We’re less than 31 days away from the beginning of the 2017/18 season. Today we continue to dive into the 31 NHL teams in alphabetical order, take a look at their previous standings and upcoming season predictions, as well as their key additions and subtractions. Yesterday was the turn of the Vancouver Canucks, today we look at the new kids on the block, the Vegas Golden Knights.
2016/17 record: N/A
Key losses: N/A
2017/18 prediction: Miss the Playoffs
So finally, Gary Bettman has his Vegas dream team. In the pre-season, the Golden Knights have posted a decent record so far of 3-2-1. The puck finally drops at T-Mobile Arena on October 10. Paradise, Nevada will be going nuts. However, many hockey fans remain sceptical about whether having yet another desert hockey team is a smart idea? Vegas to their credit, seem to be taking this season very seriously.
The expansion draft was a focal point during their formation. Vegas played this draft very smartly and choose the best available players. Having a three-time cup winning goalie in Mark-Andre Fleury was a wise first move. Playing second fiddle to Matt Murray in Pittsburgh was never on the cards, now Fleury has a franchise to make his own. Rather than stocking their roster with complete stars, head coach Gerard Gallant has opted to go with real grinders on the blue line.
Getting Cody Eakin from Dallas was a great selection. His form at American Airlines Arena had been on the decline in recent years. Having a new start in Vegas will give him a needed jump start. Jason Garrison brings a good wealth of experience as well. A solid D-Man, this team will need a firm anchor during the early days. There is also an abundance of support in Griffin Reinhart, Colin Miller and Luca Sbisa among others.
Vegas has chosen well with their attack options and James Neal stands out as the pick of the bunch. An underrated talent during his time in Nashville, Neal carries the main attacking threat. Jonathan Marchessault was a real coup for the team. A stand-out talent in Florida, this selection probably surprised many. The Panthers’ loss is very much the Golden Knights’ gain. David Perron will ably bolster the second/third lines and scoring Teemu Pulkinnen from Arizona could pay off well.
So now the big question on everyone’s lips: will Vegas make the playoffs? As well crafted as this roster is, the first year will definitely be a learning curve. They certainly have spirit and there will be times when they impress greatly. GM George McPhee and Gallant are still greasing the wheels of this desert train. They have a reasonable amount of depth. For a first-year team though, they will fall just short of where they want to be. To be fair to Vegas hockey fans though, it will be a very near miss.
Despite everyone’s sneers and mocking, the Golden Knights will surprise many in 2017. In a short amount of time, they have put together a team that could be a threat in the coming seasons.