2017 is going to be a big year for the Vegas Golden Knights. They’re the latest team to join the Pacific division in the western conference, and the 2017 – 18 season will be their first ever in the NHL. Vegas has always been a host to some exciting NHL games and the NHL Awards, but this is the first time that the city will have its own team. Do the Vegas Golden Knights have enough to gain fans and put up some real competition in their first year? Let’s take a look at our pre-season evaluation and find out.

All New Beginnings with No Point of Reference

The Vegas Golden Knights are going to be one of the hardest teams to bet on in the early stages of the 2017 – 18 season, but that’s part of what will make this team so exciting. There are no past games to use when evaluating and comparing performance, and the coaching staff and roster is all-new. At this stage of the year, the Vegas Golden Knights are a complete unknown, and that’s exactly the kind of fresh excitement that the NHL needs from an expansion franchise. So, while the team itself has no history, there are members who definitely do have some experience and success between them. In March when the franchise was confirmed, there was not a single player on the roster. Today, we can see at least a few of the key members who should be able to make a difference this year.

Who are the Most Important Players in the Vegas Golden Knights?

No single player can carry a whole team, but it does help to know that there’s going to be a fair amount of talent in this team once they hit the ice. Here are the players who we think will be the best additions to the new team, and what they have to offer based on their past performance.

Oscar Lindberg

The Swedish center is a previous world championship winner, and has some solid seasons with the New York rangers behind him. With his full seasons in 2015 – 16 and 2016 – 17, he scored a total of 48 points from playing in a total of 133 games. Lindberg has been signed for two seasons with the Golden Knights, and will become an integral founding member of the team.

Nate Schmidt

Schmidt will play an important role in the defense for the Golden Knights. He’s an experienced player, and has been with the Capitals for his entire NHL career. In the 2015 – 16 season he played in 72 games and totaled 16 points from 2 goals and 14 assists (not bad at all for a defender), and had similar stats in 2016 – 17 with 3 goals, 14 assists, and 17 points overall.

Cody Eakin

Cody Eakin is another center who will provide an additional option and more depth for the new team. Him and Oscar Lindberg will find themselves competing within the team, and competition is often a good thing in terms of getting the best out of each individual player. Eakin has spent the last five years playing for the Dallas Stars in the NHL. His 2016 – 17 season wasn’t as good as his previous ones, and he only totaled 12 points from 60 games. In the four seasons prior to 2016, he averaged 33.5 points per season. The Vegas Golden Knights will offer a change of scenery, a new team atmosphere, and an opportunity to become an influential player and improve his season stats.

Jonathan Marchessault

Jonathan isn’t the biggest player on the ice at just 5ft 9in, and that has been something of a concern for some teams and fans in the past. However, despite his size, he’s an excellent playmaker and he is a proven scorer. He has also had experience with coach Gallant, so he’ll already have an advantage in that aspect, and adjusting to the new team won’t be a big deal for him. Machessault hasn’t hit the peak of his potential yet, and that’s a good thing. He will develop further with the Golden Knights and last year’s record of 51 points from 30 goals and 21 assists would have been a major consideration when he was signed to the team.

David Perron

Perron is another proven scorer who will be able to bring both experience and physical presence to the new team. At 6ft and 200lb, he can make himself an imposing presence on the ice. Last season he made 18 goals and 28 assists for a total haul of 46 points throughout the season. His 12 years of experience in the NHL will make him one of the most tenured players on the team, and that experience will go a long way with a franchise that will be finding their feet for the next few months.

Will the Vegas Golden Knights Be Successful in Their First Year?

While it’s far too early to go making predictions on potential wins and losses, we can at least talk about what the team might be able to manage this year, from a wide perspective.The biggest difficulty for this team is going to be getting everything to gel together. The players will need to adjust to a new team and the coaching staff will need to get to know their key players. There are going to be growing pains for sure, and the Pacific division is filled with strong competition from teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, the San Jose Sharks, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Arizona Coyotes. For a team that is completely new to the franchise, being in the Pacific division will be a real gauntlet and a test for every member of the squad.The Knights can’t expect to enter the league as a brand new franchise and end up near the top of the table, however, they do need to be aiming for wins, and if they can finish anywhere that isn’t right at the bottom of their division, then that will have to be considered as a positive.

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