Everyone loves a good hot take, so I’m here to provide a few of them using a format I’m borrowing from NFL Network’s Fantasy Live show. First, I’ll give my four predictions, and then I’ll share some of the best ones we got from our Discord server. Then, I want to see some from you all in the comments.
Call me crazy, but Keegan Kolesar will score more goals than Phil Kessel this season
Despite converting at a dismal 7.4% shooting rate, Kolesar still found a way to notch seven goals in his 77 appearances with the Golden Knights last year. He was constantly around the net and showed on multiple occasions he has the talent to score difficult goals. At some point, the floodgates are going to open for him and he’ll start scoring at a much more “normal” rate for NHLers. That would mean somewhere closer to 10%. I’d honestly be a bit surprised if Kolesar doesn’t hit double-digits this year and 15 or so is not out of the question.
Which brings us to the other side of the coin, Kessel. It’s mostly about the situation I expect him to find himself in as the season progresses. I just can’t see a 35-year-old suddenly committing to defense, which will lead to a decrease in minutes for a team trying to win games. He’ll probably end up struggling to get to 10 minutes and night and it wouldn’t shock me at all if he draws out of the lineup from time to time after he breaks the ironman record. His passing will still be there, so I’d suspect he can reach 30 to 40 points, which Kolesar may not, but the goal scoring is not going to jump as much as many believe.
Call me crazy, but William Karlsson will lead all Golden Knights forwards in time on ice
Chandler Stephenson took the crown a year ago mainly due to health, but it’s expected that Jack Eichel and Mark Stone’s return to form will have them logging the most minutes. I suspect Karlsson will win Cassidy’s trust incredibly quickly with his elite backchecking and penalty killing. He’s probably also going to be on the #1 power play unit which will see him share the ice with Stone and Eichel as well.
Karlsson led the forwards the first two seasons but has never outpaced the group on a per-game basis. The prediction is in total time on ice because his durability helps, but I could see him putting up a career-high in average TOI as well.
Call me crazy, but VGK defensemen will score fewer than 30 combined goals
Yep, that’s right, a unit including Alex Pietrangelo, Shea Theodore, Nic Hague (hopefully), Alec Martinez, Zach Whitecloud, and Brayden McNabb will barely score a goal every three games. Cassidy’s system really stresses the importance of allowing forwards to dictate the action in the offensive zone and the style of play in the defensive zone will limit offensive transition opportunities as well.
This one isn’t health-related either, because I’m expected a fit group of blue liners to make it through the entire season. Pete DeBoer’s entire goal was to highlight that group and take advantage of their offensive talents and they did it to the tune of 51 goals a season ago. There will be a dip, I’m projecting it to be steep.
Call me crazy, but Kaedan Korczak will carve out a spot as a permanent starter by the end of the season
As I mentioned in the previous prediction, I don’t think the Golden Knights defensive corps will be as banged up as they were a year ago, but that doesn’t mean they are all playing 82 games. Currently, the first guy in if any of the regular starters are missing (or holding out) is Ben Hutton. I expect that to change, and possibly as soon as by Opening Night.
Korczak is made for Bruce Cassidy’s style of play and he’s eventually going to want to start the process of seeing him grow as an NHLer. By season’s end, he’ll take one of the current six’s spot which will allow the Golden Knights to make a move this offseason to free up a bit more cap.
We asked members of our Discord community to share some of their bold predictions. Here are some of the spiciest ones.
Call me crazy, but Jack Eichel will have 20 goals by the end of November.
Call me crazy, but Logan Thompson won’t be the starter or 1B by the end of October.
Call me crazy, but Phil Kessel will win the Conn Smythe.
Call me crazy, but Bruce Cassidy won’t be the fix Vegas was hoping for on the power play.
Call me crazy, but VGK get to 100 points and still miss the playoffs.
Call me crazy, but five Pacific teams make the playoffs this season.
Call me crazy, but a former Misfit will be traded for at the deadline and he will be the key player leading them to the Cup in 6.
Call me crazy, but Shea Weber becomes healthy enough to play this year.
Call me crazy but the vgk will have 10 players that each play 80 games.
Call me crazy, but 2 players under 24 on the Golden Knights are going to have 50 point seasons.