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George McPhee On Vadim Shipachyov: “We’re Trying To Be Patient”

The Vadim Shipachyov saga rolled on today and while we now have the ability to still offer some clarity, it’s still a confusing one, to say the least.

This rink is so small, should I shoot or pass? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tuesday, Shipachyov was reassigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL to make room for the return of Jonathan Marchessault. Wednesday night a group of national media tweets made waves as Shipachyov’s agent had reportedly been “granted permission to seek a trade.” Then came today, when Gerard Gallant ducked three Shipachyov questions in his daily press conference heeding to a normal answer of “you’re going to have to ask George.” McPhee was not made available to local media but did appear on the Toronto’s TSN 1050 OverDrive.

It hasn’t worked out yet, it may, it’s just taken him a little bit longer to assimilate, to adjust to the North American way of playing. It’s a smaller rink, it’s a faster game, and his pace of play hasn’t picked up yet. We’re trying to be patient.

Unfortunately, we have a lot of players here, and we have certain people that have really blossomed and are playing extremely well right now, and they deserve to be in the lineup.

And so we said to people all along it doesn’t matter your draft position, or how much money you make, or where you came from, the guys who that are working their guts out and playing well are going to play. It’s done on merit and nothing else.

We are in a bit of a jam here in terms of the number of people we have. So (I) decided I could assign him without putting him on waivers. We’ve done that to give us some breathing room for a little bit here.

He hasn’t reported yet but he may. His agent asked if I mind if he talk to some other teams, I said I don’t mind, so that’s where we are. -George McPhee

Starting at the beginning, this is a drastic change from what McPhee said during his last press conference with local media on October 9th, following a pair of road games in which Shipachyov did not play. At that point, he called it a numbers decision.

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Prior to tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks the Vegas Golden Knights reassigned Vadim Shipachyov to the Chicago Wolves.

Shipachyov is waiver exempt meaning the Golden Knights are not at risk of losing Shipachyov to another team.

Jonathan Marchessault has been activated off the IR after a lower body injury sustained against the Detroit Red Wings. He will play in tonight’s game.

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Like a lot of things with the Golden Knights, too many guys playing well was not a concern we expected to be an issue. However, five games in, that’s the exact spot Geroge McPhee, Gerard Gallant, and the Golden Knights have found themselves in.

Hey everyone, look how great we’re all playing! (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After leaving Vadim Shipachyov, Alex Tuch, and Shea Theodore off the opening day roster due to “numbers decisions,” Vegas started the season 3-0 using the same 20 players in all three games.

Then the injuries and a loss came. Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault were put on IR which freed up spots for Shipachyov and Tuch, and Gallant decided to mix up his healthy scratches following the loss as he inserted Brad Hunt and Jon Merrill for Jason Garrison and Brayden McNabb.

All four “new” players had a major impact on the game Sunday night, and it’s left Vegas with an abundance of players and not enough roster spots to keep them all.

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Erik Haula has been placed on IR.

Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault were both absent from practice. Coach confirmed they were “maintenance days” for both. “Hopes” both play tomorrow.

Jonathan Marchessault And Reilly Smith Talk About Linemate Vadim Shipachyov

These three were inseparable… until George McPhee separated them. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Throughout all of training camp and in every preseason game in which they played, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Vadim Shipachyov played together. So when Shupavhyov was left off the roster to open the season, Marchessault and Smith were impacted as much as anyone. We spoke to Marchessault about the situation, how much he’s talked to Shipachyov, and much more.

It’s a little different, I’m guessing they kept us together during preseason just to kind of get the chemistry going. It’s obviously a weird scenario, there’s nothing you can do. I don’t think a lot of people know what’s going on or what’s going to happen, there’s a lot of question marks around it. -Reilly Smith

I’m not going to put any words for him but I know if I was in his shoes it would be a little bit of a frustrating experience. -Smith

Me and Shippy and Smitty were actually watching our video trying to get better trying to learn how to play together and then the season starts and Shippy is not there. So obviously it’s inconvenient, but that’s part of hockey there’s not much stability and that’s out of our control. -Marchessault

McPhee Speaks About Vadim Shipachyov’s Situation In Press Conference

With media in from all over North America to cover what is likely to be one of the most emotional games in NHL history, coupled with the 2-0 start, the Golden Knights locker room was buzzing. But still missing from that was center Vadim Shipachyov. He was sent to the AHL, expected to rejoin the roster prior to Friday’s game, but that did not happen. Now, nearly a week later he’s still not with the team.

George McPhee held a press conference to give an update on his status. Here are the quotes on Shipachyov and’ best “translations” to help give the background on what he’s actually saying.

Vadim Shipachyov is still not on the roster at this point, is that a hockey decision or a numbers decision.

That’s a numbers decision. As you know we had three guys who we could assign, and we did, to give us the room that we needed to carry what we are carrying. I do not have a specific date when that will change but we are working on things. -George McPhee

Translation: Shipachyov is waiver exempt, so the Golden Knights can (and did) assign him to the AHL without any risk of losing him on waivers to another team. Asking if it’s a numbers or hockey decision was to confirm that Shipachyov’s play on the ice was not the reasoning behind this decision. McPhee confirms this again later in the press conference.

Has this gone on longer than you expected? -Jesse Granger, Las Vegas Sun

No. We knew in the Summer that with Theodore and Tuch that we may have to send them down initially because we are going to have a lot of people that we are evaulating, and we are still evaluating. I don’t know how long it will take but I prefer to be in this position where we have enough people rather than not enough. -McPhee

Translation: As we explained throughout much of the Summer as well, the Golden Knights simply have too many players on NHL contracts to keep everyone. So, rather than waiving certain players, McPhee opted to utilize his waiver exempt players to allow him to continue evaluating the players on his roster.

The confusing part about this rationale is that three of the players he is likely in need to evaluating were inactive in both games this weekend (Griffin Reinhart, Brad Hunt, and Jon Merrill). Thus, how long this will take is still a major mystery. Of course, one injury would open a roster spot and allow for Shipachyov to return.

Have you been in contact with Shipachyov regularly letting him know what’s going on? -Granger, Las Vegas Sun

Through his agent yes. -McPhee

Has his agent expressed his disappointment with the decision? -David Shoen, Las Vegas Review Journal

Yep. They didn’t understand initially. But they do now. This is a roster move that’s not about performance. The three guys we sent down have all earned the right to be here. And we’ll get them here at the right time or as soon as we can. -McPhee

Translation: This is possibly where the reports of Shipachyov being unhappy emanated from. The original move was made on Tuesday of last week. His agent didn’t understand which likely meant Shipachyov would have been upset about the decision. McPhee returning to saying it is not a performance-driven decision while answering this question likely means there was at least a moment when Shipachyov believed it was performance based.

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Golden Knights Arrive In Dallas Without Vadim Shipachyov

We’re finally here, the first real game in franchise history, Vegas Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars. Starting on the first line for the Golden Knights will be Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and… Oscar Lindberg?

That’s right, Vadim Shipachyov, who has been playing exclusively with Smith and Marchessault throughout all of training camp and the preseason is not only not on the top line, he’s not even on the opening night roster. In fact, Vadim Shipachyov isn’t even in Dallas!

This whole chain of events started with Shipachyov being sent down to the AHL in what appeared to be a complicated roster maneuver to outsmart the waiver process. The thought was, the Golden Knights would make a roster move, which they did by waiving Calvin Pickard, and Shipachyov would be added back to the roster. Instead, the charade now continues as the Golden Knights activated James Neal off IR and he will fit into a line with David Perron and Cody Eakin.

We assigned Theodore, Tuch, and Shipachyov (to the AHL)… because we could. They did not require waivers. We are doing roster maneuvering with our roster like many clubs are at this time of year and we will see where this goes in the next few days. -George McPhee

As we’ve seemingly been trying to do the past few days now, let’s try to give some background to this “roster maneuvering.”

As McPhee said, Shipachyov is waiver exempt. If you read often you probably know this, but if you don’t, that’s a fancy way of saying, “can move a player to the AHL without any risk of losing him to another club.” So that’s what the Golden Knights did. But when they opened the roster spot, they went with an injured (and still pretty badly, we believe) Neal instead of Shipachyov. This is the perplexing part.

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