2018 Vegas Golden Knights Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
This is the last of my Western Conference previews, and it's no coincidence that I put this off as long as I could. Like everyone else, I grossly underestimated this team last year. I thought they'd be last in the conference, and they played for the Cup. You can't be more wrong than that. I feel like I have a little better sense of them this year, but then I thought I had them figured out last year, too. So, I put this preview off so I didn't have to deal with it. Avoidance at the finest.
Vegas Golden Knights Offseason Moves
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The team was notably active for a team that just made the finals. The good news, though, is that they probably got better.
The biggest move was the last one, trading for Montreal captain Max Pacioretty just as training camp was about to get underway. The cost was steep - Tomas Tatar, who the team overpaid badly for in a trade last year, top prospect Nick Suzuki, and a second-round pick. But what stands out most here is that this is the kind of move a team that is competing now makes, not one that is building for the long term. This is not a franchise that looks at last year as a fluke, and that will set the tone.
The forward ranks were updated well beyond the Pacioretty move. David
Perron left in free agency to St. Louis, and James Neal to Calgary. To
replace them in part, the team signed Paul Stastny, stealing him from
Winnipeg who had acquired him at the trade deadline and was looking to keep
him. They also signed defender Nick Holden to a bit more money than I would
have looked to spend.
There was contract work to do as well. They rewarded Marc-Andre Fleury for his franchise defining heroics with a three-year extension. No complaints there at all. They got Ryan Reaves for two more years as well. The last deal of note was one year and $5.5 million for William Karlsson. They would surely have loved to lock him down long term, but his contract was going to be almost impossible to settle on after a 43-goal season that came from absolutely nowhere.
The team didn't have a first-round draft pick this year, and none of their picks last year are likely to be ready this year, so the youth movement will take a while - predictably.
Vegas Golden Knights NHL Outlook
With Perron and Neal out, and Stastny and Pacioretty in, the top three is going to have a different look. One of the two will be on the top line with Karlsson. Alex Tuch likely moves into the top six as well. Pacioretty is a very good winger who will probably have the best center he has had. There is a lot of upside here, but there is a lot of uncertainty, too. When you make this many changes, you can't be sure of chemistry. Last year the chemistry was so perfect that there is a risk that that will be lost.
Beyond that, who knows? The team is about as good beyond the top six as it was. It never should have been as good as it was last year, so can they be as good again this year? Sure. It's not like things always have to make sense.
Vegas Golden Knights Schedule
The last half of February can be the dog days of a long season. Vegas plays eight home games over a nine-game stretch over that time, with a short trip to Colorado right in the middle the only disruption. As long as things are going well for the team, it could be a well-timed chance to add some points and keep the mid-season funk at bay.
Vegas Golden Knights NHL Futures Odds
At +1100, the Golden Knights are tied with Nashville and defending champions Washington at +1100 to win the Stanley Cup at Bovada , behind only Toronto, Tampa and Winnipeg. After 109 points last year, the season win total is at 97.5 this year. Jonathan Marchessault is one of the longest shots on the board to win the Hart Trophy for MVP at +10000.
2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights Predictions
I like the offseason they had, and I really liked how they played last year - obviously. There are obvious concerns, and the West is absolutely brutal. But the NHL is a whole lot more fun when Vegas is good, so what the heck - I'll take the over. And I don't feel too bad about that bet, either.
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