It took 26 days and 13 games into the 2023-24 season before the defending Stanley Cup champions suffered their first regulation loss. The Golden Knights are currently on a 33-5-6 regular season run that dates back to the All Star break last year and they went 16-6 without facing a single elimination game en route to becoming the league’s undisputed best team.
Yet, when you take a peek at early projections for individual awards, there’s not a Golden Knight in sight.
ESPN today published their first edition of “NHL Awards Watch” in which Greg Wyshynski lists the current leader and a pair of finalists for each of the seven most significant individual awards. From Hart to Selke, Vezina to Byng there’s not a single Vegas player on the board.
This doesn’t mean the Golden Knights are off the radar though. Wyshynski has Bruce Cassidy as the leader for Jack Adams and includes a quote that will be music to all VGK fans’ ears.
No Vegas hangover here. The Golden Knights are a machine. Cassidy is working the controls masterfully. ‘Vegas is absolutely dominating to start the season, and if they keep it up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see back-to-back Cups,’ one voter said. -Greg Wyshysnki on ESPN.com
It’s weird, but the stats back up the odd phenomenon of Vegas being the best team in the league yet without a single individual player standing out amongst his peers.
Vegas’ highest point scorer, William Karlsson ranks 10th in the NHL. The leading goal scorer, Jack Eichel, is tied for 17th. Adin Hill is 2nd in save percentage but he’s just 7th in both goals against average and goals saved above expected.
When we turn to the gambling odds at William Hill, we see much of the same. The first name to appear on the Hart Trophy (MVP) odds is Jack Eichel at 75:1, the 17th favorite to win the award. Adin Hill ranks 11th in Vezina at 28:1, and Shea Theodore is 16th at 50:1 for Norris.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup (+600) and are the runaway leaders to boast the Presidents Trophy at +300 (no one else is under +500).
What it all means is that Vegas truly is a team. They have excellent players up and down the lineup but aren’t reliant on any of them.