Projected Lines: Las Vegas Golden Knights
The inaugural season for the Golden Knights will come with some serious growing pains, but there is some promise within this lineup. Vegas used their leverage to acquire three top 15 picks, in which they believe they drafted two top 6 centers and a top 4 defenseman to be. With these crucial draft picks acquired, it hurt the Golden knights’ ability to ice the best team they could by leaving players like Manson, Staal, Dumba, and Brock Nelson out of the mix in exchange for the draft picks.
L, C, R
This group of forwards is intriguing, with 3 former 30 goal wingers in the top 6 and good young centre depth. I see two big wildcards for Vegas, first being Vadim Shipachyov. This guy has been tearing up the KHL for the last couple of seasons, at a similar rate that Radulov was. I expect him to have a similar solid first season in the NHL, as he’ll be playing first line centre and first line power play. The other wildcard is Marchessault, who potted 30 goals in his first full season in the NHL last year. It’s similar to the way Mike Hoffman broke out in Ottawa as a late bloomer, and I expect Marchessault to continue his upward trajectory. These scoring forwards accompanied with young two-way forwards in Haula, Lindberg, Karlsson and Eakin should give Vegas a fighting chance on offence.
This defense core is going to get lit up at times, they’ve got 6 d who all played bottom pair last year, Although Schmidt and Theodore have room to grow into top 4 d. Theodore was their biggest pickup that wasn’t a draft pick. He’s got the skill and poise to be a top 4 d for years to come, maybe even a top pair defenseman. Nevertheless, this will be one of the worst defensive groups in the league. I expect them to struggle to contain other teams offences, as they don’t have enough talent back there.
Fleury is going to get absolutely peppered playing in front of these 6. He’s going to come in and play the way he always does, as a solid starting goalie. I’m not sure how well he’ll fare no matter how well he plays, because the league is getting better every year, and the Golden Knights have some catching up to do. Calvin Pickard is a young guy that played in front of the god awful Colorado avalanche, but finished well with a strong showing for Canada at the world championships. He’ll push for 25 games this year.
I think we are all thrilled to have another NHL team entering the league and are all eager to see how long it will take Vegas to be a contender but I hope you enjoyed reading these projections and feel free to rip me apart based on one of the harder teams to predict.