In exactly one month from yesterday the NHL playoffs will begin. Barring any major collapses, the Golden Knights will be one of the Western Conference’s most dangerous participants. However, some continue to doubt Vegas as a serious Stanley Cup contender. For example, MoneyPuck’s Power Rankings list the Golden Knights as the league’s 16th best team.
Over the years the Golden Knights front office built a team well-suited for the postseason. Six players have customized championship rings, and 12 others have playoff experience. Experience makes a different in the NHL’s second season. While MoneyPuck’s computer model doubts Vegas’ chances, several other Power Rankings are much more favorable to the 31st franchise. Here are the latest rankings from hockey outlets across the league.
As you’d expect with a team dubbed the ‘Golden Misfits’ in their early expansion days, there is no shortage of guys who beat the odds in Vegas. All three members of the original ‘Misfit Line’ — William Karlsson between Reilly Smith and undrafted Jonathan Marchessault — are still there and have been joined by a captain, in Mark Stone, who was a sixth-round selection with questionable skating; Chandler Stephenson, a third-rounder who immediately became a top-six centre after Vegas fleeced Washington for his services; and undrafted goalie Logan Thompson, who was in the thick of the Calder Trophy race before getting hurt this season.- Ryan Dixon, Sportsnet
The Canadian avenue clearly respects the Golden Knights lineup enough to have them one spot below the high-powered Boston Bruins and higher than two teams with better records. It’s possible Sportsnet sees an easier postseason path for Vegas, or that their newly formed lineup is deep enough for a Cup run. Would Sportsnet rank Vegas higher than Boston if Mark Stone were healthy in time for the playoffs? That’s a bit of a stretch.
The Knights are on a tear with four straight wins and seven of their past eight. They still haven’t really missed a beat despite being on their fourth starter in Jonathan Quick, who’s 4-0-0 with the Knights. As it stands, the Knights and Kings will face each other in the second round of the playoffs if they advance.- Jason Chen, THN
THN posted their latest Power Rankings before the Golden Knights last contest, but it would be difficult to drop Vegas more than two or three spots. Jonathan Quick’s success with Vegas has given the Pacific Division leader more security in net after injuries to virtually every Golden Knights goaltender.