Vegas Golden Knights Inaugural Season Preview
It’s a particularly exciting year for the National Hockey League. For the first time since the year 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild were formed, major professional hockey has a brand-new expansion team. The Vegas Golden Knights kick off their inaugural campaign this month, when training camp for the 2017-18 NHL season begins. After a hectic summer that included an expansion draft and an NHL Entry Draft full of picks, the Golden Knights will look to make waves as the NHL’s 31st team.
When Does the Golden Knights’ 2017-18 Season Start?
For a few teams, the regular season begins on the night of October 4. For Vegas, the first regular season puck drops on October 6, as the newly formed squad takes on the Dallas Stars. That game is followed by another road game against the Arizona Coyotes before the long-anticipated home debut on the 10th, again against the Coyotes.
Where Will They Play?
Since its opening back in April of 2016, T-Mobile Arena has been a venue that every sports fan needs to check out. There will be many more opportunities to do so when the Golden Knights kick off the 2017-18 season in October at this very arena.
What to Watch For
It’s going to be fascinating to watch a cobbled-together roster of draft picks and players that weren’t on each of the other 30 teams’ exemption lists compete together. While Vegas doesn’t exactly have a myriad of stars – or even a true 1st team defenseman – it does have a few solid forwards that many were surprised weren’t on exemption lists. Former Florida forward Jon Marchessault is a highlight of the group. His impressive play in Florida – which included 30 goals and 21 assists last season – put him third on the team in total points. It surprised a lot of fans that Florida let him go during the expansion draft.
It’ll be interesting to see how he works on, presumably, the top line as well as fellow forward James Neal, who put up 23 goals and 18 assists for Nashville last season. These two, along with two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will certainly be the stars of this team. However, they’ll need some unexpected terrific play from the rest of the roster to compete in this tough Western Conference.
Fans should also watch for head coach Gerard Gallant’s coaching style. After a shocking and potentially undeserved departure from Florida in November of last year, it’s great to see Gallant back behind the bench so quickly. He has long been regarded for his communication and rapport with younger players, which bodes well for the new squad in Vegas.
Vegas Golden Knights Tickets
NHL Debut: Dallas Stars vs. Vegas Golden Knights (October 5)
NHL Home Debut: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes (October 10)
NHL All-Star Weekend: January 27-28, 2018
Stanley Cup Odds
As is to be expected, the odds of winning a Stanley Cup for an expansion team in its inaugural season are extremely low. Currently, the Golden Knights sit at 200-1 odds to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2018.
Where Does This Team End Up in the Standings?
I don’t envy being a brand-spankin-new team in the Western Conference, especially considering how tough teams like the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Stanley Cup runner-up Nashville Predators are. Playing out of the Pacific Division, don’t expect much from Vegas, as five of the seven teams last season finished with 86 or more points. While the Golden Knights have a few very talented players, this team doesn’t have enough playing prowess to win many games. Vegas finishes 8th – dead last – in the Pacific Division and in the Western Conference.
Is It Worth Attending a Game?
Are you kidding? Absolutely! The potential to see an NHL team play during its inaugural season, in Vegas, in the stunning T-Mobile Arena, should make every hockey (and Las Vegas) fan ecstatic. Regardless of how the season shakes out, major professional sports finally have its first Vegas-based team and that will be a sight to see over the next few months. Click here to see the full NHL 2017-18 schedule on SeatGeek.
(Image courtesy of Prayitno Photography via Flickr.)