VGK
Photo Credit: USA Today

Chris Gawlik’s New VGK Weekly Update – 10/13/20 – Free Agency

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There are many different versions of the quote “we play for the logo on the front, not the names on the back.”

 

VGK
Photo Credit: CNN

It should be the same for us fans. We cheer for the team and what the team accomplishes. Of course, we become attached to the players as time goes on, but players come and go. Traditionally, the team stays put. We fell in love with James Neil, David Perron, Colin Miller, and Pierre – Edouard Bellemare during VGK’s inaugural season. By year three, none of those players were Golden Knights. The fans still showed up and packed T-Mobile Arena for seasons two and three. We have fallen in love with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Zach Whitecloud, and Robin Lehner, who all joined VGK after season one.

Players come and go. Coaches come and go. It is all part of the game. The only thing that should matter to the fans is the results. Imagine being an Edmonton Oilers fan. You have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. You also got the first pick of the NHL Entry Draft three times from 2011 – 2015. From 2011 – 2020, the Oilers made the playoffs twice, won one series, and lost the “play-in” series to the 12th ranked Chicago Blackhawks in four games in 2020.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, a team with high expectations every year that plays in a major hockey market, have not made it past the first round of the playoffs since the 2003 – 2004 season. The Buffalo Sabres have not qualified for the postseason since the 2010 – 2011 season.

Teams must make changes to grow. Sometimes those changes are an entire roster flush, and other times it is just adding a couple of the missing pieces. The salary cap also plays a significant part in what teams do each offseason.

 

It is more than likely that the VGK roster is going to have a major overhaul in the coming weeks, in fact, it has already started.

 

 

VGK
Photo Credit: NHL

The NHL Entry Draft was October 6th, and the 7th and NHL Free Agency started October 9th. The Golden Knights have already resigned Robin Lehner to a deal worth $5M per year for five years. On Monday, October 12th VGK also signed the top Free Agent on the market, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who made $7.5M in his last season in St. Louis, to a seven-year deal worth $61.6 million.

Many changes are likely to occur to the roster, and they will have to be made.

We love Marc Andre Fleury, but there is no path to retaining his $7M cap hit for the next two seasons, is there? Well, on Monday, Golden Knights’ General Manager Kelly McCrimmon confirmed to the media that the team is no longer looking to trade Fleury and will continue to pair the goaltender with Lehner next season, giving VGK one of the best goaltending duos in the NHL. VGK will still need to move a couple of key pieces from the roster to clear enough cap space.

Nate Schmidt was traded on Monday to the Vancouver Canucks for a third-round pick. Forward Paul Stastny was traded to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday for Carl Dahlstrom and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

Decisions also had to be made about Jon Merrill, Chandler Stephenson, Deryk Engelland, Tomas Nosek, and Nick Cousins. Engelland has played his final game as a Golden Knight and has been offered a job with the organization. Stephenson was resigned to a four-year extension worth $11 million, but Cousins signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the Nashville Predators on Friday. Also on Friday, Merrill signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, while Nosek, who has been very productive for VGK, returns for a fourth season after signing a one-year, $1.25 million contract Sunday.

 

Will you still go to T-Mobile Arena and/or support the Vegas Golden Knights to start the 2020 – 2021 campaign?

 

 

VGK vs Stars
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

VGK’s roster is going to change. The changes will be made with the best interest of winning a Stanley Cup in season four. We are not in a rebuilding year by any means, but tweaks have to be made. VGK had been extremely competitive since its inception three years ago. Any of the last three VGK teams could have won a Stanley Cup, but they didn’t. Season four’s expectation seems to be “Stanley Cup or bust.”

The NHL stated, “On the hockey side, the return-to-play format reflects the Leagues’ extraordinary competitive balance while honoring the tradition and integrity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs” before announcing the return-to-play details. The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs were terrific from top to bottom. Allowing the top twenty-four remaining teams by points percentage, a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup was about as fair as it gets.

The quality of the product on the ice was at par or better than many of the previous playoffs. Many days featured twelve hours or more of non-stop action. Short breaks between each series and no travel days kept fans interested and tuned in. The only blemish was back to back games. With travel days eliminated, the NHL could have stretched out the Stanley Cup Playoffs by a few more days.

The 2020-2021 Golden Knights’ campaign has many questions that will hopefully be answered in the weeks to come. The starting date, format, and fans in the arenas are just some of the burning issues that the NHL will have to answer. If the season kicks off in late December or early January, will there be 82 games played? I guess that the NHL will try and get back on track to award the Stanley Cup in early June of 2021, but a condensed fifty to sixty game season seems more likely. The hope is that fans can return in a small capacity and slowly increase throughout the season. I sure hope that is the case!

 

 

GO KNIGHTS GO!!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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