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Vegas Golden Knights Offseason Primer

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Unfortunately, as the Stanley Cup Final rolls on, the Golden Knights have officially begun the offseason. With the 2021 season running into July due to the late start, this is as jam-packed an offseason as we’ve ever seen in the NHL. Here’s a primer of what’s coming up, when, and where the Golden Knights stand.

Free Agency

Typically on July 1st, free agency opens this summer on July 28th at 9 AM Pacific Time.

The Golden Knights currently have 42 players under contract with 18 of them on the NHL roster. Here is a list of those players with the number of years left on their contract in parentheses.

*Restricted free agent upon expiry (VGK remain rights)

NHL: Mark Stone (6), Max Pacioretty (2), William Karlsson (6), Jonathan Marchessault (3), Reilly Smith (1), Alex Tuch (5), Chandler Stephenson (3), Ryan Reaves (1), William Carrier (3), Nic Roy (1*), Keegan Kolesar (1*)
Minors: Jack Dugan (1*), Pavel Dorofeyev (2*), Cody Glass (1*), Peyton Krebs (3*), Mason Primeau (3*), Maxim Marushev (2*), Jonas Rondbjerg (1*), Marcus Kallionkieli (3*), Jake Leschyshyn (1*), Lucas Elvenes (1*), Ben Jones (1*), Paul Cotter (2*)

NHL: Alex Pietrangelo (6), Shea Theodore (4), Brayden McNabb (1), Nick Holden (1), Nic Hague (1*), Zach Whitecloud (1*)
Minors: Layton Ahac (3*), Peter Diliberatore (2*), Daniil Miromanov (1*), Connor Corcoran (2*), Lukas Cormier (3*), Zack Hayes (2*), Kaedan Korczak (3*), Brayden Pachal (1*), Jake Bischoff (1)

NHL: Marc-Andre Fleury (1), Robin Lehner (4)
Minors: Jiri Patera (2*), Logan Thompson (1*), Dylan Ferguson (1*)

The Golden Knights have just one restricted free agent. That is Dylan Coghlan. Coghlan played 29 NHL games this past season which means he is not eligible for a larger qualifying offer. The Golden Knights may extend him a one-year, two-way offer worth $750,000. Coghlan does not have arbitration rights this year.

This leaves seven players who played NHL games for the Golden Knights as unrestricted free agents this summer. They are Tomas Nosek, Mattias Janmark, Dylan Sikura, Patrick Brown, Tomas Jurco, Alec Martinez, and Oscar Dansk. The Golden Knights hold each of these players’ rights until July 28th at which point they become free to sign with any team.

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Comparing the Remaining Schedules Of The West Division’s Two Top Dogs

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The stretch run is officially here.

The Golden Knights have just 10 games left in the regular season and despite their position atop the division in points, Vegas is still technically looking up at Colorado due to points percentage. The Avalanche missed a week due to COVID Protocols but they are back in action now and have a pair of games in hand on the Golden Knights.

Winning the West Division comes with a pretty hefty prize. Not only does it earn the winner home-ice advantage in the first two rounds, but it also means a matchup in the first round against a losing team as opposed to a decent Minnesota Wild team.

The simplest way the division will be determined is by either Vegas or Colorado sweeping the two games left between the top teams. Those games are both to be played at T-Mobile Arena with the first taking place this Wednesday and the second rescheduled to Monday, May 10th. If either team takes home all four points (especially if they don’t give up any in OT), that team will almost certainly win the division. But if they split, which the two teams have over the first six games, the rest of the schedule becomes interesting.

The Golden Knights have 10 games left while the Avalanche have 12. Both teams have just four home games left which means Colorado play eight on the road compared to Vegas’ six. (See full schedules below)

The biggest advantage for the Golden Knights is rest. Not only are they getting it in the near future with three consecutive off-days coming up after tonight’s game, but they also have just two back-to-backs compared to Colorado’s three.

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Regular Season Team Stats Compared After Year 3

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the return to play format set and the league moving straight into the playoffs, the Golden Knights have now completed three NHL regular seasons. Here’s a statistical look at each season in relation to each other.

**Of course, because this season was 11 games short, stats are listed “per game” if necessary**

Points Percentage

2019-20: .606 (8th)
2018-19: .567 (16th)
2017-18: .665 (5th)

Goals For

2019-20: 3.12 (13th)
2018-19: 2.98 (13th)
2017-18: 3.23 (5th)

Goals Against

2019-20: 2.91 (13th)
2018-19: 2.76 (10th)
2017-18: 2.71 (8th)

Shots For

2019-20: 34.1 (1st)
2018-19: 34.1 (2nd)
2017-18: 32.3 (11th)

Shots Against

2019-20: 29.0 (2nd)
2018-19: 29.0 (5th)
2017-18: 30.4 (7th)

Power Play

2019-20: 21.99% (9th)
2018-19: 16.81% (25th)
2017-18: 21.37 (11th)

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Golden Knights Continuing To Step Up For Community

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It seems like every day either the organization or a player is announcing a new program or donation to support the Vegas community during these trying times. So much so that it’s hard to keep up.

So we wanted to take a moment to highlight each and every one of them and we’ll make sure to keep this article updated with any new initiatives or donations that are made in the future.

$1,000,000 to the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force

The Creator and Vegas Golden Knights Foundation have donated $1 million to the task force set up by Governor Sisolak and headed by former MGM CEO Jim Murren.

The money will be used to purchase necessary supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including surgical masks, N95-equivalent CDC-approved respirator masks, medical gloves, and medical gowns.

Support VGK part-time employees for all games missed

Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK players, and The Creator have committed a minimum of $500,000 to pay T-Mobile Arena employees for any games that are canceled.

This includes third-party vendors, service providers, food and beverage employees, retail associates, medical staff, event personnel, production and cleaning operations. Also the entire VGK Cast and Crew – including in-arena hosts, PA announcer, Vegas Vivas!, Golden Belles, Knights Guard, Knight Line, the dj, The Golden Knight, music director, camera operators, control room crew, Battle Wagon driver, Villain and Watchman – and the drivers of the ice resurfacers. Vegas Golden Knights interns who work game days across all the VGK business teams will also be assisted by these efforts. Also the 51/49 raffle staff.

These funds are expected to be paid when the NHL officially announces that games have been canceled as opposed to postponed.

7,500 meals to doctors, nurses and employees at local hospitals

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14 Best Regular Season Games In Vegas Golden Knights History

The Golden Knights made franchise history Saturday overcoming a three-goal deficit to come back and win for the first time. They did it against the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a team Vegas had lost four straight to, the St. Louis Blues.

It was certainly one of the most memorable regular season games in Golden Knights history, so we put a poll on Twitter to see how many would rank it atop the list.

Of course, posting it 20 minutes after the game ends leads to a bit of recency bias, so I decided to go back through the record books and look for the best regular season games the Golden Knights have ever won. Here are the 14 I came up with.

14 – December 8th, 2017 – at Nashville

The first half of the first-ever Dad’s Trip started out well for the Golden Knights as they took a 2 goal lead. With Malcolm Subban in net against his big brother PK, Vegas surrendered three straight sending them into the final minute down a goal. With the goalie pulled, Erik Haula netted the game-tying goal to send the game to OT and eventually shootout. Subban stopped six shootout attempts to help seal one of the most impressive road victories in franchise history.

13 – January 2nd, 2020 – vs Philadelphia

Things got off to a poor start as Philadelphia spent a majority of the first 10 minutes in the Vegas zone, scoring once, but the tide turned in a hurry quickly after. The Golden Knights scored four 1st period goals to head to intermission at 4-2. Fleury stopped a penalty shot, Jon Merrill scored while playing forward, and Pacioretty scored twice. The game got really interesting at the end as a pair of penalties forced the Golden Knights to kill off a 5-on-3 in the dying seconds of the game. Brayden McNabb played penalty kill hero and the Golden Knights sealed their 3rd straight win of the homestand.

12 – December 14th, 2017 – vs Pittsburgh

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

At the time, it wasn’t a guarantee that Marc-Andre Fleury would even be available for the first time his new team would face his old one. He was able to return from injury one game before and made the emotional start against the Penguins. The crowd was fairly close to 50/50 but everyone was cheering for the Golden Knights goalie. A late Jon Merrill goal won the game for Vegas and Fleury allowed just one goal to beat the Penguins.

11 – October 21st, 2017 – vs St. Louis

The Golden Knights were rolling on the team’s first homestand despite losing Fleury a few games earlier. This was a tight game throughout and Vegas used two power play goals to take a 2-1 lead. Then, Malcolm Subban injured his knee and Oscar Dansk was forced to come in and make his NHL debut. One of the first shots he saw tied the game and it appeared it was only a matter of time that St. Louis would put another by him and win the game. But in OT, William Karlsson’s first goal of the year won it for the Golden Knights and the magical run to start the inaugural season continued.

10 – February 28th, 2019 – vs Florida

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In terms of entertainment, it doesn’t get much better than a game with 10 goals and is decided in shootout. Vegas fell behind 3-1 after allowing two power play goals to Mike Hoffman. The next three goals went to the Golden Knights to give Vegas a 4-3 lead. Florida took a 5-4 lead late into the 3rd but former Panther Reilly Smith tied it up with a shot that fluttered past the goalie and into the net. The shootout was a goalie battle as Fleury stopped all three and Theodore tallied the game winner. It was also Mark Stone’s second game as a Golden Knight

9 – October 2nd, 2019 – vs San Jose

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If the Golden Knight fan base ever needed a regular season victory, it was this one. After the nightmare that was Game 7 ending the previous season, the pent up anger from the summer all came out on Opening Night. Like seemingly every Sharks/Golden Knights game, Vegas scored in the first five minutes, and then again in the first 10 but it wasn’t a cakewalk as San Jose cut the 2-0 to 2-1 in the 1st. It was Cody Glass’ first career goal in his first career game that gave Vegas the cushion they needed. The only thing this game was missing was an Evander Kane ejection, but that’s only because that happened a few nights earlier when the two teams met in the preseason leading to Kane being suspended for the first three games of the year.

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End Of 2018-19 Season Locker Room Interviews

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This is the raw audio from every end of season interview we were a part of in the Golden Knights locker room and at the podium. The highlights are Eakin, Bellemare, Marchessault, Foley, and McPhee.

So it’s a bit easier to follow and in case you want to jump around a bit, here are the timecodes for each person.

0:00 Tuch
6:25 Bellemare
19:52 Stastny
26:09 Carpenter
29:40 Pacioretty
32:19 Theodore
35:39 Haula
40:04 Schmidt
44:18 Eakin
50:23 Karlsson
54:19 Marchessault (Part 1)
58:12 Smith
58:47 Carrier
1:03:17 Marchessault (Part 2)
1:09:25 Pirri
1:13:18 Stone
1:17:49 Subban
1:26:49 Foley
1:48:47 McPhee
2:05:01 Gallant

Locker Room Clean-Out Day Highlights

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In the final media availability of the season nearly every Golden Knights player spoke to the media. We also had extended press conferences with The Creator, George McPhee, and Gerard Gallant.

Of course, there will probably be 50 stories on this site based off many of the comments on this day, but we wanted to share some of the highlights from the day.

(If you would like to listen to every second of the nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes of locker room interviews that we participated in, go here or to our podcast feed.)

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Golden Knights Have Struggled To Stay Healthy, But Are At The Right Time

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A major part of this season for the Golden Knights has been battling through injuries and the suspension of Nate Schmidt. With just one game left on the schedule, Vegas has played just 26 of the 81 games (32%) with their top-six forwards and top-four defensemen intact.

12 of those games have come since the trade deadline when Mark Stone was acquired and the Golden Knights have won 10 of those 12 games. Prior to the deadline, Vegas was healthy for just 14 of the first 63 games (22%).

By healthy, I mean not missing any of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch (or Erik Haula), Nate Schmidt, Brayden McMabb, Deryk Engelland, and Shea Theodore.

In those 14 games, the Golden Knights won just five. They’ve played 48 of the 81 games without a top-six foward, and have won 26 of them. They’ve been without at least one of their four primary centers 38 times and won 19 of them. And they’ve been missing a top-four defenseman nine times and won four.

Going into this exercise (because of these two tweets), I was expecting to see a team that thrived when healthy and floundered when not. But that’s simply not the case. Instead, the Golden Knights have been basically the same under any circumstance. Except for one… since the beginning of “The Stone Age.”

They have a winning record when missing at least one top-six forward and are above a point per game when missing either a center or a top-four defenseman.

Looking at the roster, the Golden Knights appear to be fairly deep. Lose a top-six forward, you can plug in Brandon Pirri, Tomas Nosek, or hopefully Erik Haula. Lose a top-four D and Nick Holden, Colin Miller, or Jon Merrill can take the place. Go without a center and Tomas Nosek or Ryan Carpenter can fill the void.

This is all good news heading into the postseason, where injuries will inevitably happen. As of right now, with just one game left to play, the Golden Knights are about as healthy as a hockey team can be. Since getting Stone, that’s meant nothing but winning, hopefully, it continues starting next week.

Vegas Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept

**These are NOT real 3rd jerseys for the Golden Knights.**

Around the league many teams have unveiled “3rd Jerseys” this season. There are throwbacks like the Ducks and Coyotes, brand new designs like the Avalanche and Jets, and some slightly off the wall ones like the Hurricanes and Devils. You can see all 15 of them here.

The Golden Knights will NOT be getting a 3rd jersey this season and odds are it’s not even in the cards for next year either. However, eventually Adidas, the NHL, and The Creator will want to pick up a couple extra bucks and a 3rd jersey will be unveiled. With a little inspiration from the Drumbots and the Season Ticket Holder Box, we decided to take a stab at a concept.

These concepts were designed by Drew Goldfarb, former pre/postgame host for the Florida Panthers who has adopted the Golden Knights as his new team of choice.

So, without further ado, here is the “Vegas Born Golden Knights 3rd Jersey Concept.”

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Quite A Bit Of Pressure On Golden Knights To Gather Points On Road Trip

This guy is going to have to be much better if the Golden Knights are going to beat the Wild for the first time ever. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the schedule was first released it didn’t take most long to realize the quirk in the Golden Knights first 11 games of play. One at home, then five away, then five at home. Both the longest road trip and longest homestand, back-to-back to start out the season.

This odd schedule arrangement put the Golden Knights in a bit of a weird spot with seemingly more importance on the first game than normal. With a win, Vegas would head on the road already with two points in hand and really would only need a few points to stay afloat through the rigorous start to the year. However, they dropped Thursday night’s game and now stare at a five-game trip in which they really need to return with at least five points.

We knew we were a good team (last year), we know we’re a pretty good team again this year, but you got to get back to work. We have to work hard and play the game that we played last year. Tonight wasn’t a good start. -Gerard Gallant

Just look at the numbers. If the Golden Knights get anything less than five points, they’ll return home with just four or fewer in their first six games. Then, even if they sweep the five-game homestand, that’s still only 14 in 11, and that’s unlikely. It’s more likely they drop at least one of the five at home which would mean at best barely a point per game through an eighth of the season. Not a single time last season did the Golden Knights fail to put up at least 10 points in any 11 game stretch. A less than five point road trip would almost assure that to be the case in the first 11 this year.

I’m aware, I’m jumping ahead drastically after one game, but in the NHL, the standings are fickle. If you fall in a hole early, it’s incredibly tough to get out of it. It takes months to make up lost points, especially lost home points.

Road trips are always important to bring home as many points as you can, but we really can’t focus on anything but the next one. -Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

A win tonight in Minnesota basically erases the loss to Philly, but a loss, even in OT, would instantly put the Golden Knights behind the 8-ball staring at four more consecutive road games including a back-to-back in Washington and Pittsburgh.

Last year, when this team was faced with important games, they always found a way to get them (until the last four, but we’ll skip that for now). This isn’t exactly that scenario, but it’s surprisingly close due to the weird schedule. It’ll be interesting to see if the Must-Win-Golden-Knights still exist or if they were left behind in Year One.

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