The NHL was the first of the big four professional sports leagues to break into Las Vegas. So far, so good. The team is off to a 12-6-1 start, which is far better than anyone could’ve ever expected from an expansion team.
What’s even more remarkable is they’ve had to use five goaltenders to do it, thanks to injuries.
They’re 8-1-0 at home, so maybe the whole theory about Las Vegas being too distracting for athletes is true. The Golden Knights won’t mind the advantage.
James Neal – Neal has never been on a team where he has been “The Guy”. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been a key component to many teams. He has 20+ goals in all 9 of his seasons in the NHL and already has 10 this year. Vegas will lean on him for offense this season.
William Karlsson – The 24-year-old is flourishing in Vegas. He has already matched his career high in goals (9) after only 19 games. I don’t know what he’ll turn into, but a consistent 20+ goal scorer doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Reilly Smith & Jonathan Marchessault – Two former members of the Florida Panthers have come over to play for their former coach, Gerard Gallant. Both have been producing offensively, thus far.
David Perron – At age 29, he’s one of the old veterans of the team. He leads the team with 17 points this season.
Notable: Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula
It’ll be interesting to see what this team does at the trade deadline. Do they plan on trading away players for more draft picks? Or if they’re still in a playoff race, will they try and go for it?
A strange, but fun predicament for an expansion team to be in.
Colin Miller – He was an offensive defenseman in Junior, but never really got that opportunity in Boston. He has 10 points this season, 7 of which have come on the power play.
Deryk Engelland – He lived in Las Vegas before they even had a team. The 35-year-old is the oldest player on the team and gave a heartfelt speech on opening night in response to the Vegas shooting.
Shea Theodore – When he finally gets a permanent place in the lineup, I think he can be really good.
Notable: Brad Hunt, Nate Schmidt
Marc-Andre Fleury – Flower is the face of the franchise. He won 3 Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh and always appears to be in a good mood. He’s the perfect personality to have on an expansion team. Unfortunately, he got hurt after only 4 games.
Malcolm Subban – They picked him up off waivers from Boston, he was impressive in 3 games, and then got hurt.
Oscar Dansk – He was called up from the minors, played 5 games with a GAA of 1.78, and then got hurt. Notice a trend?
Maxime Lagace – The 24-year-old has played in 10 games this season. He hasn’t been as good as the other three, but you can’t blame him at all.
Dylan Ferguson – He’s 19-years-old, was drafted in the 7th round this past June, and the other night he played 9 minutes against Connor McDavid and the Oilers. Incredible. He’s there as an emergency and will be sent back to the WHL when others get healthy.
1. From Chris: 2/3 of their highest paid players are former leafs – Mikhail Grabovski and David Clarkson.
2. The expansion fee that Vegas had to pay was $500 million. If my math is correct, you could buy about 31,250,000 party size pizzas for the same amount. Dip not included.
3. Their mascot is “Chance the Gila Monster” and looks a bit odd. I’ll let you Google it. I don’t know why they couldn’t just have a Knight as their mascot. Name it “Nighty Knight” or something. He could walk around with a pillow and fight people with it.
4. They play out of T-Mobile Arena. Here are some food options at the arena: Chronic Tacos, Pizza Forte, Shake Shack, and Pink’s Hot Dogs. I hope they aren’t still pink after they’re cooked…
5. There are 17,500 seats for hockey, 44 luxury suites, and 2 party suites. So, if you want to celebrate your birthday at a hockey game, plan ahead.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
Vegas is one of the most lovable teams in sports right now. Every hockey fan is at least a little bit hoping they will be the first expansion team to make the playoffs in their first year.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Before the season started, I would’ve said that the Knights would be one of the five worst teams in the league, just because they are an expansion team. I would’ve been wrong.
The team has been fun and exciting, and so has their Twitter account,
though I’m slowly getting tired of it.
The atmosphere at home games looks terrific and no matter how far the team goes this season, it looks like they’ve hooked their fan base.
They currently sit 5th in the West, 1 point out of 2nd. I’d love to see them make the playoffs.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
The Vegas Golden Knights will make the playoffs.
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