2017-2018 NHL Preview: Las Vegas Golden Knights
In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Second up is the team who just joined the league and has their work cut out for them as the first expansion team since 2000 when Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league.
2016-2017 NHL Standings: NA
Western Conference Standings: NA
Central Division Standings: NA
GF Rank: NA
GA Rank: NA
Overview: Fresh off an expansion draft, some of the selections in the expansion draft made it clear what George McPhee was trying to do (well it's actually not all that hard, he actually said it) "the goal is to make the playoffs within 3 years". In lieu of grabbing older flashier names, he chose to build with a young core and collect many draft picks building up a sustainable system. It's responsible but it's also time consuming and this team will show severe struggles over it's first few years where it presents James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault and Marc Andre-Fleury. Expect this team to be near the bottom in goals scored, their defense however, could actually avoid a basement ranking if Marc Andre-Fleury and a decent defense squad can hold their own.
Major Additions: James Neal; Jonathan Marchessault; Marc Andre-Fleury
Major Subtractions: NA
Prospects and Picks:
-Cody Glass (6th overall pick; 1st round). He scored 94 points in 59 games last year with the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL as the ripe age of 16. They will probably give him time to develop but it's clear he's on the fast track as he continues to understand and adapt to each level. He fits in perfectly with the "3 year" plan that George McPhee seems to be building. IF you are in a dynasty league, this is a potential strong point producer and first line candidate for them in two years.
-Nick Suzuki (13th overall pick; 1st round). He is likely a year or two out from playing; however, given Nick's on ice IQ, grit and strong play with the puck coupled with Las Vegas's young and uncertain team, there is an off chance he cracks the team. When he DOES join the team he will be a fun player to watch with 50+point potential.
-Erik Brannstrom. The 17 year old defenseman is a good mobile defensemen who can move the puck up ice. He needs the years to develop his size a bit but he has played on the international spectrum and he's shown all the right things to be a top 4 defenseman for Vegas within 2-3 years.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset:
-William Karlsson 25 points across 81 games last year on Columbus's third line, he has a good chance to crack the top 6 in Vegas. He is a skilled player who could see 40+points if he sees solid minutes. He has the effort and on ice IQ to hit some streaks. Unless you are in a deep league - don't draft him but do keep a watchful eye on he does through the first month.
-Trevor van Riemsdyk his first two years were marked more by solid positional play then point production. He did well at University of New Hampshire averaging close to a point per game over his last two years before a 14 and 16 point seasons with his first two years at Chicago. The kicker here is there is a good argument for him being on the top D-Pairing with Marc Methot and certainly on the top PP unit. That could help him see a 30point season next year.
-Jonathan Marchessault. Despite logging fewer minutes than 6 of the Panthers forwards, he outscored all but 2 of them. He's not the best two way player but if you are willing to punt plus minus this year he could be a 30+ goal scorer which is not easy to come by. There is always a chance for struggle as the talent around him is lacking but I think he's one of the two best goal scorers on this team.
They currently have around $8.6MM in cap space with 22 players signed
2017-2018 NHL Standings: 30th
Western Conference Standings: 14th
Pacific Division: 8th
NHL 30th: Las Vegas Golden Knights (Western Conference 14th; Pacific Division 8th)
NHL 31st: Colorado Avalanche (Western Conference 15th; Central Division 7th)