In just their third season as an NHL franchise, are the Vegas Golden Knights on their way to their first Presidents’ Trophy?
The answer is a strong yes.
Vegas’ inaugural season saw them win the Pacific Division with a total of 109 points over second place Anaheim (101 points), and San Jose (100 points).
Last season, the Golden Knights still made the playoffs but did take a step back finishing third in the Pacific with 93 points behind San Jose (101 points), and Calgary (107 points).
The biggest thing that sticks out to me about this Vegas team is their depth, and number of players who can produce points.
Four forwards recorded over 50 points last season, none of them were on the first line; Marchessault, Karlsson, Smith, and Tuch.
Their first line consisted of Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, and Mark Stone.
Pacioretty put up a solid 40 points with his 22 goals, and 18 assists, Stastny netted 13 goals, and 29 assists for 42 points, and most impressive Stone recorded 16 points in just 18 games played in Vegas; in Ottawa Stone tallied 62 points in 59 games played with the team.
Even third line Center Cody Eakin added 22 goals, and 19 assists to the list, along with Nosek, Pirri, and Reaves recording 17, 18, and 20 points respectively.
Vegas’ weakest aspect of their roster is their defense.
Consisting of Shea Theodore, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Deryk Engelland, and Jimmy Schuldt, this group is going to have to fill the hole of Colin Miller who was traded to Buffalo this off-season.
However with Marc-Andre Fleury in net Vegas will be just fine playing in the Pacific Division with San Jose as their toughest opponent.
Since being drafted by Vegas in the expansion draft two years ago, Fleury has resurrected back to his elite goalie form.
In 2017-18 Fleury posted a 2.24 goals against average, along with a .927 save percentage, last season Fleury had yet another impressive season with a 2.51 goals against average, and a .913 save percentage, as well as 8 shutouts (second most in the league).
The best chance the Golden Knights have at taking home their first Presidents’ Trophy this season is if they can find a way to improve their road record from last season; Vegas was successful at home with a record of 24-12-5, however struggled on the road with a record of 19-20-2.
In their inaugural season, Vegas was able to win the Pacific Division by posting not only an impressive home record of 29-10-2, but also an impressive road record of 22-14-15.
With their toughest opponents in the rest of the NHL all from the Eastern Conference, Tampa Bay (128 points), Boston (107 points), and Toronto (100 points) who were able to lock up Marner this off-season, Vegas should certainly be able to dominate the Western Conference in route to their first Presidents’ Trophy in just their third season.
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