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Potential VGK Sleeper Additions in NHL Free Agency

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Here’s a list in no particular order players who would be big sleeper additions in NHL Free Agency for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Joe Thornton, C – San Jose

Hear me out. Pete DeBoer has a relationship with Thornton. He’s 41 and said today he wants to play still. On a cheap contract Thornton can give you tremendous experience and puck distribution. He might not be the Jumbo of five years ago but I’m curious enough to take a look.

Dominic Kahun, LW – Buffalo

Kahun really showed me something this season. Buffalo continues to negotiate with the player even though they did not qualify him. I think he can play quality minutes in the bottom six for a really good price.

TJ Brodie, D – Calgary

Very quietly it seems the Flames have yet to get Brodie back under contract. He’s been a fixture on the blueline there for a long time. I could see him on a Vegas team that could use a solid, reliable defender. His offensive output dropped last year and he just turned 30, so perhaps there’s a bargain to be had here. I could see a change of scenery being just what the doctor ordered.

Carter Verhaege, LW – Tampa Bay

He’s young (25), just won a Stanley Cup, and will run you league minimum. Another guy you could find a lot of use for in a bottom-six role. His advanced numbers actually look good, but keep in mind how good Tampa is too. I think Vegas is that good.

Lucas Wallmark, C – Florida

Another inexpensive center who can slot in the bottom six. I feel like the Golden Knights could use a few more on the depth chart. Wallmark provides NHL experience for a bargain price. Not my top option but when every dollar counts his stock rises.

Tyler Toffoli, W – Vancouver

I really like Toffoli’s game and he showed his true value when he was finally reinserted into the Canucks lineup before they were eliminated by Vegas in seven games. He’s a center which is a plus for the VGK. The question is what his price will be. The Canucks couldn’t make the room to bring him back. If Stastny is moved and they need a second-line center, he’s a great target.

Here’s a list of players I’d pass on in NHL Free Agency.

Anton Khudobin, G – Dallas

Khudobin looked great for Dallas in the playoffs. I’ve always liked his game even in the minors when I got to see him play. The issue is at 34, could he really do this for another team for the next three-ish years? As a 1B maybe if it’s affordable, but I’d rather cast my lot with some of the other available FA goalies.

Anthony Duclair, F – Ottawa

Duclair is mercurial. When he cares to compete he has incredible skill. He just doesn’t always care to compete. If he ever gets his head right he’ll be a steal for someone. But I don’t see that happening and wouldn’t take the chance.

Corey Crawford, G – Chicago

I hate to say it but between his age and injury history, I can’t find a place for the former Stanley Cup winner on my roster. I wonder if anyone does.

Taylor Hall, F – Arizona

Hall seems like one of those talented players who can put up numbers but isn’t able to be “the guy” to make you a winner. That’s a lot of bread to throw at someone who has to be a third piece. Pass.

Kyle Turris, F – Nashville

Turris’ best years are behind him, and while he could be effective in the right role I think there are other, younger players available who can do the same thing.

Alex Galchenyuk, F – Minnesota

Galchenyuk is another mystery. Loads of talent. Has shown scoring ability. Doesn’t even know the defensive zone exists. You could ignore the last one when his offensive numbers were good. Now that the scoring has dried up you can’t ignore it anymore.

Craig Smith, F – Nashville

Smith has always been that guy you wait for to really break out. He scores in bunches and looks great when he’s on. Then there’s every other time. At 30, it’s time to call him what he is – a streaky scorer who doesn’t have enough of them to justify a spot on the roster.

Follow us on Twitter @VegasHockeyNow for what promises to be a crazy NHL Free Agency period, and let us know in the comments who you would go after if you were the GM of the Golden Knights.

 

 

 

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The Stage is Set for Vegas to Run Away Early

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Marchessault Vegas Golden Knights west division

When the Vegas Golden Knights saw the team’s schedule for this season, I’m willing to bet there were more than a few smiles in the front office. While no game in the NHL is a guarantee, the way the schedule breaks down for the VGK to start the season favors them jumping out to a lead that will be tough to overtake in the Honda West Division.

Looking at the first six games, it’s easy to see how the Golden Knights could potentially win all of them. Opening with a pair against the struggling Anaheim Ducks followed by four against an Arizona Coyotes team that will still be figuring out its new identity this season. the Golden Knights have it comparatively easy. Consider the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche, the two best teams in the division outside of Nevada, face each other twice right away.

After those six games, a pair with St. Louis could yield a split. So let’s call it 7-1 at that point. After that, six more games against the bottom-dwelling California teams. Vegas will play two each against the San Jose Sharks, LA Kings and Ducks once more.

I’m not saying things always go perfectly. They often don’t. But it is possible that before the Golden Knights play four in a row against the Colorado Avalanche a month from now, they could potentially be 13-1, 12-2 or something resembling that mark. No other team in the HWD has that type of chance to jump out in front and Vegas needs to capitalize.

Here’s the other advantage for Vegas in starting with six games against perceptibly weaker opponents: the ability to lock in. Line combinations, defensive groupings, special teams. All the things you take time on in pre-season games. All things that every other NHL team didn’t have a chance to do because we had no pre-season. Vegas is fortunate to have those games on the schedule right away to dial things in just a little bit more over the course of two weeks of games.

If the VGK capitalize and get off to a fast start, there’s no way anyone in the HWD will catch them.

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Why Five Defenseman For The Vegas Golden Knights?

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Shea Theodore Alex Pietrangelo VGK Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are going into tonight’s game with only five defensemen and 13 forwards instead of the usual 6+12=18 setup for skaters.

Why? The answer is simple. Cap compliance.

By dressing Keegan Kolesar and his $725k salary, the Golden Knights will barely clear the bar and get under this season’s $81.5M salary cap. After signing Alex Pietrangelo in the off-season and trading away Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt, the Golden Knights were still a sliver over. So they waived Nick Holden and were able to shave another ~$1M against the cap. The problem is, they don’t have a sixth defenseman they want to dress who makes what Kolesar does. So 13 forwards it is.

Vegas will have to do similar juggling all season long, but GM Kelly McCrimmon doesn’t seem concerned. McCrimmon cited the workhorse time on ice numbers of both Shea Theodore who led Vegas in that category last year, and Alex Pietrangelo who led the St. Louis Blues in the same category. Perhaps rotating five defensemen and giving more ice time to the workhorses will bode well for Vegas. If there’s a season to do it, one that only lasts 56 games as opposed to 82 might be the one to do it.

Keep an eye on how the defense fares over the first two or three weeks of the season. If things go well, expect to see this setup more often than not for the Golden Knights.

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Four Bold Predictions For The Vegas Golden Knights

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When we say bold predictions, we mean BOLD.

Vegas Hockey Now is very big on keeping things real and giving you the unfiltered analysis – good and bad – on the Vegas Golden Knights.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t think big like Golden Knights fans either. If everything were to go right this season, what great things could happen? This isn’t a list that includes ‘the team will be good this season’ on it. This is shooting for the moon and having fun doing it. Here we go.

Prediction #1 – Major Hardware

This is the year the Golden Knights add more hardware to the trophy case, but not something they’ve won before. With two legitimate Norris Trophy candidates on the roster in Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore the VGK will be in the conversation all season long when it comes to defense. The only worry I have is one player cannibalizing the other because they’re on the same team. I’ve seen it happen.

That said, I’m predicting Robin Lehner puts forth a Vezina-winning campaign this year. Partly because he’s been nominated before and is fully capabale, but also look at the defense in front of him. I fully expect Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury to capture the William Jennings Trophy (fewest goals against) this season, and Lehner should be making room for his first Vezina Trophy.

Prediction #2 – Chandler Stephenson, NHL All-Star

No, there wont’ be an All-Star Game this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the NHL won’t hand out selections. Even if it ends up being post-season First and Second Team All-Stars, Stephenson will be on the list. Playing between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, we predict a huge season for the pivot that sends folks scrambling to pick him up in fantasy leagues across North America. He hasn’t looked out of place whatsoever and that’s even with Pacioretty flying around like he has wings on his skates. This line will be electric and Stephenson is literally in the middle of it all.

Prediction #3 – Vegas Has Highest-Scoring Defense in the NHL

A reach? We don’t think so. Pietrangelo and Theodore will obviously play a big role in this, but don’t overlook the rest of the defenders. Plus, Pete DeBoer likes an active defense jumping up into the play to make things happen offensively. It makes for a nice attacking blend of hockey that helps the Golden Knights keep other teams back on their heels. Offense from the defense will be a tremendous bonus on a team that has one of the best top six forward groups in the NHL, and could potentially boast one of the best power plays this year.

Prediction #4 – The Stanley Cup Comes To Vegas

I’m not buying the Colorado hype. I think the entire East Division is going to beat itself to a pulp. Tampa Bay is the most likely Stanley Cup opponent and they’ll get Nikita Kucherov back by then (no cap in the playoffs). So don’t kid yourself, this isn’t going to be easy. But Vegas is deeper than Tampa up front and on defense. While I definitely give the edge in special teams and goal to the Lightning, I believe the Golden Knights have what it takes to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to The Strip this season. You heard it here first!

So there you go, four bold predictions for this season. What are your predictions? Tell us in the comments… Golden Knights or otherwise!

 

 

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