As we near NHL free agency on October 9, this series will look at the VGK Top Three Trade Targets at forward, defense and goaltender.
We know there will be movement around the league, but the question remains how much? Some analysts are saying this could be one of the most active markets ever. Others think perhaps many teams stand pat and try to figure out their own situations internally. I think there are enough teams with needs and wants beyond their current asset pool that things are going to really get going this week.
As much as I’d love to see Patrik Laine in those awesome new gold uniforms, he’s not on the list. I think there are a few too many factors that make a deal for him (and some other players) a combination of too-high a price, too much money, too little term or other factors that led me to other decisions.
Also let’s keep in mind that when targeting trades, Vegas is a team that has certain needs and wants. They don’t need to hit a home run and reinvent the roster – but if that impossible dream is there then take a swing. They need to make little adjustments to a roster that has seen a lot of playoff success. It was clear the team needed one more point producer up front as scoring dried up. They also could use a versatile player who can move up and down the lineup to fill holes. A tall order to be sure, but let’s take a look at what’s around.
Trade Target: Phillip Danault – C MTL
Probably my favorite target on the board for many reasons. Danault is a very good defensive center and at 27 still has a few years of upside growth potential. He also managed 13-34-47 in the regular season for the Canadiens so checks my box for added scoring. What matters most to me about Danault is that he is a center with experience, yet young enough to have several more productive seasons.
The Deeper Dive on Danault
When it comes to stats and advanced metrics, there’s a lot to like. Last year he recorded a career-high 119 blocks. For the second season in the past three he put more than 62% of his shots through to the net. His Corsi-for is 55.1% and Fenwick-for is 54.1% despite having 56.2% of his starts in the defensive zone. Danault is a guy who can chip offensively and help lock it down on D. I could see him plugging in as a third line center and really giving the Golden Knights three solid lines that can contribute. Plus a line with him down the middle would be favored to shut down an opposing combo.
As far as possibilities go, he’s likely affordable and a realistic get. Danault carries a $3.25M cash outlay in the final year of his current three-year deal with an AAV of $3.083M.
So what name comes up if we stretch a little?
Trade Target: Johnny Gaudreau – LW CGY
Calgary itself is in flux. The organization seems caught between believing it can win with the assembled core and clamoring for something to change. From the outside looking in I’d be more concerned with goaltending and defense, but Gaudreau received a lot of blame this year as his numbers dropped significantly. Not good when you account for 8.3% of your team’s cap at $6.75M through 2021-22. Vegas would really need to clear the decks on salary to make this happen.
That said after two years of better than a point-per-game, dropping to 58 points in 70 games isn’t terrible. More concerning would be his minus-10 rating and slightly above 50% possession metrics despite 58.7% of his zone starts coming in the offensive end.
The Deeper Dive on Gaudreau
There are reasons to believe he’ll rebound this season. His 8.6% shooting percentage was well below his career 12.1% mark. Plus Gaudreau only posted 18 power play points, far below his totals from the two previous seasons. Many other stats including expected goals-for were way off for the 27-year-old left wing last year. I really believe last year will be a blip on the long-term radar. Perhaps while Calgary is in this uncertain state, Gaudreau could be pried free.
Trade Target: Kyle Palmieri – RW NJD
Palmieri is a model of mid-level scoring consistency. For the last five seasons he’s finished between 24 and 30 goals. This is the final year of his five-year deal worth an AAV of $4.65M – cash outlay $4.25M. He does have a limited NMC but it’s hard to imagine a player not allowing a trade to Vegas, especially considering New Jersey’s rebuild. That’s another reason why I think he can be picked up is that the Devils are rebuilding and would trade for younger players with more team control.
The Deeper Dive on Palmieri
This is a player where you have to agree to live by the sword, die by the sword. His metrics won’t win you over if that’s your most important measuring stick. No, Palmieri is more of an eye-test guy. You have to see the impact he has on the ice to understand his value. I look at his scoring consistency over the last five years and have to remember that the Devils have been a bottom-seven team in goals for in four of the last five seasons. In fact in his first two seasons they were dead last and third-last respectively. Only a 17th-place finish in this category three years ago breaks the chain. When you realize Palmieri scored 13.5% of New Jersey’s goals in 2019-20, his impact comes more into focus. On a team where he could be made to flourish by the weapons around him, Palmieri could be a steal in line for a nice extension from the Golden Knights.
What do you think? Which players would you go after up front? Let us know in the comments!
Vegas Reverse Retro Jersey Confirmed?
Vegas Reverse Retro Jersey Appears Confirmed by Sports Business Journal Tweet
For the last few weeks there have been alleged leaks of different jerseys across social media including a red Vegas Golden Knights jersey. There have also been images of jerseys for the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsbrugh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and even San Jose Sharks.
However, according to San Jose Sharks President Jonathan Becher, the alternate sweaters were a hoax:
Entertained by the alternate jerseys designs on social media labeled as based on inside info. We have creative fans! None of these designs are real
— Jonathan Becher (@jbecher) October 22, 2020
This tweet appears to refer to a Sharks jersey echoing the California Golden Seals that had been making the rounds, but also in saying “none” of these designs are real seems to be nodding towards all the designs floating out there. We’ve seen photos of jerseys for sale on eBay, posted on various websites, and proliferating on fan accounts. While I don’t always buy in to jersey rumors, in this case you could sense there might be fire and not just smoke.
This morning, Sports Business Journal put out the following tweet:
Sources: The #NHL and @Adidas are planning for a broader mid-November unveiling of the widely-rumored reverse retro-style jerseys. The fourth jerseys, as they’ve been referred to online, will be worn by teams in select games (@markjburns88).https://t.co/m92zAGgykS pic.twitter.com/mcz5hnIsNE
— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) October 27, 2020
Interesting photo choice, eh?
This all but locks in that the NHL is indeed going to release the series of jerseys in a few weeks, including the red Vegas Reverse Retro jersey we spoke of last week. The jersey pays homage to the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder with its “V” shaped striping, updated to Vegas Golden Knights colors. The jersey also features the team’s secondary star logo as the main crest. The Knight helm is on the shoulders.
While reception has been mixed, I think that once fans have a chance to see them for real they’ll be a stunner.
The Vegas Reverse Retro jersey will be worn for “select” games this season. Perhaps they will be worn against other teams with the jerseys. Since the original leak photo juxtaposed Vegas and an updated Wild Wing Anaheim Ducks jersey, it’s fair to assume that will be a matchup featuring the jerseys.
Another potential matchup for the red Vegas Reverse Retro jersey could be against the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon posted a picture of Quebec Nordiques-color gloves on his Instagram with the caption “new colors crazy”. The Avs moved out of La Belle Provence in the mid-90s because of economic considerations. But the baby blue jerseys remain popular with the retro crowd to this day… and those of us old enough to remember what a fierce Adams Division rival the Nordiques were.
We’re also seeing Dallas teasing a jersey release for Wednesday by showing us just a black piece of jersey fabric. This morning they posted the following video:
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 27, 2020
So it looks like the Stars are going to be going either monochromatic, or perhaps have just a very slight reference to the team’s signature green in them. But this release doesn’t match up with the Reverse Retro. It seems more in line with the VGK Golds that were released a few weeks ago.
Give it a few weeks Golden Knights fans. We will see the new Vegas Reverse Retro jersey out there soon.
Who Joins the Vegas Golden Knights in a Pandemic Division?
We here at VHN are in “fun mode” at this point of the off-season. It’s fun to follow thoughts and ideas that swirled at various points in the last few weeks but had to be shelved for stuff like “breaking news“, “Alex Pietrangelo” and “Robin Lehner vs. Marc-Andre Fleury IN A STEEL CAGE!”.
Well, maybe the last one combined reality with one of those crazy ideas…
But at this point, we don’t have any real idea of when the season will start. It appears less likely with the second wave of COVID-19 things actually do hit that January 1 initial projection. Vegas owner Bill Foley has speculated it could be February 1 if not later.
I think it’s a given that we will see a shorter season, likely 48 games. Historical precedence exists and for TV reasons the season has to end by the start of the Tokyo Olympics.
Likewise I don’t think you can play this season in a bubble, but you might be able to hub for part of it. If the teams did hub, I believe it would be at the start of the season. Once the border between Canada and the US is open again for non-essential travel I see things going back to what we consider “normal”.
So with that in mind, here are my predictions for Pandemic Division distribution for when the NHL would resume play in January/February.
Yes. A Canadian pandemic division would be essential and is actually a great size. Plus, it gives the Canadian networks must-watch matchups almost all the time to start the season. So we have Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in the CD. Plus if the US/Canada border really does remain closed until at least January 1 if not beyond, it’s pretty much how the NHL has to proceed. So we might as well warm up to the idea now.
Look at the immediate benefits of Toronto/Montreal and Edmonton/Calgary hammering away at each other as they’ve always done. Then we have the potential for new rivalries with the Jets who are the only centralized team in Canada. Everyone else is closer to the coasts. Plus with Ottawa spending the way they are and with an owner saying they’ll win a Stanley Cup in four years, they’re a team to watch.
Obviously this leads to questions, such as structure for the remaining divisions, each of which will have eight teams because I’m having four divisions. What happens to the Golden Knights and the former Pacific Division?
What Happens To Vegas
The VGK will end up in a pandemic division with current rivals San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. But to fill out the last three teams in the division, I’m going to draw a new map and create some awesome rivalries. Coming in as the last teams will be the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and St. Louis Blues.
This would undoubtedly be the most fun possible for VGK fans because it grows the rivalry with Dallas; Colorado/Vegas will turn out to be the marquee matchup in my opinion; St. Louis wants its mojo back and has something to prove. Plus imagine the Pietrangelo vs. STL storyline playing out six times or more in a season.
I realize you might think this sounds like the creation of someone with inherent bias, but geographically it makes sense. Ignore for just the start of the season how Dallas hated being in the Pacific and left for the Central. It rekindles those old Ducks/Stars matchups that used to get out hand. Everyone will be gunning for Dallas and for Vegas. Colorado could be the best team in the NHL to start the season if healthy, yet in a division like this it will be survival of the fittest. Plus, even if you write off Arizona and the California teams (sorry Sharks fans) for the season, this setup gives you the potential for a great clash somewhere every single night.
This pandemic division was also altered from my first call. Originally it was an easy time to lump Buffalo, New Jersey, NYI, NYR, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh and Columbus together. Nice and tidy. But that left me with that oddball “South” division which wasn’t very southern for half of it.
So as I always say, sacrifices have to be made, but the division might be better for it.
Now, I have a lineup I’m pretty happy with. I take the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.
Wow – really shook up some things there! And broke off the traditional rivalries that go all the way back to the Patrick Division days with PIT/PHI and the NY teams. But let’s look at some of the crazy awesome upside here.
FOUR of the Original Six teams are in a division together. For Detroit, they only recently came back to the Eastern Conference. Chicago has been in the West for a long time and is now the only O-6 team out there. But look at it now! Hawks, Wings, Rangers and Bruins all in the same division. Rangers/Bruins has deep, angry roots and would be awesome to see renewed. Wings and Hawks much the same. Plus now Minnesota and Buffalo fans get a different perspective on things as well. I like how this works out for my “Southern” division as well. And for Buffalo it’s a chance to really finally establish that downstate rivalry in hockey.
Hopefully the NHL embraces the rare chance to realign and perhaps stoke some other unique rivalries. Initially I had this pandemic division looking somewhat differently than my final alignment. I had constructed a division that included the obvious Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers triangle.
Is now the time to say I miss the Atlanta Thrashers? RIP ATL hockey.
I was going to lump Washington in here with pretty much the rest of the Central Division, but I now realize that’s not going to play out as well as I first imagined.
So for my remaining five teams, I bring in the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
And believe it or not, I think there’s some nice synergies here.
Nashville and Pittsburgh rivalry? Well, the Penguins (and former Pred Patric Hornqvist) did deny Music City a Stanley Cup. This also keeps the Crosby/Ovechkin thing going – but I’m really over that narrative. However it appears the NHL and NBC are not.
Nashville and Columbus used to be rivals in the Barry Trotz/Ken Hitchcock days, but that’s faded with the CBJ in the east. Perhaps now they could rekindle that, especially with John Tortorella as the new protagonist.
I also think that Philly, Washington and Pittsburgh are good teams that will compete with each other every night. Now you have a division with legit contenders and a defending Stanley Cup champion going head-to-head to start the season almost every night. And let’s face it, Columbus can completely spoil an evening for anyone every time out.
In creating my pandemic division setup I allowed for some rivalry retention as well as nods towards recent clashes. I think this is the best balance of geography and rivalry, but what do you think? How would you align your four divisions? Let us know in the comments!
This Date in Vegas Golden Knights History: Dansk Records First Win
This date in Vegas Golden Knights history will feature highlights and historical moments from the franchise’s inception until now.
October 24, 2017
VGK 4 – CHI 2
Oscar Dansk won his first NHL start, making 29 saves to help the Vegas Golden Knights to their fourth straight win.
After trailing 1-0, Vegas scored four straight goals to take a commanding lead they wouldn’t relinquish. William Karlsson, Tomas Nosek, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Jonathan Marchessault scored for the VGK.
Vegas became the 10th team in league history to record a four-game win streak in its inaugural season.
Dansk started the game because both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban were injuried.
Dansk earned his first NHL win three days before against St. Louis, taking over for the injured Subban and winning in overtime.