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Vegas’ Salary Cap Management A Topic Around The League

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It hadn’t happened in 11 years, and it probably won’t happen for 11 more. The Golden Knights’ decision to only dress 15 skaters on Monday night in a critical game against the Colorado Avalanche was a bit of a shock. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon explained the situation and pointed towards unexpected injuries to several players at the same time. This left the organization without enough cap space to call up a player in time for Monday’s game. However, the explanation didn’t sit well with some in the hockey world.

Immediately after McCrimmon’s last minute Zoom conference, TSN’s Frank Seravalli challenged Vegas’ reasoning.

The TSN scribe laid out a season-long history of the Golden Knights front office navigating through the emergency recall rules and playing short. What was concerning about the salary cap gymnastics (as described by McCrimmon) was a handful of outcomes ended poorly for Vegas. In 14 regulation losses now this season, five were lost when the Golden Knights were without a full lineup. If Vegas had won one of those five games the 31st franchise would be measuring out space for their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy banner.

TSN Ottawa spent time yesterday demanding transparency and for the league to step in. Insider Pierre McGuire reminded them nothing will change anytime soon.

It’s hard to really answer but it’s hard not to agree with your point. It doesn’t look right obviously and it’s something that I think people need to look at long term. I’m not saying it’ll be fixed immediately but it’s something they need to look at long term. –Pierre McGuire on TSN Ottawa

Clearly bothered after Monday’s loss Vegas coach Pete DeBoer had his first real dustup with the media as Golden Knights coach. In his postgame press conference DeBoer only wanted to focus on the positives of the game. And who can blame him? His thin lineup outplayed the Colorado Avalanche in a losing effort. DeBoer has consistently said his aim was to win the division. Chances are he wasn’t thrilled with the list of unavailable players he was handed on Monday morning. It’s possible he took his frustrations out on the media but was truly aiming it towards the situation created by the front office.

To build a legitimate contender the Golden Knights front office found ways to work within the rules, maybe better than any other club. Deeply understanding cap management allowed Vegas to go out and spent money they didn’t really have last summer. Lets face it, Alex Pietrangelo has left a lot to be desired in his first season but thankfully his price tag won’t get in the way in the postseason. Juggling his colossal cap hit over the season only impacted five results. If he performs like an $8.8M player in the postseason, overpaying a 32-year-old defenseman won’t look as bad.

When we get to Thursday, there is no salary cap. That will be a welcome change for our coaches and our group to have access to the entire lineup. I really like the 17 players that are playing tonight. Do I wish it was 20 players? Of course. Success isn’t generally a straight line, it doesn’t come without hardships and challenges. -McCrimmon

In my opinion, the Golden Knights front office may have strategically cut corners but they didn’t break any current rules. They pushed the cap this summer understanding they only needed to crunch the numbers 56 times. A few losses due to lineup shuffling was only part of the bigger picture. However, it was unfortunate the severest of salary cap snafus popped up for the most important game of the season game.

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40 Comments

  1. Daryl

    VGK management is doing everything they can to buy a Cup… They still missed out on the most important position they needed

    • Scott Yardley

      And more than likely they still won’t win!

    • Daryl – how come everyone with any grain of sense knows you can’t buy the CUP. Why Vegas mgt thinks they can prove that fact wrong is beyond comprehension, It is just plain stupidly

    • Howard

      Ya Daryl – they wasted money on a Dman they needed like a hole in a head, and Pekka Rinne JR, instead of signing 2 quality centers.

      Some other guy on here thinks Lehner ‘earned’ to play in playoffs? LOLOL. From which softie he gave up?

      As I said, go with Lehner in playoffs, guaranteed no Cup. Stick with MAF, got a chance.

      $5M per for a guy no one else wanted to sign to term. $8.8M per for a DMAN who is good, but not something NEEDED to the point you hamstring yourself cap wise.

      As I’ve mentioned before – someone name me a Cup winner AFTER they signed a DMAN to term and a big annual per, GO… (Chara got big deal after Boston won a Cup)

  2. Vic

    Nice write up Jason. The team has been a blessing for us since day one, but the cap management has made this season frustrating for the players and coaches to say the least. I can make a strong argument that Nate would have helped the team more than Petro, but no need for that analysis which is obvious to most. The dual goalie situation is the other sharp stick in the eye contributing to the mess. Ironic that the team played one of their best games of the year with one hand tied behind their back. Let’s hope the boys stay healthy versus SJ tonight and then prepare for how to win the first round which is a tall order as the VGK are neither peaking nor healthy. Maybe we can use some Bob Baffert medicine for the boys?

    • THE hockey GOD

      ?”Maybe we can use some Bob Baffert medicine for the boys?” lol Vic. I posted the same thing yesterday !!

      Bob Baffert is THE MAN !

  3. THE hockey GOD

    Spot on Jason, also see Granger’s article on same topie.

    Not to mention that they completely f’d up Peyton Krebs development by playing him way too early in his career with the big boys, and not to mention the coaching staff boneheaded strategy for putting him a finesse player in front of net when that is clearly not his forte !

    VGK GMGM and Co GM are laughing stock of NHL right now.

    First team in nearly ten years to play a 15 man squad.

    There is no depth in this expansion team coffers to fill the gaps now.

    Their playoff season is likely, unfortunately, going to come to a swift quick bittersweet end unless their goalie(s) somehow manage to stand on their heads.

    I expect more close checking games like last one. The Wild will try to run and gun. Who will win that one ?

    • Howard

      THE hockey GOD.. MAF is capable of standing on his head. Pekka Jr. is capable to giving up numerous Pekka Rinne styled softies.

      Sadly, you are right about Krebs. I looked over replay, he was in fact in poor position and that’s from inexperience.

      VGK did a great job in year one drafting and trading for right guys – credit deserved. Stone trade – credit deserved. Their other moves have been either mediocre, or flat out bad.

      Same mistake a lot of NHL front offices make – they never think long term and overpay, hamstring themselves so… When VGK current really good players get older and/or leave, VGK will end up a perennial playoff misser and T-Mobile will be half full.

      • THE hockey GOD

        i hear ya Howard loud and clear !

        keep up the good work

        c ya in the PLAYOFFS !!

  4. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    Nice write up uncle! ha

    The McGMs have tied the hands of the players this year, but they have fought on all year. Mondays game was an example of the fight and heart they have.

    We need the 2 pts tonight. The rest will work itself out.

    Lehner has made his claim to be in there in playoffs.

    Flurey needs to make his claim with a good effort.

    • EK

      MAF has done more than enough this season to prove he deserves to be the starter for the playoffs. He doesn’t need to prove anything tonight.

      • Julie

        Absolutely right. MAF already earned it. Someone was griping a bit ago about how come no one talks about the soft goals Fleury has let in, but just a few days ago the one from KK was mentioned. They only thing left out out of the conversation was that Fleury has a record for winning.

        • Howard

          Every goalie gives up softies from time to time, and has bad games. MAF is consistently good, Pekka Junior is PEKKA – consistently inconsistent – like Pekka, he’s either great or piss-poor. Pekka will never win a Cup and neither will Lehner – MAF has won 3..

          It’s a blueprint for failure to continue to rotate net-minders in the playoffs. This is why MAF should have started the other night against COL.

          I understand they wanted to give Lehner a shot against COL, but that was most important game of the year. For me, this isn’t NHL stuff where you earn it. This is front office ego who because they spent that money on Lehner, their ego is coming first here. Fine if it works out, but if not, there will be years of VGK missing playoffs because of it.

  5. Tim

    This is our team and for better or worse we’ve got to move forward. From my point of view we play well have made the playoffs for 4 years first year we make the finales. Without a bad call we would have made the West finales in year two. Year 3 Dallas shut us down with awesome goaltending. This year we either win or come within 2 points of winning the President’s trophy. I like to enjoy what we’ve done and I see us making the playoffs for a while. This illusion of winning the Stanley Cup at all cost as nice as it would be probably won’t happen. I’ll stay with what we have and do some tinkering. I for one appreciate Bill Foley, our management team, coaches, and players, and the best game experience and fans in the NHL. What more do you want?

    • Mike StG

      Tim, my sentiments almost exactly. My only slight difference of opinion revolves around “winning the cup at all costs”. I think with how close they came in Year 1 they felt a few stellar additions could take them over the top. I really believe that Foley’s age has a lot to do with their decisions. He’s not a young man, his son recently died of cancer(?). Who knows how long he has left? He obviously wants to win now, and it’s at least a realistic possibility with the solid core they had and Fleury still playing at a very high level. I don’t fault him or GMKM for going down that path. After all, it’s HIS team. Shouldn’t he have the right to do what he wants, be as aggressive or patient as he wants to be? I feel like you – happy and appreciative that we have a good team that’s fun to watch and brings a lot of excitement and joy to the community. There are no guarantees. Even the best teams are given less than 10% chance of taking home the cup. So let’s enjoy the ride!

      • Tim

        Hey Mike watch what you say Bill Foley and I are the same age don’t put us under the grass yet. Your right I’m sure he wants to win one but I don’t think we have enough firepower and if Patch is out I’d say that lowers our chances considerably.

  6. Blitz

    Good write up Jason! VGK management sold the farm to build the team that have now. At this point it is what it is. We need a win tonight and pray to (THE hockey) God the Avs come up short a game. They are running without Mackinnon for the last two games. Interesting he came back for a game after missing two and then will miss the two after. Perhaps he (and the AVS) realized what VGK didn’t, IT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF THE YEAR!

    • Blitz – the sadist part concerning the game which could have netted them the division and the pressure trophy is they were the better team for the majority of the evening unfortunately they weren’t rewarded for their effort. A lucky goal and an unucky miss was the ball game. They will win tonight and hopefully LA plays the spoiler against the Avs – stranger things have happened no one ever thought the kids would beat the Russians in lake placid. Time for another Miracle on ice. The only bunch who should be ashamed of mondays loss is the front office. – the players did all they could to win under very difficult circumstances and hopefully are walking proud.

      • Julie

        HD, I am also feeling good about VGK tonight. :). You are right, the team did outstanding last game despite bad decisions.

        • Howard

          Julie – because for all his faults, Deboer teaches and gets his guys to buy into strong backchecking, and taking blocks. In this regard, he’s a great coach. His faults are being wishy-washy in his decisions and stubborn to make adjustments – we saw that last year.

          Kept shooting blueline shots at goal rather than shooting the corners and crashing net. In other words, Pete is bad at in-game adjustments in the playoffs, but good everywhere else.

      • Howard

        U think AVS got lucky when they tip a soft shot under a goalie who wasn’t down in the correct position to make a routine save? Not a lucky goal, just another typical Pekka JR. brain fart – very poor goaltending, not luck.

        • Howard – just trying g to be kind we all know mgt made another huge error with Lehner. Can’t blame him for having vegas mgt provde him his retirement. If you go back and check you would notice l have questioned the Lehner deal from the very beginning. Our boy Fleury should have been in the net Monday l think the outcome would have been different but unfortunately we will never know. Mgt screwed the team over by their decisions but it is what it is.

    • THE hockey GOD

      @blitz
      l
      they going to need more than prayers ! they will need a MIRACLE and perhaps parting of RED SEA. Maybe Moses is available for the next month?

      Mackinnon wasn’t flying as he usually does. My old team the LA KINGS will come play them tough.

      You can bet YOUR life on that !

      Yes I agree, VGK management thew out the baby WITH the bath water !!

      Probably will find both in subterranean tunnels that within the bowels of the City. Was going to say SKID ROW but that is district in LA, been there once- NEVER AGAIN.

      GO KNIGHTS !! Keep the faith !

      • Howard

        Marcel, is that you? (your old team?)

        • THE hockey GOD

          no i played goalie, and some D, a long long time ago- took too many pucks (and sticks) to the head.

          and I am still pissed off that he (Dionne) dissed Detroit.

          I have a long memory for that sort of thing.

  7. Knights did not bring up Cody Glass to play tonight? Should they have?

    • THE hockey GOD

      i would have liked to have seen Glass, maybe there was a salary cap issue

      every time they bring someone up I am going to say maybe there was a salary cap issue.

      I think they have one FULL TIME employee who just sits in their office 24/7 in charge of “salary cap issue”. For simplicity let’s call him Leo Bloom (the accountant from THE PRODUCERS who sold 1100% of shares in interest of play called Springtime for Hitler and Germany, a sure flop that didn’t). Leo crunches the numbers. He’s a number cruncher. He sits in dark , dank cubicle (not an office) in the bowels of City National Arena. And he oddly looks like Gene Wilder.

  8. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    I don’t think anyone said Flurey has to “prove” anything.

    But, like in most sports, it’s “what have you done for me lately”.

    Both our goalies WILL play in the playoffs ….. BUT:

    I personally feel that Flurey most likely will be the game 1 starter ….. unless:

    He has a bad game tonight. ie: 4-5 goals against and/or 2 of those soft goals everyone talks about. So, basically I think it’s his to lose.

    • Howard

      Please name me an NHL team who won a Cup rotating goaltenders in the playoffs – GO. It’s a total blueprint for failure. U choose one of them and stick with them unless they get hurt or just play horribly.

  9. DOC (Go Knights Go)

    God, going to have to listen to this goalie BS some more!

    So funny, doesn’t mean a thing!

    Good for some laughs though!

    • Daryl

      Not sure why? MAF just gave another shutout so no reason for them to even consider playing Lehner except for a back to back game…. Similar to last year just reversed

    • Julie

      Yes, your posts are certainly funny!

      • Daryl

        My friends and I email each other every day laughing over his posts

  10. james Regdos

    Nobody wins the Stanley cup after winning the presidents cup. To complain about the owner spending money is on top players is ridiculous. Thank God we have an owner who wants to win. We have a great team again year after year

    • Daryl

      We have an owner who wants to spend money on top players we don’t need. They are trying to buy a Cup it that doesn’t work

      • Rob S.

        “We have an owner who wants to spend money on top players we don’t need.” Wow! That’s your take? There are a dozen franchises in the league where the fans wish the owner gave enough of a crap to try to build a better team. Yeah, Foley is a terrible owner. /sarc

        • Daryl

          WOW! Yeah that is my take. When was the last time a team won the Cup when trying to buy it? VGK needed a Center more than anything else so they went out and bought a defenseman. I’m OK with them getting Lehner but they should of had a deal already in place for MAF. Mft only got lucky they couldn’t get rid of him. But again, there were other more important needs when they picked up Lehner

          • Mike StG

            Daryl, all this talk of buying a cup is a myth. If you have an aging or crap team, what do you do? You break it down and rebuild, right? When you have a good team and have been close several years what do you do? Add pieces, right? How is that trying to buy a cup? Every cup contender is at or near the cap. Did you forget in 2018 they brought in Stastny for 2 years, hoping Glass would develop and eventually fill that role? Stastny was the next best center available after Tavares, and they signed him. So he never really gave them the upgraded play they needed, but they DID sign him, right? Who else has been out there available as an elite UFA center? No one. Why? Because elite centers are drafted and developed, not signed in FA. Maybe Eichel will be available for trade this offseason, but I wouldn’t take that “ne’er do well” and his $10M contract for all the tea in China. Plus a team will have to give up a lot in high quality prospects and players to make that deal. You guys act like elite centers grow on trees. Just run down the list of truly elite centers in the NHL and tell me who has been available as UFA or by trade? Other than Tavares? Zip. Nada. We haven’t had a real shot at drafting an elite C after Glass (who isn’t panning out as #6 pick), and that’s because the team hasn’t sucked. If you want an elite C then you should wish for VGK to be a bottom feeder so they can HOPEFULLY get lucky in the draft lottery and get a top 2 or 3 pick. No guarantees there either. The last and only draft lottery pick we got was #6.

          • Daryl

            @Mike,
            So, elite Centers are developed but every other elite position is bought? That is good to know. While there may not have been a #1 center available, there were several Centers that could have been picked up. Staal was one of them. He would have benefited this team more than Petra does. That is not a negative towards Petra. There were a few other #2 or even #3 Centers out there VGK could have picked up. But it’s hard to do when you spend so much money on a Dman, while good, isn’t what the team needs. Same can be said with goalie situation. If they didn’t sign Lehner until they had a deal set up for MAF, they shouldn’t have signed him. Are you really telling me with the money spend on those two alone, they couldn’t have found a very good Center, even if he is only a #2?

            You mention Traverse, but what about Granlund, Staal as I already mentioned, Haula, Glendening (3rd/4th line but wins FO). There were also several Forwards, who have played Center, which were available. Getting a better forward would have been more beneficial than getting another Dman

    • THE hockey GOD

      the prez cup is so jinxed I don’t think when they present a single player on ice bothers to touch it.

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