Ken asked if I could rank the Golden Knights as our lead in story to camp. I said, absolutely not, it’s impossible. We haven’t even seen them in a real practice yet! Then, he reminded me that the car we rented in Dallas is in his name. Uber is expensive. Here are my rankings for every Golden Knight, heading into camp.
My criteria were based on a combination of career stats; Goals Created, Points Per Game, Power Play Goals For, Power Play Goals Against, Total Goals For/Total Goals Against ratio, Average Time on Ice, and Games Played. Plus, I’ve seen a little hockey in my day, so the “eye test” was used to break a few ties. We’ll update our rankings as training camp goes on.
We’ll update our rankings as training camp goes on. Agree or disagree, let me know. I can take the heat. (Remember, Ken made me do this.)
1) Shea Theodore
2) Jason Garrison
3) Colin Miller
4) Brayden McNabb
5) Luca Sbisa
6) Nate Schmidt
7) Jon Merrill
8) Deryk Engelland
9) Clayton Stoner
10) Griffin Reinhart
Unranked: Chris Casto, Jake Bischoff, Brad Hunt, Nikolas Brouillard, Stephen MacAulayThe tough decisions began immediately. Selecting Theodore as my #1 ranked defenseman is certainly debatable. The 22-year-old deserves the top spot after calculating a combination of Points Per Game (.32), Power Plays Goals For/Power Play Against Goals ratio (13/4). Oh, and he passed the Pothier eye-test with flying colors last year.
Power Play Goals and Total Goals For/Against ratio, earned Garrison and Miller the #2 and #3 spots.
Another difficult decision was separating McNabb, Sbisa, and Schmidt. First off, they have very different skill sets. The former Kings defenseman got the edge with Games Played and Total Goals ratio. Sbisa and Schmidt’s (.20+) PPG presents some offensive activity.
Merrill is a legitimate wild card. EA’s NHL 18 ranks the Okie second on VGK’s defensive unit. His career numbers got in the way for me. Merrill’s TGF 91/TGA 142 ratio demonstrates bad puck-luck.
1) James Neal RW
2) Jonathan Marchessault RW
3) Vadim Shipachyov C
4) David Perron LW
5) Reilly Smith RW
6) Cody Eakin C
7) Oscar Lindberg C
8) Erik Haula LW
9) William Karlsson C
10) Alex Tuch RW
11) Pierre-Edouard Bellemare LW
12) Teemu Pulkkinen LW
13) Brendan Leipsic LW
14) William Carrier LW
Unranked: Reid Duke, Tomas Hyka, Keegan Kolesar, Paul Thompson, Steffan Matteau, T.J. Tynan, Tomas Nosek
Let’s be honest, it’s not difficult to rank the top VGK forwards. You can probably get away with flip-flopping Marchessault and Perron but either way, they are a bit ahead of the pack.
It got real fuzzy trying to arrange the rest of the centers. Eakin and Lindberg got the nod over Karlsson due to their stronger career numbers, but Karlsson’s upside has me uneasy over that particular ranking.
Haula and Tuch are both expected to be part of the Golden Knights’ future but for now, they haven’t shown enough, so they find themselves in the middle of the pack.
1) Marc-Andre Fleury
2) Calvin Pickard
3) Maxime Lagace
4) Oscar Dansk
So there you have it, every Golden Knight, ranked, before training camp even starts. Boom!
Without a doubt, you can claim this season’s players as “Best Ever [insert position] to play for the VGK.”
In session 1 today I thought the following:
** Brendan Leipsic looked real fast and was very creative he stood out more than anyone to me
**Cody Eakin Looked great
**Oscar Lindberg looked great
**Vadim Shipachyov looked lost and out of place
**Oscar Dansk Looked real good in goal
**Nate Schmidt looked like a leader out there and played well
My thoughts from the scrimmage I saw:
**Agree with Jeff on most points, especially Leipsic. This kid can move. Kolesar was another guy I loved to see skating with the puck.
**Nic Hague is ALWAYS in the right spot defensively. Where ever the attackers want to send the puck he is already there. A little slow footed, but his awareness and positioning more than makes up for it.
**I know Tyler Wong won’t be on this team in October, but he had a ton of hustle. Always fighting for the puck and he even went coast to coast and got one by Fluery.
**I know it is early, but Reinhardt looked terrible on both sides. I couldn’t tell if he was a stay at home defender that couldn’t contribute offensively, or an offensive Dman that put himself out of position defensively. Either way, he was on the wrong side of both equations. He is a guy I’m hoping to be proven wrong about.
**Either Oskar Dandk looked better than Marc Andre Fluery or all our best defenders were on the Dansk side of the ice. Either way, both goalies looked good out there.
**I was hoping a Dman would be taking a couple forward shifts, but either it didn’t happen, or I just missed it. I want Theodore on the Ice for 82 games this season, and moving a D to F is one way to make that easier.
Either way, holy poop it was awesome to see some of the best hockey players in the world practicing in Las Vegas.