Vgk weekly update
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Chris Gawlik’s  VGK Weekly Update – 12/15/20 – “We Intend on Winning the Stanley Cup.”

FranchiseSportsMedia.com

 

The initial framework is taking shape for the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season.

 

VGK weekly update
Photo Credit: vegashockeyknight.com

Per VGK Owner Bill Foley, “Well, I don’t believe when (T-Mobile Arena) opens, we’ll have significant fans in the arena-based upon the COVID spikes that are going on.  And it may not be that we – we may not start January 15th.  It may slide a week or two.  But we will be playing hockey, and we’ll be in – we’ll be in T-Mobile.  But unfortunately, we may not have fans, which is really, really said, especially for our team because we intend on winning the Stanley Cup this year.”

Wait, did he just say, “intend on winning the Stanley Cup this year?” I believe Foley just predicted VGK to hoist the Stanley Cup in June, maybe July, possibly August, or September? More on that statement later.  Beyond a potential start date, that will most likely change, not much more is really known. The season could be anywhere from forty – eight to fifty – six games without exhibition games. Training camp will be lessened too.

The goal to return to play for the 2020-21 season was January 1; however, the NHL and National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA) were at odds over the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). In short, the owners are concerned about a dramatic revenue loss as every arena will experience a large loss in attendance during the 2020-21 season. A new collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon over the summer.  Owners wished to make amendments differing percentages of the player’s salaries to as far as 2026. That may be the reason the season will be starting in mid – January, at the earliest.

The NHL is working on plans and backup plans for a successful season. The bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton went off to near perfection. Zero positive COVID-19 tests were reported. As of now, the plan is not to have bubbles for the 2020-2021 season. Major League Baseball and the National Football League have had to make many changes to their respective schedules due to COVID. The San Francisco 49ers just played a “home” game in Arizona. The Los Angeles Rams and Chargers are considering playing the remainder of their home games right here in Vegas given the current climate of Coronavirus cases in Southern California, particularly Los Angeles County where both play.

What potential impacts could COVID have on a “bubble-less” NHL? Divisional re-alignments seem likely as there may have to be an all-Canadian division due to travel restrictions. An immediate concern will be travel.  Unlike the NFL where games are once a week, the NHL will be playing multiple games a week with the potential for back-to-back games. Will traveling multiple times per week create a greater risk for the players to get COVID? Will the travel schedule make testing and tracing more difficult?

Time will tell.

 

In a season that is sure to be filled with uncertainty, the biggest certainty is Bill Foley’s optimism. “We intend on winning the Stanley Cup this year,” Foley stated. Make no mistake, every team “intends” on winning the Stanley Cup in the upcoming season.

 

I do not believe any team goes into a new season hoping for anything less. However, most owners do not make those types of statements in a public forum. Just one more reason to love and appreciate Bill Foley, I guess!

Now that we have a semi-tentative start date, the trade rumor mill has woken up. Reports have surfaced that the Golden Knights are kicking the tires on deals potentially involving Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault. The salary cap for the 2020-21 season is $81.5M. According to CapFriendly, VGK currently sits at $82.4M cap allocated for the upcoming season. VGK may find some creative ways to lower a bit of their cap hit by shuttling players in and out of the VGK and HSK rosters.

 

Golden Knights
Photo Credit: Second City Hockey

However, a deal must be made to shed some space. VGK has $7M allocated to Marc-Andre Fleury. However, Foley has mentioned Fleury is remaining a Vegas Golden Knight. Could that change? Possibly, but I doubt anything happens with Fleury in the offseason at this point. Keep in mind, VGK likes to be very active in the trade market. VGK has made moves around the trade deadline each of the last three seasons.  Freeing up cap space now can allow for some creative moves to be made throughout the season.

Trading away Pacioretty may make the most sense. He currently sits on the wrong side of thirty and has a cap hit of $7M per year through the 2022-23 season. His value will never be higher than it is right now. VGK may be able to trade him away for a package that includes draft picks and prospects. Most importantly, a few teams may be willing to take on his entire salary.

 

Shifting gears to Henderson, the American Hockey League anticipates starting February 5th.  Details are limited beyond the start date.  The AHL has just 4 teams in Canada, my “guess” is those four teams would relocate their home games to the United States until the travel restrictions are lifted.

 

VGK Weekly Update
Photo Credit: Arena Digest

The Golden Knights will have an advantage over many teams in the NHL by having their AHL affiliate just down the street. Take the Vancouver Canucks for example: their AHL affiliate is the Utica Comets. Utica, New York and Vancouver, British Columbia are separated by nearly two thousand, three hundred miles. I would expect the NHL rosters to increase to allow for COVID complications.

What that means is NHL teams will have additional players on standby in the event any of their players test positive for COVID. Players who would normally develop in AHL may be called up to their NHL club without getting that valuable AHL game experience. VGK will have the best of both worlds. Players can be moved in and out of the VGK roster while allowing all players to develop. It is much easier to shuttle players from Henderson to Summerlin than Utica to Vancouver.

 

The 2020-2021 campaign is roughly a month away!  Almost time to dust off those “old” VGK jerseys and to rip the tags off the new third and reverse retro jerseys!

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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