As the holiday season approaches, PHR will look at what teams are thankful for this year. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. We take a look at what’s gone well in the first month and what could improve as the season rolls on.
What are the Vegas Golden Knights most thankful for?
An incredible start in their inaugural season.
No matter what happens, whether this expansion franchise ends up garnering a playoff spot at the end of the year or they fall off and end up in the lottery where everyone expected them to be, the Golden Knights have started in a positive, exciting and un-expansionlike way which Las Vegas fans won’t forget too quickly. Just to remind you, the NHL added nine expansion teams from 1991 to 2001, most of which bottomed out in their first season. The best team was the Florida Panthers who finished with a 33-34-17 season for 83 points in the 1993-94 season. In less than two months, the Golden Knights have a 11-6-1 record and are on pace to easily best those numbers.
Who are the Golden Knights more thankful for?
All those emerging expansion picks. The Golden Knights haven’t been a one-man show on offense, but their offense has been a collected effort in which the scoring has been evenly spread out. The team collected many emerging young players through the expansion draft, whether that is William Karlsson (from Columbus), Oscar Lindberg (from New York Rangers), Erik Haula (from Minnesota), Jon Marchessault (from Florida), or Cody Eakin (from Dallas) just to name a few. That doesn’t include some of the veteran talents such as James Neal (from Nashville) and David Perron (from St. Louis) or the defensive depth such as Luca Sbisa (from Vancouver), Nate Schmidt (from Washington), Brayden McNabb (from Los Angeles) and Colin Miller (from Boston).
What would the Golden Knights be more thankful for?
Healthy goaltending? It’s been well documented on how the team has been playing with their fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace in net for the past couple of weeks, who has fared quite well (unless you include that 8-2 loss to Edmonton last week). The team has lost the face of their franchise, Marc-Andre Fleury due to a concussion, backup Malcolm Subban to a lower-body injury and third-stringer Oskar Dansk to a lower-body injury. Lagace marked the fourth and last goaltender in their system, unless you include 2017 seventh-round pick Dylan Ferguson. Oh yeah, they did call Ferguson up on emergency from his junior team. Even the 19-year-old managed to see nine minutes of playing time. However, the team seems to have held on long enough as Ferguson has been sent back, and Subban is reportedly ready to return soon, possibly even tonight, while both Fleury and Dansk could be back shortly as well.
What should be on the Golden Knights’ Holiday Wish List?
Continued health and production for their future trade chips.
While the team is currently on a potential playoff run, the team is very likely to be active at the trade deadline. Players like Neal, Perron and Sbisa, to name a few are likely to be shopped at the trade deadline since all will be unrestricted free agents. It’s likely an expansion team isn’t going to extend any of them to long-term, high-priced contracts when the team plans to build long-term with youth. Considering how well Neal has played, he could net the team a coveted 2018 first-round pick if he can stay healthy. Both Perron and Sbisa have also improved their stocks while with Vegas and could also produce some good picks in the right deal.