09 March 2018

Hockey Road Trip: Empire State Excursion (Part 2)

During Part 1 of this massive trip, my travel companion Chad and I found ourselves driving from Buffalo to Ottawa to Montreal to Vermont, before finally returning to the state of New York.  The Empire State Excursion would continue at one of the most famous venues in hockey history.


We awakened in our hotel room to see that a sheet of snow had fallen onto the sleepy village of Lake Placid, which only seemed fitting for its popularity among skiers.  We wasted no time in heading to the Olympic Center for a morning tour of the famed locale.  As an added bonus, our tour guide was a member of the organizing committee for the 1980 Winter Olympics, and told incredibly detailed stories with vivid imagery.  We listened quietly as we were led through the facility for about an hour - the guide even showed us a video of the final moments of the famed "Miracle on Ice" game between the United States and the Soviet Union, as we sat in the fabled arena.

Once the tour was completed, we walked over to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, which was also located inside the Olympic Center.  A perfect compliment to the stories told by our tour guide, the Museum had a great display of artifacts to commemorate the two Olympic games hosted in the city (1932 and 1980), which also included a video of the "Miracle on Ice" game playing on a loop.  

American goalie Jim Craig protected this net in the "Miracle on Ice" game
I definitely enjoyed my brief time in this quaint town, but it was time to hit the road once again - we had a 3-hour drive to Utica for our next game, stopping for dinner in Remsen at a charming little 50's-style diner called The Soda Fountain (check out their special "Garbage Plates").  We arrived at the historic Utica Memorial Auditorium with some time to spare, which would end up coming in handy.

01 March 2018

Squire Report, Vol 7: Trades

The Golden Knights continue to roll, as their lead in the Pacific Division has stretched to 10 points.  But this month was all about re-shaping the roster, as Vegas took part in the NHL's annual trade deadline activity...


Making their biggest splash of the day, Vegas traded three draft picks to Detroit to get dynamic winger Tomas Tatar.  It seemed like a bit of an overpayment (2018 1st rounder, 2019 2nd rounder, 2021 3rd rounder), but I can definitely get behind this deal based on what Tatar brings to the team - he's a relentless forechecker with great hands, and should fit very well into the quick-strike transition offense favored by coach Gerard Gallant.  He just turned 27 years old, and is in the first year of a four-year contract that carries a $5.3M cap hit.  After paying his dues with Detroit's AHL club in Grand Rapids, he's been a consistent performer at the NHL level, averaging about 20 goals and 40 points per season.

With the top two lines virtually set in stone, it would appear that Tatar will slot into the Knights' third line playing with Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin, which seems like an embarrassment of riches for the team as they begin their first playoff run.  Adding some scoring touch to this line also allows the team to keep Tomas Nosek and Ryan Carpenter on the fourth line, where they can add the occasional goal to their strong defensive play.  Tatar also becomes a great insurance policy next season, as he could slide into the Top 6 if Vegas chooses not to re-sign one or both of David Perron and James Neal.

But was it worth it to part with those picks?  That's the tough pill to swallow for me.  GM George McPhee did a great job to stockpile draft picks coming out of the Expansion Draft, but I find it hard to believe that an expansion team will go to the Entry Draft after its first season without a 1st round pick, especially when all of the hockey pundits have claimed that this will be a very strong draft.  But these are the tough decisions that McPhee gets paid for, although I'm wondering if owner Bill Foley may have told him to throw caution to the wind and do what it takes to add to this magical season.  On the plus side, Vegas still kept all three of the players they selected in the 1st round last year, especially when you consider that they were one of the teams in the running for Erik Karlsson and that would have most likely required moving at least one of those key prospects:

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