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In-Depth: Alex Pietrangelo Goes Gold

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Alex Pietrangelo

Alex Pietrangelo has signed a seven-year, $8.8M AAV deal with the Vegas Golden Knights – easily the most anticipated contract of this year’s free agency period.

VHN takes a look as to what it means for the VGK and its loyal fans.

Immediate Impact

While you could never judge a seven-year contract in an instant, the immediate impact for the Vegas Golden Knights is a seismic shift on defense. A top pairing of the right-handed Pietrangelo and left-shot Shea Theodore sounds tantalizing, but is unlikely. Theodore plays the right side despite being a left shot, and probably stays there. That means Pietrangelo on the top pairing with Brayden McNabb. As it stands now, Theodore will continue to play with Alec Martinez on the left side.

Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon addressed how Pietrangelo coming to Vegas will affect Theodore.

“I think adding Alex Pietrangelo is going to help Shea a lot for a couple reasons. One, it’s not possible that they’ll play together in certain situations but at the same time, Shea along with Alec Martinez were a great pairing for us and they were our second pair. I think if you look around the NHL a lot of the top offensive defenseman play in that spot in the lineup and that gives them a little more flexibility offensively.”

Basically, the top D pair is often assigned the shutdown role against the other team’s top forward line, so putting Theodore on the second pair allows him more favorable matchups to contribute offensively. Also by putting him with the veteran Martinez it helps to know there’s someone watching your back when you do jump into the play. Pietrangelo and McNabb will draw the top defensive assignments.

Right now Nick Holden and Zach Whitecloud are the third pair defenseman. The 23-year-old Whitecloud definitely grew as a player during Vegas’ playoff run, and pairing him with the veteran Holden will also help his game develop. In fact, bringing in a player like Pietrangelo who has won a Stanley Cup and worn the “C” before will help every player on the roster.

Special Teams

There’s the old saying about how there’s only one puck and you can’t split it. The most obvious example of that is Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson in San Jose. Two very talented, offensive-minded defenseman who struggled to play together (or apart) and share the puck. While I don’t see it being quite as big of an issue with Pietrangelo and Theodore, it is something to watch for in training camp. McCrimmon did say ultimately it’s up to head coach Pete DeBoer on how to deploy his talent. Having both Pietrangelo and Theodore on the top power play unit sounds incredible.

When it comes to playing the off-side, Theodore does so naturally. While Pietrangelo does seem to do most of his scoring from the right side, there are times on the power play when he started at the left point with the St. Louis Blues. Of course the addition of Pietrangelo to the lineup for Vegas gives even more flexibility for DeBoer not only in combinations but also in power play setup. Will Vegas go to a PP1 unit with two d-men up top, a 1-3-1, umbrella or some hybrid thereof? The possibilities are endless, and it will be up to DeBoer to figure out how to employ his assets best. Even McCrimmon said the power play should be even better with Pietrangelo on it, which is theoretically true. Now it’s just figuring out how to split the puck.

As Pietrangelo has advanced in his career, he spends less time on the penalty kill but is still a capable defender. After leading the Blues this year in TOI at 24:11, you have to remember that no skater can be on the ice at all times. So expect his contributions to the PK side of things to be limited.

Further Changes

Of course, the ripple effect is not only on defense for the Golden Knights. In order to afford Pietrangelo’s salary, Vegas also moved number two center Peter Stastny.

When it comes to Stastny’s replacement, McCrimmon hinted that the team was going to look inside the organization for his replacement. That will definitely help from a salary standpoint, and the Golden Knights have several candidates to step into the void.

In net, McCrimmon says the team will start next season with Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury. Lehner is going to undergo “clean-up” shoulder surgery soon and is expected to be ready for training camp. It now makes far more sense to keep Fleury in case something goes awry. Either way, Vegas now has potentially the strongest one-two punch in the NHL.

So at this point, it appears the waters have finally calmed for the Golden Knights in the off-season.

Looking Ahead

We know that for the next several seasons, money will be tight for teams because of the pandemic. Next year teams face the exact same salary cap as this year. In subsequent years the cap will only rise slightly. It’s a different economic reality than we all imagined back at the beginning of March. That now seems a lifetime ago.

What matters for Vegas is figuring out how to best implement Pietrangelo into the lineup. Second is figuring out who the new 2C will be. Training camp will be a fun and interesting place – whenever it may happen.

 

 

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[…] There’s no question, even if the Golden Knights gave up perhaps too much to squeeze in Pietrangelo: their defense now is really stacked (Vegas Hockey Now) […]

[…] part of the moves needed to clear cap space and sign Alex Pietrangelo, the VGK moved second line center Peter Stastny to the Winnipeg […]

[…] It makes you appreciate all the hoops that VGK GMKM had to jump through to sign Alex Pietrangelo. […]

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Tom’s Daily: Bullying; Bertuzzi Arb; Daley Retires

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VHN Vegas Golden Knights

Tom’s Daily features news and notes from around the NHL in digest form.

Looks like the Vegas Reverse Retro jerseys are due to be announced in mid-November, along with several other teams according to Sports Business Journal. Not to be confused with the just-released golds.

I know a lot of people balked at the Islanders only getting two second round draft picks back for Devon Toews, but that haul would come to look pretty good in the days after the deal. Now Colorado has inked the promising young defender to a four-year deal. (NHL)

Trevor Daley has called it a career, and the Pittsburgh Penguins hire him as a hockey operations advisor. Many in the hockey community see Daley as a future GM. (PittsburghHockeyNow)

Tyler Bertuzzi received a $3.5M award in arbitration today. The 25-year-old was seeking a one-year, $4.25M deal while the Detroit Red Wings had countered at $3.15M. (TSN)

Arizona Coyotes top draft pick Mitchell Miller was charged with assault and violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act in February of 2016 for bullying an African American classmate with developmental disabilities. (AZCentral)

That’s it for today’s Tom’s Daily. Keep your browser pointed to VHN for the latest in the world of hockey.

 

 

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Vegas Reverse Retro Jersey Confirmed?

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Vegas Retro Red Jersey Golden Knights

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:

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:

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:

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.

 

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Who Joins the Vegas Golden Knights in a Pandemic Division?

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Vegas Goes Gold

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.

Canadian Division?

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.

The North

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.

The South

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.

Conclusion

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!

 

 

 

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