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Time’s Up: Vegas Golden Knights

The Dallas Stars dispatched the Vegas Golden Knights in over time to reach their first cup final since 2000. While many finally started to believe in the Stars and their “We’re not going home” attitude it left the team from Sin City looking for answers on a bubble trip that was all for nothing.

Early on the Knights looked like the best team in the West that wasn’t named the Avalanche. The Knights had the offensive depth that GM’s covet and scored at will while dictating play on the ice. The defensive side was contributing points and shutting down the teams top players in chances and quality scoring areas but even in the crease the Knights had their answer. Robin Lehner continued to shine up until the final goal in this series. Whitecloud’s penalty for delay of game in OT provided the chance to seal their fate and there wasn’t much you can fault the tender on.

In the end the VGK ran out of the asset that powered them though the early rounds and that was their offense. Dallas matched intensity but took control when it was important on the score board.

Unsure what happens with Vegas moving towards the next season. Mark Stone will be back as a key piece for the franchise moving forward. Along with the rest fo the forward group they will remain largely intact. Pacioretty, Karlsson, Stastny, Tuch, Marchessault and Smith all return. Offense did dry up in the conference finals so if changes are coming up front it most likely will have to be a subtraction of dollars and contracts due to the flat cap.

Defensively the Knights will lose only Merrill and Engelland to free agency, combined they only played in 1 playoff game. This bodes well for them as Theodore lead them in points overall during the bubble run and the rest of the blue liners chipped in timely offense too. Vegas did have some issues controlling the front of their net as the Stars got to the those spots with ease. This was a glaring issue on the first goal Jamie Benn scored in the deciding game.

As we shift quickly to the crease MAF is still under contract but recently had to forward his new to not be traded to list. You have to wonder after the great season and playoffs Robin Lehner had is flower now on the move. Allan Walsh (MAF Agent with Octagon) earlier this playoffs posted artwork with a sword going through the goalie’s chest…but the sword had the name of coach Pete Deboer. This created a riff with the goal tandem I’m sure and both goalies seemed unfazed by the twitter posting. Robin Lehner is a UFA this offseason and Vegas will have a bit lower than 5 million to spend on him if they want to keep him and the rest of the current line up. Moving MAF or another player could free up the space in the cap to make the moves. Keeping MAF could work as well with the expansion draft on the horizon but does management and ownership want a repeat of the same player agent drama that normally occurs outside of the NHL.

For a team so early on in it’s organizational history they do have a playoff tradition with a cup final birth and two trips to a conference final to show for it. Getting over the next hurdle of winning the cup I’m sure is next on their list. That will have to wait til next year however.

ENJOY THE OFF SEASON VGK!

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Will Seattle count cards the way VGK did during the expansion draft?

What will the Seattle Kraken look like once they hit the ice in 2021-2022. We know what the majority of their front office staff looks like and I’m sure the coaching staff search is under way.

Yes… I know it’s insanely early but I like many want 2020 to end. Looking forward to next NHL season it will be a crunch for a lot of teams financially, but perhaps help could come from the new franchise. Some teams can unload unwanted or stale contracts from their rosters. However value is around if you look in the right places.

The Kraken will have a chance to build their squad with the expansion draft under the same rules that the Vegas Knights did. Vegas landed some key players that helped them rack up more playoff victories than Minnesota, Florida, Winnipeg/ATL and Columbus. (Currently at time of writing, behind in Western Conference Finals to Dallas 3-1) These players all at the time of the 2017 Expansion draft were hidden talents.

Lets take a quick seat at the craps table and see who they rolled the dice on

William Karlsson: When he was acquired from the Blue Jackets was a former 53rd overall pick and had up to that point only 50 points (18G/32A.) I’m sure this pick went well under the radar as it was the VGK 27TH expansion draft selection. William Karlsson has gone on to smash those numbers in his first three since moving out to the desert (180pts, 82G/98A) including a massive 43 goal campaign in the inaugural year. A lot that I’m sure was increased top 6 minutes on a new team and also an amazing 23.37%S, until that point he never got above 6.5%S. Now while he has cooled off considerably he has posted 46 or more points and his shooting percentage has hovered around 10%.

Shea Theodore: Shea was an additional trade from the Anaheim Ducks for them selecting Clayton Stoner. Shea though was the real key cog from this deal. During the first year he was moved down to the AHL several times for transactional purposes. While still playing 61 games he was able to contribute 29 pts (6G/23A), in the last two seasons though he has really stepped up. This year having a career high 46 pts (13G/33A) while also posting 18 pts during the playoff run the Knights are currently still on. 

Alex Tuch: Another player that was an added bonus through some crafty trade work. Erik Haula was the player Minnesota wanted out and gave them Alex to do so. Alex Tuch while not having a great regular season 17 pts (8G/9A) has played big minutes this postseason and chipping in 11 pts (8G/3A.) He is a strong power forward many teams covet and hopefully he continues to develop and bring value for the Knights.

Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault: Florida has a history of getting rid of perfectly good talent and people, just look at the Knights first coach Gerard Gallant. That could be why he had such an eye for these two players. Smith was traded in order for the selection of Marchessault. Both have been great for the Knights. Combined in the regular season as a package they had 101 pts (49G/52A) and they didn’t slow down in the playoffs either tallying 23 pts (7G/16A.) The Panthers could have used some of that offense over the course of the last two years. 

Seattle will have to use the protected list and their pro scouts to their advantage. I’m sure they have a solid blueprint from what George McPhee and his staff accomplished early on. Ron Francis helped build Carolina into a decent NHL squad and I’m sure he can take some of those lessons to the west coast. 

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Podcast

We’re Average Hockey Players At Best; Tampa Dominates the Isles Early; Caps Coaching Candidates

This week, the guys discussed how they’re not great hockey players but that also means they’re probably average in the world of hockey; the Tampa Bay Lightning absolutely dominated the New York Islanders in game one of the Eastern Conference Final and whether or not Barry Trotz and the Isles can turn it around; and Washington Capitals head coach candidates Peter Laviolette, Mike Babcock, and Gerard Gallant.

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Did Aaron Jinx the Islanders Against the Flyers in Game 5?

In Episode 3, Aaron jinxed the New York Islanders as they tried to eliminate the Philadelphia Flyers in game 5; the guys discuss Vegas Golden Knights goalies, Robin Lehner and Marc-Andre Fleury; Brayden Point is driving play for the Tampa Bay Lightning; and there are a bunch of goalies “unfit for play” in both Stanley Cup Playoffs bubbles.

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Podcast

We Caught Stanley Cup Playoffs Bubble Fatigue

In Episode 2, the Beers in The Lot crew discusses the trade between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins; the Washington Capitals firing head coach Todd Reirden; and how “bubble fatigue” might be affecting players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Podcast

Intros, Ze Bubble, and Nathan MacKinnon

On the inaugural episode of Beers in The Lot we have a quick introduction to Aaron, Danny, Eric, and Jonny. The guys then discuss the NHL bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton; their impressions of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs so far; implications of a flat NHL salary cap focusing on the free agent market heading into next season; and players that have impressed or disappointed in the playoffs. SPOILER: We really like Nathan MacKinnon!