Alright, this is getting downright absurd, isn’t it? We’re now moving toward the end of May, with the NHL’s regular season having ended long ago and yet the Vegas Golden Knights, hockey’s infant franchise, is STILL conducting on-ice business, doubling as one of the league’s most dominant teams and enjoying the typically-forbidden fruits of its inaugural campaign. Clearly they have proved they belong, but Vegas simply isn’t supposed to be here.
Ask yourself how many times of you’ve ever read a statement that contained the parameters like the one above? Don’t kid yourself, the answer is… never. This is a true expansion team. The one where they pluck unprotected (and mostly unwanted) players from the rosters of more experienced and successful teams. This outlier of an organization has already re-written much of the expansion team record books. And certainly not just within the hockey world, but in ALL of professional sports. It’s unprecedented, remarkable and downright insane all at the same time.
It also feels like an injustice that this 8-month long story hasn’t been made a bigger deal of outside the realm of hockey. This Golden Knights season is as close to a sports miracle as one can get.
Let’s reflect and project.
For a significant part of the regular season, Vegas stood atop the NHL standings and when finally concluded, ended up placing 5th overall, only a handful of points behind the likes of preseason favorites Tampa Bay and Nashville, one of whom has already been distinguished and the other whom they might have a first-hand crack at for Lord Stanley’s giant mug.
Most of the Knights roster, comprised of a collection of unprotected players taken in the Expansion Draft, saw dramatic increases in their production. Of the team’s Top 10 point scorers during the regular season, NINE of them set career highs last season, including four (three defensemen) who saw more than a 100% increase than their previous career high:
|Colin Miller (D)||16||41|
|Nate Schmidt (D)||17||36|
|Shea Theodore (D)||9||29|
|Colin Miller (D)||16||41||156%|
|Nate Schmidt (D)||17||36||112%|
|Shea Theodore (D)||9||29||222%|
- What they’ve done so far
- Regular season
- Key players
- Comparison to the BEST expansion team before them
- What their next test is
- How they match up?
- What does it mean for the NHL?
- Should teams model their roster?
- Future expansion
- City of Vegas
- Comparison to other “successful” expansion franchises in the other three major sports