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Teams Bidding To Beef Up For Future Postseason Matchup With Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL trade deadline is five days away and like the Golden Knights, teams are eager to improve their rosters before the postseason begins. Certain names have been front and center but as of now, Vegas, nor their adversaries have acquired any impact players with the exception of the Dallas Stars. The Central Division leader traded for in-demand defenseman Chris Tanev late last month. The swap is significant since Tanev is a right-handed defenseman and we all know there’s nothing that’ll catch a coach’s attention more than an available right-handed defenseman.

It’s a huge luxury. When you get a lefty and lefty (on defense), you lose about a third of your ice when you play your off hand. Just offensively, you lose a third of the ice. You get some good looks when you jump into holes because you’re on your off hand. Having two lefties, passing for your partner is a little different spot than when you have a lefty-righty. There is an adjustment for everybody who does that. It is a luxury these days. -Barry Trotz in 2019

Two teams that Vegas defeated in February, Edmonton and Toronto, are now open buyers for a RHD. Right off the break, the Golden Knights ended the Oilers historic 16-game winning streak. In that game, Edmonton dressed three LHD and three RHD. Four of the six were -1 or worse, including their two righties. After that matchup, the Oilers are feverishly targeting an upgraded right-handed defenseman. On Tuesday in Toronto, the Maple Leafs were forced to dress six left-handed defensemen. The Golden Knights forecheck exposed Toronto’s unbalanced blue line pressuring the entire left-handed defensive unit.

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Pacific Division: Group of 8 With Only 3 Contenders?

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It’s been no secret that over the past six seasons, the Pacific Division was regarded as one of the leagues least competitive. Let’s face it, for basically the entirety of the Golden Knights’ existence three or four teams were annually counted out of contention before the puck hit opening night ice. Vegas is the only team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in that span and the Golden Knights became the first Pacific division team to win the Cup since 2014.

Heading into the 2023-24 season, the division looks to play out the same way it did last year. Of course, it’s foolish to eliminate teams before the season begins but would anyone be surprised if Anaheim, San Jose, or Vancouver missed the 2024 playoffs? According to Sportsnet, they wouldn’t be.

Whether it’s a repeat from Vegas, a breakthrough for Edmonton, or something of a Cinderella story from Los Angeles or Seattle, might the 2024 Stanley Cup champion come out of the Pacific Division again? Might this division also house the team that “wins” the first-overall selection? –Sportsnet.ca

According to William Hill, the Pacific Division is expected to be conquered by the Edmonton Oilers (+180), the reigning champions (+210) or the LA Kings (+440) in 2024. The divisional odds are not much different from last season’s expected winners. Vegas came away with division with Edmonton and LA filling out the top three Pacific clubs. As you go further down the list, the prices drastically get larger, suggesting that it would be a major surprise if any team outside of the top three took the division.

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VGK’s Bargain Binners Significantly Over-Performed In Cup Run

(Photo Credit: @GoldenKnights on Twitter)

This week NHL outlets compiled a team of the biggest bargains of the 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, zero Golden Knights players made the list, nor should they have. When Tage Thompson is the bargain bin’s top center, you can only imagine how skilled the rest of the lines and pairings are.

Sportsnet’s 2022-23 All-Bargain Team:

FORWARDS

Brandon Hagel (TBL) — Tage Thompson (BUF) — Daniel Sprong (SEA)
Michael Bunting (TOR) — David Krejci (BOS) — Gabriel Vilardi (LAK)
Zach Parise (NYI) — Morgan Frost (PHI) — Taylor Raddysh (CHI)
Stefan Noesen (CAR) — Thomas Novak (NSH) — Sonny Milano (WSH)

DEFENSE
Erik Gustafsson (WSH/TOR) — Luke Schenn (VAN/TOR)
Mark Giordano (TOR) — Rasmus Sandin (TOR/WSH)
P.O. Joseph (PIT) — Sebastian Aho (NYI)

GOALIES
Stuart Skinner (EDM)
Filip Gustavsson (MIN)

So, maybe there wasn’t enough room for VGK’s valued players, but several deserve praise after their unexpected production during Vegas’ championship run.

Michael Amadio
16 Goals, 11 Assists, +2, 99 Shots On Goal, 2 Game-Winning Goals, 12:13 Average Time On Ice
$762,500 Cap Hit

Amadio’s output was not only surprising in the regular season, but he continued to outperform expectations in the playoffs. In 16 games, the 27-year-old pitched in with five goals and five assists for the Stanley Cup-winning Golden Knights, including a big-time game-winning goal against Winnipeg in double overtime.

As for being a bargain, Amadio scored as many playoff goals (5) as Sebastian Aho ($8.4M AAV), Aleksander Barkov ($10M AAV), Auston Matthews ($11.6M AAV), and Tyler Seguin ($9.85M AAV) in roughly as many games. While Florida was paying Barkov $2M per goal, Vegas was shelling out $152,500 per goal scored by Amadio. Surely, to the everyday Joe, six figures to score a goal seems like a boatload but compared to others mentioned, the Golden Knights got themselves a significant discount.

Adin Hill
25 Starts, (16-7) Record, 61 Goals Allowed, .915 Save %, 2.45 Goals Allowed Average, 16 Quality Starts,
$2,175,000 Cap Hit

We’ve gone over Hill’s Stanley Cup run dozens of times since June 15th. What else can we say? The third-string (or second depending on who you ask) goaltender was outstanding and unstoppable in the three series he suited up for. Hill led all qualified postseason goalies in save percentage, goals allowed average, losses and shutouts and made a fraction of what the rest of the playoff goalies make annually.

Vegas’ backstop earned $4,780 per save, $197,727 per victory, and $1,087,500 per shutout in the postseason. Compared to the three other goaltenders to start 14 games or more, the Golden Knights barely opened their wallet for a postseason victory. The Panthers paid Sergei Bobrovsky $17,094 per save, $833,333 per win, and $10M per shutout. Seattle offered Phillipp Grubauer $15,485 per save and $842,857 per win. Western Conference Finals goalie Jake Oettinger played three more games than Hill and Dallas reimbursed him $8,510 per save, $400K per win, $4M per shutout. Looking back, Hill could be one of the biggest bargains in modern NHL history.

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VGK’s Top 6 Stanley Cup Playoff Quotes

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ve covered goal-scoring, playmaking and goaltending so let’s focus on off the ice. During their eight-week run, the Golden Knights had many memorable quotes throughout the postseason. In fact, there are enough comments from Golden Knights players to fill out a Top 26 list. However, let’s focus on VGK’s six most entertaining quotes of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.

6. Pietrangelo Shrugs Off Slashing Suspension in the Second Round 

It is what it is, I’m not going to sit here and dwell on it. The league took care of it, so we’ll move on… There have been a lot of shots both ways, I’ll just say that. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on, there’s some premeditated stuff coming at me but (the Department of Player Safety) didn’t really seem to care in the meeting. I’ll get up and take it. I’m not going to lay on the ice like we’ve been seeing. I’ll get up and play the game the way it needs to be played. At the end of the day, we’ve got a job to do, they’ve got a job to do. – Alex Pietrangelo

When lead defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was suspended for his slash on Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in the second round no one was surprised. It was a heat-of-the-moment situation and unlike anything Vegas fans had ever seen before from #7. However, Pietrangelo stated his case to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, and they required the d-man to sit for one game, much to the chagrin of the Oilers and their fans. When asked, Pietrangelo didn’t hold back.

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It Can’t Be This Easy For The Golden Knights, Can it?

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With a victory tonight, the Golden Knights will be one win closer to claiming the franchise’s first Stanley Cup trophy. Through two games Vegas is scorching Florida in the offensive zone while allowing just three goals in six periods. For all intents and purposes, the 2023 Stanley Cup Final has been a one-sided mismatch.

We’ve approached every game in the playoffs the same way. We try to take it, everyone says, one at a time, but we’ve got our backs against the wall, obviously. We’re down by two, but we’re coming home. Love our team, love our resiliency. We’re going to go out and give our best effort, play our best game tomorrow and go from there. -Marc Staal, FLA defenseman

While the right things are being said from the Panthers’ locker room, they understand tying the series over the next two games is a tall order. Sure, they recovered after falling behind in their opening round. However, the Golden Knights are not playing like an opening round team. No, Vegas is competing like one of the all-time great Stanley Cup teams. The statistics and outcomes highlight VGK’s dominance.

Highest Scoring Stanley Cup Teams In Stanley Cup Final:

  • 2023 Vegas Golden Knights – 6.0 Goals Per Game (2 Games)
  • 1980 New York Islanders – 5.2 GPG (5 Games)
  • 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins – 4.6 GPG (6 Games)
  • 1981 New York Islanders – 4.3 GPG (6 Games)
  • 2010 Chicago Blackhawks – 4.2 GPG (6 Games)

Last season, the Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche scored 20 total goals in six contests. The Golden Knights are eight goals away from matching the Avalanche’s total in only six periods. If their pace continues, Vegas will rank among the best offenses in Stanley Cup Final history.

Most pundits expect the Panthers to snap out of their two-game funk and threaten the Golden Knights series lead. Considering the flow Vegas is on right now, it wouldn’t be wise to count them out in South Florida. Especially, considering how VGK have feasted on the road.

I love the road, to be honest, where all the guys are together, having team dinners, playing cards all together, hanging out. We have such good team chemistry this year that we have a lot of fun. There’s no dull moment with that group of guys. -Jonathan Marchessault

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Adin Hill vs Dallas Part VI

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the past two series, Vegas goaltender Adin Hill has performed like a Conn Smythe candidate. Mark Stone and Jack Eichel are the headliners but the Golden Knights backstop is becoming an overnight sensation in 549 postseason minutes in net.

On the flip side, the Dallas Stars had full confidence in starting goaltender Jake Oettinger coming into the playoffs. It wasn’t a question of who would be in the net for the Stars. Through 18 postseason starts, Oettinger hasn’t been as sharp as he was for Dallas in the regular season The 24-year-old is significantly below his career averages in goals allowed per game and save percentage. Hill, however, has exceeded all expectations.

So what should we expect from the two netminders tonight in Dallas?

Every time our team’s stumbled, every time he’s had a stumble, his response has been exactly like it was tonight. I had no doubt that’s what we were going to get. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet. I think he’s starting to heat up here too. -Pete DeBoer

Stars coach Pete DeBoer has seen his share of goalie adventures in the past. In 2012, an ageless Martin Brodeur led DeBoer’s Devils to a Stanley Cup Final. As Sharks coach, he had long runs with Martin Jones, and several failed runs with Martin Jones. And, like VGK fans, I’m sure DeBoer has wiped Marc-Andre Fleury’s 2021 Conference Final blunder away from his memory.

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Adin Hill’s Outstanding Run Between The Vegas Pipes

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Outstanding. Sensational. Magnificent. Phenomenal. Exceptional.

Adin Hill has been so good this postseason I’ve actually bookmarked the thesaurus entry for outstanding on my web browser so I can keep coming up with new ways to describe him.

Marvelous. Extraordinary. Remarkable.

No matter which adjective speaks to you most, Hill has personified all of them and it is…

Incredible.

419 goalies have played at least nine games in a single playoff run. Adin Hill currently sits tied for 21st all time among them with a .938 save percentage. Two of the three goalies he’s tied with are Curtis Joseph and Dominik Hasek. Hill is ahead of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s run in 2021, ahead of Hall of Famers Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall from the late 50’s and 60’s, and even a few points ahead of Carey Price the year the Canadiens eliminated the Golden Knights.

And it’s not like he’s doing this without seeing a lot of action. The Golden Knights have allowed 33.7 shots per game in Hill’s nine appearances, also ranking top 25 all time.

The advanced numbers love Hill’s game too. He’s stopped 5.02 goals above expected in this round alone according to NaturalStatTrick.com and he’s amassed 6.4 total in his nine games for 0.78 per game. To compare, in the Golden Knights last run to the Cup Final, Marc-Andre Fleury posted 8.5 goals saved above expected in 20 games or 0.41 per game, almost half of what Hill is doing.

Per MoneyPuck.com’s wins above replacement stat, Hill has added 1.06 wins to the Golden Knights’ tally. Which, considering the fact that he’s supposed to be the “replacement” is… click here, you pick one.

Now that I know literally every word in the English language to try to describe the last three weeks the Golden Knights have experienced with Hill in the net, the word that fits best is unbelievable.

So unbelievable it’s making the thought of Vegas being the next word engraved on hockey’s holy grail very believable.

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