Courtesy of the Vegas communications staff, here are full transcripts from George McPhee, Paul Stastny, and Ryan Reaves's pressers.
Thoughts on what Paul Stastny brings to the lineup and the depth at center…
We had our eye on him for quite a while. He’s a really talented, skilled guy. He’s a playmaker and you always want playmakers. It’s hard for goal scorers to score if they don’t have playmakers. He does that. He’s a real good person, good solid pro. We do like having centers. You can move centers around the lineup, you can have centers on the wing, you can’t get wingers to play center.
Thoughts on further moves to be made in free agency…
I never know the answer to the question. We’ll see how things go here over the next few days. We’re still talking to people and we’ll see how things develop.
Thoughts on what Ryan Reaves brings to the team…
Ryan is rare in that he’s one of those big, physical guys that can play. You can put him anywhere on the ice. Anytime we need him against any other line, you don’t get exposed. It’s very nice to have that combination of a player—they’re hard to find. It’s an old expression, but he keeps the flies out of the honey. It’s nice to have him around. When we first started with our club, I didn’t feel that we needed that because we didn’t have stars to protect. As the season got going and progressed, we had some players that turned out to be real good players and some teams were playing us a little harder and a little chippier and thought they were going to get something. We didn’t want them getting too overzealous with our players.
Thoughts on how giving players contracts like Stastny’s in relation to future contracts with other players…
We’re certainly comfortable with term on young players. Term matters. I think a lot of teams from what I’m seeing, although I haven’t seen everything just yet, a couple of summers ago we had a lot of older guys getting five and six year deals. I think everybody realized that was a mistake. We’re trying to be a little more circumspect and it looks like the league is trying to do that. That’s why we went three years on Stastny. Reaves was two years and basically, there was a lot of interest in him. There was a lot of competition for him. We simply took the money from a three-year deal and pushed it into two. To answer the question, we’re okay giving term to younger guys but you’ve got to be careful.
Thoughts on the internal discussions that went on in relation to short-term fixes vs. long-term success…
I think we all know where the boundaries are on what we want to do. Everything is related to everything else. We have exhaustive discussions about every single thing that goes on and, every time someone is signed, things change around the league. When you add a guy, it changes for you. We go into great depth and we have our analytics that are telling us ‘don’t do this’ or ‘do this.’ We have our instincts that kick in, we have our scouting ratings that kick in, but it’s quite a process. There are temptations but you really have to take the emotions of the things out and that is hard. We’re attached to these guys. Some of the guys that played for us, there’s a strong bond there. As a manager, you’re going through everything. You’re trying to make the right decisions and it’s hard sometimes. It’s really hard. You make signings and you think you did the right thing and you go home and you try to get some sleep and you don’t sleep at all because you starting going through it. You get up in the morning and you’re still thinking: did we do the right thing? Or not? Whether you signed a guy or maybe you let a guy go. Sometimes, it’s clear, but many times it’s not.
Thoughts on cap space as an asset in future trades…
We used it really effectively on a lot of players and a lot of picks. Right now, we’re sitting here with a pretty good team and we haven’t used any of our draft picks this summer. We have them all. We’ve been talking trade with some teams, but that requires young players and picks but we haven’t moved any of them. We’ve added three players though free agency but we still have all of our picks and all of our young prospects. I’d like to think we’re in a pretty good place. The inclination is we sit back, see what develops, and if there’s anything that comes to us or there’s other opportunities, or do we dive into something else? I don’t know the answer to that right now.
Thoughts on Nick Holden as a player…
Well, it basically keeps the construction of our defense intact. Luca [Sbisa] has moved on, we thought he would fit really well in that spot, and we like him a lot. We got the deal done on the terms we liked. Everything stays the same on our defense and we like our defense. It’s deep, we have our shutdown guys, we have our speed guys, and we’re deep. We’d like to carry eight guys this year as we did last year because the young guys that we have need to play in the American League. There’s one or two that could be called up but I’d rather let them play and develop at the right pace, rather than having them on a yo-yo. When you have the eight guys back there, you don’t have to do that a whole lot. When those guys are ready, and a lot of them might be ready later this year and certainly next year, we can carry seven defensemen again.
Thoughts on whether there’s still discussions with James Neal…
Yes, we’re still talking to James.
Thoughts on the John Tavares contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs that’s packed with bonuses…
The whole point of signing bonuses all throughout the contract like that is it makes the contract buyout-proof. You can’t buy out signing bonus, you can only buy out salary. If there’s a signing bonus in a year where there might be a work stoppage, you have to pay that signing bonus—whether you’re playing or not. We haven’t done that, it’s not a prudent thing to do in my mind. I’ve never done it. There’s situations like with a Marchessault where, when signing, he hasn’t made a lot of money in his career, we gave him a little money up front to buy a house. There aren’t signing bonuses all throughout the contract, we haven’t done that.
Thoughts on roster moves this summer that, without them, the team wouldn’t succeed…
We had a pretty good year with our group obviously. There’s no changes on the blueline really, we made one but I think we have added a player that makes it better and certainly doesn’t make it worse. The goaltending is excellent still. We wanted to add a skilled playmaker. David Perron is going to move on. We’re sitting there trying to decide. Again, we kept our young assets, all of our draft picks, and we’re trying to decide: do we make another move now or not? Is the right move there or not? I’ll have to decide that in the next few weeks.
Thoughts on negotiating with RFA’s…
That’ll probably start in a week or two. Once you get through this process, most teams try to get through this and then, you’re tuckered out from that, you start doing the restricted free agents.
Thoughts on how far the negotiations went with David Perron…
We made offers to all of our free agents—every single one. Throughout the year and even this week, there was more discussion with each one, with Perron, with Reaves and with James. We were very comfortable with where we were, and, based on what’s transpired, we made very healthy offers. I think we handled that very, very well. I think, with respect to Luca, his agent said in the paper the other day that we didn’t make an offer—we did make an offer. We made two offers quite a while ago.
Thoughts on how the Perron negotiations wrapped up…
It came down to the term on that one. That was pretty clear.
Thoughts on what made Vegas an attractive spot to you…
I think a lot of things I was attracted to. Not just playing against them in playoffs but playing against them in the regular season. I think they play such a high-paced game, aggressive, and everyone is involved in the game, not just one line. It’s all four lines. When you teach that philosophy, you create a lot of chances, you create a lot of turnovers, which gets you the puck. I like playing teams that are aggressive and play on their toes and teams that aren’t afraid to make mistakes. That was big. Just looking at the kind of players that they have, a lot of speed, a lot of goal-scorers, and that to me I feel I fit well with that. I’m one of those guys that help the defensemen get the puck out of the zone and find it in my hands as quick as possible. When you play with players like that, players that want the puck in their hands as quick as you can, you come in late to support them.
Thoughts on if what you heard from an outside perspective on what Vegas has in the locker room, was that also part of the decision making…
Yeah, it’s always nice, but I have come to a point now that I have gotten older and have a family, you just want to have fun on the ice. If you are having fun on the ice, playing the style that you enjoy and the team is doing well, I think everything kind of takes care of itself to win. I did ask around from a few guys that have played there or guys that know guys that play there. I also know a few people that live in the area for 7 or 8 years even before the team got there and have always said good things about Vegas. Sometimes from an outside perspective all you think about is the Strip, but the way of living is an easy settle and how good the community is there. I haven’t heard one thing negative and that’s before the hockey team got there and just talking with the hockey guys I have only heard positive things. When you hear that, that just makes it easier to make a decision like this.
Thoughts on the negotiation between Vegas and Winnipeg…
It was a crazy. Saturday everything kind of picked up. The courting periods, it’s good and bad at the same time, you kind of get an idea of who is interested, but 5 or 6 days whatever it is, is a long time. You don’t really need to do that much homework, you can always ask around and kind of see where you could potentially fit in. I was in a unique situation on wherever I decide to go, I knew it was two great teams and two great opportunities for myself and my family. It was a win-win there. In the end, sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling. Sometimes it’s just one of those things that is the best fit, hockey wise, family wise and everything in between.
Thoughts on if the 3-year term length is something you were looking for…
Last contract, I had the same question, but I have never really looked for the longest-term length just because the league is so unpredictable, the teams are so unpredictable, and you never know what could happen. Sometimes some people look for as many years as possible and I have always been in the situation where it was 2-4 years and just go from there. I don’t worry about myself. I can take care of myself, so it’s not one of those things where I had one fluke year, and all of a sudden, I want to take advantage and get the longest contract as possible. Whether it was 1-4 years for us, it was just what was the best situation. There wasn’t anything that was going to be the final deal breaker on exact number of years you wanted. So, I have always been very open to that and that’s just my philosophy on how I have always been. It’s always worked out for me, so there is no reason for me to kind of stand pat on what exactly the term I was looking for.
Thoughts on going back to the Western Conference Final against Vegas and watching them play, was that at all part of your decision making…
Honestly, no. I think the way the year went for me going from St. Louis to Winnipeg to make an adapt on the playoffs, it was really physically, mentally and emotionally that went in it. It took me a couple of weeks to take a step back and then all of a sudden it was a, now let’s focus on the future and see what’s best for me. You can’t really pick where you want to go. There are always ideas of maybe where you can potentially end up, but you always want to go places where you want to be and go places that want you. It has to be a happy medium. After that playoff season, it was never in the back of my mind because hockey was the last thing on my mind because it was just so draining. It wasn’t really till like a week or so after the cup final that we took a step back with the family and agent. I looked at different situations that could potentially come up and if they didn’t come up then we would forget about it, but if teams did call then I would have serious interest in it.
Thoughts on how negotiations went and what led to the decision to stay in Vegas…
It was different for me. That was the first time I’ve ever hit free agency. Obviously, I wanted to see what was out there. I had a couple of teams in a few days. I had some good offers on the table but I think, at the end of the day, I told management in Vegas during my year-end meeting that I wanted to be back. I like the culture of the team, I like where the team was headed—a young team that makes it to the Stanley Cup Final, that really excited me. I liked how the locker room was. I like my relationship with Turk and with management in just a short period of time. I made it clear to them that if there was an option to come back that that would be my first priority is coming back to Vegas.
Thoughts on whether he expected to come back at the end of the year…
I don’t know. I thought having a decent finish to the playoffs might have helped my chances, but you never know with a young team that just came into the league, an expansion team, you never know where things go. I don’t think I was really expecting anything one way or the other, I was just kind of hoping that I got the call from Vegas.
Thoughts on the structure of his contract compared to other offers...
I had a three-year offer on the table, and, we had a three-year offer with Vegas, we were kind of hashing out which way we wanted to go with it. At the end of the day, I think, being a little bit older, I wanted to take the guaranteed money and take the potential of a lockout coming in the third year. I also wanted to bet on myself. I feel like I take care of my body and I work really hard in the offseason. I strive to get better every year. To sign the two-year contract, I’m taking the bet on myself that I’m going to play my way into another contract after, even hopefully come July 1 next year. That’s kind of how I landed on the two years.
Thoughts on his excitement to play with Paul Stastny again…
I’m really excited. He was a big part of the team in St. Louis. We became good friends over the years. To have a guy like that come into our team, I’m excited. You saw him in the playoffs. He’s a guy that slows the game down really well, he sees the ice. He can run a powerplay all kinds of ways. I think, the way he slows the game down, it opens ice up for his linemates. He’s going to do really well with whoever he plays with.
Darren Dreger reported that Ryan Reaves is returning to the Golden Knights for two years, $5.5 million. That's a $2.775 million AAV, a healthy raise over his $1.125 million AAV last season.
I can't say I understand it.
Reaves is a better player than a lot of people give him credit for. He also has intangibles -- intimidation on the ice, leadership off it -- which are honestly difficult for me to quantify. I did try to understand these intangibles more in this article
, where I spoke with three pro scouts.
But Reaves also plays under 10 minutes a night.
To put that into perspective, 535 players skated more than 50 games last year. Just nine of them averaged under 10 minutes per game: Reaves, Chris Thorburn, Micheal Haley, Matt Martin, Lukas Sedlak, Matt Hendricks, Jordan Nolan, Curtis Lazar, and Tom Kuhnhackl. All of them -- except Martin at $2.5 million AAV this coming season and UFA Hendricks at $1.85 million AAV in 2017-18 -- will make under a million in 2018-19 or made under that in 2017-18.
This was very much a premium paid by George McPhee.
Granted, it's a premium that he probably can afford to pay -- McPhee has over $33 million in cap space right now, including Reaves and David Clarkson on LTIR (Update: Before Paul Stastny)
. And the Golden Knights weren't the only team willing to pay it -- the Flames, Rangers, and Canucks were all said to be in the mix.
But are Reaves's -- and I assume this is what sets him apart from other similar on-the-ice performers -- are his intangibles worth that
Well, Vegas can afford the AAV. As long as it doesn't prevent them from future winning moves, this summer or at the Deadline. The $1.65 million annual raise to Reaves doesn't sound like a lot, but cap space vanishes quickly.
A couple quick thoughts about Stastny: Obviously, term matters. While Stastny is 32, a three-year term for him isn't as much of a millstone. He is also a far more well-rounded player than David Perron or James Neal, as he'll be able to slot in on the penalty kill as well as on the power play.
This also gives Vegas a true faceoff specialist. While Cody Eakin, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Erik Haula all won over 50% over their draws last year, Stastny is one of the better faceoff men in the league. From 2014-18, he's 11th out of 113 centermen (2000+ faceoffs) with a 56.1 FOW % -- Eakin is 64th and Bellemare is 90th.
I presume this means that Haula will go back out on the wing too.
In a minor deal, I received confirmation that Maxime Lagace is returning to the Vegas organization. Financial terms haven't been released yet.
Regarding Lagace, he was a good soldier last year, and there's need for goaltending depth after Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban, and Oscar Dansk -- presuming Dansk is signed and beats Lagace out for the starting job in Chicago. None of the Golden Knights goaltending prospects are ready for AHL duty.
It's also worth noting that the St. Louis Blues have ended their affiliation with the Knights and the Wolves, so it's incumbent on Vegas to supply their own goalies (and players) to Chicago.
Yesterday, Vegas Development Camp ended with a wild scrimmage, as Team White shellacked Team Grey 11-6.
More on this later.
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