Jesse Granger

Talking Vegas Golden Knights With Jesse Granger Of The Athletic

featured image photo – courtesy of Jesse Granger/The Athletic

Recently, I spoke with Jesse Granger, who covers Vegas Golden Knights at The Athletic.

We spoke on Tuesday, prior to the Vegas Golden Knights development camp. I asked Granger several questions about William Karlsson‘s new contract, the draft, Cody Glass’ development and more.

Let’s take a look at what Granger had to say.

Interview

Josh: What are your thoughts on the William Karlsson deal?

Jesse: Yeah, so I think it was I think it was good deal for both sides. The Golden Knights obviously want to lock up Karlsson long term. He’s one of their best players and super important to the team obviously. Karlsson plays all three phases of the game. He’s one of their best five on five players, on the top power-play unit and he’s the best penalty killer on the team. In fact, he’s one of the best penalty killers in the league.

Past him, they have Paul Stastny and then after that the centre position isn’t nailed down. So, they got him locked up for a long term eight year deal at a very reasonable price and 5.9 million it’s probably a lot less than he should have got. But, it’s also good for Karlsson because the guy wanted to live in Vegas and that was his number one priority.

I have a story that came out today. I talked to him and basically he chose living in Vegas and being with his teammates over trying to get more money. He could have easily played hardball with the team and forced his way to arbitration and became a UFA and could have gotten paid a lot more by some team out there, but that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to be in Vegas. He wanted to stay with his team and just really good friends with Jonathan Marchessault. And Alex Tuch is going to be in William Karlsson’s weeding this weekend.

So, it was a good deal for both sides and they got it done quick enough to allow the Golden Knights to have plenty of time in the offseason to work out other things. So it was good for everyone.

Josh: Since the expansion draft and coming over from the Blue Jackets, Karlsson has improved significantly. What do you think has helped?

Jesse: Well, it’s definitely who he’s playing with and the minutes that he’s getting. When he was with Columbus, they saw him as a fourth line checking center with the sense of responsibility and to be honest, they didn’t really give him much of a chance to play offense. I mean, he was stuck with fourth line players that chipped the puck into the zone and weren’t offensively creative.

If you look at his stats winners in Sweden, before he was drafted, he was an offensive player like he is in Vegas, and he just didn’t produce in Columbus. So, he comes over to Vegas. A couple of crazy things worked out in Vegas for Karlsson. So he ends up getting that first line center role. And he took it and ran with it. He plays with two really offensive minded players in Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. Those guys helped him along. They helped him use that offensive ability that he had from Sweden and his offensive numbers exploded.

He took a little bit of a step back this year, but he was still really productive and I believe that he’ll improve on those numbers next year.

Josh: How do you think the Vegas Golden Knights did at the draft in Vancouver?

Jesse: So, I think the Golden Knights did a great job at the draft. They got a lot of value especially with their pick of Peyton Krebs. He’s the guy that was projected to go top five/top 10. If you look at every draft prospect expert including our guys at The Athletic, Corey Pronman had him in the top ten. The only reason he fell was because of his Achilles tendon injury that happened ten days prior to the draft and skate blade cut through his socks. The blade cut his tendon in half and that led to major surgery. But, he’s a guy that’s not gonna have to play in the NHL for two or three years at earliest. So, the Golden Knights didn’t really mind and so they took him at 17. I think that he’s a player that’s much better than a normal 17th overall pick.

He’s a great two-way forward. He was a captain as a 17 year old in junior. He was on a really bad team in junior, but he led him team to some wins.

And then you look at the later draft picks and they did the same thing. A lot of value pics that they got later than they were projected to go, so I think it was a good overall weekend to draft. They got a goalie after letting Malcolm Subban‘s contract expire. So, it was a very successful weekend.

Josh: Do you believe that Krebs is better than Cody Glass?

Jesse: I don’t think he’s better than Cody Glass. Right now at this point, obviously, Cody Glass is a lot better than him as he’s a lot further along in his development. Cody Glass really showed how far along he is when he stepped into the AHL at the end of the season and he was dominant.

Sometimes the players from junior can go to the AHL like that and then it takes some some time to adjust for him. For him, it was pretty much instant. He scored two goals in his first game and helped lead the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup final. He had three game winning goals in the playoffs including two in overtime. He’s just been really dominant. I just spoke with him an hour ago. He’s here for development camp. He’s absolutely looking to make this roster. I think he’s ready to make that jump to the NHL. Now, the Golden Knights have a really talented lineup, so it’s going to be tough for them to break into that. But, I think Cody Glass is an NHL player at this point.

It’s just a matter of time before he’s ready to make the jump. On the other hand, I think Peyton Krebs has the potential to be an NHL player and I think he’s really good, but its just tough to compare him to Cody, who is years in his development and is ready to make the jump.

Josh: Due to the Vegas Golden Knights cap space being quite small and with several free agents that need to get signed, do you see the Golden Knights potentially trading some of their assets? For example, maybe Colin Miller.

Jesse: Yeah, they definitely have to make some moves. It’s pretty obvious. If you look at the contracts and the numbers, they are already above the salary cap with the William Karlsson deal and they still have to sign their restricted free agents like Nikita Gusev, Tomas Nosek, Malcolm Subban. They still have a few UFAs like Deryk Engelland and Pierre-Marc Bellemare.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they get down under that cap.

They definitely have to make some moves. Like you mentioned Colin Miller. That’s the one that’s been floated around and that’s because he’s got a ton of value. He’s a young right handed defenseman. He’s got a big shot and he’s good on the power-play.

I think that a move is coming soon. We just have no idea which player they’re going to move. I could see Miller. I could see Cody Eakin. I could see Ryan Reaves. If they have to, they could move Gusev. I know that a lot of teams have been calling about Gusev and trying to get him. So, I know there are lot of options on the table.

Josh: If the Golden Knights were to move Colin Miller, what do you expect that the Golden Knights want back for Miller?

Jesse: Well, I mean, we’ve seen some deals this offseason, Justin Braun got traded and I think Colin Miller is comparable to him. They (San Jose Sharks) got a second and a third, which I could see the Golden Knights getting a second and maybe a third for Colin Miller. It’s the biggest thing that we don’t know and what we can’t know is how much leverage the Golden Knights have, because other teams realize that they are in this cap problem.

So, teams understand that they have to make a deal. So maybe they’re not going to get as good of value as they normally would, under regular circumstances because teams know that they’re in a bind.

Josh: Looking into next season, do you believe that Malcolm Subban is the backup goaltender or do you believe that Vegas will bring in someone else?

Jesse: I think it’s Subban’s job to lose. I don’t fully expect him to be the backup. His stats weren’t great last year and it took him a while to get his first win. But, he was playing really well. The losses weren’t because of him, it was more due to the team in front of him that was playing terrible. And he was being put in a lot of really bad spots on the second night of back to backs against really good teams where this team in front of them was worn down. So, I talked to Dave Prior, the goalie coach for Vegas quite a bit and he has a lot of confidence in Malcolm Subban. He thinks that he can eventually be a starting goalie in this league. So, I fully expect Malcolm Subban to be back. But, Fleury is the man and he’ll start the majority of games. Yet, I do believe that Subban has a pretty good lock on the backup position.

Josh: In terms of the Vegas farm system, what prospects have caught your eye over the development camp and throughout their time in the system?

Jesse: The development camp starts this week, so I haven’t gotten to see them on the ice yet. But, I was down in San Diego for the Calder Cup Conference Final. In the Western Conference finals, the Chicago Wolves played the San Diego Gulls and I was extremely impressed with Zach Whitecloud. You hear about Nick Hague, who was a top pick and he is obviously going to be really good and Dylan Coghlan is another young kid. But, I don’t think that Whitecloud gets enough credit.

He’s probably the most complete defenseman down there. He’s probably the most NHL ready. He never makes a mistake and he’s always making the smart right play. He may not make the flashiest plays, but he doesn’t make mistakes and that’s what Gerard Gallant really values at the NHL level. So, I was impressed by Zach Whitecloud. I was also impressed by Dylan Coghlan. They’ve got a great group of defense. And we didn’t even mention Jimmy Schuldt, who was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. He was one of the best college players in the country this year. So I haven’t gotten to see him much, because he was up with the big club. They’ve got a ton of good defenseman, but the forwards are where they really need to improve. They have Cody Glass and now you bring in a Peyton Krebs and that looks a lot better. So, the forward prospect pool need to be built up a little bit more, but the defensive prospect pool is phenomenal.

Josh: If the Vegas Golden Knights can get some cap space back, who do you believe that they’ll target in free agency?

Jesse: To be honest, I don’t think they’re going to be very active in free agency. This team already doesn’t have enough space to sign its own players. So, if they do sign free agents, I don’t think it’s going to be any one well-known, it’s gonna be a fringe player that maybe is an AHL guy. They are set to lose a lot of their AHL players this year to free agency. Daniel Carr, who won the MVP in the AHL is a free agent, so he’s going to leave. Brandon Pirri, who’s the guy who was back and forth, he just went over to Russia. They’re losing a lot of those type of players. So, the free agents they sign are most likely going to be playing in Chicago and not Vegas. If they do sign free agents, I honestly believe it’ll be their own. Deryk Engelland wants to come back and Pierre-Marc Bellemare is a guy who wants to come back to Vegas. If they can make room, I believe that they’ll bring back their own guys, but they aren’t likely to go out and sign someone else.

Josh: Do you see any Chicago Wolves making the Vegas Golden Knights opening night roster?

Jesse: I think the guys that have the best chance are Nick Hague, Zach Whitecloud and Cody Glass. Obviously all three of them have a chance. The only issue is that the Golden Knights roster is so full, that they may have to send them down to start the season because they are waiver exempt and they don’t want to risk losing them. So, I think that maybe one of those guys can make it out of camp. But for the most part, they’re going to start the year in the AHL. And then if there are injuries or things that happen throughout the year, then they’re going to have a chance to come up.

Thank You Jesse

Thank you Jesse for taking the time to speak with me. I look forward to interviewing you again in the future!

player profiles from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo – courtesy of Jesse Granger/The Athletic

 

Puck77

NHL Announces Salary Cap for 19-20

It was announced on Saturday that the upper limit of the National Hockey League Salary Cap was set at $81.5M.

Courtesy of capfriendly.com, we can see below where each team stands.

Salary Cap

As you can see, this projection puts a few teams in quite a predicament. The Vegas Golden Knights could have to part ways with a talented player, as they are currently over the projection and have William Karlson yet to be signed. The Lightning, Penguins, Capitals and Leafs could also look to make moves to accommodate salaries and retool the organizations.

Why So Low?

But we kept hearing that the Cap was going to be $83M, what happened to the extra money? So the projections in February was that the cap would be higher, however the finality of the Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) cannot be calculated until the Stanley Cup Finals are complete.

Now that the figure has been released, we can speculate as to why the numbers have come in much lower. I will outline what I believe to be the primary reasons the projections were so wrong.

  1. The year of the Wild Card. Sure, we were all excited by the history of each of the Division Champs losing in the first round. While it made for great TV, it knocked a lot of the bigger markets out and probably dropped the playoff revenue down a bit.
  2. Escrow. Even with the lower than expected cap, the players had the option to activate an escalator that could have increased the Cap closer to the $83M that was originally projected. They chose not to activate the escalator based solely on one, single word; ESCROW. While this is complicated to explain, I will do my best, as you are going to be hearing this term a lot in the near future. Escrow is money that is deducted from a player’s check and held by a third party, until the HRR is calculated to ensure there is a 50-50 split of the funds, as was agreed to in the 2012-13 CBA. While the Escrow refund data has not yet been released for the 2016-17 or 2017-18 season, the calculations in recent years have been quite inflated and the players have lost almost 10% of the money they have put into the escrow. As it stands, the cap is $81.5M across 31 teams. If we calculate that out with each team spending to the max 81.5 x 31, we get $2.526B. Therefore, the total amount of HRR would have to exceed $5B for the players to receive all of their escrow back. With these figures, you can see why players are hesitant to activate the escalator.

How this projects going forward?

So now we see a few causes of the lower projections, we can look forward to what this will do for the cap in the future. First, we have to get through September. The NHL can exercise an option on September 1st, or the NHLPA can exercise the same option on September 19th, that would terminate the current CBA on September 1, 2020. I will cover that in future articles.

I think the NHL is starting to reach a peak, and by that I mean we are likely to see the upper ceiling flatten out a bit. The NHL has experienced unprecedented growth over the past eight years, and the addition of Vegas and Seattle shows the interest of the league across the continent. One could envision a scenario where the influx of retail and ticket sales from the Seattle inaugural season spikes the cap number again, but I remain pessimistic in this regard. Part of my reasoning for this is the close proximity to Vancouver and pre-established allegiance to that market, where that did not quite exist for Vegas. The franchise will certainly succeed, as evidenced by their season ticket drive, but I don’t envision them having the financial success that the Golden Knights had in their opening season.

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The only other major influx of revenue over the next few years is the TV deals, as the current U.S. broadcast deal expires at the end of the 2020-21 season. If the NHL can start a bidding war, hopefully excluding bids from non-major networks, the contract could rival the Canadian TV deal that generates $700M annually. I suspect a deal ends up somewhere in the $350M area, which is a significant increase over the current $200M contract carried by NBCSN. Factor in any local broadcast deals, this could be the wild-card toward an increase in player salaries.

If I had to settle on a number, factoring for a 32-team league and a long term TV deal, I would believe that $90M annually will be the highest salary cap that we will see over the next 8-10 years. Mitigating factors to consider, as to why the cap will flatten out, is the secondary ticket market competes with team sales and tend to cause tickets to go unsold. Another factor is streaming services do not count toward general ratings, and this is something that broadcast companies can use to lessen an offer for a new contract deal, as well as piracy.

Of course, this whole idea takes a dive if the NHL has another work stoppage that results in lost games.

Statistics provided by capfriendly.com

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

2019 NHL Draft: Winners and Losers from Round 1

There are always teams that are perceived winners and losers on day one of the draft. No one will know who is truly and winner or loser for five years but we take a shot at picking out who made good choices and bad choices during day one.

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Winners

Colorado Avalanche (Winner of the Day)

The big winners of the day were the Colorado Avalanche. The team who absolutely robbed the Ottawa Senators in the Matt Duchene trade in November of 2017. In that trade they received a first round pick in either 2018 or 2019. When the Senators selected Brady Tkachuk last year, their 2019 first round pick went to the Avalanche. Despite finishing last in the league, the Senators lucked out and didn’t give up a top-three pick but ended up sending the fourth overall pick to Colorado.

With that pick, the Avalanche selected the clear-cut top defender in the draft, Bowen Byram. Clearly going for best player available, they continue to stack their blue line prospect pipeline. Adding the dynamic, potential number-one defender to the group that already includes Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Conor Timmins. The Avalanche blue line has the potential to be akin to the peak years of the Nashville Predators group.

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The moment that they truly jumped into winner category was when they selected high-skill center Alex Newhook. The speedy pivot was an absolute beast in the BCHL. Ranked as a top-ten prospect by many outlets and talent evaluators, Newhook’s fall to 16 in the draft was a minor shock. Colorado took advantage and solidified both their defensive core and added a future star in Newhook who slots in perfectly behind Nathan MacKinnon.

Montréal Canadiens

If it weren’t for the Avalanche arguably nabbing two top-seven prospects, the Montréal Canadiens would be the big winners. Cole Caufield‘s diminutive stature led to his fall from the top-10 down to Montréal at 15. This is a kid who can score goals. He may be just 5’7″ but he scored 72 goals last year in just 64 games, he possesses the best shot in the draft. After a year or two at the University of Wisconsin, Caufield is likely to light then league on fire with legitimate 40+ goal potential. The Canadiens stole the best goal scorer in the draft with the 15th pick.

Philadelphia Flyers

The team that couldn’t seem to make a good move in the week leading up to the draft, they made the only move at the draft. Trading back with the Arizona Coyotes, the Flyers gave up the 11th pick to move down to 14 and also acquire the 45th overall pick as well. This allowed the Philadelphia Flyers to select the defender that that wanted, USNTDP left-handed defenceman Cam York, as well as recouping an asset. The Coyotes selected the ultra-safe Victor Söderström with the 11th pick. The difference between York and Söderström isn’t so vast that trading up was necessary but the Flyers are the benefactors of the Coyotes eagerness to move up.

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Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights we’re gifted a potential number one center at 17 with the selection of Peyton Krebs. The Winnipeg ICE center is a competitor and a high skilled guy. He led a talent-poor ICE team last season and was ranked all over the top-10. Falling out of that grouping because he partially tore his Achilles’ tendon, the young center wasn’t expected to play in the NHL next season so allowing their medical staff to help through the recovery will help the 17th overall pick.

Losers

Chicago Blackhawks (Loser of the Day)

The draft started at pick number three. The Chicago Blackhawks has the choice between a future number one defender in Bowen Byram and a potential stud In the mold of Patrice Bergeron by selecting Alex Turcotte. Their selection of Kirby Dach was a head scratcher. Although he has a high ceiling, Dach has a few warts in his game. The primary wart is the fact that he plays the game at a very slow pace. He’s methodical with his pace of the game and tends to slow things down. The way Dach does this may not translate to the NHL game of speed.

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Dach has the tools to be a top-line player, whether it’s at center or possibly on the wing, and he possesses good size. His dynamic offensive upside may be equal or slighter greater than Turcotte but the floor is vastly lower. Turcotte could have been a number one pick in a different draft and passing on that could be a cause for concern for the Blackhawks.

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson has a bomb from the point. You don’t take a defender this high because his shot is elite. The rest of his game, particularly in the defensive zone, needs a ton of work. His offensive skill set is good and he is able to make a good first pass but at the 19th pick they had numerous blue liners with much more well rounded and transferable games. Another factor that goes into the Ottawa Senators being a loser here is the fact that they gave up the 4th overall pick (Bowen Byram) in the Duchene trade. It was almost a certainty that they’d land here in the loser column.

Detroit Red Wings

As the president of the Moritz Seider Fan club, this hurts. Seider is an excellent defender who showed offensive skill prior to his draft year. This year he played with Mannhiem in the DEL (top German men’s league) and was asked to focus on his defensive game. He did that and excelled. He grew throughout the year, going from playing 6-9 minutes a night at the beginning of the year to playing top-pair minutes in the playoffs where Mannheim won the league title. Seider could be an outstanding defenceman in the future and the selection of him is a win for the Detroit Red Wings but taking him at 6 was a bit of a reach. Rumour has it that they almost traded down but were tipped off that other teams in the top-10 were considering Seider as well so Steve Yzerman just went and got the player he wanted.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Calling the Tampa Bay Lightning losers is basically setting myself up for failure, I’m not the Columbus Blue Jackets after all. Their selection of Nolan Foote caused a bit of an uproar amongst Lightning fans. They wanted a goal scorer and they chose a guy who wasn’t even among the top-three available. With Arthur Kaliyev, Bobby Brink and Raphael Lavoie both still sitting on the board, Foote was a player that felt like a reach. He has a few flaws outside of his goal scoring but so does Kaliyev. Kaliyev was just a better goal scorer. It’s a shock that the Lightning took an extremely flawed goal scorer with Kaliyev available and not make the choice to select the young Hamilton Bulldog winger. Foote has the capability of being a good goal scorer but it could end up much like the OHL scoring race where he is behind Kaliyev for years to come.

Day Two, Lets Go!

While there are many winners and losers when we instantly react on day one, day two should have a boat load of talent available.

The fact that day two of the draft will feature some round one talent isn’t new. It happens every year. This year feels like there is more than normal. The forward group above is outstanding and any of them could have gone in the first round without batting an eye. The teams at the top of the second round will get some excellent talent and be the beneficiaries of some of the questionable choices of the teams in the later half of the first round. You can go back and look at the reactions of some of the team at Puck77 here on our day one live blog. Day two is upon us and we are bound to have some fun! Follow along on the day two live blog and enjoy the draft!

For more the draft, prospects and the NHL in general you can follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari

All statistics and information courtesy of Hockey Reference, the NHL, Elite Prospects and Prospect Stats.

NHL Draft Profile: Spencer Knight

Spencer Knight is the top goalie among most draft aficionados. He was the unheralded backbone of one of the best USNTDP of all-time. His ability to stay calm, cool and collected paired with maybe the best athleticism for any player in the draft combine to make Knight a top prospect in the 2019 NHL Draft.

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Name: Spencer Knight

Date of Birth: April 19, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Darien, CT, USA)

Hieght: 6’3″

Weight: 198lbs

Catches: Left

Position: G

Rankings

Ranked #12 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The top goaltender in the draft has been outstanding all year. He has shown all the tools that talent evaluators look for in a young goaltender. His mental make-up is strong and he does an excellent job staying poised. He doesn’t panic or get flustered after allowing a weak goal. He stays focused and is able to see around screens because he shows great awareness of the play. The American goaltender does an excellent job at keeping his back upright and keeping a solid base to ensure that he’s using his entire 6’3″ frame in the net. In the video below, you can see Knight hold his ground despite the Finnish players best attempt at poking the puck free.  

Throughput the year, Knight showed that his maturity was well beyond his years. Often times with young goalies, sustained pressure from the opposition can lead to a break down in positioning and cause the young netminder to allow a goal that he would normally save. This isn’t often the case for Knight. He is able to harness his poise and focus in on tracking the puck while staying in good position. His eyes stay locked in on the puck and he is able to make multiple saves by kicking his pads out and closing down on the puck despite good movement from the opposing team. The video below if a perfect example of Knights ability to keep focused and dialed in on the puck. 

 

At the draft combine, many came away with the realization that Knight was among the best athletes in the draft. Knight shows his impressive athleticism with his ability to move laterally with precision and recover on plays that become a scramble in front of him. His lateral movement is extremely crisp and he rarely overshoots his positioning. He comes across the crease with a strong push. His ability to keep his upper body high while sliding over helps him stay big and cover the net as he transitions. Below you can see Knight unable to corral the loose puck in front of him but quickly recovers and uses his athleticism to make an outstanding save. 

Lower body strength and stability is an asset that goalies need and Spencer Knight has both. The future franchise netminder has the strength to keep his pad down and pinned to either post while still being able to stay upright and actively following the puck. The lower body strength aids in his push off from post-to-post and allows him to kick out his pads during a slide. As you can see below, Knight is able to use the aforementioned lower body strength to push off the right post and explode towards the recipient of the pass. His strong core allows him to stay upright long enough to make the marvelous save. 

When it comes to positioning, Knight is consistently stable. He plays a mature game which makes him far ahead of the curve for draft eligible goaltenders. The goalkeeper does a good job at absorbing the puck into his chest and not allowing egregious rebound more often than not. His reflexes have developed further throughout the year and he’s been able to track and catch shots quite well. When the puck is shot to his blocker side, he often deflects the puck into the corner or up into the net depending on the situation. Knight is able to track a pass through the middle of the ice and not over commit on a slide. He stops in perfect position and is able to make the save with ease as you can see in the video below.  

What the Detractors Say

While no 18-year-old goaltender is perfect, Spencer Knight does everything you’d like a goaltender to do. One of the few aspects of Knight’s game that scouts have picked on is his tendency to play fairly deep in his net at times. While he comes out to challenge shooters in one-on-one scenarios, he has sunken into his net at times during sustained pressure. While this hasn’t been an issue at junior level, it could become an issue at the next level as the athletic goalie moves forward. His athleticism helps him make up for the depth in which he plays at but he could stand to play a little higher in his crease.

Preseason Outlook

Having played in 14 games with the USNTDP U18 team a year early, many expected Knight to put on a show for the 2018-19 season. His positioning and athleticism allowed him to play up a level with success. Coming into the year, the young goaltender was considered the top goalie and he did nothing to change that fact.

Video courtesy of Justy Power YouTube

USNTDP Success

The top-tier prospect in net was outstanding this year on a stacked USNTDP team. With the high-powered offence, Knight certainly received his fair share of goal support but there was a number of times where Knight would put on a goaltending clinic. Early in the season Knight put together a masterful performance against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, ranked third in the NCAA at the time. Showing off all of his tools, this game signified his dominance and showed that he can read a play and play good positional hockey at a young age. In the video below, Knight makes an outstanding save on a slap shot from the circle. He shows excellent reflexes with the glove stage. 

Knight continued to put together good performances against both USHL and NCAA competition. He finished the year with a save percentage of .903 against USHL opponents but a .913 overall if you include the tougher NCAA schedule as well. This showed that he was able to play up to the competition and he benefitted from facing more steady work rather than the games in the USHL where his team often outshot the opposition by a wide margin.

Strong U18 World Championships

The world stage was where Knight shone brightest this year. At the U18 World Championships this year, Knight was able to dominate his peers. In his six games at the tournament, he allowed just 1.51 goals against average and had a sparkling .936 save percentage. However it was the save that he made that showed he would be an NHL goaltender sooner than many thought coming into the year.

Spencer Knight will be taken…

Somewhere in the 15-25 range most likely but there’s a chance he goes slightly earlier. Goalies are seldom drafted in the first round anymore but Knight is destined to be the exception. He’s one of the best American goaltending prospects in years and projects extremely well. His athleticism and mental fortitude will serve him well as he hopes to take the next step at Boston College next year. He is likely to step into a prominent role in the program despite being a freshman. His first task will be taking full control of the net and continuing to develop with the help of his Boston College athletic staff. The future franchise goaltender should, and likely will, be selected in the middle of the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Is trading for Colin Miller a possibility?

Are the Chicago Blackhawks a possible suitor for Colin Miller?

It was reported yesterday by, David Schoen, that the Vegas Golden Knights are trying to clear cap space by trading defenseman, Colin Miller.

Miller, has reportedly fallen out of favor with Golden Knights coach, Gerard Gallant, being scratched multiple times this season as well as game one against San Jose. He also suffered some injuries this year only playing in 62 games.

In those 62 games, Miller, posted a stat-line of three goals and 26 assists. Also, in the playoffs he played in six games and recorded a goal and two assists.

That is a drop off from his first season with the Golden Knights, in 82 games he put up 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points which lead all of the Golden Knights defensemen.

Should the Blackhawks make an offer on Miller?

The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to keep Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy, Duncan Keith, Henri Jokiharju and Erik Gustafsson on the blue line for their five main defensemen. Defensemen, Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlström could be that sixth guy. The ‘Hawks may want an upgrade for the second or third pairing and Colin Miller could be the answer.

Colin Miller is a right handed defenseman. Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy and Henri Jokiharju are all right handed defenseman. That could be a concern, but Connor Murphy has shown he is comfortable playing on either side.

Miller, also brings decent size to the Blackhawks. He is 6’1″ and 196 pounds. He also is a very quick defenseman, has a heavy shot and is a great offensive defenseman in general. Collin Miller does struggle in his own end, but his excellent skating allows for him to get back and defend one-on-one. Colin Miller, can also play on both sides.

Per Miller has always been an outstanding player in terms of advanced analytics. In the 2018-2019 season he recorded a 56.9 CF% and a 56 FF% respectively (Corsi For % and Fenwick For %).

Also, seen in the chart below he is excellent in Offensive xG, Offensive CF, Defensive GF, Defensive xG and Defensive CF at even strength. (This was taken from all his total ice time from Boston and Vegas).

Per Corsica, Colin Miller, ranked 10th on the Golden Knights with an xGF of 71.18 and an ixGF of 5.55 (Expected Goals For and Individual Expected Goals For).

So, going back to the original question, should the Blackhawks make a trade for Colin Miller?

While it’s not likely the Blackhawks make a deal for Miller. If the Chicago Blackhawks fell they need to bolster their defense they should at least consider Colin Miller. He is currently making $3,875,000 for three more years and is only 26 years of age per CapFriendly.

Hypothetical Deal

I could see the Blackhawks moving forward Dylan Sikura, defenseman Jakub Galvas and a 2020 third round pick for Colin Miller.

Dylan Sikura, is a 23 year old left winger. He put up eight assists with the ‘Hawks this year, but is an excellent two-way forward. This year he put up a 55.1 CF% and a 53.8 FF%. He also recorded 23 takeaways to seven giveaways, which is a 3.28:1 takeaway to giveaway ratio. He projects to be a middle six forward, perhaps even a top six forward.

Jakub Galvas, is a 19 year old left-handed defenseman. He put up 4 goals and 13 assists in 40 games in the Tipsport Extraliga (top Czech league). He is a mobile defenseman and a puck-mover similar to Colin Miller. Next year he will be playing in Liiga with Jukurit. He projects to be a fifth or sixth defenseman, at his best maybe a fourth defenseman.

Conclusion

While a deal is unlikely to be made by the Blackhawks for Colin Miller, he is a great defenseman. Any team would be happy to have him as part of their defensive core. He can be played in all situations.

stats-from: Elite Prospects, Hockey Reference, Corsica and Evolving Hockey

special thanks to: David Schoen and CapFriendly

Featured Image Credit: Nikos Michals