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2018-2019 NHL Preview: Vegas Golden Knights

Year two will test the Golden Knights in a new way

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2017-2018 standings. Twentieth up are the Vegas Golden Knights who are in their 2nd year in the NHL. The first year was…ok, I mean if you consider a Stanley Cup Finals berth in your first season as a success. Also consider there are four teams who have never been to the Stanley Cup finals before: Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets.

2017 – 2018 NHL Stats:

NHL Standings: 5th
Goals for Rank: 4th
Goals against Rank: 8th
PP Rank: 10th
PK Rank: 10th

Projected 2018-2019 NHL Stats

NHL Standings: 12th
Western Conference Standings: 6th
Pacfic Division Standings: 3rd
Coach: Gerard Gallant (203-165-4 total across his time with Columbus, Florida and Vegas).


So, wow, that was quite an introduction to the NHL eh? Gerard certainly has his work cut out for him setting a rather high bench mark in year 1. The Golden Knights don’t necessarily have the most talented team but they were smart enough to play a ‘playoff’ style of hockey all year hustling to win the one on one battles and not giving up with relentless offensive pressure creating turnovers and capitalizing on those. Despite being 10th in shots for they were 4th in goals because they were so good at creating odd man rushes and quality shots. Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson make for a talented top line, Max can’t backfill what James provided but he is a welcome addition. Alex Tuch and Paul Stastny are ok and the bottom for are fantastic at fore-checking. Their defensive unit is interesting, I don’t see it as the most talented group but they worked phenomenally as a team covering for each other and communicating well. Marc-Andre Fleury was electric in net finishing 3rd in GAA (2.24) and 6th in Sv % (.927). I’ve been floored over the years how calm and collected Marc-Andre remains despite seeming chaotic talk and actions around him both with the Penguins and Golden Knights. This team will take a step back, I feel very confident in that, teams have spent the offseason addressing where they went wrong playing Vegas and adapting to that error (much in the same way a baseball pitcher adapts to a new hitter who starts off hot) the only question is, will it be to a 10th -12th spot or will it be back so far that they miss the playoffs entirely. The advantage that Vegas possesses is that when the playoffs start they have a head start having played the high octane, physically aggressive style all season.

Major Additions:

Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny

Major Subtractions:

James Neal, Tomas Tatar, David Perron, Nick Suzuki

Prospects and Picks:

-Cody Glass. Taken 6th overall in the 2017 draft, cody continued his play with the Portland Winterhawks last year scoring 102 points in 64 games. He has advanced physically to the point where he could land on the roster this year adding a prolific scoring touch to the team. There is a chance he lands with the AHL affiliate as they test his play at upper levels but it also would not surprise me to see him entered into the lineup given the high expectations this season.

-Erik Brannstrom. Taken 15th overall in the 2017 draft, Erik played in the Swedish Elite league scoring 15 points in 44 games. He is part of a strong tradition of Finnish and Swedish defensemen who have been drafted in the first round over the last two years (five taken this year,six taken last year). I don’t anticipate him being ready just yet but he will prove to be a top four defensemen in a few years if he can bulk up a bit and work a bit more on shutting down opposing offenses.

Sleeper Fantasy Asset:

-Max Pacioretty. Scoring just 37 points across 64 games last year, Max will move to a team which has more offensive upside as well as a strong power play unit (which he will likely sit on the first line for). Regardless of whether or not he sits on the top line with William Karlsson or the 2nd line with Paul Stastny, he will surely cross 40 points and probably 50 if he can get into a good groove with the Vegas style of play.

Cap Situation:

$69MM Spent; $7M in Cap room; 24 players signed; average team age 28.


Will William Karlsson score at least 35 goals this year (he scored 43 last year)?

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