Right now if you head down to The Armory at T-Mobile Arena, you can become one of the first to pre-order a Golden Knights jersey. The tough part is deciding which name to choose to put on the back. We’re here to help aid in that process.
The Safe Picks
Marc-Andre Fleury and Deryk Engelland
The Flower is already the fan favorite in Vegas, and will almost certainly be starting in net on Opening Night. Engelland is the hometown hero who is the only free agent that decided to join the Golden Knights (I know there were others, but c’mon). Both are safe because we are pretty darn sure neither are going to be traded before the season begins. Short term, these are safe and good options. Long term might be a bit riskier.
Fleury has two years left on his contract and the Golden Knights are already lining up options to take over behind him. Odd are Fleury will be around for the entire inaugural season, but his second season and beyond gets tough. He’s going to be a candidate for a deadline deal in 2019 and will likely not remain with the Golden Knights after he hits free agency. Similarly, Engelland will be in Vegas for this season, but the future beyond 2018 is a major question mark. Really can’t go wrong with either, but chances are, you’ll be needing a replacement sooner than later if you go this route.
The Names You Know
James Neal, David Perron, and Brayden McNabb
You can expect every guy on this list to be on the first 23 man roster the Golden Knights release, but they are all going to be dangled to other teams as the season progresses. Here’s the biggest problem with having a jersey with any of these names on the back of it, the better he plays, the more likely he is to be shipped out. So, you are either stuck with a jersey of a guy playing poorly or a guy playing great (for a bad team) who is probably getting traded. Not exactly ideal for your first Golden Knights jersey.
Reid Duke and Vadim Shipachyov
Both are great options but come with major concerns. With Duke, the concern is right away in the fact that he’s probably not going to make the team out of camp (and possibly ever). But, he’ll always be the first Golden Knight, he’s an awesome guy , and everybody loves a good underdog story.
Shippy is a different story, but equally as risky. First off, we are talking about a guy who has never played a game in the NHL, at age 30. He could be a complete bust and you’ll be the guy with the Tim Couch jersey. Or maybe he’s great, scores 30+ goals, and is the undisputed best goal scorer on the Golden Knights. Awesome right? Nope. See “The Names You Know” category. Same problem.
Shea Theodore, Nate Schmidt, Alex Tuch, and Oscar Lindberg
Here’s the category I’d be looking at. These are the players the Golden Knights gave up the most to bring to Vegas. In other words, these are the guys George McPhee has penciled in for the “Cup in 6” team. Theodore is widely regarded as the most talented defenseman on the roster, and according to The Creator, he’ll be a top defenseman in the league sooner than later. The Golden Knights not only passed on Matt Dumba, but also gave up a 2nd round pick to bring in Alex Tuch from Minnesota (Erik Haula was involved in this, but we’ll get to that another day). He’s definitely got a boom-or-bust look to him, but if he booms, he’ll be in Vegas for 10+ years. Lindberg is one the Golden Knights are definitely putting a lot of stock in. They opted to choose “Ogge” (sticking with it) over much more proven options from the Rangers including goalie Antti Raanta who was traded to Arizona shortly after the Expansion Draft. Lindberg should be on the opening 23 man roster and will likely be a Top 6 forward within a few years.
Then there’s the best option, and the one who even got overlooked on the stage the night of the Expansion Draft, Nate Schmidt. The T-Mobile Arena crowd was still going nuts over the selection of Fleury that you could barely even hear Schmidt’s name called. But, that doesn’t take away from the future Schmidt is likely to have with his old GM, McPhee. He was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Capitals in 2013. He had a few nice seasons after McPhee was fired in Washington, but was left unprotected at the Expansion Draft. The Golden Knights passed on Phillip Grubauer to select Schmidt. McPhee has mentioned him in multiple interviews as a player he’s excited about and he’s almost certain to be out there when the Golden Knights first hit the ice. Oh, and this is all on-ice stuff before you get to even see what kind of guy Nate Schmidt is. I won’t spoil it now, but believe me, you’ll be proud to have Schmidt on your back.
The Guys Under Contract
Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin, and Erik Haula
These are the only three (healthy) players under Golden Knights control beyond year two of the organization. There’s a strong case to be made for all three being around for the entirety of the contracts. Smith has a history with Gallant, Eakin was drafted by McPhee, and Haula doesn’t appear to be some throw away in the Alex Tuch deal. All three have a chance to be really good players for the Golden Knights and perfect jersey options, but all three could easily be flops with their added ice time in Vegas.
Jonathan Marchessault, Colin Miller, Clayton Stoner, Griffin Reinhart, Brendan Leipsic, William Karlsson, William Carrier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Jason Garrison
You’ve got to be a special type person to pick from this list, and that’s not necessarily meant in a bad way (though it could be depending on which one you pick and why). Stoner is funny because… Stoner. Miller, Reinhart, Leipsic, Carrier, and Karlsson are all solid options because of their age but are all risky because none have any guarantees to be around even for Opening Night. Bellemare and Garrison are your “leaders.” And Marchessault is the high-risk, high-reward option. He might score 30 goals, he might score 3.
Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, Nic Hague
This is actually the lowest risk category of all of them oddly enough. Brannstrom is probably the one who has the quickest path to the NHL, but even he is probably two years out. We probably won’t see Glass, Suzuki, or Hague until year three or four, so you are safe with an up-and-coming jersey. That being said, you’ll also be the guy with the jersey of a player that we all know is no where close to the NHL ice.