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Old 03-26-2017, 08:53 PM   #1
dannibalcorpse
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What Happens In Vegas: A Golden Knights Story

So, I'll be running a Golden Knights franchise that starts in the 2017-18 season. Since the expansion will be two teams, taking the NHL to 32 clubs, Vegas will be joined by the brand new Seattle Metropolitans, playing at the Key Arena in Seattle.

First, a quick run down of what happened in the 2016-17 season.

-The Chicago Blackhawks are your new Stanley Cup champions, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4 games to 1 in the final. Patrick Kane took home the Conn Smythe trophy.

-The Washington Capitals took home the President's Trophy with a 58-17-7 season, and their dominance was shown across the league's leaderboards & awards. Alex Ovechkin's 58 goals and 99 points were enough to grab him the Rocket Richard & Art Ross trophies; Braden Holtby took home the Vezina & Jennings awards. Other award winners were Drew Doughty (Norris), Auston Matthews (Calder), Patrice Bergeron (Selke), and, surprisingly, Sidney Crosby took home the Hart.

-The New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery and selected Nolan Patrick first overall. The rest of the top 5 was Nico Hischier (COL), Gabe Vilardi (WPG), Casey Mittelstadt (VAN), and Cal Foote (BUF).

Now that we're up to speed, the teams will be submitting their protected lists, and the two new franchises will be filling their rosters! A maximum of 35 players can be selected by either team, and of course, the Golden Knights & Metropolitans will be active in free agency as well. Stay tuned for the draft results!
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:16 PM   #2
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The expansion draft results are in! 35 players picked by each team in four phases - three rounds of goalie picks, 10 defencemen rounds, 17 forward rounds, and 5 wildcard rounds where any remaining unprotected players are eligible to be taken. Once the draft was over, here is how the two new teams shook out. Let's take a look at the NHL rosters first:

GOALIES:
Vegas: Craig Anderson (OTT), Antti Raanta (NYR)
Seattle: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), Keith Kinkaid (NJD)

DMEN:
Vegas: T.J. Brodie (CAL), Ian Cole (LAK), Nikita Zadorov (COL), Julius Honka (DAL), Jordan Subban (VAN)

Seattle: Andrej Sekera (EDM), Jack Johnson (CBJ), Jared Spurgeon (MIN), Fedor Tyutin (COL), Ron Hainsey (CAR), Jake McCabe (BUF)

FORWARDS:
Vegas: Evander Kane (BUF), Ondrej Palat (RFA-TB), Jason Dickinson (DAL), Adam Henrique (NJD), Jakob Silfverberg (ANA), Jon Marchessault (FLA), Lars Eller (WAS), Markus Granlund (VAN), Joseph Blandisi (NJD), Nic Petan (WPG), Frankie Vatrano (BOS), Frederick Gaudreau (NSH), Alan Quine (NYI)

Seattle: Martin Hanzal (ARZ), Scott Hartnell (CBJ), Patrick Marleau (SJS), Alexander Radulov (TOR), Vladislav Kamenev (NSH), Andrew Ladd (NYI), Patrick Eaves (DAL), Michael Grabner (NYR), Jason Zucker (MIN), William Karlsson (CBJ), Nikita Scherbak (MTL), Connor Brown (TOR), Paul Byron (MTL), Conor Sheary (RFA-PIT), Richard Panik (CHI), Tobias Rieder (ARZ), Patrick Maroon (EDM)

Vegas focused on getting more younger players in the expansion draft, with former top prospects Ivan Barbashev, Frederik Gauthier, Oliver Kylington, Chase de Leo, and more populating their AHL team in Lowell. Seattle seems to have focused more on players that it can eventually flip to other teams for future building blocks.

In other news, Vegas GM Dan Hampton announced several July 1 free agent signings: star defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk signed with Vegas on a 6 yr/$41.1M contract with a no-movement clause; RW Tyler Johnson left the Tampa Bay Lightning to sign a 3 yr/$14.25M contract with an NMC as well; and lastly, former Islander Dennis Seidenberg signed a one year, $1.8M contract to provide a solid veteran presence on the blue line. GM Hampton said the team's focus the rest of the summer would be to grab some younger depth players to fill out their AHL roster and provide some solid injury insurance. Before you know it, it'll be time for training camp and the first game for the brand new Golden Knights!
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Old 03-26-2017, 11:38 PM   #3
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With training camp and pre-season done, the puck is about to drop on the first game for the brand new Vegas Golden Knights! Coach Luke Richardson was pleased with his team's 4-3-0 preseason, especially with the fact that the team came through unscathed. "We all know wins and losses in the preseason don't matter, but it was nice to come through with a winning record and seeing the guys gel together. We're ready to hit the ice running and prove to everyone that we're not just gonna be another easy W on their schedule" were Richardson's parting words on his weekly radio spot on KXST sports talk radio.

On the eve of their first official game in team history, the team's lines are shaping up as such:

Ondrej Palat - Adam Henrique (C) - Tyler Johnson (A)
Evander Kane - Lars Eller - Jakob Silfverberg
Joseph Blandisi - Markus Granlund - Jon Marchessault
Nic Petan - Jason Dickinson - Austin Watson

Kevin Shattenkirk - T.J. Brodie (A)
Dennis Seidenberg - Jordan Subban
Ian Cole - Julius Honka

Scratches: Alan Quine, Nick Spaling, Nikita Zadorov

Craig Anderson will be starting in goal on opening night, with Antti Raanta backing up. We'll check back with the team in a few weeks to see how their first 20 games shape up!
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Old 03-27-2017, 03:29 PM   #4
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The first 20 games of the Golden Knights’ existence have been pretty surprising for an expansion team - Vegas sits at 10-9-1 with an opening night 1-0 win over Nashville, and big wins over the Kings & Blackhawks in the first quarter of the season.

The team has been getting contributions across all lines - Jakob Silfverberg leads the team with 13 points, and is tied with Evander Kane at 6 for the team lead in goals. Silfverberg is shooting an eye-popping 18.8% to start the year, so some regression might be in store for him, but it’s definitely worth noting that all of his points have come at even strength. T.J. Brodie leads the team with 9 assists, and the biggest surprise might be Jordan Subban’s 2-6-8 line in his first 12 NHL games ever, not to mention the strong possession numbers P.K.’s younger brother has been showing (3.55 GF/60 v 1.78 GA, 34.6 SF/60 v. 24.3 against) Subban hasn’t played in all 20 games, as Coach Luke Richardson has been cycling through his 7 defensemen and trying to keep them all fresh - a good idea with the way the injury bug has bit this team early on. Evander Kane, Kevin Shattenkirk, T.J. Brodie, & Adam Henrique have all missed time due to various nagging injuries, but the team has been happy with the work the younger, less-heralded players have been giving.

Coach Richardson is running a defense-heavy scheme with a conservative offense, leading to the higher percentage shots and less risks being taken offensively, and focusing on disciplined defensive play from his young d-corps. Richardson has had high praise for goalie Antti Raanta so far - even surprising most observers by going with his gut and naming Raanta the opening night starter. Antti has repaid his coach’s faith to the tune of a 7-4-1 record with 2 shutouts, a 2.24 GAA, and .918 save percentage - numbers necessary due to the struggles out of the gate for Craig Anderson (3-5-0, 2.93, .893).

Taking a tour around the league, the teams are getting used to a new wrinkle in the standings this year - the league has gone to a new scoring system for wins! Teams will receive 3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for an overtime/shootout win, 1 point for an overtime/shootout loss, and 0 points for a regulation loss. The league’s reasoning was to give teams incentive to pull out a win in regulation and add some drama to the late season playoff race. So far this year, Chicago has made the most of that new rule, with 14 of their 15 wins coming in regulation and the team racking up 44 points in their first 18 games, including a 12-0-0 record at home! Sidney Crosby carried a scoring streak from the 2016-17 season and ran it up to 19 straight games with a point before being held scoreless; but that’s been a rarity for the Kid this year, as he’s rung up 17 goals and 30 points already. Drew Doughty leads the league in assists at the quarter pole, with 20, and Corey Crawford’s 13 wins and 5 shutouts have carried the Blackhawks to their hot start.

We’ll check back with Vegas at the halfway point of the season - let’s see how the team reacts to its injuries, and if some of their early season surprises can keep up the pace!
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Old 03-27-2017, 04:02 PM   #5
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We’ve hit the midway point of the inaugural Golden Knights season and the team is still exceeding expectations under rookie NHL coach Luke Richardson. The team stands at 20-20-1 at the midway point, and has seen contributions from up and down the lineup.

Leading the team with 18 goals is the team’s first free-agent signing, and the franchise’s first captain, Tyler Johnson. Johnson also shares the team lead in points with Jakob Silfverberg (12-15-27). While that may seem like a low number to lead a team at the halfway point, the true depth of the team shines through when you look at the main roster of 21 skaters, only four of them have less than 10 points at the midway point. T.J. Brodie continues to lead the time in ice time (24:16 per night) and assists (23), and marquee offseason addition Kevin Shattenkirk came back from a 7 game absence to continue his strong two-way play. The biggest disappointment, if you could call it that, would be the offensive production of Ondrej Palat - coming off a 23-40-63 season in Tampa, Palat has struggled to a 6-14-20 mark at the halfway point. However, Coach Richardson seems confident that Palat will turn it around in the second half, and his paltry 6.7% shooting does point to a possible bounce back.

The goalie situation has stabilized somewhat, as Craig Anderson has worked hard to bring his record up to 12-16-0, with a 2.94 GAA, .899 SV%, and 2 shutouts; Antti Raanta continues to push for the starting job, going 8-4-1 with a .918 SV% and a 2.28 GAA.

Meanwhile, down in Lowell, the Golden Knights’ AHL charges have run out to a 21-13-5 start. Ivan Barbashev has spent the campaign proving he belongs with the big club, going 20-29-49 and leading the AHL in assists and points (he’s 2nd in goals, to boot!) His linemate, center Chase De Leo, has also shown a deft scoring tough, putting up a line of 13-24-37 and leading a dangerous power play unit. The glut of young defenders that GM Dan Hampton picked up in the expansion draft have done well but no one has really stood head above shoulders amongst them; Oliver Kylington earned some NHL time when Shattenkirk went down earlier in the year but he’s the only one to have seen action with the parent club so far. Goalie Malcolm Subban has been a steady hand, going 13-6-3 with a 2.72 GAA and .910 SV%. Checking in on some ECHL prospects, Anthony Beauregard, a 22 year old RW signed in the offseason, has 12 goals and 21 assists in 33 games for the Reno Raiders, and Jeremy Brodeur has acquitted himself nicely in goal, going 9-6-1 with a .889 SV% in the notoriously high-scoring ECHL.

Around the big league, the Blackhawks continue their dominant season, with their record standing at 33-6-2, and the team having a 12 point cushion in the Presidents’ Trophy race at the halfway point. They’ve been nearly unbeatable at home - their only blemish on their 22-0-1 home record was a shootout loss to the Blues in the 6th round of shooters. Sidney Crosby leads the league with 32 goals, while Connor McDavid’s 41 assists have helped him top the Art Ross race with 61 points. Meanwhile Corey Crawford is seemingly running away with the Vezina race, leading all goalies with 31 wins, a 1.56 GAA, and an amazing 12 shutouts in his 37 starts.

Trade-wise, there haven’t been many moves - the biggest deals so far have been the Islanders trading prospect Taylor Cammarata to the Sharks for their new starting goalie, Aaron Dell; the Rangers trading Dan Girardi away to Seattle, who immediately flipped him to Edmonton for a draft pick; and the Flyers and Predators swapping Radko Gudas and Craig Smith. With plenty of time between now and the trading deadline, including the Olympic break in February, we’re sure to see some big names moving around soon - rumor has it the Kings are looking to move Marion Gaborik now, and we are sure to see more big names hit the trade block once more teams give up on their playoff dreams.

Next update will be coming out of the Olympic break - most teams will have about 15 games left at that point, so we’ll see if the Golden Knights can continue outplaying their expansion team pedigree and make the playoffs in their first year of existence!
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Old 03-27-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
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GM Dan Hampton called a press conference today to announce the first trade in Golden Knights history, and it’s an exciting move: Vegas has acquired Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang! Ho-Sang comes out west in exchange for LW Joseph Blandisi, AHL defenseman Trevor Murphy, and Vegas’ 7th round pick in the 2018 draft.

“We think Josh is an exciting prospect who’s looked good in his first taste of NHL action this year,” Hampton was quoted as saying. “I think he’s a guy who’s going to turn into a star in this league, and we’re happy to have him shine out here in Las Vegas.”

Some feel Ho-Sang was moved by Islanders GM Garth Snow because of his supposed “character issues” - when asked if he had reservations about bringing a player with that history to the City of Lights, Hampton responded strongly. “Josh is an amazing young man who will offer us an element we don’t have, and I’m not going to let things in the past dictate how we build our team. He’s shown good maturity this year playing with a captain like John Tavares, and I’m sure the leadership in our locker room is going to keep him toeing that line.”

So far in the 2017-18 season, Ho-Sang has played 38 games with the Isles, scoring 4 goals and adding 7 assists while averaging 11:04 of ice time each night. Blandisi averaged 12:20 per night in 49 games, going 6-12-18; Murphy played 27 games for the AHL team in Lowell, going 2-9-11 in 17:27 each night. Blandisi is expected to maintain his role as a 3rd liner in New York, while Murphy will give the Islanders added depth; Coach Richardson has not given much information about Ho-Sang’s role on the team. This move happened on the first day of the Golden Knights’ bye week, so Ho-Sang will have plenty of time to practice with his new teammates before hitting the ice in a game situation.
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Old 03-27-2017, 06:51 PM   #7
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The Olympics are over, and all the players who participated have found their way back from South Korea and right back into the home stretch of the NHL season. The Golden Knights were proud to send several players over as representatives of their nations: Kevin Shattenkirk score a goal and had 4 assists in 4 games for the US, Ondrej Palat was a 5-3-8 in 5 games for the Czech Republic (including an amazing 6 point game against Germany!), while Dennis Seidenberg and his German team might want to forget this year’s Olympiad - he was scoreless in 4 games and managed to be a -11 in that small sample size. In somewhat of a surprise, Sweden wound up winning the gold medal in a game against Finland, with Erik Karlsson taking home the Olympics MVP honors.

Back in the States, the Golden Knights have continued their strong play, rolling into the break with a 35-29-4 record and a good hold on the 7th spot in the conference. The goaltending has really solidified over the third quarter of the season - Craig Anderson has taken the majority of the starts and sports a 25-21-3 record, a .903 SV%, 2.76 GAA, and 4 shutouts. Antti Raanta continues his strong play as the backup, going 10-5-1/2.42/.914.

The offense has picked up somewhat but still remains a committee approach, with no one really taking over the scoring responsibilities. Jakob Silfverberg still leads the team with his 17-27-44 line, while Tyler Johnson leads the team with 20 goals. T.J. Brodie rode some hot performances to his current 3-36-39 line, and at this point in the season 10 players have at least 25 points, with 7 of those players sporting double-digit goal numbers. Coach Luke Richardson has been easing new acquisition Josh Ho-Sang into the lineup, as the rookie has only one goal (scored on his first shift in Vegas!) in 5 games with the Golden Knights. Ondrej Palat’s scoring touch wasn’t limited to the Olympics - he’s gone 8-7-15 in his last 24 games and seems primed for a strong finish to what was an underwhelming campaign at the halfway mark.

One notable prospect showing a lot of potential has been goalie Blake Weyrick of the team’s AHL affiliate. Despite coming into the year as the presumptive backup, Weyrick has taken over starting duties in Lowell and sports a crisp 24-10-4/2.54/.915 line. Blake was signed despite a middling line in the FHL in 2016-17, and has rewarded his team’s faith by appearing to evolve into the goalie of the future.

League-wide, the Chicago Blackhawks have started to look slightly human, even losing a few games at home, but still have a commanding lead in the race for the league’s best record. One of the biggest surprises in the NHL this year, however, comes at the other end of the standings - the LA Kings have bottomed out to a 22-36-7 record and are even behind the other expansion team, the Seattle Metropolitans, in the standings. The team fired coach Daryl Sutter halfway through this year, and GM Dean Lombardi might be next on the chopping block if he can’t offer some hope for the future, at least.

Sidney Crosby still leads the league with 43 goals, but Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin have started gunning for him - they each have 41 and 40 goals, respectively. Connor McDavid still leads the overall scoring race with his 27-57-84 line, but Kane and Crosby are right there in the mix a point or two behind him. Corey Crawford seems to have run away with all the goalie honors this year - his 45 wins are 9 ahead of Braden Holtby in second place; his 1.61 GAA is nearly .4 better than runner up Carey Price; his .927 SV% is .001 behind leader Al Montoya, and most impressively, his 15 shutouts already have him tied for the expansion-era record for most in a season, and within shouting distance of the all time leader (George Hainsworth’s 22 in 1928-29).

There haven’t been many trades since the Ho-Sang deal, but Vegas did deal AHL D Ryan Graves to the Leafs in exchange for a 6th rounder in the upcoming draft - word was that Graves was unhappy with his role and GM Dan Hampton decided to move him out and give another player a chance to get some ice time. Hampton also renewed some upcoming free agents - as a reward for his good work, goalie Craig Anderson received a one year extension worth $5.4M, while potential RFAs Alan Quine(3 yrs/$3.4M) and Jordan Subban(3 yrs/$2.75M) both accepted offers to remain with the team as younger building blocks.

Only 17 games remain in the Golden Knights’ inaugural season - with a playoff seed in hand at this time, can the rookie franchise keep up the pace and become one of the few expansion teams to make the playoffs in their first year of existence? We’ll check back with the team after game 82 and wrap up the first regular season in Vegas!

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Old 03-27-2017, 07:38 PM   #8
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Quick update on the trade deadline happenings - the Golden Knights weren’t incredibly active but made a few moves. GM Dan Hampton reunited Markus Granlund with his brother Mikael in Minnesota, sending him and a 5th rounder to the Wild in exchange for the rights to Boston University prospect Jordan Greenway. “Markus was a pending UFA who was a decent player, but we weren’t sure if he was going to want to re-sign with us,” Hampton was quoted as saying. “Jordan also gives us another young piece who should be able to step right up from the NCAA to the NHL level.” Granlund was a 7-14-21 in 67 games with the Golden Knights before being moved; Greenway scored 21 goals to go with 22 assists in 31 games playing for the Terriers.

The only other deadline move Hampton made was moving LW Nic Petan to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 4th rounder. Petan was a later pick in the expansion draft who managed only 4 goals and 8 assists in 67 games with Vegas. “Nic is a good player who has a lot of upside, but we’ve got a ton of youth on the wing and thought it would be worthwhile to recoup another pick after sending one to Minnesota,” the GM was quoted as saying.

Around the league, it was a fairly quiet deadline. A few teams out of contention moved some established players - Seatte, the other expansion team this year, was the most active, moving Fedor Tyutin to Columbus in exchange for Oliver Bjorkstrand, and in two separate deals with Calgary they moved Alex Goligoski & Jack Johnson, getting back Brian Elliott and Mark Giordano. The biggest deal was Los Angeles shipping out Jeff Carter and WHL prospect Jake McGrew to the Rangers in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a 6th rounder. Carter was a 21-29-50 in 67 games for the Kings, while ZIbanejad had been a steady 13-17-30 in 60 games for New York. The Rangers hope that the veteran Carter will give them an extra boost as they push for the playoffs, while the Kings are happy to make the roster a little younger as they start what looks to be a total tear-down of their roster.
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Old 03-27-2017, 07:43 PM   #9
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Quick update on the trade deadline happenings - the Golden Knights weren’t incredibly active but made a few moves. GM Dan Hampton reunited Markus Granlund with his brother Mikael in Minnesota, sending him and a 5th rounder to the Wild in exchange for the rights to Boston University prospect Jordan Greenway. “Markus was a pending UFA who was a decent player, but we weren’t sure if he was going to want to re-sign with us,” Hampton was quoted as saying. “Jordan also gives us another young piece who should be able to step right up from the NCAA to the NHL level.” Granlund was a 7-14-21 in 67 games with the Golden Knights before being moved; Greenway scored 21 goals to go with 22 assists in 31 games playing for the Terriers.

The only other deadline move Hampton made was moving LW Nic Petan to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 4th rounder. Petan was a later pick in the expansion draft who managed only 4 goals and 8 assists in 67 games with Vegas. “Nic is a good player who has a lot of upside, but we’ve got a ton of youth on the wing and thought it would be worthwhile to recoup another pick after sending one to Minnesota,” the GM was quoted as saying.

Around the league, it was a fairly quiet deadline. A few teams out of contention moved some established players - Seatte, the other expansion team this year, was the most active, moving Fedor Tyutin to Columbus in exchange for Oliver Bjorkstrand, and in two separate deals with Calgary they moved Alex Goligoski & Jack Johnson, getting back Brian Elliott and Mark Giordano. The biggest deal was Los Angeles shipping out Jeff Carter and WHL prospect Jake McGrew to the Rangers in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a 6th rounder. Carter was a 21-29-50 in 67 games for the Kings, while ZIbanejad had been a steady 13-17-30 in 60 games for New York. The Rangers hope that the veteran Carter will give them an extra boost as they push for the playoffs, while the Kings are happy to make the roster a little younger as they start what looks to be a total tear-down of their roster.
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Old 03-28-2017, 01:32 PM   #10
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The regular season has come to a close, and in a stunner that almost no one in the hockey world predicted in September, the Vegas Golden Knights have finished the year 46-30-6 and ride into the playoffs as the number 5 seed! Their first round opponents will be the Winnipeg Jets - the Jets finished the year 49-28-5 behind their strong top line of Nikolaj Ehlers (34-41-75), Mark Scheifele (30-42-72), and Blake Wheeler (28-43-71), and the breakout performance of rookie D Josh Morrissey (17-35-52). The two teams played 5 times during the regular season, with Winnipeg prevailing in 3 of those games.

Vegas comes into the postseason on a high note, going 11-4-2 after the Olympic break to clinch that #5 seed. Tyler Johnson finished the year leading the team with 58 points, including a career-high 35 goals. In fact, there were several players who set personal bests this season - Jakob Silfverberg (20-35-55) and T.J. Brodie (4-44-48) both set career highs in points, while Kevin Shattenkirk’s 18 goals were his career best. The team also saw great second half production from rookie D Julius Honka, who finished the year with 13 goals and 24 assists in 77 games. Craig Anderson took advantage of a lighter schedule in the last quarter of the year to play in the lion’s share of games, finishing the season 36-24-5 with a 2.65 GAA and a .908 SV%. In fact, Anderson found himself in the top 10 league-wide in wins and shutouts - a far cry from his struggles early on in the season.

As has been the case all season, the Chicago Blackhawks ran away with the President’s Trophy - their 59-14-9 record put them well ahead of the second best team in the league, the 53-21-8 Montreal Canadiens. The scoring races got turned on their head in the last few weeks of the season - Alex Ovechkin will be taking home the Rocket Richard with 51 goals, and Nicklas Backstrom will be your Art Ross winner with a 29-75-104 line. Corey Crawford seems to be a lock for the Vezina, leading the league with 53 wins, a 1.66 GAA, & 17 shutouts. The only major goalie category he didn’t lead was save percentage - his .925 was just behind Carey Price’s .927.

The Stanely Cup playoffs are about to get underway, and here are your full matchups:

Buffalo Sabres (39-34-9) v. Montreal Canadiens (53-21-8)

Detroit Red Wings (41-28-13) v. Ottawa Senators (49-24-9)

Boston Bruins (46-32-4) v. Washington Capitals (51-22-9)

Columbus Blue Jackets (41-37-4) v. New York Rangers (49-28-5)

Minnesota Wild (45-33-4) v. Chicago Blackhawks (59-14-9)

Vegas Golden Knights (46-30-6) v. Winnipeg Jets (49-28-5)

St. Louis Blues (43-31-8) v. San Jose Sharks (49-28-5)

Calgary Flames (47-33-2) v. Edmonton Oilers (49-29-4)

We'll check back with an update after the round of 16 finishes - can the Golden Knights pull off the impossible and win a playoff round?
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Old 03-28-2017, 03:52 PM   #11
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Game 1: Winnipeg 1, Vegas 0 - Connor Hellebuyck turned away all 18 shots and Blake Wheeler’s goal with 1:27 to go in the 2nd period proved to be the difference at MTS Arena. Craig Anderson stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced, but the Winnipeg defense held the Golden Knights to only 3 shots in the third period, and more importantly controlled the puck towards the end of the game, keeping Anderson in goal instead of allowing an extra attacker. Game 2 will be at Winnipeg on Monday.

Game 2: Winnipeg 3, Vegas 2 - Josh Morrissey scored with 5:58 left in the game to finish a third period comeback for the hosting Jets. Vegas entered the third period up 2-1 behind goals from Tyler Johnson and Lars Eller, but one again, Connor Hellebuyck did not have to face much resistance in the third period. The Jets defense held the Golden Knights to 5 shots in the final frame, allowing them to come back and take the lead. In injury news, 3rd line center Alan Quine left the ice in the second period after a hard check from Dustin Byfuglien, and is expected to miss at least the next game - Coach Luke Richardson would not offer any information beyond that on Quine’s injury. The series continues Wednesday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Game 3: Vegas 5, Winnipeg 2 - Special teams was the story of the day, as a T.J. Brodie power play goal paired with shorthanded goals from Lars Eller & Kevin Shattenkirk to propel Vegas to their first playoff win in franchise history. Jakob Silfverberg started the scoring early, and Craig Anderson made 34 saves on 36 shots to preserve the win. Chase de Leo, the former Jets prospect, stepped in for the injured Alan Quine and was instrumental, winning 9 of his 11 face-offs and playing a strong defensive game. The Jets still lead the series 2-1, with game 4 scheduled for Friday night in Las Vegas.

Game 4: Vegas 1, Winnipeg 0 - Evander Kane’s first period power play goal was all Craig Anderson needed, as he stopped all 23 Winnipeg shots to tie up this first round series at 2 games apiece. Continuing a theme from this series, third period defense proved to be the difference - this time, however, it was Vegas holding Winnipeg to 2 shots on goal in the final frame. The series continues Sunday, with the puck dropping for game 5 at 3 PM local time in Winnipeg.

Game 5: Winnipeg 2, Vegas 1 - Tyler Myers slammed home a rebound of a Sam Bennett shot on a 2 on 1 rush for the Jets with 6:23 left in the game, and that’s all Connor Hellebuyck needed. He withstood a rush at the end of the game, as Dustin Byfuglien received a 5 minute major penalty with 2:40 to go, but the Golden Knights couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage. Blake Wheeler opened the scoring with a first period power play goal, and Ondrej Palat tied the game up in the second period with his first goal this postseason. Winnipeg will have the chance to clinch this Tuesday in Las Vegas, while the Golden Knights will try and extend their season in front of their home fans.

Game 6: Vegas 4, Winnipeg 1 - Three second period goals helped push this first round series to a deciding game 7 in Winnipeg this Thursday. The scoring was opened from an unlikely source - fourth liner Austin Watson redirected a snipe from Ivan Barbashev past Connor Hellebuyck to get the Golden Knights on the board first. After a power play goal from Nikolaj Ehlers tied it up, Jon Marchessault and Adam Henrique scored 2:30 apart to put the Knights up by two entering the final frame. Kevin Shattenkirk scored his second goal of the series in the third to wrap up the scoring, and Craig Anderson stopped 27 of the 28 shots sent his way. Game 7 will be at the MTS Center in two days, and the winner will advance to face the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago finished up a 4-2 series win over Minnesota earlier in the evening.

Game 7: Winnipeg 4, Vegas 3(OT) - It took 79 minutes and 6 seconds, but we eventually had a winner at the MTS Centre. Alexander Burmistrov took a pass from Kyle Connor in the slot and put it passed a screened Craig Anderson to clinch the franchise’s first series win since returning to Winnipeg in 2011. Ian Cole opened the scoring in the first period, only to be answered by a Bryan Little goal to end the opening frame tied at 1. In the second, Mason Appleton scored his first career playoff goal to put the Jets temporarily ahead; Tyler Johnson answered with his third goal of the series 85 seconds later to tie the game up. It remained even until 6:41 into the third, when Johnson scored his second of the game to put the Knights up 3-2; Winnipeg captain Blake Wheeler kept the team’s hopes alive by scoring the equalizer with 5:28 to go in the game. Winnipeg kept the press on, outshooting Vegas 56-34 in the game, and 17-7 in the overtime period alone; Vegas clearly missed the offensive presence of Evander Kane, who was hurt on a goalmouth scramble midway through the second period and did not return. Dustin Byfuglien was your first star, assisting on three of the four Jets goals in 29:14 of ice time. Winnipeg will go on to face Chicago in the second round of the playoffs, while Vegas will return home to start the process of trying to improve on an impressive rookie season for the franchise. Expect remarks from both Coach Luke Richardson and GM Dan Hampton later in the week on clean-out day.

AROUND THE LEAGUE
As reported earlier, Chicago bested Minnesota in their series 4 games to 2; they will be facing the Jets in the second round. The other Western semifinal will feature the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks; San Jose made easy work of St. Louis, dispatching them in 5 games. The battle of Alberta went a full 7 games, however, and the Oilers were able to outlast the Flames with a 4-2 win in the clinching game.

Over in the eastern conference, the Buffalo Sabres upset the heavy favorites in Montreal, winning the series 4 games to three. They’ll go on to face the Ottawa Senators, who dispatched the Red Wings in six. Meanwhile, another upset in the East saw Boston eliminating the Capitals in six games; they’ll face the Rangers after New York handily beat Columbus 4 games to 1.

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Old 03-28-2017, 04:58 PM   #12
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The end of the season locker clean out in Las Vegas was an intriguing day - normally the room is thick with frustration and sadness; frustration over being eliminated from the playoffs, and sadness over the thoughts that this could be the last day that this group of guys stands in the same room together. The Golden Knights locker room, however, had a tinge of happiness and pride. No matter where the players find themselves come September, they share the pride in knowing that they put their names in the history books as one of the few expansion teams to ever make the playoffs in their first season of existence, and no one will ever be able to take that away from them.

For some, the end of the playoff run means a return home to recuperate a bit, and begin the endless phone calls with their agents. Players like Ian Cole, Antti Raanta, Evander Kane, and Lars Eller are all unrestricted free agents come July 1st. Raanta has made known his desire to test the free agent market - he believes he can be the starter, and with Craig Anderson under contract for 2018-19, Raanta wants to see what teams would be looking to give him the starting job. Kane hasn’t ruled out a return to the desert, but rumor has it he is looking for at least a 4 year deal with a $6.5M AAV - numbers that most pundits think would be a stretch for a guy coming off a year like Kane’s (19-23-42) would struggle to get. GM Dan Hampton has acknowledged talks between himself and Kane’s agent, but wouldn’t divulge any specifics. Insiders have alluded to the midseason trade that acquired prospect Jordan Greenway as an indication of the team’s reticence to give Kane the contract that he’s looking for.

For other players, the World Championships come beckoning. The Golden Knights sent a good number of players to the Worlds to represent their home countries: Raanta and Julius Honka are playing for Finland, Dennis Seidenberg for Germany, Ondrej Palat for the Czech Republic, Lars Eller for the Danes, and Kevin Shattenkirk and Tyler Johnson representing the USA.

Lastly, for some, it’s a chance to go home, spend some time with their families, and focus on what they can do to improve their games this summer. We caught up with defenseman Jordan Subban on his way out, and he mentioned that his goal for the summer is to solidify his game on the defensive end. Management had high praise for his stick handling and scoring prowess (5 goals and 15 assists in 28 games) but, especially with Coach Luke Richardson’s defense-first scheme, Subban found ice time hard to get with some of his defensive deficiencies. “I know there’s a lot of things I can do to bring my game up to the next level,” Subban said. “I’m really looking forward to camp in September, to showing up and proving that I deserve to be out there on the ice 82 games a year.”

Meanwhile, the NHL playoffs roll on. In the Western Conference, the Sharks blew past the Oilers in 5 games, while the Blackhawks fought off a feisty Winnipeg team in 7 to set up the conference finals matchup. In the east, the Rangers swept the Bruins and enjoyed some time off while waiting to find out their opponent - Ottawa eventually prevailed in 7 over Buffalo to push them one step closer to the Stanley Cup. We’ll be back with a Stanley Cup Final preview after the conference finals, and expect to hear more from the Golden Knights management team by then as well.
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Old 03-29-2017, 01:49 PM   #13
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The Stanley Cup Final is here, and as expected, the President’s Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks will be representing the Western Conference. What was less expected was the path they took - after beating the Minnesota Wild in 6 games in the opening round, both the Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks took Chicago to the full 7 games before the ‘Hawks were able to put them away. Corey Crawford continues to excel in goal, but the offense has somewhat dried up in the postseason; Patrick Kane leads all playoff scorers with 33 points in 20 games but he is carrying this offense on his back completely. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers breezed through the East - beating Columbus in 5, then sweeping Boston and Ottawa on their way to the Final. Midseason acquisition Jeff Carter scored 16 points in 13 games, proving he was worth the price the team paid for them; the biggest surprise, however, has been Brady Skjei. The young defenseman has 17 points in 13 games, with nearly all of them coming off helpers; after a breakout 48 point season this year, Skjei has proven it wasn’t a fluke in driving the Rangers one step short of their first Cup since 1994.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, GM Dan Hampton has been reviewing scouting reports with the draft coming up in a few weeks - Vegas is locked in to the 22nd pick in the first round. He’s also re-upped a few players contracts:

RFAs Re-Signed (*=Two Way Contract)
LW/C Jason Dickinson: 2 years, $2.7M
D Shea Theodore: 3 years, $2.76M
LW Frankie Vatrano: 2 years, $1.9M
C Frederik Gauthier: 3 years, $2.925M
D Rinat Valiev: 3 years, $2.475M
LW Nick Lappin: 2 years, $1.9M*
LW/RW Riley Barber: 2 years, $1.7M*

UFAs Re-Signed
RW Jon Marchessault: 3 years, $7.2M
D Dennis Seidenberg: 1 year, $2M

The biggest re-signing so far has been Jon Marchessault. After years of bouncing around the AHL and being told he was “too small” to play in the NHL, the 5’9” winger came through with a solid season in Vegas - 15 goals and 20 assists for a career-high 35 points, plus advanced numbers showing him as a solid driver of possession. Marchessault spent most of his time on the 3rd line, and will most likely continue that role with the team going forward. Seidenberg was a rock on the blue line, playing in all 82 games and playing a strong possession game. His 4-9-13 was right in line with what was expected from him, but GM Hampton also spoke highly of his leadership qualities in the locker room, and his ability to play either side of the ice competently as a reason to retain him.

On the other side, it looks more and more like Evander Kane will be playing elsewhere next year. A rumored 3 year/$18M deal was turned down by the young left winger, and insiders have speculated he is looking to get a Kyle Okposo-like contract come July 1st. As said earlier, most think that prospect Jordan Greenway will sign with the team this year and step into the hole left in the lineup by Kane.

Antti Raanta is another pending UFA who has stated he will be testing the market; Hampton has acknowledged this and discussed possible internal options for replacing Raanta. Malcolm Subban and Blake Weyrick are both under contract and played the entire season in Lowell; Subban was 15-8-3 with a 2.75 GAA and a .907 SV%, while Weyrick went 32-14-3 with a 2.34/.919 peripherals. Subban does have prior NHL experience with the Bruins, so he may be in the pole position for the backup spot going into camp; Hampton has said both will be given a shot to show what they have in September.

Scanning the upcoming free agent market around the league, the biggest names currently without extensions in place look to be Kyle Turris, Rick Nash, and James van Riemsdyk. Turris has been linked to Vegas, as they will be losing Lars Eller and will be looking to solidify up the middle in free agency; however, it’s way too early to say anything for sure on that front.

Lastly in Golden Knights news, there has been a strong uptick in noise around the head coaching job. Luke Richardson was hired on a one year “prove it” contract last summer after stumbling in the AHL head coaching ranks, and rumors are swirling that owner Elliott Bullivant is balking at Richardson’s contract demands. Supporters of the coach point to the remarkable job he did with an expansion lineup, but sources say that the Vegas owner is keeping the purse strings tight with his new franchise - even with their successes this year, Vegas operated barely above the salary floor for most of the season. We’ll know more about this situation once the season is officially over and coaching carousel starts up in earnest.
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Old 03-29-2017, 02:16 PM   #14
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Your 2017-18 Stanley Cup champions are the Chicago Blackhawks! After a hard-fought 6 game series, the Blackhawks won when Artem Anisimov potted a power play goal with 39 seconds to go in the 3rd period of Game 6! Patrick Kane took home the Conn Smythe Trophy after an amazing playoff run that netted him 15 goals and 20 assists in 25 games.

Kane wasn’t the only Chicago player taking home hardware this year, though. Here’s a rundown of the NHL Awards given out this year:

HART TROPHY
Connor McDavid, EDM(80 GP, 32-63-95)

VEZINA TROPHY
Corey Crawford, CHI (53-12-7, 1.66 GAA, 17 SOs, .925 SV%)

NORRIS TROPHY
Erik Karlsson, OTT (80 GP, 22-67-89, +22)

CALDER TROPHY
Sergei Shumakov, EDM (82 GP, 28-36-64)

SELKE TROPHY
Patrice Bergeron, BOS (82 GP, 23-61-84, 55.4 FO%, 27.71 COR-REL, 30.9 SF/60 v. 23.4 SA/60)

ROCKET RICHARD TROPHY
Alex Ovechkin, WAS (79 GP, 51 G)

ART ROSS TROPHY
Nicklas Backstrom, WAS (82 GP, 29-75-104

PLUS-MINUS AWARD
Patrick Kane, CHI (82 GP, +50)

JENNINGS TROPHY
Corey Crawford, CHI

ROGER CROZIER SAVING GRACE AWARD

Carey Price, MON (61 GP, .927 SV%)

GM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Dan Hampton, VGK (46-30-6, 3rd place in Central)

The last award was considered by many to be a near impossibility a year ago. Coming into the expansion draft, the Vegas ownership group hired Dan Hampton after his stint as an analytics advisor with the New York Islanders, and many in the industry were skeptical after seeing how John Chayka had struggled early on in Arizona. However, the young GM proved up to the challenge - assembling a roster of unheralded players in the expansion draft and making a couple of free agent splashes on July 1st to solidify a lineup that wound up 5th in the Western Conference overall. Hampton himself was nonplussed when informed of his award win. “I mean, I obviously appreciate that the rest of the league took note of what we were doing here in Vegas. Especially considering the limitations we had to work with, I personally was happy with what we did but it’s always nice to get the recognition from your peers, you know?”

The accolades and accomplishments for Hampton may not stop there - rumors are running rampant that head of the ownership group, Elliott Bullivant, is pushing to name Hampton as head coach for the 2018-19 season. Negotiations with current head coach Luke Richardson, coming off a one-year contract and a strong showing, appear to be at a stalemate, and it’s been said that the owners would prefer to look within for a new coach. We’ll be keeping tabs on this development as we get closer to free agency, but it definitely is a situation to keep an eye on.

(non-kayfabe: I goofed up and was originally gonna run the team as GM/Head Coach but when I was messing around in the coaches pool I didn’t realize I couldn’t hire someone listed as “head coach” as an assistant coach. godspeed, Luke Richardson, you did better than I thought you would)
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Old 03-29-2017, 03:12 PM   #15
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The NHL Entry Draft is here, and with it comes the requisite daydreaming about the future potential of the players your team will be picking. Will your team be picking the next Connor McDavid, or will the worst case scenario come true, and that first round pick turns out to be more Patrik Stefan than Patrick Kane?

The Toronto Maple Leafs won this year’s draft lottery, and with the first pick selected Joe Veleno from the St. John Sea Dogs. Playing in the QMJHL, Veleno netted 40 goals and dished out 62 assists in 62 games this year and was widely regarded as the can’t-miss prospect of 2018.

The rest of the top 5 played out as such:
2 - Florida Panthers select D Ty Emberson (10-40-50 in 50 games in the NAHL last year)
3 - Pittsburgh Penguins select C Jack Hughes (20-30-50 in 66 games in the OHL)
4 - New Jersey Devils select RW Andrei Svechnikov (42-44-86 in 52 games in the USHL)
5 - LA Kings select D Bode Wilde (19-42-61 in 50 games in the USHL)

The Golden Knights had the 22nd pick in the first round, and selected RW Mikhail Bitsadze from Russia with their pick. Bitsadze has been playing in the VHL, the KHL’s minor league, and is being brought along slowly - in his age 17 year, he average 8:21 of ice time per game, and that increased only to 10:52 in his age 18 year. GM Dan Hampton praised Bitsadze’s playmaking ability and looks forward to bringing the Russian over within the next couple of years.

In the second round, Vegas picked up QMJHL LW Brandon Brown. Brown sported a 31-61-92 line in his first year of action in the Q, and seems poised to turn into an offensive force in the league in the years to come. Scouts praise his ability to find the open man, and his ability to come through when his team needs it most. The team’s 3rd round pick was seen by some as a slight reach - Swiss winger Nando Eggenberger. Nando’s goalscoring ability is his strongest trait, but he slipped from what most thought would be a late 1st/early 2nd round selection to the 3rd because there is some concern that he will not be coming over any time soon - he’s locked up with HC Davos through 2021.

The team used their two 4th round picks on defensemen - Nikita Solopanov from Russia, and Emil Wiman from Sweden. Both are seen as strong bets to develop into good players, but as with Eggenberger, the concern is their desire to come across and play in the NHL. Vegas finished their first entry draft with two players who would seem not to have that issue - C Akil Thomas from the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs, and D Wyatt Aamodt from the Maine Black Bears. Thomas profiles as a fringe player with the ceiling of a 3rd liner, while Aamodt profiles similarly to a player like Dennis Seidenberg - a solid defensive presence with little scoring touch.

As always with the draft, the GMs of the league worked the phones and several high profile trades came about, including the rare Rangers-Islanders trade - the Isles send G J.F. Berube across the Brooklyn Bridge in exchange for D Nick Holden. The biggest names moved, however, were in Western Canada as the Edmonton Oilers sent RW Jordan Eberle to the Canucks for goalie prospect Thatcher Demko; the Calgary Flames answered by moving Roman Josi and the rights to college D Adam Smith to the Avs for G Calvin Pickard and RW Jannik Hansen.

We’re a week away from free agency - we’ll check back before the frenzy hits with a recap of any player movement between now and 12:01 AM July 1st!
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Old 03-29-2017, 04:42 PM   #16
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So July 1st has arrived, and with it brings the start of a brand new hockey year. In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars about to be committed in free agency, the start of a new year brings a tinge of sadness - it’s when players who’ve decided to hang up the skates officially file retirement papers with the league. This year, the following players are calling it a career:

RW Jay Beagle (COL), D Francois Beauchemin (COL), C Dave Bollard (ARZ), LW Blake Comeau (COL), D Mark Fayne (CBJ), RW Eric Fehr (COL), D Matt Greene (SJ), D Ron Hainsey (NYI), D Dan Hamhuis (DAL), D Kevin Klein (ANA), C Mark Letestu (EDM), C Brad Richardson (ARZ), RW Lee Stempniak (CAR), C Antoine Vermette (ANA), RW Joel Ward (SJ), C Dominic Moore (CAL), RW Brian Gionta (BUF), LW Patrick Marleau (SEA), D Nick Schultz (CAR), & RW Radim Vrbata (ARZ). The biggest names on the list were Vrbata, who finishes with 298 goals and 626 points in 1099 NHL games; Gionta, who retired after playing 1001 games with the Devils, Canadians, and Sabres, and scoring 281 career goals; and Marleau, who, after 19 seasons playing for the Sharks, finished his NHL career where is WHL career started: Seattle. Marleau finishes with 506 career goals, 589 assists, and 1095 career points in 1566 career games. He’s considered to have an outside shot at eventually making the Hall of Fame - time will eventually tell.

A few coaches decided to put the clipboard down this summer, as well: John Tortorella retired as coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, finishing with a career record of 556-476-100 and 37 ties. He’ll be replaced in ‘Lumbus by former Oilers & Sharks coach Todd McClellan, most recently seen coaching the AHL’s Utica Comets. Legendary CHL coach Don Hay will also be retiring after one year behind the bench of the St. Louis Blues - Hay capped off a legendary juniors career by taking the Blues to the playoffs. Former NHLer Steve Thomas will be taking over the reins in St. Louis, despite the lack of head coaching experience on his resume. GMs Jim Rutherford of the Penguins and David Poile of the Predators also announced their retirements - they have been replaced by assistant GMs John Paddock (PIT) and John Tucker (NSH).

The rumors in Vegas, meanwhile, came to fruition: the ownership team has let Luke Richardson walk away and has given the title to reigning GM of The Year Dan Hampton. Hampton will have full roster control as GM/Head Coach - he will have the help of head scout Valeri Kamensky in the front office, and behind the bench will be aided by assistant coach Wendel Clark. Hampton’s first move as GM/Coach was to formalize the signing of LW Jordan Greenway to a 3 year entry level contract at $925,000 per year - the caveat being that Greenway would burn the first year without playing a game with the team, by signing it before the league’s calendar flipped over.

With free agency set to begin, some surprising names are out there. The Hockey News has sent out ratings of the top 5 free agents at each position:

GOALIE
Brian Elliott, 33 (23-12-1/.903/2.86 in CGY)
Al Montoya, 33 (37-20-4/.922/2.31 in SJ)
Mikko Koskinen, 29 (1-2-0/.914/2.29 in an injury-plagued KHL season)
Chad Johnson, 32 (12-6-4/.906/2.62 in MTL)
Dominik Hrachovina, 23 (20-13-1/.904/2.47 in SML)

DEFENSEMEN
Slava Voynov, 28 (8-43-51 in 60 KHL GP)
Jesse Virtanen, 26 (5-35-40 in 65 GP for MTL)
Viktor Antipin, 25 (5-32-37 in 46 KHL GP)
Luke Schenn, 28 (8-17-25 in ARZ)
Thomas Hickey, 29 (0-3-3 in 20 GP for NYI)

LEFT WING
Artemi Panarin, 26 (35-40-75 for CHI)
Rick Nash, 34 (29-48-77 for NYR)
James van Riemsdyk, 28 (26-36-62 for MTL)
Daniel Sedin, 37 (7-16-23 in 37 GP for VAN)
Nikita Filatov, 28 (19-18-37 in 60 KHL GP)

CENTER
Kyle Turris, 28 (15-37-52 in OTT)
Michael Backlund, 29 (13-27-40 in NSH)
Erik Haula, 27 (8-16-24 for MIN)
Lars Eller, 29 (9-22-31 for VEG)
Austin Czarnik, 25 (29-45-74 for AHL Springfield)

RIGHT WING
Oliver Bjorkstrand, 23 (5-16-21 in 66 games with CBJ/SEA)
Patric Hornqvist, 31 (11-12-23 for PIT)
Riley Nash, 29 (6-11-17 for BOS)
Alexei Makeyev, 26 (21-20-41 for KHL Sochi)
Brandon Kozun, 28 (13-16-29 in 36 GP for KHL Lokomotiv)

Panarin is expected to get the biggest contract, as the young superstar will be hitting the open market at an age when most players are playing out their RFA years; with no offer sheet necessary, teams are lining up to offer Panarin buckets of money. There are also a surprising number of KHL players looking to make a splash in the NHL; after Sergei Shumakov captured the Calder in his first year over from Russia, more players are seeing the NHL as an avenue to excel in.

As for Vegas, GM Dan Hampton has not had much to say on his team’s plans. The Knights continue to be linked to Kyle Turris, who’s said to be looking for a 3-4 year deal with a $4.5M AAV. Vegas’ payroll currently sits about $49M, so even with an addition like Turris they would have to sign more to just hit the cap floor. Analysts around the league concede that Vegas wouldn’t be wrong to play by the old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; the team has good depth on the blue line and on the wings, but may look to add some bodies at Center and Goalie just for injury insurance.
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Old 04-01-2017, 04:15 PM   #17
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We’ve now hit a quiet spot on the league calendar - as the dog days of summer heat up, most players are enjoying some leisure time before they really ramp up their training efforts for the next season; meanwhile, in the front offices, GMs have mostly turned their attention from the roster building in the draft and free agency towards setting up that roster for a successful campaign. But, in early July, money was flying around at a breakneck pace, even with this year’s class being seen as a fairly mediocre group of free agents.

Revisiting The Hockey News’ top free agents, we see a majority of them have found new homes and are gearing up for a Cup run:

GOALIES

Brian Elliott - Free Agent as of 8/1/2018
Al Montoya - 2 year, $1.9M deal with Lokomotiv (KHL)
Mikko Koskinen - 2 year, $2.5M deal with Nashville
Chad Johnson - 3 year, $7.47M deal with Arizona
Dominik Hrachovina - 2 year, $1.83M deal with Chicago

DEFENSEMEN
Slava Voynov - 3 year, $7.6M deal with New York Islanders
Jesse Virtanen - 3 years, $4.6M deal with New Jersey
Viktor Antipin - 1 year, $925K deal with Montreal
Luke Schenn - 3 year, $7.1M deal with Edmonton
Thomas Hickey - 3 year, $7.5M with Arizona

LEFT WING
Artemi Panarin - 6 year, $39.2M deal with Ottawa
Rick Nash - 2 year, $13.34M deal with Edmonton
James van Riemsdyk - 3 year, $14.04M deal with San Jose
Daniel Sedin - 1 year, $5M deal with Montreal
Nikita Filatov - 2 year, $2.3M deal with Edmonton

CENTER
Kyle Turris - 3 year, $14.1M deal with New York Islanders
Mikael Backlund - 3 year, $13.8M deal with Winnipeg
Erik Haula - 2 year, $3.4M deal with SKA (KHL)
Lars Eller - Free Agent as of 8/1/2018
Austin Czarnik - 1 year, $845K deal with Calgary

RIGHT WING
Oliver Bjorkstrand - 3 year, $7M deal with Vegas
Patric Hornqvist - 3 year, $11.7M deal with Dallas
Riley Nash - 3 year, $4.9M deal with Montreal
Alexei Makeyev - 3 year, $2.8M deal with Toronto
Brandon Kozun - 2 year, $3.4M deal with Carolina

The biggest surprises from THN’s Top 25 Free Agents are the $2.5M AAV given to Thomas Hickey after an injury- and scratch-plagued year; and almost the exact same contract given to Chad Johnson at 32 years old. Some other notable signings around the league: former Golden Knight Evander Kane signed for 3 years and $11.55M with the New York Rangers, and Marcus Foligno got almost the same contract (3/11.49M) from the Sharks. Defensemen Ian Cole and Nick Holden cashed in with decent contracts - Cole will get $7.5M over three years from Boston, while Holden will get $6.45M over the same term from the Sabres. Wingers David Perron, Richard Panik, and Patrick Maroon took advantage of a weak free agent class to get good later-career deals: Perron got $10.5M from the Hurricanes on a 3 year deal, Panik got a 3 year, $7.3M deal from the Flyers, and Maroon is shipping up to Boston on a 3 year, $7.44M deal.

In Vegas, the biggest surprise was being outbid for the services of Kyle Turris by the New York Islanders. As always, both front offices were tight-lipped when it came to details of the negotiations - insiders say Vegas topped out at $4.6M AAV for 3 years on Turris, while the Isles were slightly ahead, with their reported contract offering $4.68M AAV. GM Dan Hampton didn’t let missing out on Turris take the wind out of his sails, however - he rebounded on July 2 to snag one of the youngest UFAs available, Oliver Bjorkstrand. Oliver is only 23 years old and on his third team in the last year, but Hampton thinks he will offer a nice offensive touch to a team that was in the middle of the pack last year offensively.

The Knights made a few other signings - goalie Mason McDonald, only 22 years old, comes over from Calgary after going 6-5-0 with a 2.96 GAA and .899 SV& in 12 games with the Flames. Matt Carle was signed to offer some veteran depth on the blue line - he played 18 games with Seattle last year and had one goal and six assists. Forward Cristobal Nieves played 26 games for the Rangers last year, contributing one goal and three assists - the man they call “Boo” will now find himself in Vegas in what most suspect will be a 13th forward type role.

Hampton also signed some younger players to add some depth to the AHL team, and hopefully develop some future stars. Ryan Pulock played in three cities last year - Brooklyn, Bridgeport, and Columbus - managing 23 GP at the NHL level and scoring a goal and four assists. He comes to the team on a 3 year, $2.3M two-way contract. Tyler Bertuzzi, son of notorious former player Todd, comes to Vegas after spending last season appearing at all three stops in the Red Wings organization - ECHL Toledo, AHL Grand Rapids, and 3 games with Detroit themselves. Bertuzzi also signed a two way deal that would max out at 2 years and $1.5M.

Lastly, the team picked up some players overlooked in this year’s draft. Center Cameron Hebig scored 41 goals and 88 points for Saskatoon in the WHL last year, and signed a 3 year ELC with an AAV of $575K. Another center, 20 year old Adam Ruzicka, signed an ELC worth an annual $925K after putting up a 34-48-82 line with Sarnia in the OHL. Lastly, LW Martins Dzierkals signed his ELC with a value of $566K per year after scoring 32 goals, dishing out 39 assists, and racking up 135 PIMs with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL. Of the three, Ruzicka grades out as the strongest prospect - the 6’5” Slovakian is already seen as an offensive force, and many think he can become a very good player if he shores up his game on the defensive end.

Trades have been few and far between this offseason, with the most notable happening on July 1st - the Islanders traded Joseph Blandisi (acquired in the Josh Ho-Sang trade last year) to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for goalie Michael Hutchinson. In Vegas, the only trade they have made involved sending RW Austin Watson (48 GP, 0-7-7, 74 PIMs in 2017-18) to Boston for 20 year old D prospect Kale Clague (70 GP, 3-10-13 with LA/Boston in 2017-18). Clague profiles as an offensively-minded blue liner, and will spend some time in the AHL honing his craft in the upcoming season.

As we push through the summer towards the beginning of training camp and preseason in September, Vegas looks confident in their lineup as it stands - no major shake-ups or additions in the offseason. The team seems content in playing the long game - collecting prospects and building up a strong core of players from the inside out. We’ll check back closer to the new season with a roster preview and predictions for the league!
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Old 04-04-2017, 05:14 PM   #18
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The summer has wound down, and the players have returned to the locker rooms to get back to the grind. The goal? For the vast majority of the league, the Stanley Cup - but it sits locked on a pedestal behind 7 preseason games, 82 regular season tilts, and at least 16 playoff matches. But, as last year’s champions the Washington Capitals can tell you, every single second of struggle is worth it once you get your hands on the Cup itself - your name set to be etched into the annals of history.

For some, the first step on that road is the hardest - just ask Josh Ho-Sang, the man expected to step up and be a big part of this year’s Golden Knights’ team. Rumor has it that Ho-Sang showed up in no shape to be getting ready for the season; when asked, Coach Dan Hampton denied the allegation and said, “Any issues we have with a player are dealt with in-house. We’re not in the business of creating distractions for ourselves - we’ve got 31 other teams trying to do that for us already.”

The Golden Knights’ wrapped up their camp in Reno this weekend, after playing their home preseason games on their ECHL team’s rink. The team went 3-3-1 in the preseason, with the offense showing a spark not seen all that often in the team’s inaugural season. The goalies, however - world-beaters they were not.

“It’s the pre-season - none of this counts at the end of the day”, coach Hampton said to reporters this morning as the team packed up to head back to Vegas. “To me, the most important thing is to get the the guys back up to full speed on the ice, and to make sure we get through with everyone’s health intact. Which we did, so I think we succeeded.”

With opening night less than a week away, the Golden Knights’ roster seems set. NHL.com ran a preview earlier this week, with their guesses at the team’s depth chart shaking out thusly:

LEFT WING
1 - Ondrej Palat (LY: 75 GP, 15-25-40)
2 - Jordan Greenway (LY: 33 GP, 23-24-47**)
3 - Jason Dickinson (LY: 76 GP, 7-16-23)
4 - Igor Barbashev (LY: 65 GP, 27-43-70*)

CENTER
1 - Tyler Johnson (LY: 82 GP, 35-23-58)
2 - Adam Henrique (LY: 76 GP, 13-27-40)
3 - Alan Quine (LY: 67 GP, 6-7-13)
4 - Chase De Leo (LY: 65 GP, 25-41-66*)
5 - Cristobal Nieves (LY: 26 GP, 1-3-4)

RIGHT WING
1 - Josh Ho-Sang (LY: 55 GP, 6-8-14)
2 - Jakob Silfverberg (LY: 82 GP, 20-35-55)
3 - Jon Marchessault (LY: 75 GP, 15-20-35)
4 - Oliver Bjorkstrand (LY: 66 GP, 5-16-21)
5 - Riley Barber (LY: 71 GP, 18-25-43*)

LEFT DEFENSE
1 - T.J. Brodie (LY: 80 GP, 4-44-48)
2 - Nikita Zadorov (LY: 77 GP, 11-23-34)
3 - Dennis Seidenberg (LY: 82 GP, 4-9-13)

RIGHT DEFENSE
1 - Kevin Shattenkirk (LY: 75 GP, 18-24-42)
2 - Julius Honka (LY: 77 GP, 13-24-37)
3 - Jordan Subban (LY: 28 GP, 5-15-20)
4 - Matt Carle (LY: 18 GP, 1-6-7)

GOALIE
1st: Craig Anderson
LY: 65 GP, 36-24-5, 2.65, .908, 6 SO

2nd: Malcolm Subban
LY: 27 GP, 15-8-3, 2.75, .907, 1 SO*

(* - AHL Stats; ** - NCAA Stats)

The biggest surprise in the preseason was Josh Ho-Sang skating on the first line. After the second preseason tilt against the Florida Panthers, the media asked Coach Hampton if this was something to look for in the regular season. “Yeah, I think Josh gives us an interesting spark on the top line. I think he’s a great playmaker, and someone I’m comfortable getting the puck to two of our biggest scoring threats [Ondrej Palat & Tyler Johnson]. Plus, it means that Jakob is going to be playing on the second line and giving us two top lines with a scoring punch - Jakob is more of a goalscorer than Josh is so I wanted to separate him out from the other top line guys and spread that scoring touch throughout the lineup.”

The team heads into the year without many other major changes - Jordan Greenway steps in for the departed Evander Kane and is expected to give the team a big body down low on the second line & power play units. And the Subban brothers, Malcolm and Jordan, both made the team out of camp after strong showings - Jordan continued to show the offensive flair that brought him up to the NHL, but also showed more discipline on the defensive end, while Malcolm’s strong showing in camp cemented him as the team’s #2 goalie.

The Golden Knights have a lot to live up to after last year’s surprise run to the playoffs - they’ll look to come out of the gates fast on opening night against the Kings. We’ll check back with the team about a quarter way through the year to see how they’re holding up.
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:22 PM   #19
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The new season has reached the quarter pole, and the Golden Knights are looking more like what most people thought they’d look like as a first-year team last year. The team has limped out to a 6-14-0 record, good for the worst record in the Western Conference.

“Limped” is an apt word to describe the team’s performance so far - both physically and offensively. The team has struggled with injuries to this point; Kevin Shattenkirk, Jon Marchessault, Jason Dickinson, and AHL call-up Tyler Bertuzzi have all been bitten by the injury bug - with Dickinson looking at another 5 weeks on the shelf due to elbow problems. The anemic offense has also borne the brunt of the criticism in the early going; the team ranks last in the league with a paltry 1.70 goals per game (for comparison, the next-worst team, the New Jersey Devils, are averaging 2.33 per game). The offensive has been led, predictably, by Ondrej Palat (7-6-13) & Tyler Johnson (6-4-10); Josh Ho-Sang has struggled early on, only putting 2 goals and 2 assists on the scoresheet in his first 20 games on the top line. The defensemen have been surprisingly active, points wise, with Kevin Shattenkirk putting up a 1-8-9 in 17 games, and T.J. Brodie & Julius Honka with matching 1-7-8 lines.

Coach Dan Hampton has expressed frustration with the team defensively, having to shuffle the team’s defensive scheme to a simpler trapping style, eschewing the 1-3-1 forecheck he’s known to favor. He’s also dialed back the offense to a more simple, conservative style meant to minimize the mistakes and turnovers that have been plaguing the team early on this year.

To top it all off, Craig Anderson has many people beginning to question if his age is finally starting to catch up with him. The 37-year-old goalie has gone 3-10-0 in his 13 starts, with a 3.45 GAA and .907 SV%. Malcolm Subban has fared slightly better, going 3-4-0 with a goals-against average of 2.86 and a save percentage of .903. Rumors have it that the team will be seeing more of the younger Subban in goal going forward, barring an extreme turnaround from Anderson.

Around the league, there’s been a flurry of early season moves. Boston & St. Louis made an early “change of scenery” kind of move, flipping Kevan Miller and Carl Gunnarsson. St. Louis immediately turned around and made a much bigger trade, moving Jaden Schwartz & the rights to KHL D Dmitri Sergeyev to Seattle for Viktor Arvidsson & Patrick Eaves. The biggest move, however, was Edmonton moving star LW Rick Nash to Ottawa in exchange for highly-regarded 21 years C Filip Chlapik. Nash had struggled to find a role in Edmonton, despite his 3-12-15 line in 18 games, and immediately looks to slot into the top line in Ottawa.

There are some early surprises around the leaderboard - 21 year old LW Jakub Stukel of the Canucks is leading the lead with 13 goals early on, while Filip Forsberg rode an 8 game helper streak to lead the league with 21 assists and 32 points. Devin Dubnyk, Mikko Koskinen, and Marek Mazanec all are tied for the league lead with 13 wins, and Cam Ward has seemingly found the fountain of youth to leave the league with a 1.70 GAA.

The 2018 season has shown a bunch of surprises already, not the least of which has been the struggles of the Golden Knights. We’ll take a deep dive in the state of the NHL at the midway point, so check back then!
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:17 PM   #20
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The midway point hit just before the New Year, and the Golden Knights will be heading into the second half of the season, and the beginning of 2019, with a disappointing 13-24-5 record. The team has shown some life as of late but the injury bug has bitten this team, and bitten hard. At the midway point, the team is missing Adam Henrique, Jason Dickinson, & Jordan Greenway - with Henrique the closest to a return in about 3 weeks. The team is currently bringing up the rear in the NHL, tied with the Boston Bruins for the least amount of points amongst the 32 teams.

The offense continues to be the main issue - their goals per game has crept up to an even 2, but this still leaves them well behind the other teams in the league. The team’s possession numbers have also been poor - they’re getting outshot an average of 35.62 to 25.5 shots per game. Special teams are falling right in line with this - the team has the second worst PK in the league (77.4%) and is tied for the 3rd worst power play in the league (13%).

The top line still paces the team in scoring - Ondrej Palat’s 14-15-29 leads the team in goals and total points, while Tyler Johnson’s 10-17-27 gives him the most assists and second-most points on the team. Jakob Silfverberg continues to show his scoring touch on the second line, with an 11-11-22 line through 42 games, and rumors have it he will shortly be displacing the disappointing Josh Ho-Sang on the top line. Ho-Sang has been nearly invisible this year - through 42 games played he has 3 goals and 5 assists despite averaging 17:38 of ice time per game. Craig Anderson has stepped up his play to an extent, and that has kept the Knights from completely falling apart. Despite his poor-looking 8-16-2 record, Anderson has rebounded from his early season issues to post a .914 SV% and a 3.09 GAA. Malcolm Subban has had a very up-and-down year, with his 5-8-3 record carrying a .899 SV% and 3.41 GAA.

Down on the farm, Lowell has been right in the middle of the pack in the AHL. The team is being led by RW Anthony Beauregard, who has 9 goals and 22 assists through 33 games. Lowell has been hurt by some lineup inconsistency, as players have ridden the shuttle back and forth all year due to the injuries. Some names to keep an eye on are Frankie Vatrano - he scored 11 goals in 23 games with Lowell, and has found the back of the net twice in 5 games since his call-up. Prospect Adam Ruzicka also earned an early call to the big time after a 6-9-15 line in 28 games in the AHL; the 6’5” center was brought up to replace some of the size lost when Jordan Greenway was hurt. Defenseman Ryan Pulock has shown some spark despite some injury problems in Lowell - he has 15 points in 15 games played and is pushing for a spot in Vegas. Offseason free agent signing Mason McDonald has been solid in net for Lowell, going 10-8-3 with a 2.27 GAA and .911 SV%. GM/Coach Dan Hampton has said he’s looking for a spark in his lineup, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see some of these names getting some play time in the NHL sooner than later.

The league has seen some big moves - the Devils and Capitals hooked up for a trade, with Dmitry Orlov & AHL goalie Matt Tomkins heading to the Devils, and veteran D Lasse Kukkonen and the rights to CIS player Brandon Baddock going to Washington. Seattle and Chicago swapped D Mark Giordano for young G Dominik Hrachovina, and lastly the Islanders shipped D Brandon Manning to the Caps for LW Vinnie Hinostroza, a man seemingly born to play in Brooklyn.

Filip Forsberg has continued his strong play, leading the league with 40 assists and 61 points; Jakub Stukel has slowed down after a huge start and is now 6th overall in goals, with Jack Eichel leading the way with 27. Corey Crawford finds himself in a familiar position, tied with Mikko Koskinen for the league lead in wins (27), while Mike Condon paces all goalies with a .929 SV%. And, most surprisingly of all, Cam Ward is still leading the league with a sub-2 goals against average (1.90).

With the calendar flipping, there’s still time for most teams to make a push for the playoffs. There’s a ton of familiar names rumored to be available for a rental, with the most surprising one being San Jose C Joe Thornton. Jumbo seems to finally have hit the wall in his age-39 season, playing 45 games and only having 3 points on the board. Noise is coming out of Pittsburgh that Carl Hagelin could be had for the right price, while Paul Stastny’s public feud with new Blues coach Steve Thomas has his name making the rounds.
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