Chalk this one up to things I didn't expect to be writing about today. The Las Vegas Golden Knights have fired head coach, Gerad Gallant and immediately replaced him with Peter Deboer. Gallant, less than two years removed from leading the expansion club to the Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Jack Adams for coach of the year, is now on the market. You have to wonder if he'll be unemployed long. Because it sure didn't take long for his successor to find work.
The Golden Knights add DeBoer who is just a month removed from being let go in San Jose after a dismal start to their season. He joins a team holding onto the final Wild Card spot in the West but just three points out of the Pacific Divison lead. This is a gift-wrapped opportunity for the 51-year-old. Vegas is a team that has played well this year but has been at the mercy of some poor luck.
The Golden Knights' NHL ranks in the following categories:
xGF%: 2nd (54.84%)
CF%: 3rd (53.59%)
FF%: 2nd (53.65%)
SF%: 3rd (52.98%)
SCF%: 2nd (55.38%)
PDO: 28th (0.985)
They're closer to being the best team in the NHL than needing a coaching change. PDO, man. #VegasBorn
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) January 15, 2020
This seems like a layup that DeBoer will enter the fray, the team will continue to play as they have, but will see some better shooting metrics, maybe a timely save or two more and fans and media will hail DeBoer the saviour. But even if that doesn't happen, at least DeBoer gets the last laugh after Gallant referred to him as a clown in the midst of the VGK-SJ first-round playoff matchup last spring.
Fantasy Impact: As is the case with virtually every change at the helm, we can expect some line shuffling to occur. To see the players with a little extra jump in their step for the first week as they fight through the embarrassment of having played their former coach out of a job. But I don't expect we see too many fundamental shifts with the lineup. I don't expect him to mess with the top line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault too much. They've established enough to stick together.
The best-case scenario for fantasy owners (some anyway) is the team will institute a more traditional power-play grouping. That is, they start to deploy a clear number one unit with the best options who see 90 seconds an opportunity. Just like the vast majority of teams do now. DeBoer traditionally did that in San Jose until Erik Karlsson arrived and threw a wrench in things with him and Brent Burns.
The Golden Knights don't have that problem. They lack a truly elite power-play QB. Shea Theodore is their best bet so this could provide a boon to him if his average PPTOI can move from three minutes to closer to four. This is purely speculative because their power play isn't even bad – sitting ninth in the league. Hell, nothing is really wrong with this team, which makes this move so strange. Perhaps we're looking at a philosophical or personal difference between Gallant and management. But again, purely speculative.
We'll have to wait and see what, if any, changes occur. Watch the game-day skate lines. Watch who's getting a bump in power-play ice. Act accordingly.
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