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What Will the Golden Knights Look Like Next Year?

belowthegoalline

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The brightest story in the NHL this season is the Vegas Golden Knights. An expansion team this season, the Golden Knights were expected to be among the league's bottom feeders. Most people, including myself, thought Vegas would finish outside of the playoffs, and would look to the 2018 Entry Draft to continue growing towards the future.

 

It wasn't until the season began that these predictions were proven incorrect. Vegas is in fact heading to the playoffs, and will face a wild card team after clinching the Pacific Division title over the weekend.

 

This is an incredible feat for an expansion team. No expansion team in NHL history has had more than 83 points in a season. The Florida Panthers were the best expansion team until this season with a 33-34-17 record, and made the playoffs in their in their third season.

 

But Vegas is a legitimate good team this year, and after building a team of players other teams thought they didn't need, the Golden Knights have a real opportunity to to something else no expansion team in NHL history has ever done: win a Stanley Cup in their first season.

 

So how did we get here? Can Vegas really win the Cup this season? And what are they Golden Knights going to look like next season?

 

I'll answer the second question first: yes. Vegas plays a fast, tenacious brand of hockey. If Vegas can keep playing the way they have played in the regular season, there is no reason to suspect they won't challenge for a championship. This year comes with little data to suggest the Golden Knight will or will not succeed. How their players handle the playoffs will dictate how far they go.

 

How this Vegas team got here is a different story. The Golden Knights were assembled in an Expansion Draft where they acquired one player from every team. They picked up a star goalie in Marc-Andre Fluery. Vegas picked up some talented, young defensemen like Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore. And then, some of their forward acquisitions have played very well, like William Karlsson who sits third in the NHL with 42 goals.

 

But is their success sustainable into next season? Over the last few years, we have seen teams like the upstart Colorado Avalanche of 2013-14 who won 52 games, struggle to be consistent year-to-year. The following season, those Avalanche missed the playoffs by nine points.

 

It's really hard to bet against Vegas right now, but I have to believe they will regress a little bit in 2018-19. They received excellent goaltending this season from a number of different players. You simply cannot expect goalie Marc-Andre Fluery to career best season next year. Fluery's 2.14 GAA is below his career average of 2.56, while his save percentage this season is much better than his career average of .913. This year, he's at .931.

 

I don't believe the Golden Knights will fall off a cliff like the Colorado Avalanche example, but the idea that we are witnessing the next great dynasty is a little far-fetched at the moment.

 

I simply don't expect William Karlsson to shoot 23.3% next season. He will likely not his 42 goals again, but I do see him as a 30-goal scorer. It's just so hard to score 40 in a season, and Karlsson is just riding the Vegas first year experience with the rest of the club.

 

What happens to David Perron? The forward sits third on the team with 66 points, but it might be difficult for Vegas to bring him back. I don't know if they want to invest the kind of money he will command this summer in free agency. James Neal's 25 goals this season could also leave town this summer.

 

The Vegas Golden Knight have the right build for the modern game. They have a fast, physical team capable of playing all styles of hockey. They can outskate you, something they do quite often. They can outscore you. They sit fourth in the NHL with 3.29 goals/game. They also play a strong game in their own end, only giving up 2.66 goals/game (6th best in the league).

 

I like the Vegas team going forward. I think they have a lot of the ingredients of a Nashville Predators team. They aren't deep down the middle in big-name players like a Pittsburgh Penguins, but they play well in all three zones, and haven't looked overmatched very many times this season.

 

My guess would be the Vegas Golden Knights will regress next season. How much all depends on how their top players this season play next year, but they likely can't replicate the incredible success they had this season. But at the same time, if you're looking at the Pacific Division, it's their division to lose.

 

The San Jose Sharks are an older team that isn't going to win any scoring titles. The Los Angeles Kings don't have enough secondary scoring in my opinion. The Calgary Flames are in the same boat as the Kings, and they need to get deeper in goal. The Edmonton Oilers would be a great team in the early 2000s. The Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks are rebuilding. The Anaheim Ducks present the toughest competition in my mind, and would be an early favorite of mine to win the division (depending on the health of the team, of course).

 

No matter what, this season is a great one for the Vegas Golden Knights, and only time will tell how far they go this season. I think they will be a very competitive team for years to come, something I would not have predicted this time last year.

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 An excellent write up, thanks. Yes, the Vegas squad has some tough decisions to make. They are in good cap shape, but just cause you have it, does not mean you have to spend it. I suspect how Neal and Perron do in the playoffs will play a big part on where they ply their trade next year. If they do go....and that is the smart play, letting older players leave....then their success may come down to how much 1st rounders Suzuki and Glass can contribute on offense....we shall see, they have to make the team first, which I think they will. 

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pilldoc

Posted (edited)

@belowthegoalline

 

Totally agree with @jammer2 ... what a great write.  Since I enjoy fantasy hockey, the Knights are going to be a very interesting topic come this off-season with regards to hockey metrics.  I have few thoughts that fall in line with the gist of your post.  I posted this very same comment in our FHL thread when I traded MAF for Seguin.

 

 

TRADE ALERT ......

 

In a next to last day before the Trade Deadline The Ice Pigs announce the following trade:

 

To The Ice Pigs: Muzzin (D) / Seguin (C,RW)/ Raanta (G)

To Foil: Krug (D) / MAF (G)

 

I agonized over this deal going back and forth.  I know I have had other offers for MAF.  In the end the deciding factor was I was only giving up one (1)  Keeper and not two (2).  Adding  Seguin gives me another stud forward.  I really hated to part with MAF but in the end this was what I think was what's best for my team moving forward.

 

It was tough moving MAF since he has done an amazing job in Vegas.  However, many of their Forwards have had higher than normal SH%. 

 

1.) Fleury's PKSV% is a little on the high side. So he's getting a little boost from luck there. Nothing to be terribly concerned about (about .898 vs. .875 league average).

2.) Fleury's EVSV% is about 8-10 points higher than his recent (very good) seasons. He's at .933 vs. .924-ish.

3.) Fleury's numbers this season are a small sample size. He's had just 31 starts (because of injury). You'd expect him to hit 60-65 in a typical full season.

4.) Vegas has a handful of skaters with unusually high shooting percentages. I calculated, just earlier today, that William Karlsson's shooting percentage has boosted Vegas in the standings by six points. James Neal's SH% adds another two standings points. That's four wins due to entirely to luck from just two players. You can keep going down the line here... Smith, Perron, and Haula, at their current goal scoring rates, provide an extra 15 goals or so (which equates to 2.5 extra wins via luck).  (Info based on an article I read)

 

5.) I expect Vegas to regress a bit next year. Fleury's individual numbers (SV% and GAA) are a bit inflated and I believe they will regress next season. His rate of Wins should drop next season as a handful of Vegas skaters see their shooting percentages come back down to Earth.

 

Anyway ..great write up. :)

Edited by pilldoc

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 They are probably going to be amazing.

First of all they already have a great lineup imagine next year after free agent signings and the draft so yea. 

Do you guys agree?

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I think that Glass is a mortal lock to play top six minutes with fellow first rounders Brannstrom and Suzuki riding the shuttle between the AHL Wolves and the bright lights of Vegas, so they have three top tier kid prospects ready to step in.

 

   I thought, to say the least that the payment for Tatar was a reach but in a lot of ways it makes sense as Perron and Neal are almost certainly gone, Tats takes one of their places going forward with the aforementioned kids taking the other. On the back end Sbisa could be easily gone and just as easily replaced.

 

   They should be in good position to make a run at a free agent or two, my guess is that they will be linked all summer to Tavares and possibly to a trade for Karlsson. This clearly is unlike any other expansion team ever.

 

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On 4/6/2018 at 7:16 PM, djshockey97 said:

 They are probably going to be amazing.

First of all they already have a great lineup imagine next year after free agent signings and the draft so yea. 

Do you guys agree?

 

We don't know how free agents will view them. Or if they will spend big on free agents. I expect that we will see a conservative approach this summer. Maybe if next year proves this team isn't a fluke, we might see them in the Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, etc. talk (not sure what will happen with those), but this year I expect them to add on the fringes.

 

More of the draft and develop approach they wanted to do before this season.

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