip the surgery. So for the period of time he was out, they were probably trying to calm it down. If the symptoms calm down and the person isn’t having any shooting pain and they just have the ache of back pain, you can play through it. But if you don’t get it to go away then you can just say, let’s go get that piece. They do a minimally invasive incision and clean out that torn disc.

Does taking a part of the disc out fix the problem for good?

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Golden Knights 2021-22 Locker Cleanout Press Conference Audio

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

The Golden Knights conducted their season-end media availability today at City National Arena. This is the complete unedited audio of every press conference.

0:00 – 31:47 – Pete DeBoer

31:47 – 1:07:24 – Kelly McCrimmon

1:07:24 – 1:23:10 – Alec Martinez

1:23:10 – 1:39:20 – Max Pacioretty

1:39:20 – 1:48:27 – Shea Theodore

1:48:27 – 2:01:44 – Jack Eichel

2:01:44 – 2:13:20 – Zach Whitecloud

2:13:20 – 2:26:48 – Mark Stone

2:26:48 – 2:38:01 – Jonathan Marchessault

2:38:01 – 2:47:46 – William Karlsson

2:47:46 – 2:57:56 – Brayden McNabb

VGK’s Frustration Visibly Noticeable To Opponents

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s been eerily quiet since the Golden Knights season finale. There hasn’t been a peep from any of Vegas’ players, coaches, or executives since their postgame press conferences on Friday night. It’s almost as if The Creator and his staff are choosing the next Pope.

Without any knowledge of the conversations being held it’s impossible to guess which direction Vegas is heading. Whatever it may be, it was apparently obvious to many lineups across the NHL.

I had a few teams tell me today that Vegas was always a very together team. Through good and bad. This year was the first year they really saw them as a frustrated team. Doors slamming in games, players showing frustration or snapping at each other occasionally during games. I don’t want anyone to take that I think the Vegas Golden Knights all despise each other because I don’t know if that’s true. –Elliotte Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It’s no secret, Golden Knights fans witnessed their team’s frustration almost weekly. That’ll happen with extensive injuries, poor performances, and a struggling power play. However, we can’t hear the doors slamming or snapping on the bench. Mark Stone and other team leaders keep their locker room tight but it’s hard to believe it felt the same without the captain for most of the year. Add in injuries to Max Pacioretty and Alec Martinez and the chemistry had to have taken a hit.

When you’re losing and your season is slipping away that’s normal. Teams noticed it more this year. Was that just as frustration of the injuries and the season slipping away or is there any chance the fabric of this team has been changed and they have to address that. I don’t know. Teams noticed it this year, more than ever. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman’s advice to the Golden Knights is to address the goaltending situation. Over the weekend, the Sportsnet reporter continued to stress that Robin Lehner’s frustration and season ending injuries were sensitive matters.

The number one thing they have to deal with is Lehner. People are telling me wait. This is not over. There’s still more to go here. What’s everyone going to say? This is going to take some skill and handling. There are the possibilities of aftershocks. Is this something that the league and the Players Association are going to have to get involved in? Depending on where all of this goes. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

It doesn’t take a spyglass for an opposing team to hear or read about the tension between Lehner and the coaching staff down the stretch. It was on full display after Vegas’ late-season loss against the New Jersey Devils.

Is there a way to deal with this so that it can be solved to everyone’s satisfaction mentally, and physically, and emotionally without a series of aftershocks that further damage the franchise. If it’s not dealt with in a proper way it’s going to get worse before it gets better. –Friedman, 32 Thoughts Podcast

The Stanley Cup playoffs begin tonight, unfortunately without the Golden Knights. On the bright side, missing the cut allows Vegas more time in the offseason. A head start helps examine prospects, target free agents, trades or anything else they feel they need to get sorted out. The next few days will reveal what the organization’s plans are going forward. Lehner, DeBoer, slamming doors, and teammates snapping are areas that need immediate attention.

McCrimmon: If We Can Get In… We Will Be A Tough Out

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are no guarantees in professional sports. In all leagues, there are highly-regarded teams each year that miss the postseason. Some by a large margin and other times by a few percentage points. Sadly, the badly wounded Golden Knights are one of those teams at risk of missing their mark.

I never anticipated that the injuries would last so long and just compound, one after the other. Sunday, we had eight guys out. In Seattle, we had nine guys out. Take that many guys out of your lineup and you lose your depth. –Kelly McCrimmon to Sportsnet

Injuries as we know are impacting results but last night’s effort wasn’t only about injuries. It was a lousy performance by 19 relatively healthy players, and it could cost them their season. Coach Pete DeBoer never mentioned missing players or a banged-up lineup in his postgame press conference. He only wanted to move on.

We were awful. We were awful in front of the net, we were awful in breakouts, we were awful everywhere. We were no good. So we’re going to flush it, move on, and get ready for Saturday.  -Pete DeBoer

Golden Knights fans have seen it countless times, some nights certain teams just don’t have it. Normally, it happens in November, or off a back-to-back or when families visit for a mild-weathered Christmas. Unfortunately, injuries make it difficult to predict when a dud of a game will occur.

If we can get in, I think we know what to expect at playoff time. We will be a tough out. –McCrimmon to Sportsnet

Last night was not the best example of Golden Knights hockey and they didn’t look like a desperate club trying to make the playoffs. It’s concerning DeBoer couldn’t get his team to play up to their abilities in such an important game. His superiors reminded Sportsnet it’s difficult to coach on any given night without their top performers.

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It’s All About Points Not Image For The Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As of today, the Golden Knights stand one point ahead of the Dallas Stars for the last wildcard spot. Since LA lost last night, Vegas is within striking distance of a top-three Pacific Division postseason slot as well. There are many moving parts but the local club muddied the waters and made up ground during their latest five-game winning streak.

Who are they when they get in there? The Vegas standard has risen so much. They’ve had so much success and they’ve had so many expectations. –David Backes on Jeff Marek Show

While coach Pete DeBoer and his players are taking care of their end, pundits across the league are still having trouble believing in Vegas’ postseason success. Former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes joined Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek to express his concerns about the Golden Knights’ identity after a season marred with injuries.

It’s a team that’s got a lot of great pieces but whether it’s due to injury, and when you’re losing your captain for long stretches, or if you’ve lost character guys in the room. I feel like they missing some direction and identity. I think you’d rather be a team that was undermanned and under skilled with identity than a team that’s got skill and all of the pieced without identity. –Backes on Jeff Marek Show

It’s possible by Game 1 of the postseason the Golden Knights are close(r) to being a healthier team. Captain Mark Stone and sniper Max Pacioretty would add significant boosts to Vegas’ offense and esteem. Both have the ability to take over a game with Stone’s two-way play and Pacioretty’s nasty wrist shot. However, how healthy will they be? And will their lack of action hurt team chemistry? Keep in mind, Stone has never shared the ice with Jack Eichel. Sure, both are incredibly rare talents but all professional athletes need familiarity to maximize success.

Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek presumes Vegas may not rebound this season. Not only due to several devastating injuries but also because of the organization’s intense culture.

It’s tough when faces of the franchise leave. We’ve talked a lot about how Vegas has a ruthless pursuit of the Cup. It’s at all costs. If we can improve the team it doesn’t matter what this guy or that guy has done for the squad. You’re gone. Whether it’s Ryan Reaves, Marc-Andre Fleury is perhaps the best example. Maybe Gerard Gallant, who had the nerve to take the team to the Stanley Cup Final. Nate Schmidt is another great example. All jettisoned. You understand it, this is the business the hockey. –Jeff Marek on Sportsnet 590

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Golden Knights Used As Example For LTIR Change At League Meetings

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ll never know if the Golden Knights were trying to mimic the 2021 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning. When Vegas’ front office pulled the trigger on the Jack Eichel trade, speculation grew across the league that the club would attempt to field a team over the cap in the postseason. Things have changed dramatically for Vegas since then but it didn’t stop NHL GM’s from leaving anonymous notes in the league’s complaint box.

There’s been a lot of white noise around Vegas in how they’ve treated LTIR this season. Last year’s Tampa, this year’s Vegas. At least in perception. Gary Bettman and Bill Daly could not have been more unequivocal saying Vegas has been transparent. There’s no issues with the way they’re handling their LTIR and their business. –Pierre LeBrun on TSN

The noise was loud enough that the topic of LTIR maneuvering came up yesterday at the GM meetings.

Now, is there validity to say that we get to the playoffs and we’ve got a cap of $81.5 million and fundamentally that means we should only be able to dress $81.5 million in the playoffs? Sure, that makes sense. I think you’ve gotta go back and study it. –Brad Treliving, Calgary GM to Sportsnet

It was reported that the league broached the subject out of concerns that some believed Tampa bought last year’s Cup. Sure, adding Nikita Kucherov to the lineup on Game 83 is unfair but it would be next to impossible to prove Tampa stretched out injuries.

In fact, two-time Stanley Cup-winning GM Julien BriseBois wasn’t bashful about his feelings. His club won back-to-back championships, you think the speculation or finger-pointing matters to him?

If we hadn’t won the Cup last season, perhaps we wouldn’t be the poster child, but I’d rather win the Stanley Cup and be the poster child anyway, knowing that these situations have happened in the past. In 2015, we played against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Final and they had the example of Patrick Kane at the time and won the Cup. The situation we had last year with Kucherov—there’s 32 teams and it happens; there are many teams in LTI –Julien BriseBois, Lightning GM to Sportsnet

It’s possible several teams will be over the salary cap in the playoffs. Which drives front offices to ignore cap manipulation.

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Vegas Recognizes What They’re Dealing With

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tonight the Golden Knights will face an electric Florida Panthers team that won’t have trouble scoring. In their last ten games, the Panthers have 40 combined goals scored. Vegas on the other hand, has a total of 25. It well could be another one of those nights. We’re all hoping it’s not.

This is not how Vegas operates. Vegas isn’t fond about making excuses. Maybe management would look at it and say ‘we got thirty million dollars worth of players that are wearing suits.’ I don’t know if the owner looks at it that way. -Jeff Marek on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Of course, fans would rather the Golden Knights compete for a Stanley Cup this postseason but it seems like a hopeless dream at this point. Vegas has been devastated with injuries and there’s no doubting that. The Golden Knights’ goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals may have unfortunately been upended by the injury bug. It’s an excuse, but some would argue it’s a darn good excuse.

Look at how much money you’ve got in injured reserve or long term injured reserve. Between all of those guys you’re over $30 million dollars out of the lineup. -Elliotte Friedman on 32 Thoughts Podcast

Most injuries are uncontrollable and an unfortunate element of professional sports. Sadly, some teams cannot make up for impactful players getting hurt and missing significant amounts of time. It’s unlikely the Golden Knights will never be fully healthy this season. Even if the club makes a remarkable run to the finals it won’t be enough time for each injury to completely heal. Don’t get me wrong, if Mark Stone and Alec Martinez are available in the playoffs they will dress. They may not be 100% healthy but they will play their tuchuses off.

Realistically, it probably wouldn’t be enough to eliminate Calgary, Colorado, or Tampa Bay in a seven-game series. So, what’s wrong with planning ahead?

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