Remember when Las Vegas didn’t deserve a hockey team because the city is in the middle of the desert? Boy have we come a long way from that.
Nothing like buying your wins via purchasing the right to roster-poach! Why scout, draft and develop when you can be handed a great team while simultaneously weakening every competitor?
— Skol (@SkolIsInSession) January 8, 2018
Artificial success. Generated by process guaranteeing ONLY success for the expansion team. New team strategy: 1) Disband current team; 2) Petition for a new team under the current expansion draft rules; 3) Tear great players from every team in the league; 4) Voila WINERS! EASY
— Matt Ozolnieks (@Ozolnieks) January 7, 2018
When you get everyone else's 2nd line you end up with a hell of a team.
— jth578 (@jth_578) January 8, 2018
Or my personal favorite…
Ya except a monkey could have assembled a winning team, this expansion was basically handed a winning team from the get go
— Dustin (@8Dustin1) January 6, 2018
There seems to be a growing belief that the expansion rules were so easy that the Golden Knights had no choice but to be the best team in the Western Conference.
Let’s start by conceding a bit. Yes, the 2017 Expansion Draft was the most favorable in modern sports history. This is just a fact.In 2017 teams were allowed to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie. That’s a total of 9 or 11 players that could have been protected. In previous years that number was closer to 14 or 15. Here’s a chart showing the best possible player that could be available to the expansion team in each of the past 10 Expansion Drafts.
|1998, 99, 00||8th||4th||2nd|
It looks much better for the Golden Knights, that’s for sure, but we are still talking about getting the 10th or 12th best player from every team, and the Golden Knights didn’t even do that. Instead, George McPhee and the Vegas front office believed the real value in this draft was to build for the future. So, rather than selecting the fifth best forward or third best defenseman off every team, he simply looked for the best future asset. Rather than Matt Dumba, Vegas took Alex Tuch and Erik Haula. Rather than Sami Vatanen, Vegas took Clayton Stoner and Shea Theodore.
Plus, many of the best players that were available and were selected, McPhee traded before they ever even stepped foot in the valley. Marc Methot, Alexei Emelin, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Marcus Kruger, and David Schlemko were all traded for draft picks. Also, Vegas took on the contracts of David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski, and Jason Garrison in exchange for future assets. This has the Golden Knights stocked up for the future, not the present. Vegas had three 1st round picks and two 2nd round picks in 2017, and have 10 1st and 2nd’s over the next three season.
The Golden Knights opted to keep an eye towards the future wherever possible, which left the current roster looking far closer to previous expansion teams that it had to.
It left the 2017-18 Golden Knights with just four players who had ever scored 20 goals or more, third and fourth lines without a single player who had ever recorded more than 25 points in a season, and without a single defenseman (aside from Garrison who is in the AHL) who had played in a top-four role in his career. They were able to get a top goalie, but he’s only played 12 of the Golden Knights 41 games.
It led to predictions like this, this, this, or this which was actually the most positive one we could find. It led to sportsbooks setting the season point total between 67-70, and it even led to myself declaring they will likely lose their tenth game before winning their second. We all knew the rules were better when the team was picked, but every last person thought they would be horrible regardless. That’s because they should be.
Basically every player on the Golden Knights is over-performing compared to their career numbers. No one could have expected that.
They are completely dominant on home ice with a record of 18-2-1, due to many factors but one of which being the crowd is electric every single night. No one could have expected that.
They have the best coach in the NHL at the moment, a guy who was fired just over a year ago and had a career record of 152-141-35 when he took the job. No one could have expected that.
They lost three goalies in the first 10 games of the season, yet maintained a level of play that kept them in the top three of the Pacific Division for the entire season. No one could have expected that.
There are so many reasons to explain what is happening, but there’s one that’s just simply not accurate. This team is not succeeding due to the expansion draft rules. When the NHL made the rules they wanted to give Vegas a chance to be “not the worst,” and have a foundation to be successful soon. When McPhee built the team, he wanted to strike a balance between being competitive now and winning in the future, and the owner, the biggest cheerleader the team has to offer, declared the team would be ready to make the playoffs by year three, not lead the Western Conference at the midway point.
This is an unbelievable story of a group of players who have all risen their games individually to play tremendously as a team. Nothing was handed to the Vegas Golden Knights, and nothing will be moving forward. The front office picked a great bunch of players, the coaching staff is getting the most out of them, and every guy on the team is playing some of the best hockey of their life.
Now imagine what all of these people are going to be saying when they come to the realization that the Golden Knights are amazing now AND they took advantage of the rules to make them good in Year 3.
Not surprising when you see how the expansion draft was constructed/rigged.. So much for payin your dues to become a contender. Thanks Gary!
— Mick Nesevitch (@Mickstix) December 24, 2017
Yeah they also were gifted the best expansion roster in history
— matt odell (@mhodeezy) January 8, 2018
Yes, this team chose players from existing NHL teams, whereas when the 4 WHA teams entered in ‘79, the existing NHL teams chose all the players FROM the new teams, leaving them to sign players that were nowhere near NHL talent. Bogus, FAKE record…
— John McIntyre (@JohnnyMac44) January 8, 2018
— Curtis hare (@curtishare76) January 6, 2018