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Category: Team Ops Page 5 of 74

Winning The Calder Cup Doesn’t Mean Much For NHL Parent Club’s Future

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New Nfl Washington Moline Tudoazul Tam Redskins Shopping Era Vestido Listras - P Tomas Hyka is one of the many Wolves to watch in the Calder Cup Semi-Final. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Tomorrow night the Golden Knights AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, will play in the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Obviously, winning a championship is always good, no matter what level it’s at, but just how well does winning the Calder Cup translate to future success for their NHL parent club? The answer is… not so well.

Here is what the last 10 Calder Cup Champions have seen their parent club do over the next three seasons.

Year Calder Cup Winner Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
17-18 Toronto (TOR) 1st Round N/A N/A
16-17 Grand Rapids (DET) Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs N/A
15-16 Lake Erie (CBJ) 1st Round 1st Round 2nd Round
14-15 Manchester (LAK) 1st Round Missed Playoffs 1st Round
13-14 Texas (DAL) Missed Playoffs 2nd Round Missed Playoffs
12-13 Grand Rapids (DET) 1st Round 1st Round 1st Round
11-12 Norfolk (TB) Missed Playoffs 1st Round Cup Final
10-11 Binghamton (OTT) 1st Round 2nd Round Missed Playoffs
09-10 Hershey (WSH) 2nd Round 2nd Round 1st Round
08-09 Hershey (WSH) 1st Round 2nd Round 2nd Round

And the same table with Calder Cup Final runners-up.

Year Calder Cup Runner-Up Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
17-18 Texas (DAL) 1st Round N/A N/A
16-17 Syracuse (TBL) 3rd Round 1st Round N/A
15-16 Hershey (WSH) 2nd Round *Stanley Cup* 1st Round
14-15 Utica (VAN) Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs
13-14 St. Johns (WPG) 1st Round Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs
12-13 Syracuse (TBL) 1st Round Cup Final 3rd Round
11-12 Toronto (TOR) 1st Round Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs
10-11 Houston (MIN) Missed Playoffs 1st Round 2nd Round
09-10 Texas (DAL) Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs Missed Playoffs
08-09 Manitoba (VAN) 2nd Round Cup Final 1st Round

So, over the past 10 years, only one team that has participated in the Calder Cup Final have seen their parent club win a Stanley Cup within three years of their AHL playoff run.

To make matters worse, you can extend it out to six years from the time the AHL team makes the Calder Cup Final, and there’s still only one team in the previous 10 years to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

That being said, of the 55 seasons listed in the tables, only 18 teams missed the playoffs.

All in all though, the next couple of weeks of hockey for the Chicago Wolves aren’t exactly about winning for the Golden Knights perspective.

This does not mean the games are not important and/or interesting to watch. Individual players who stand out in the Calder Cup Playoffs often go on to have success in the NHL. Here’s a list of a the last 10 Calder Cup Playoff MVP’s.

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William Karlsson Deserves $6+ Million, But Vegas May Not Have It To Give Him

One of the biggest stories of the offseason outside of Vegas is the stalemate between Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marner was the 11th most productive player in the entire league last season and his stock has soared. So it appears the two sides are headed for a messy negotiation this summer in Toronto.

To a smaller degree, the Golden Knights have their own Mitch Marner situation.

Like Marner, Golden Knights center William Karlsson is a restricted free agent that wants a long-term deal. Both sides seem to have an interest in getting a deal done to keep Karlsson in Vegas for the foreseeable future, but we’ve been down this path before and it ended in a one-year deal moments before arbitration.

The challenge is with where Karlsson fits in with the rest of the roster. He’s clearly not on Mark Stone’s ($9.5M) level, but is he on Max Pacioretty’s ($7M) or Paul Stastny’s ($6.5M)? Or maybe he should fit in closer to Reilly Smith ($5M), Jonathan Marchessault ($5M), or Alex Tuch ($4.75M).

Karlsson is a center though, and a damn good one at that. He finished in the top 10 in Selke voting in 2017-18 and won the Lady Byng. He backed it up with a down year offensively but carried the torch for the Golden Knights defensively until Stone arrived. So, he probably deserves more than most of the wingers on the team, but the Golden Knights may not have the money.

There in lies the problem, because like it or not, William Karlsson deserves at least $6 million, if not much more. Here’s why.

He’s a center

We’re all aware that centers make up some of the highest paid played players in the league. Currently, seven of the top ten highest paid NHL players are centers, and 19 of the top 50. Karlsson’s 2018-19 $5.25M cap hit was lower than 152 other NHL’ers, and 46 other centers. Numbers alone, Karlsson is a better player than half of the players paid higher.

Only a handful of centers scored 67 or more goals over the past two seasons and Karlsson was one of them. Most of those centers earn well above $6M a season. It’s the market price for two-way centers that log heavy minutes, handle faceoffs, averages 65+ points and receives Selke votes.

Production

Some have devalued Karlsson after a “sub-par” 2018-19 campaign. Sure his scoring numbers dropped after his offensive explosion two seasons ago, but overall the Swede continued to produce for Vegas.

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Why Didn’t Colin Miller Play Game 1?

When a series goes seven games, it’s the nature of the beast for the losing team to look back at every play, every call, and every decision to come up with answers as to what went wrong.

Of course, it’s been harped on time and time again that the call on Cody Eakin was blown and it cost the Golden Knights a chance to still be playing today. However, there’s no denying the fact that Vegas lost three other games in the series that could have nullified that gaffe.

In Games 5 and 6, Vegas played well and close games just didn’t fall their way, but Game 1 was a much different story. When the series got underway in San Jose, the Golden Knights seemed to take a moment to really get going. By the time they did, it was too late and they instantly dug themselves a hole in the series they would eventually climb out of, only to fall right back in.

Over the course of the first six games, head coach Gerard Gallant made one lineup change. That was putting Colin Miller, who was scratched in Game 1, back into the lineup for Nick Holden.

It was a peculiar decision to bench Miller in the first place, and one that would only get weirder as questions would later be answered about the lineup move.

Miller played all 102 games last season, 65 of the 82 in the regular season this year, and all of the previous seven heading into playoffs. Also, Miller took part in 13 of the 14 prior meetings between the Sharks and Golden Knights, scoring three goals, putting up five assists, and recording a +4 rating. Vegas won nine of the 13 games Miller played against San Jose and lost the one he didn’t.

This was the reasoning for scratching Miller after Game 1 from the Golden Knights head coach.

That was… Like I told you the other day, we play 20 hockey players and there’s some good players that are not playing tonight so we decided he’s not going to play tonight. -Gallant

Is he healthy? – SinBin.vegas

Yes, everybody’s healthy. -Gallant

However, it clearly wasn’t that simple.

Miller took warmups prior to Game 1 against the Sharks. No other player (with the exception of Jimmy Schuldt days after he joined the team) skated in warmups and then didn’t play for the Golden Knights in 2018-19. In 2017-18 it happened only a handful of times and in every instance, it was precautionary to cover for a player who might be injured and unable to play.

As Gallant confirmed, no one was injured. Miller skated alongside the scratches in morning skate the day of Game 1, so the decision was clearly not made in the spur of the moment before the game.

1b9db Minnesota Code C672e Vikings Discount For Jersey To make matters even more confusing, Miller was instantly placed back in the normal rotation on the off-day between Games 1 and 2. He played in every game the rest of the series, and Gallant made an interesting comment when asked about Miller prior to Game 4.

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Change In Title, Not In Command

New Nfl Washington Moline Tudoazul Tam Redskins Shopping Era Vestido Listras - PIt was August of 2016 in an airport in Vienna, Austria that Vegas Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee first met Kelly McCrimmon.

When George called me in July, I had never talked to him, I had never met him before. -McCrimmon

Both on their way to the Ivan Hlinka prospects tournament in Slovakia, the two met for the first time and eventually formed a partnership that would take the NHL by storm.

It’s the best working relationship I’ve had in this business. -George McPhee

On that day McPhee began the process of courting then owner, general manager, and head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, Kelly McCrimmon, to become his “assistant.”

I told Kelly when I was trying to hire him that he was going to be involved in every single thing we do here. -McPhee

McCrimmon took the job, officially titled “Assistant General Manager” and the two immediately got to work.

However, it was never really a situation with a first and second in command. Instead, McPhee quickly turned over half of his responsibilities, making the relationship much more of an equal partnership. It literally happened days after McCrimmon took the job.

1b9db Minnesota Code C672e Vikings Discount For Jersey I divvied up the teams, I said you take these 15 NHL teams, I’ll take these 15 NHL teams. You deal with them all year, I’ll deal with these and we shared everything, basically co-managed for three years and that will continue. -McPhee

Quite frankly, since the moment he started, Kelly was the general manager of the Golden Knights in relation to those 15 teams, but in reality, it was much more than just half the league.

The thing that’s special about our organization and our relationship is just the collaboration. -McCrimmon

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That has continued ever since.

Literally however insignificant a move we’ve made, it has never ever been someone overruling the other. -McCrimmon

We haven’t disagreed on anything. For two guys who didn’t know each other, to get together and see things the way we see them, it’s just been a real treat to work together and I think we’ve been good and we’re going to keep doing it the same way. -McPhee

That’s why, when McCrimmon’s name started popping up as a prime candidate for open GM positions in Edmonton and Seattle, McPhee knew he couldn’t let his “co-manager” leave. So, he had to come up with a solution.

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McPhee Fires Cryptic Shot At Sharks In Final Press Conference

Emotions ran very high during the Golden Knights and Sharks seven game first round thriller. From the Ryan Reaves vs. Evander Kane jabs (both literal and figurative) to Joe Thornton’s dirty hit on Tomas Nosek, to the “clown” comment from Gerard Gallant, the series will leave a lasting impression.

George McPhee clearly had some thoughts on the way the Sharks played in the series and in the most calculated way possible, he didn’t take long to let some slip out early in his season-ending press conference.

(Our) guys played their guts out. I like the way they competed for this organization, for this city. I think it’s a team that people can be proud of, they play hard, they play honest, they don’t embellish, we don’t cheat, we play the game right. We play hard. -George McPhee

Who could he possibly be referencing that plays a different way?

Aside from the apology from the NHL, admitting that the Sharks were the benefit of a horrendous call that changed the series, McPhee obviously wasn’t a fan of some of the embellishing, and apparently cheating, the Sharks did in the series.

San Jose benefitted from a 114-105 penalty minute advantage in the series, and were called for more penalties than Vegas in just two of the seven games, in Games 3 and 4.

There was a lot of after-whistle garbage and even an after game scrum that left Cody Eakin with a broken nose.

It was a hard fought series, but clearly, the GM of the Golden Knights felt there were a few liberties taken by the eventual winner of the series. It doesn’t matter now, but there’s no question the Golden Knights franchise, from top to bottom, will be ready to make amends against San Jose as quickly as possible.

Most Intense Series Of Their Careers

I’m sure viewership is low in Las Vegas for the Sharks/Avalanche second round series. Although, San Jose did lose Sunday so maybe VGK fans tuned into the postgame show. Either way, it’s been a painful series to watch for most in Vegas. The two teams have no history of emotions so it’s a little boring, to say the least. There have been twenty-two minutes in penalties and exactly zero chirps. It’s nothing like the first round matchup between Vegas and San Jose. It lacks the same passion.

On Vegas’ locker clean out day I went around the room asking players ‘was this one of the most intense series you’ve played in?’

Here were their responses:

This one was pretty wild. There’s definitely some hate there. It was intense and fun. Fun to be a part of. It just sucks we didn’t come out on top. -Brayden McNabb

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I played Game 7 in Boston. Won a Game 7 in Boston but this series was crazy. The momentum shifts, the physicality, the emotions and obviously the drama. It was a lot of fun but I feel like we deserved better. This series could’ve gone either way. Everyone knows that. It was a lot of fun to play in and I think going through this experience… will make this group a lot better. -Max Pacioretty

Very intense. It was a grind. People don’t realize how tough it is to play in the playoffs. A lot of people think teams just walk through and you play and you win. It was tough physically and mentally and it sucks to be on the losing end. -Shea Theodore

The first round is usually the toughest to win. It’s true because everyone is so fired up, everyone is fresh and excited about being in the playoffs. It was an intense series, probably the most intense series I’ve ever been a part of. Going back to when I was with Washington versus Pittsburgh. It had that similar feeling to it, you know, two teams with no love lost on either side. It’s making for a good rivalry though. -Nate Schmidt

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Locker Room Clean-Out Day Highlights

In the final media availability of the season nearly every Golden Knights player spoke to the media. We also had extended press conferences with The Creator, George McPhee, and Gerard Gallant.

Of course, there will probably be 50 stories on this site based off many of the comments on this day, but we wanted to share some of the highlights from the day.

(If you would like to listen to every second of the nearly 2 hours and 15 minutes of locker room interviews that we participated in, go here or to our podcast feed.)

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Built Through Adversity, It’s Time For These Golden Knights To Prove They’ve Learned What Last Year’s Team Didn’t

Last year when the Golden Knights needed to win a game, they got it pretty much every single time. Whether it was off a bad road trip, following a tough few losses at home, or even through the playoffs when they were in danger of falling well behind in a series, they always rose to the occasion and got the job done.

With the exception of one time.

Vegas fell behind 2-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, couldn’t get a puck to go early in Game 4 and faded away to the darkness in Game 5. That team was used to it all going right, and then it didn’t, and they crumbled.

This year, it hasn’t gone quite that way. Big periods, big games, big moments, the Golden Knights haven’t come out successfully every time.

You reset your team. It happens all the time, during a game, between games, you just get ready for the next one. Last night was a heartbreaker, but you get home last night and everything’s fine, you just get ready for the next one. -Gerard Gallant

The 2018-19 Golden Knights have faced real adversity. They started out poorly at just 8-11-1. They were out of the playoff picture as late as the middle of December. Things looked like they were headed down the drain prior to the deadline. But every time, they responded. It wasn’t always pretty, but they always fought through it and that’s exactly what they trying to do heading into Game 7 after failing on two previous tries to end the series.

Heck, just inside of this series it’s already happened. The Golden Knights needed Game 2 after dropping the opener. They came out on fire scoring three times in the first seven minutes. But then, disaster struck as they gave up three before the period was out. What did they do? They went to the locker room, regrouped, and came out and played 40 minutes of solid road hockey to win a game. Again, it wasn’t pretty, but they eventually found a way.

We’ve had ups and downs all season, it’s like a regular normal season. To come up short in this one was tough, but that’s a good team over there. We’ve got to come out with an effort that’s a little better. -Deryk Engelland

This team isn’t perfect like the 2017-18 Golden Knights seemed to be. They didn’t always have the answer, at least not right away. The hope now is that it’s all been a warmup for the most important moment of the year tonight at the SAP Center.

They are battle tested and have the scars to remember that this has been far from the fairy tale of a year ago. That fairy tale ended abruptly, and horrendously because that team wasn’t ready to deal with the peril that came with the final boss.

This team should be looking at the fact that 3-1 has turned into 3-3 and saying, “no big deal.” This team should be able to overcome what looks like a daunting task of winning a Game 7. This team is built for this moment.

60 minutes (or maybe more) will say a lot about the second year Golden Knights. Did they harness the adversity, learn from it, and use it to avoid a monumental collapse. Or was it all just a glimpse of the future. That this has been, still is, and will forever be remembered as, flawed.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Or at least that’s what my favorite Kelly Clarkson song says (well, really it’s like my 8th favorite, but we’ll save my love for Kelly Clarkson for another day).

So far, nothing’s killed the Golden Knights. The question is, are they actually stronger. We’ll know in a few long hours, and it’s either going to be agony or bliss.

Welcome to Game 7. It’s the worst best thing in sports, and there’s no stopping it now.

VGK’s First Line Owns San Jose

20 goals, 37 assists, and a +35 rating in 14 games. Those are the combined numbers for William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith against the San Jose Sharks since joining the Vegas Golden Knights.

In the playoff series last year, the Golden Knights top line went off, scoring eight goals and racking up a total of 25 points. One of the three scored a goal in every game of the series save for Game 4 when Vegas was shut out. They all posted a 54% Corsi at even strength, owned 55% of the scoring chances while playing against the Sharks top players, and scored six goals while allowing just one.

Nothing has changed this season either. Karlsson has scored three times in four games against the Sharks, Smith has a goal and six assists, Marchessault has two goals, and all three are at least a +4.

All in all, the Golden Knights top line have averaged 1.43 goals, 2.64 assists, and +2.5 per game against San Jose.

This must continue as we head into the first round series with the Sharks. San Jose has one of the most balanced forward units in the NHL, but what they don’t have is a truly dominant first line, either offensively or defensively. Therefore, Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith should have a favorable matchup each and every time they step on the ice.

Well, I mean, we wanna be there every night producing, right? That’s a challenge, I think. San Jose is a great team so we gotta be there every single night and every game counts. -William Karlsson

Since the Trade Deadline, when the Golden Knights added Mark Stone and the Sharks picked up Gustav Nyquist, the Sharks have deployed Nyquist (with Timo Meier and Logan Couture) primarily against Karlsson, Marchessault, and Smith. It has not gone well for the Sharks… to say the least.

In about seven and a half minutes against the Golden Knights top line, Nyquist has been on the ice for five goals while scoring just one, his Corsi is 33%, and his team has landed just three shots with him on the ice. It’s not much better for Meier or Couture either as both have also been on the ice for at least three goals against as well.

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