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Finding Mark A New Max

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty became teammates in Las Vegas they were bitter rivals. Stone’s expressive personality and Pacioretty’s endless competitiveness were always going to clash when they opposed each other. But as teammates, it was as harmonious as could be, and from the very first day Stone put on a Golden Knights jersey he and Pacioretty were essentially unbreakable as a pair in the lineup.

Over the course of the next three and a half seasons, the two played together, often centered by either Paul Stastny or Chandler Stephenson, more than 150 times and shared the ice at 5-on-5 for almost 2,000 minutes.

In that time, they were dominant together. In 139 games since 2019, when Pacioretty and Stone were both on the ice, the Golden Knights outscored opponents 122-66 at even-strength, boasted a shot share just short of 60%, and absolutely dominated the expected goals margin despite often playing against the opposition’s top line.

On the power play, with Max and Mark together, Vegas averaged 9.36 goals per 60 minutes while allowing less than one per 60 (0.71 to be exact). Both of these numbers are miles better than what it looked like with neither on the ice. And with the empty net, the Golden Knights tallied 10 times in just under 40 minutes with 61 and 67 together.

Ok, now for the problem. When Pacioretty wasn’t there, Stone’s numbers tumbled, and tumbled hard.

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Pacioretty On Laid Back Atmosphere In Las Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you’re looking for critical stories on the Golden Knights, there aren’t many places beyond this site to find them.

Between the adolescent nature of the Las Vegas professional sports media scene to the simple fact that there wasn’t much to criticize for the first few years the Golden Knights were here, the overall vibe locally on the city’s first major pro team is generally positive.

In turn, helped along by the fact that the team owns and operates the TV and radio broadcasts, and will go to great lengths to find the positive in even the direst of situations, the fan base strongly leans towards optimism as well.

One former Golden Knight wonders if that cushy environment could actually work against the team in some ways.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When I first got (to Vegas) it was weird that there was like no accountability. And I’m not talking about in the team I’m talking about like ever, you couldn’t feel pressure coming off anyone else, from the coach to the management. There was a relief when I got there but then I found myself being like I’ve got to reel this in and hold myself to a higher standard which I had always done but maybe I got away from it when I had everyone else holding me accountable (in Montreal). –Max Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

When Pacioretty first arrived in Las Vegas, he couldn’t wait to shed the responsibilities that come with being the captain of an Original Six team. For months he spoke about how much easier it was coming to the rink without the weight of unreasonable expectations that come from Canadian media.

But then, after four full seasons in Vegas, and admitted growth in himself as a person, he feels quite differently about the situation.

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Max Pacioretty Speaks Glowingly About Pete DeBoer

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As the Golden Knights head into season six with their third different head coach, the two previous will each stand behind an NHL bench vying for the same prize neither they nor Vegas have yet to secure.

Gerard Gallant will attempt to build on a magical playoff run that had the New York Rangers within two wins of the Stanley Cup Final. While Pete DeBoer will take over the team that has ended the Golden Knights’ season two of the last three years in the Dallas Stars.

When Gallant was let go in the middle of Vegas’ third season, players were not shy to talk about how much he will be missed and the shock of seeing him let go. But for DeBoer, being relieved of his duties a few weeks into the offseason, public comment from Golden Knights players on his departure have been sparing.

That was until a now former Golden Knight spoke glowingly about him in a recent podcast episode.

Pete DeBoer, probably the best coach I’ve had to date in terms of getting the best of me. He said “I always notice on the scoresheet when you have a bad first period or a bad couple shifts that you have like five or six hits. We don’t need you running around like an idiot. Your job is to score goals and create offense.” It was so relieving to hear because it was so ingrained in me that if you aren’t scoring you have to make a name for yourself. But it’s like don’t run yourself out of position when it’s your job to create offense. –Max Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

Pacioretty said DeBoer’s meticulous system was a big reason why the Golden Knights were constantly in the mix to win the Cup.

He’s a very good coach. Systematically I don’t think there’s anybody in the league like him. You knew exactly where to be in all areas of the ice. Our D-zone structure was flawless. The second he came in there was no confusion, you knew exactly where to be at all times. –Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

DeBoer will take that “flawless” structure to Dallas while Bruce Cassidy will attempt to instill his own virtues on the Golden Knights moving forward.

No one is denying that the Golden Knights are in good hands under Cassidy, but the string of positive remarks about the previous two coaches would have anyone wondering if coaching has ever been the issue in Vegas.

Allan Walsh: Carolina Intentionally Exposed Vegas’ Cap Mismanagement

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Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan for… nothing.

Well, technically it was for “future considerations,” but if you’ve ever seen what comes of those, “nothing” is basically synonymous.

The Golden Knights spun it as a cap maneuver that helped them re-sign Reilly Smith and will eventually allow them to bring back Nic Roy, Nic Hague, and Keegan Kolesar, but the hockey world viewed it much differently.

For the third (fourth? fifth? I’m honestly losing track) time in the past two years the Golden Knights were being laughed at for an embarrassing move that seemed unfathomable for a Cup contender. From Marc-Andre Fleury to either Evgenii Dadonov trade to the Robin Lehner injury saga to this, hockey nation has not been short on ammo to use to rip Vegas.

Now we find out, the Carolina Hurricanes did it on purpose. Or so says agent Allan Walsh.

There were several other GMs around the league that mentioned to me that they thought the way the trade was structured was intentional on Carolina’s part. That there was a little bit of a message being delivered here. Could it have been a 7th round pick or a 6th round pick? I think Carolina intentionally said “nuh uh we’ll do this but we’re going to make it future considerations” because it kind of embarrassed Vegas to have to do that. And in many ways it exposed their cap mismanagement. –Allan Walsh on Agent Provocateur Podcast

Walsh continued.

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Pacioretty: Excited To Join An Organization “Trying To Win Now”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When forward Max Pacioretty was acquired in 2018 the Golden Knights added a sharpshooting veteran to an already strong offensive team. Pacioretty was coming over from an icy situation in Montreal freeing himself from the heavy scrutiny he dealt with as Canadiens captain. It was a fresh start and a chance to help a Western Conference finalist.

With Pacioretty’s scoring ability the Golden Knights made two deep playoff runs, which probably should have been three. In 224 games the top-line winger posted 194 points and was three goals shy from scoring 100 with Vegas. All in all, Pacioretty did what he was paid to do.

When you’re around the league a little bit longer people will start reaching out when they hear stuff. I thought that it could be a possibility I was going somewhere. I didn’t know specifically where. When I found out that it was Carolina, the GM of Vegas called me and we spoke briefly. I got confirmation from Don [Waddell], Rod [Brind’Amour] and even Tom [Dundon]. Once I spoke to everybody about how they wanted me and how I fit in, it was really exciting to join an organization like this and a team that is trying to win right now. – Max Pacioretty during Hurricanes media availability

The 14-year veteran sounded genuinely excited to begin his next NHL chapter when he spoke with Hurricane’s media last week. His departure from Vegas didn’t sound contentious, in fact, he received a call from VGK’s front office, a courtesy that pal Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t get.

It was just a weird year where it seemed like everything went wrong. My injuries were really one offs and bad luck. It was a broken foot and another bone injury in my hand, and then it was a little bit of a core situation there but it didn’t keep me out too long. I hope that’s in my past. I’m doing everything that I can to move on from that. But in reality, as a group we had a lot of tough luck on the injury front and a lot of goofy or fluky injuries. Mine were no different from the rest of the guys in that sense. -Pacioretty

Just like Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, Alec Martinez, Robin Lehner, and the front office, Pacioretty would like to put last season behind him. When he was on the ice there’s no doubt the sniper’s shot was the most lethal on the team. Which will be difficult to replace.

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McCrimmon Shares Four Ways VGK Can Make Up For Lost Offense

When the Golden Knights pulled off the blockbuster trade to acquire Jack Eichel, it became clear they would have to do some serious work to on their salary cap. That work is now complete and it has resulted in the departures of Max Pacioretty, Evgenii Dadonov, and Dylan Coghlan.

The trio of players shipped out accounted for 42 goals last season with Pacioretty missing more than half of the year due to injury. Also, while still unsigned, it’s possible Mattias Janmark and his nine goals exit Vegas as well. That’s more than 50 goals leaving the organization without a single new player being added to the fold (at least to this point).

So, how do they make up that offense?

That question was posed to GM Kelly McCrimmon at today’s press conference and his answer was essentially four-pronged. Let’s go through each of them.

“We anticipate a healthy lineup will put more offense into our lineup”

McCrimmon specifically singled out Stone, but the larger point is that without virtually every important player on the team missing significant time, as we saw last year, there will be an influx in scoring.

Stone, Eichel, Karlsson, and Smith will all likely generate more this coming year than they did last year. Between them, they scored 51 goals and tallied 128 points in 2021-22. The career averages of those four players calls for something closer to 98 goals and 245 points. Throw in Martinez, Howden, and Hague and there’s room for even more.

It’s pretty clear that if the team is significantly healthier, scoring will go up.

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2022 VGK Free Agency Tracker

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A roundup of all the signings, rumors, and rumbling surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights as free agency opens in advance of the 2022-23 season.

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

  • The Golden Knights have traded Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan to the Carolina Hurricanes for future considerations. (Source: @DarrenDreger & @PierreVLeBrun)
  • A handshake agreement is reportedly in place with Reilly Smith on an extension worth $5m AAV for three years. (Source: @frank_seravalli)
    • The deal is expected to be completed today. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
    • The deal is complete. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have extended qualifying offers to Nic Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Jake Leschyshyn, Brayden Pachal, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Nic Roy (Source: Golden Knights)
    • Roy and Kolesar are each arbitration-eligible. Both will likely file. Each can still sign extensions before their scheduled arbitration dates in August.
    • Jonas Rondbjerg has re-signed a three-year deal with an AAV of $766,666. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Brett Howden was not extended a qualifying offer by the Golden Knights, however, reports indicate a deal is being worked on to keep him in Vegas. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • Howden has extended with the Golden Knights for one-year at $1.5 million. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • VGK did not extend qualifying offers to Ben Jones, Dylan Ferguson, or Jack Dugan. All become unrestricted free agents today.
  • Daniil Miromanov signed a two-year extension to remain with the Golden Knights with an AAV of $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • The Golden Knights have signed Sakari Manninen, a 30-year-old Finnish winger who has been playing in the KHL. He scored the game-winning goal at the World Champions and won a gold medal at the Olympics. (Source: @FriedgeHNIC)
  • VGK confirmed the signings on Manninen and Spencer Foo, each for $750,000. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • Sheldon Rempal has signed a two-year, two-way deal with the Golden Knights. (Source: @DarrenDreger)
    • The NHL AAV is $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)
  • VGK have signed goalie Michael Hutchinson to a one-year, two-way contract. (Source: @PuckPedia)
  • Byron Froese has signed a two-year contract with an AAV of $762,500. (Source: Golden Knights)

Simplified Salary Cap Tracker

  • VGK are approximately $6,452,500 UNDER the salary cap with a 17-man roster (10 F, 7 D, 2 G)
    • Eichel, Stone, Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, Stephenson, Carrier, Amadio, Patrick, Howden – $43,012,500
    • Pietrangelo, Martinez, Theodore, McNabb, Whitecloud, Hutton – $25,700,00
    • Lehner, Brossoit – $7,325,000

**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.**

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