364 days after the 31st franchise in NHL history was announced, they finally have their first official roster. The league’s newest expansion franchise drew numerous questions as to how this franchise was going to look. To be quite frank, Adidas did a mediocre job on the jerseys. The logo is clean and sharp looking, but the coloring of the uniforms does not represent the livelihood of the city of Las Vegas. The colors of the home jerseys are rather dull.
The NHL gave rather generous expansion rules assuring that Vegas would have a competitive team right out of the gate. They selected one player from each team with minimums of three goalies, nine defensemen and 14 forwards. Vegas also acquired many picks and players in order for them to not select certain players from other teams who had too many players they wanted to protect from being taken. To mirror the Vegas team’s selection process, I will be going over every player from the net out.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) – This was an obvious choice for the Golden Knights as they are building from scratch. Why not start with a three-time Stanley Cup champion? The 32-year-old is a great piece for the building franchise and solidifies them in the net.
Calvin Pickard (Colorado) – The likely backup goaltender is a 25-year-old stud. Look for Calvin to play well and eventually get the starting job in Vegas or elsewhere.
JF Berube (New York Islanders) – Let’s start with saying that Jean Francois Berube has probably the best French Canadian name in the NHL. He would be the third goalie on the depth chart and has now been shipped from Vegas to Chicago. Vegas is still on the hunt for a third goalkeeper.
Clayton Stoner (Anaheim) – Clayton is a rugged bottom four defenseman who will add character and toughness to this Vegas team.
Colin Miller (Boston) – Colin Miller is a young right-handed shot, who has huge upside offensively. There are still some holes in the youngster’s defensive game, but he has time to develop.
Deryk Engelland (Calgary) – Another rugged, hard to play against defenseman who will protect his teammates. Engelland adds good veteran leadership to a young team looking to grow together.
Trevor Van Riemsdyk (Chicago) – Traded to Carolina almost immediately after expansion draft.
Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton) – The former 4th overall pick has yet to make a splash in the NHL, already with his third franchise and at the age of 23. Can’t blame Vegas for taking the once-highly regarded defenseman in hopes that he will find revival in his young career.
Brayden McNabb (Los Angeles) – Absolute stud. Watch him take off has a top-pair offensive minded defensemen with his new club, haunting the Kings.
Alexei Emelin (Montreal) – Emelin is a solid top four defenseman and is one of Vegas’ bigger trade chips. He has been traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a third round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Jon Merrill (New Jersey) – Going to miss Jon. He is just starting to come into his own and figure it out, but still prone to the occasional lapse in the defensive zone.
Jake Bischoff (New York Islanders) – The former 185th pick will probably not be a factor with the big boys and will stay in the AHL.
Marc Methot (Ottawa) – As expected, Methot was selected from Ottawa and was traded to Dallas in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and goaltender Dylan Ferguson.
David Schlemko (San Jose) – Selected and flipped to Montreal for a 2019 fifth-round pick, because the Canadiens needed defensive help.
Jason Garrison (Tampa Bay) – The 32-year-old is a steady bottom four defenseman who has put up 30 points three times, but had major drop offs the last two years. Don’t expect offensive production from Garrison.
Luca Sbisa (Vancouver) – The only current Italian player in the NHL is a low-end top four defenseman. Look for him to eat up minutes and play solid defensively.
Nate Schmidt (Washington) – A young bottom four defenseman, look for him to come into his own with a new club and with less depth in front of him.
Shea Theodore (Anaheim) – This 21-year-old former first-round pick is a highly skilled two way defenseman with a strong passing game. He can quarterback the powerplay, making him a consistent threat. Look for Shea for years to come as a mainstay on the Golden Knights blue line.
Teemu Pulkkinen (Arizona) – Fringe AHL-NHL player, not going to be a huge factor in the success of Vegas.
William Carrier (Buffalo) – The young lefty forward may have an impact in the future but is a fringe NHL player for now.
Connor Brickley (Carolina) – Career AHL player with 1 stint of 23 games in the NHL.
William Karlsson (Columbus) – Karlsson is a solid bottom-six center who creates plenty of scoring chances with his skating. He needs to improve on his strength in order to crack the top six.
Cody Eakin (Dallas) – Eakin has been a reliable player for the Stars the last few years. If put together with the right line-mates, you can expect 30-40 points out of the center.
Tomas Nosek (Detroit) – Career AHL-er who is looking to make a splash in the NHL after two underwhelming NHL stints with the Red Wings.
Jonathan Marchessault (Florida) – Jonathan is fresh off of a 30-goal season and is looking to continue is success as one of the main guys for the Vegas forward group. Expect him to head one of the top two lines.
Reilly Smith (Florida) –Reilly Smith is an extremely productive playmaking forward when healthy. I would love to see Smith team up with Marchessault on a line together after they make the trip to Vegas from Florida together.
Erik Haula (Minnesota) – the restricted free agent has been a productive player for the Wild the last two seasons. Look for him to use his speed and his two-way game to help his new team.
James Neal (Nashville) – The headliner of the forward group. The 29-year old veteran has scored 20 goals in every season he has been in the league. Neal should be the main scoring threat for the Golden Knights.
Mikhail Grabovski (New York Islanders) – A bottom six winger, Grabovski has had injury issues, including this past season where he failed to make it to the ice all year. He could bounce back for Vegas.
Oscar Lindberg (New York Rangers) – A very good two way center, Lindberg will likely be in the bottom six but he does all of the little things right. He’s not going to overwhelm you with his scoring but he will be a trustworthy contributor.
Pierre-Édouard Bellemare (Philadephia) – An Offensive minded winger who is extremely hard working and strong on the penalty kill. He could do it all in Vegas.
David Perron (St. Louis) – Perron is a pure goal-scorer who can be very streaky. He hasn’t quite put it all together just yet, but he can possibly play with Reilly Smith in efforts to get him the puck.
Brendan Leipsic (Toronto) – Won’t make an impact right away, needs time to develop.
Nikita Gusev (Tampa Bay) – This former seventh-round pick has in large part proved he can play top six minutes, but has only played professionally in Russia. We will see how he transitions to the smaller ice if and when he comes to North America.
Keegan Kolesar (Columbus) – Gritty, physical two way forward who plays to his strengths and has underrated playmaking ability. We will see how it translates to the pro game along with his strong defensive game.
Alex Tuch (Minnesota) – This 21-year-old had a strong showing in his first professional season in the AHL, netting 37 points in 57 games. He was scoreless in six NHL games, but look for him to get his breakthrough in Vegas and be highly productive going forward.
Time frame for the Golden Knights to be contenders for the cup: 5-6 years.