Roughly four hours into the 2020 NHL Free Agency period, Alex Pietrangelo hadn’t signed a deal with anyone. In fact, as reports swirling around the player rise and fall on Twitter, something dawned on me.
Pietrangelo hasn’t signed yet because he can’t get what he wants… yet. Follow me for a moment.
From a Vegas Golden Knights standpoint, the cap room does not yet exist for him to sign the deal he desires. Bringing Pietrangelo in will likely require a commitment of around $9M AAV. The VGK still need to move out some salary. The goalie market has to settle before Marc-Andre Fleury moves. Nate Schmidt requires a team to really commit. Other smaller deals are do-able in the meantime for the Golden Knights but those tend to be on Day Two and beyond.
My theory: Pietrangelo has chosen Vegas and is waiting for them to clear the room to acquire him.
It makes sense. The Blues don’t know what’s going on. Toronto has said it spoke to Pietrangelo’s agent but not the player directly. We haven’t heard anything really from other teams. The Golden Knights themselves have kept quiet on the matter. And the silence says a lot to me. It means wheels are turning behind the scenes, but it’s going to take a little while to play out because of how complicated the flat cap has made things.
In sending Paul Stastny back to Winnipeg, the Golden Knights unloaded a $6.5M cap hit for this season. That moved them back under the cap by roughly $3.5M after signing Robin Lehner. The remaining high salaries (AAV in parenthesis) are Mark Stone ($9.5M), Max Pacioretty and Marc-Andre Fleury ($7M), Schmidt ($5.95M), William Karlsson ($5.9M) and so it goes from there. Check the complete Vegas cap situation over at PuckPedia.
I’m sure you can deduce who makes sense to move and who does not. The problem is finding willing dance partners. And sometimes a player isn’t “in play” until someone calls on him. As I’ve said before, you have to make sacrifices to make yourself better in the cap era.
Once those moves are made and the room is cleared, I’d expect something to happen quickly. But don’t get too antsy. I really do think this is going to take a few days or more to sort itself out.
What do you think – will Alex Pietrangelo be wearing Vegas Gold next season?
Karlsson’s Late Goal Lifts Golden Knights
William Karlsson played the role of hero for the Vegas Golden Knights, notching the game-winning goal with just 43 seconds remaining in a scoreless game to give the VGK the 1-0 victory Sunday afternoon.
With cheers coming from what sounded more like a partisan Vegas crowd, Jonathan Marchessault dug out a puck from behind the Coyotes net and centered to Karlsson. Karlsson made no mistake, burying the puck on the stick side of Darcy Kuemper (26 saves) for the game-winning goal.
Marc-Andre Fleury posted his 62nd career shutout on 16 saves. The victory was his third straight to open the 2021 season.
For the Vegas Golden Knights, the win is redemption after giving up five goals to the Coyotes on Friday night for the team’s first loss of the season. This time Vegas never really let Arizona into the contest, giving up only four shots in the first period.
The game felt sluggish at times, perhaps due to the afternoon start but also the fact that these same two teams were facing each other for the fourth straight time. Fortunately for Vegas, they were able to break through late and steal the victory.
“The name of the game was patience,” Karlsson said with a relieved laugh after the game. “We had a lot of chances and sooner or later they will go in. I thought we had a great game. Eventually (it) has to go in and it did.”
When the Golden Knights had the energy up and forechecked aggressively in the game they generated chances. Nowhere was that on display more than the game-winning goal. Alex Tuch dumps the puck into the corner from neutral ice as Marchessault attacks with speed into the Coyotes zone, beating out an icing call. Marchessault puts the puck into an area just off the net in the slot where Karlsson was able to follow up and immediately shoot the puck, not allowing Kuemper to set up for the shot.
WILD BILL SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST 🤠🚨 pic.twitter.com/UBlTugE2y5
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 24, 2021
Vegas was definitely the better of the two sides throughout regulation, out-shooting and out-chancing the Coyotes especially in the later stages of the game. Darcy Kuemper deserves the credit for yet another great start for Arizona, making save after save to give the Coyotes a shot at the win.
The Vegas Golden Knights return home for the team’s toughest test so far, a pair of games against the St. Louis Blues starting Tuesday evening.
- I feel like I’m beating the same drum over and over, but when the Vegas Golden Knights are generating scoring chances, it’s because of the forecheck. This team is built on speed and being aggressive, chasing down pucks and setting up scoring chances from that. Today’s game-winning goal was a perfect example of that.
- Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t busy the entire time, but made every single save he needed to including a breakaway stop on Phil Kessel that could have spelled disaster for the VGK. I’ve never seen a goalie who stays so completely game-ready regardless of work schedule. Fleury won’t receive the credit he deserves for the work he did in this one, but without him being perfect, perhaps Vegas doesn’t win.
- The Vegas Golden Knights have never gone past regulation with a 0-0 score, and came within 43 seconds of that happening against Arizona.
- Once again Cody Glass sat and Nic Hague was back in the lineup, giving Vegas the traditional six defensemen and 12 forwards. Hague looked good and to underscore another point I’ve been making, this team is much better with six defensemen in the lineup.
- Vegas also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 61% of the draws.
Coyotes End Golden Knights Win Streak At Four
The Arizona Coyotes stopped the Vegas Golden Knights winning streak at four games with a 5-2 victory at Gila River Arena on Friday night.
Connor Garland led the Coyotes offense with a goal and two assists, while Nick Schmaltz scored for the third straight game.
It’s a very difficult proposition to beat a team four times in a row – look at any playoff series. Arizona winning a game, especially at home, was probably due. The Coyotes seemed to have more spring in their step than they did Wednesday night when the Golden Knights handed the Coyotes a 5-2 loss. Several times the Vegas defense allowed odd-man rushes to the Coyotes, and running five defensemen once again likely contributed to some of the errors on the back end.
“It’s definitely different,” said Shea Theodore after the game. “You are rotating through partners (and) you can’t exactly get into the rhythm with one guy… at the same time I don’t think that’s an excuse.”
“We should be able to adapt. We just can’t give up that many odd-man rushes on any given night.”
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said he felt it was more the special teams that affected the outcome of the game.
“Penalties really kinda took our momentum out of the game. Both taking them, and obviously their power play goal early, and then a bunch of the other kills we had to have… when they did take (penalties) I didn’t think our power play created any momentum for us. For me that was… the story.”
“Some self-inflicted things tonight,” DeBoer said.
Whatever the reason, Vegas allowed the Coyotes to grow confident by ceding the opportunities and it showed. Arizona seemed to feel better about its game more and more as the game wore on.
Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to earn the win as Vegas never quite seemed to find the scoring touch it displayed Wednesday night. Robin Lehner struggled, giving up four goals on 25 shots against and will likely want a couple of those goals back. Lehner seemed off the entire night, whether handling the puck, setting himself for shots, or tracking movement. Those games will happen, but they’re highlighted even more when the goaltender in the other net makes the needed saves. Kuemper was definitely the better of the two goalies on the night.
Fortunatley for the Golden Knights, they’ll be able to jump right back into the action against the Coyotes on Sunday afternoon at 4 pm MT, 3 pm PT.
- The game marked the first time this season the Vegas Golden Knights have given up more than two goals.
- Cody Glass returned to the lineup after sitting out a pair of games and recorded a power play goal in the third period.
- Shea Theodore scored for the second straight game, an unassisted marker at 1:19 of the third period.
- Vegas went back to a lineup that featured five defensemen and 13 forwards with Glass back in the lineup. Notably both Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo went minus-2 in the contest.
- Mark Stone keeps his scoring streak intact, assisting on Cody Glass’ power play goal in the third period to give him eight points (2-6-8) in his first five games.
Pietrangelo Scores, Fleury Stops 20; Vegas Tames Coyotes 5-2
Shea Theodore scored twice. Alex Pietrangelo notched his first goal with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights (4-0-0) established a new franchise record for consecutive wins to start the season in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes (1-2-1) Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Mark Stone and Alex Tuch added the other goals for the Golden Knights. Tuch also tacked on two assists for a three-point game.
Marc-Andre Fleury and his golden pads, which match the metallic gold jerseys, made 20 saves for the win.
Production Is Increasing
The Vegas Golden Knights are starting to get some big-time production. Alex Tuch’s three-point night was a welcome sight. Max Pacioretty extended his point streak to four games with an assist. Stone’s goal also extended his point streak to four games. Keegan Kolesar notched his first NHL point with an assist. And perhaps most important is that the VGK notched a power-play goal. Things are starting to come together.
Offense From the Defense
For the first time, this season the Vegas Golden Knights received goals from its defenders. Shea Theodore scored twice, and Alex Pietrangelo scored his first in a Vegas sweater. Alec Martinez and Nic Hague also added helpers. Head coach Pete DeBoer likes his defensemen active and involved in the play, and they certainly were Wednesday night. Here’s to hoping that trend continues in Arizona.
Taking Advantage of the Schedule
As we pointed out before the season, the schedule couldn’t be more conducive to an early run for the Vegas Golden Knights. Already at 4-0 to start the season, they could hit 6-0 and potentially 12-2 or better depending on how things shake out. The difference this year? Going 6-0 to start would be like going 10-0 in a regular 82-game schedule. Getting that far out in front makes it hard for other teams to catch the Golden Knights. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but until Vegas plays the Colorado Avalanche on Valentine’s Day, only two of the team’s first 14 games come against a playoff club from last year (St. Louis Blues).
The Rotation Continues
Marc-Andre Fleury made the start last night for the Vegas Golden Knights, wearing his new gold pads to coincide with the second appearance of the team’s gold uniforms. Fleury stopped 20 shots to earn the win and is now 2-0 on the season.
Take to the Sky
The Vegas Golden Knights will now take to the road for the last two games against the Coyotes in this series. The two teams play Friday at 6 pm PT and Sunday at 1 pm PT to round out the week.