Alex Tuch

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Vegas Golden Knights

Forwards

David PerronErik HaulaJames Neal

Reilly SmithJonathan MarchessaultWilliam Karlsson

Brendan LeipsicCody EakinAlex Tuch

Oscar LindbergPierre-Edouard BellemareTomas Nosek

Defense

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

Deryk EngellandShea Theodore

Jon MerrillColin Miller

Starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Bruins vs. Capitals; Golden Knights vs. Kings

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards

Tanner PearsonAnze KopitarDustin Brown

Alex IafalloAdrian KempeTyler Toffoli

Marian GaborikNick ShoreTrevor Lewis

Andy AndreoffTorrey MitchellJonny Brodzinski

Defense

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Kurtis MacDermidAlec Martinez

Derek Forbort — Kevin Gravel

Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick

The Buzzer: Knights stay Golden

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Player of the Night: Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

The Senators’ struggles dominated this post about Winnipeg beating them 5-0, but the bigger takeaway might be the reminder that the Jets are indeed for real.

It’s not just the Jets or even Patrik Laine who deserve more attention; their captain Blake Wheeler is long overdue for his moment in the spotlight. The Minnesota native moved to fourth place in NHL scoring with 35 points on the season thanks to a goal and three assists on Sunday.

Wheeler, 31, has been especially hot lately. Even with one pointless night mixed in, Wheeler has produced 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past four games. Wheeler – Mark Scheifele continues to rise among the NHL’s deadliest duos, with Sunday being a big part of that argument.

Runner up: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

Seguin, meanwhile, isn’t sneaking up on anyone … except the Colorado Avalanche, perhaps?

Either way, I have to admit in looking things over, I thought “Wow, Seguin already has 14 goals now?” That’s after Seguin collected two goals in Dallas’ 7-2 victory against Colorado.

Note that Seguin’s career-high is 37 goals, a mark that he’s reached twice. So far, his 14 goals come in 27 games, a pace that’s slighter better than a tally every two nights. If he can play 82 games and maintain that pace, Seguin could enjoy a career-high and maybe break the 40-goal barrier for the first time in his career.

Considering his talents, it’s almost surprising that it might take this long.

Other top highlights

Not going to fight you if you prefer Seguin’s goals, but here are some other candidates.

Alex Tuch might just find himself a firm place in Vegas, as he scored a slightly prettier goal in regulation than Reilly Smith did to win it for the Golden Knights in OT:

Nathan MacKinnon‘s mixture of anxiety-inducing twitchiness and cool, precise timing + Mikko Rantanen‘s great finish = another beauty:

Factoids of the Night

The Golden Knights have long defied “for an expansion team,” yet it’s still fun to keep tabs on which records they’re tying, breaking, or approaching.

A highly #specificstat regarding Wheeler:

Shenanigans

(OK, the last image wasn’t from Sunday, but you can’t say that you regret seeing it, can you? Oh, sorry, Oilers fans.)

Scores

Kings 3, Blackhawks 1
Jets 5, Senators 0
Stars 7, Avalanche 2
Golden Knights 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Vegas Golden Knights hand out rare lengthy contract

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Early in the Vegas Golden Knights’ ongoing, still-surprising hot start as a franchise, PHT noted one thing that’s unlikely to change this season: motivation.

NHL players are already generally a motivated lot, but when you put financial futures on the line, you’ll often see a surge in results. Take a look at the Golden Knights’ Cap Friendly page and you’ll see a ton of players with one or two years remaining on their current contracts. Greed can be good, at least in the short term, for a sports team’s fortunes.

While the franchise would likely draw the most attention for high-scoring, pending UFAs like James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault, there’s a particularly noticeable glut of defensemen on one-year deals.

That group got a little smaller on Wednesday, as the Golden Knights announced a four-year, $10 million extension for former Kings blueliner Brayden McNabb.

From here, it seems like a fairly benign move.

It’s worth noting that the move draws at least a little bit of mockery on Hockey Twitter.

McNabb, 26, is averaging 19:30 TOI per night through his first 20 regular-season games with the Golden Knights. Peeking at his Hockey Reference page’s quick possession stats, it’s interesting to note an unusual disparity in his Corsi Relative (-.5) versus Fenwick Relative (+3.6) rates compared to his teammates.

It turns out that he’s been blocking buckets of shots so far this season, leading the Golden Knights in that category. Fenwick is a Corsi-like measure except with blocked shots removed from the equation, so perhaps some of a person’s view of McNabb comes down to subtle preferences.

(He’s tied for 12th overall in the NHL in blocked shots, despite missing a few games, by the way.)

Really, if the Golden Knights’ rationale is “well, this makes Gerard Gallant happy,” then it seems like a reasonable move.

Beyond McNabb, Vegas only has Nate Schmidt and Brad Hunt under contracts beyond this season, and both of their deals expire after 2018-19. If you want to be cute about it, you could call McNabb “the defenseman of the future” in Vegas, at least right now.

Discounting David Clarkson‘s dead cap money (which expires after 2019-20), the Golden Knights also have these forwards and goalies locked up for at least two seasons, ignoring players in their farm system for the sake of simplicity:

Forwards

Goalies

You can look at that list a number of ways, including from two very different perspectives. Optimists will note how clean that cap is, with few deals threatening “albatross” status (beyond Clarkson’s, which the Golden Knights are essentially laundering for a fee). On the other hand, anxious types will worry about all the potential mistakes that could be made, including letting the wrong players go and/or retaining players who are playing over their heads.

Overall, this is another reminder that GM George McPhee has generally done a great job of accumulating assets while avoiding the sort of attachments that can submarine a franchise. Even if McNabb ends up being a bland bottom-pairing guy, this deal really isn’t that bad; the term would be the main issue if he really flops.

Of course, this is a mere appetizer for future decisions. Will GMGM ultimately keep or sell guys like Neal, Marchessault, David Perron, and William Karlsson? Finding out those answers should be almost as fun as observing this Cinderella story in action.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Milestone night in Vegas, Johnson backstops Sabres to first win

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Player of the night: Malcolm Subban, Vegas Golden Knights

There were a few candidates tonight, particularly from the Vegas Golden Knights victory over the Boston Bruins. Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov both made their debuts for the expansion team and both scored their first career NHL goals.

Vegas goalie Malcolm Subban also recorded his first career NHL win, stopping 21 of 22 shots faced as the Golden Knights held on in the end for a 3-1 victory. Subban was solid. He made a difficult stop in close off Brad Marchand and helped defeat the team that put him on waivers only two weeks ago.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Subban, per NHL.com. “I made a lot of friends [in Boston], played with a lot of great teammates and (had) a great coaching staff. I’m just happy to get the win.”

Boston selected Subban in the first round of the 2012 draft, but he spent the vast majority of his time in the American Hockey League. Putting Subban on waivers prior to the start of this season was a risk the Bruins were well aware of, and he was claimed by the Golden Knights. He started Sunday, while Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on injured reserve.

Highlight of the night:

The Buffalo Sabres finally have their first win of the season. They received a goal from recently recalled forward Justin Bailey and a 25-save performance from Chad Johnson. He had the glove working in this one, but arguably his best save of the night was this pad stop on Nick Ritchie to keep his team in the lead, at least at the time, during the second period. The angle from behind the net shows just how close this puck came to going in, but Johnson managed to trap it right against the post before the mayhem ensued.

Factoid of the night:

Cam Fowler, selected 12th overall by the Anaheim Ducks in 2010 and still only 25 years of age, achieved a career milestone and made franchise history on Sunday against the Buffalo Sabres.

Scores:

Buffalo 3, Anaheim 1

L.A. 3 – NY Islanders 2

Vegas 3, Boston 1

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Subban records first career NHL win — against his old team, the Bruins

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Talk about (another) milestone night for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Alex Tuch scored his first career NHL goal.

Vadim Shipachyov, making his highly anticipated debut for Vegas, also scored his first career NHL goal, which eventually turned into the winner against the Boston Bruins. (You can read about it here.)

— And finally, Malcolm Subban, the former Bruins goalie prospect, recorded his first career NHL victory, which was nearly a shutout until Boston spoiled that with a late goal from David Pastrnak.

It wasn’t the busiest night for Subban, as Vegas captured a 3-1 victory.

The Bruins played the previous night, didn’t have Patrice Bergeron in their lineup, and only tested the 23-year-old goalie with 22 shots on net. It was, for Subban, a tidy outing but did include a sharp pad save on a chance in close from noted goal scorer Brad Marchand. That kept the game scoreless, allowing for Vegas to take the lead later on.

On a more personal level for Subban, this win comes against the team that brought him into professional hockey. The Bruins selected him with the 24th overall pick in 2012. Since then, Subban had spent the majority of his pro career in the American Hockey League developing his game, while making two appearances for Boston.

He entered Bruins training camp in a battle for the back-up job behind Tuukka Rask, but that role ultimately went back to Anton Khudobin. That led Boston to put Subban on waivers and he was picked up by the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights are now 4-1 on the season, but their roster has undergone notable changes this weekend. Tuch and Shipachyov were recalled from the AHL and starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on injured reserve, giving Subban the opportunity to start against his former team.

Now, what will this mean for the Golden Knights going forward?

Maxime Lagace was on the bench tonight as the back-up, and Fleury is out for at least the next seven days. Vegas has two games this upcoming week, with three days in between those games, which are both at home. It would seem there is an opportunity for Subban to get into a rhythm with a stretch of games. For him, that would be another first at the NHL level.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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