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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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Golden Knights With The Most To Gain/Lose With The Coaching Change

Somehow almost every player I picked ended up in this picture. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Often times when teams swap coaches they see a shift in usage among players on the roster. Some guys see dramatic upticks in their ice time while others watch their’s decrease or even diminish entirely.

Of course, we still don’t know who the next coach will be, but we do know who benefitted most from Pete DeBoer’s system and who didn’t. So, here are the four players with the most to gain and the four with the most to lose as the Golden Knights switch coaches.

Most To Gain

William Karlsson

It’s no secret Karlsson’s best days in the NHL were under Gerard Gallant. The forecheck-reliant, free-flowing, transition-heavy style fit Karlsson’s game perfectly. Not only was he at his best offensively, but he and his line of Misfits were always the best defensive line as well. Under DeBoer, it often felt like Karlsson was overthinking the game which led to hesitancy in the offensive zone in favor of making the “right” play to keep them safe defensively. This seemed to sap his confidence which has proven to be a huge factor in Karlsson’s success. The new coach will likely improve his power play numbers as well. In his first two seasons in Vegas, Karlsson notched 15 PP goals in 164 games. The last three years, he had five in 186.

Jack Eichel

It’s not like Eichel struggled under DeBoer, he clearly didn’t, but there’s a pretty good chance a new coach will tailor his system more to Eichel’s skillset than we saw from DeBoer. Center was a demanding position defensively under DeBoer, and that simply isn’t Eichel’s strong suit. He’s likely to be matched with at least one stellar defensive winger, which under a less defensive-minded system could free up Eichel in the offensive zone. Also, there’s a good chance the new coach is less reliant on working the puck from low to high which very well may unleash more of Eichel’s creativity.

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Hero vs Heel: VGK Swapped Roles, Now Do They Need To Swap Back?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Down the stretch of the regular season, there was a common refrain from most hockey fans, (four-letter word) the Golden Knights.

It seemed like everyone outside of the Vegas fan base was openly, and strongly, rooting against the Golden Knights, almost finding the adversity VGK were facing to be comical. Whether it was tweets directly from other teams or Twitter accounts banding together, it was definitely in vogue to cheer for anyone else in the Western Conference.

The Golden Knights took notice.

Everyone does, everyone roots against us, but it’s all about the guys that we have in that locker room, the ones we battle with. There’s nothing much else you can do. -Shea Theodore

But they still aren’t exactly sure why.

It’s a great question, I have no idea. -Theodore

I’m sad to think of (how the perception has changed.) We would see the last few games that the whole NHL was rooting against us. It’s sad to think that but it’s not necessarily because of one person that it happened like that. It’s just an accumulation of a few things that people were just irritated with us. -Jonathan Marchessault

Usually it’s something players shrug off as uncontrollable and in many ways unimportant, but when you look at the shift in perception from the Expansion team that reached the Cup final to the Year 5 team that miss the playoffs, it’s impossible to ignore.

The question becomes, is it healthy, is it helpful, and can it be harnessed?

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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

City Of Las Vegas Garners Most Attention In 2022 NHLPA Player Poll

Sine 2017, the NHL Players’ Association releases a poll of hockey and non-hockey related questions answered by around 500 players. Vegas players have been mentioned in categories such as “best goalie,” “best trash talker,” “best golfer,” and “toughest player.” The team has also garnered attention for “best jersey,” “best ice,” and “best arena” in the past.

In 2020, Golden Knights players or the team were mentioned in the poll seven times. Last year they hit the board just once with Marc-Andre Fleury.

This year, there are three mentions of the Golden Knights and/or the city of Las Vegas.

Maybe the Vegas Flu still does exist as 158 different players voted for Las Vegas as the best city to spend an off day. (The other 358 are wrong.)

T-Mobile continues to impress with ice conditions being listed each time the question has been offered to the players. Back in 2019, however, T-Mobile received the most votes getting 42.5%, this year it dipped to just 5.8%.

And then there’s the lettuce. Karlsson in 2nd, two former Golden Knights also on the board. Gotta love it.

Here’s a link to the full poll. (There’s a “select year” dropdown on that page if you would like to see previous versions.)

Commanding Win In Calgary Only Matters If It Continues On In Edmonton

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last night in Alberta the Golden Knights were dominant. Despite falling behind 1-0 on a power play goal, Vegas slowly but surely dismantled one of the best teams in the league, the Calgary Flames.

They did it by playing the way that has made them successful each of the past few seasons. Even though they tallied six goals in the game, it was the defensive game that led the charge. Starting with the coverage in the defensive zone, extending to the gap control at the blue line, and finishing with consistent responsible play through the neutral zone and in the offensive zone, the Golden Knights made life difficult on the Flames all over the ice.

No matter the roster, the best versions of the Golden Knights since Pete DeBoer took over have been defensive stalwarts. They snuff out chances before they ever happen and in doing so it feeds a transition game that is one of the most deadly in the NHL. Far too often this year, mistakes have led to breakdowns all over the ice which leads to goals against and struggling offensive consistency. Last night, while not quite mistake-free, was as close to a perfect effort as you’ll find in a road game against a division-leading opponent.

By playing that way, Vegas was able to draw multiple penalties which led to a pair of goals on or right after the ensuing power play, and it caused a usually under control Flames team to press for offense, leading to loads of turnovers and excellent chances going the other way.

But it’s just one game, and at this point, it remains an outlier among a 75-game season that has been marred by inconsistency. Vegas has played excellent defensive games in the past, including recently against Nashville, a March game against Los Angeles, and probably the best defensive output of the year a game at Washington in January. Unfortunately, Vegas backed each and every one of those games up with a letdown the following time out.

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Kevin Iole’s Deadline Blueprint

This season, diehard VGK fan and legendary combat sports columnist Kevin Iole will be delivering columns a few times a month on usually on Sundays. Today, Kevin lays out what he believes is the correct course of action for the Golden Knights at this deadline.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The trading deadline is Monday and in the first four years of the VGK’s existence, it was a joyous time. We were like children waking up on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree.

There was no question that the Golden Knights were going to add at the deadline in any of those four seasons. The question was how big would they go?

This season figured to be no different. But then, the Knights have gone 11-14-4 since Jan. 1 and just completed an 0-5 road trip largely against the dregs of the league. The win against Florida last night was great, but it doesn’t change what has happened over the course of the last three months.

This time, the trading deadline arrives and the Knights are a team in disarray, no longer a Stanley Cup contender and perhaps a team that may play its way into the draft lottery.

The deadline will still come, and it’s clear the VGK need a lot of work — for next season. The bulk of that can be done in the summer, but this trade deadline can give it a start.

Here are moves I would make if I were Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon to help fortify the team for a run at the 2023 Stanley Cup:

1. Shut down Alec Martinez for the remainder of the season: There is something seriously wrong with the guy, and it goes well beyond getting cut in the face by a skate in November. Nobody in the game is tougher than Martinez, and the fact he’s not playing five months later is an ominous sign.

This season is lost; even if they somehow miraculously sneak into the playoffs, they’re not winning the Stanley Cup this year. So shut down Martinez for the remainder of the year and hope he comes back in September fully health.

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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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Analyzing Usage Changes With Jack Eichel In VGK’s Lineup

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

As expected, the moment Jack Eichel stepped into the Golden Knights lineup, certain things would change.

The most obvious was his role as top-line center which left Chandler Stephenson in need of a new position. At first, that was on Eichel’s left wing, but the last two games it’s been as 3C.

The next spot was on the power play. Eichel stepped right in on the half-wall to the goalie’s right on Vegas’ #1 unit. He’s played with a few different groups of players, and it appears they have found the right mix after Eichel’s game-winning snipe with 5.2 seconds left on the clock last night.

But one spot that may go under-recognized is the shift in usage that Eichel’s introduction to the lineup has caused. In his nine games as a Golden Knight, Eichel has seen just 30.3% of his shifts begin in the defensive zone. He’s taken 29 of his 115 faceoffs in the defensive zone, which has led to an increase in defensive responsibility for others.

The main group of “others” who have been shouldering that load has been The Misfits, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault.

Karlsson leads the team with 65 defensive zone draws taken since the Colorado game on February 16th, Eichel’s first. In fact, no one else is even close to Karlsson as Eichel, Stephenson, and Nic Roy, the next three in line, have combined for 81.

Prior to Eichel’s arrival, Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith each started about 54% of their shifts in the offensive zone. With it, they each posted a Corsi right around 55%. In the nine games with Eichel, The Misfits are all under 45% offensive zone starts (Karlsson’s is 43%), with their Corsi numbers staying about the same as a group.

Simply put, they’ve been asked to take on the brunt of the defensive work and they’ve still been able to thrive offensively, especially in the second game against Colorado, the two against San Jose and one in Anaheim.

It’s also heavily affected Alex Pietrangelo’s usage. Instead of spending most of his time playing with the top-six as he did prior to Eichel’s arrival, he’s seeing more time with the depth group. To this point, it has had a pretty significant effect on his production as he’s been on the ice for just five goals in the previous nine games, which equates to 1.85 per 60 minutes. In the 46 games before Eichel, Pietrangelo was on the ice for 2.69 goals per 60 minutes, nearly a full goal more.

Eichel and Pietrangelo have shared the ice for 47:43 in the nine games they’ve played together and the Golden Knights have yet to score or be scored against with the pair out there. In Eichel’s 83:48 without Pietrangelo though, he’s been on the ice for six goals for and just two against.

In the time they’ve played together, they’ve taken 24 offensive zone draws compared to just 11 defensive, yet they have been outshot significantly (23-15), have allowed eight high-danger chances while creating just three, and have a 41% expected goals share. All of these numbers are better for both Eichel and Pietrangelo when they’ve been away from each other.

Obviously, it’s only been nine games, so the sample sizes are limited across the board. But the early returns have shown that Pete DeBoer has taken an approach of lessening Eichel’s defensive responsibilities early on in exchange for upping the pressure in different areas on Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, and Pietrangelo.

It’s worked for some, it hasn’t for others.

Who Is Vegas’ Most Indispensable Player?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This week ESPN chose one player from each NHL team that they deemed indispensable, the “Worldwide Leader” made a surprising choice for the Golden Knights’ most vital performer.

Most indispensable: Chandler Stephenson

We may not have pegged Stephenson as the Golden Knights’ top-line center or leading goal scorer when the season started. But here he is, having a terrific year. He’s averaging a point per game and the most ice time of any Vegas forward. On a team that stumbled out of the gate, Stephenson has been an irreplaceable player helping to keep the Golden Knights afloat.- ESPN.com

It’s hard to argue Stephenson’s value this season. The seven-year veteran is having a career season, leading Vegas in points, shooting percentage (50 shot minimum), and faceoff wins. Overall, Stephenson has been essential to the team’s turnaround since their early 1-4 start.

As a point-per-game player, the highly productive center anchored the top six when Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and William Karlsson were on the mend. In the games that his two linemates were absent, Stephenson emerged as Vegas’ go-to for much-needed offense. Since the season began the Golden Knights are 7-3 when he scores.

As steady as Stephenson has been, ESPN is way off. Here are players more indispensable than Stephenson.

Alex Pietrangelo

Most Golden Knights fans are in agreement that Pietrangelo became Vegas’ most impactful player since last postseason. The former captain led his new team in postseason time on ice, shots, power play points, and is second in total points behind William Karlsson. In 31 appearances this season, the Golden Knights are 13-4 when the defenseman registers a point. Since the postseason, much of Vegas’ offense flows through the experienced defenseman.

To be fair to the critics, Pietrangelo is frequently on the ice for goals scored by the opposition, but it’s inevitable when he skates 25+ minutes per game. The alternate captain has been on the ice for 32 even-strengthened goals which is 9th worst in the NHL. However, Pietrangelo is 4th best in the league for being on the ice when his team scores. You know which Golden Knight follows Pietrangelo in those columns? You guessed it, Stephenson.

On Ice Even-Strength Goals For

  1. Pietrangelo 38
  2. Stephenson 38
  3. Hague 37
  4. Theodore 31
  5. Smith 29

On Ice Even-Strength Goals Against

  1. Pietrangelo 32
  2. Stephenson 28
  3. Hague 28
  4. Smith 25
  5. Marchessault 25

I understand deep stats overwhelmingly disregard the 31-year-old’s impact so this comes down to a simple eye test. Pietrangelo is more indispensable.

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