As part of our Countdown to Puck Drop series during the month of September, today we take an in-depth look at the Vegas Golden Knights.
Vegas is the newest city with an NHL team, having been granted an expansion franchise in the summer of 2016 that is set to start play this season.The Knights are the NHL's first expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the League in the 2000-01 season. They are the eighth team in the Pacific Division and the 15th in the Western Conference. The team is set to play their home games at T-Mobile Arena, which is located just west of the Las Vegas Strip.
The 2017-18 regular season hasn't even started yet and the team has already made tons of noise. Three-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender, former 40-goal scorer and breakout center were a few of the notable 30 players selected by the Knights at the Expansion Draft in June. Vegas also acquired 10 draft picks, including three in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.
is projected to be the team's top-line center after being signed out of the KHL, while the potential defense core includes Shea Theodore, , , , , , , and .
The Knights likely aren't a playoff team right now, but their success in their debut season could come down to a few key factors. Shipachyov was an elite playmaker in the KHL, but will he be able to adapt these skills to the NHL level? At 32 years of age, how will Fleury fare as a starting goaltender after surrendering the net to Matt Murray in Pittsburgh last season?
There are some dangerous weapons on the Knights, but the defense is lacking compared to some of the other powerhouses in the division. They don't have anything close to a top-pairing blueliner or power-play quarterback, so if Fleury can't hold down the fort, the goals against could really pile up.