Golden Knights open inaugural season with bright future ahead
October 03, 2017 3:01 AM
by Alan Berg
Vegas Golden Knights hockey has become a reality and on Friday, they head to Dallas to take on the Stars in the first game in franchise history.
Expectations are low for the opening season and that’s actually the plan as owner Bill Foley, General Manager George McPhee and head coach Gerard Gallant are in for the long haul to make Vegas a contender as fast as they can.
Now they won’t come out and tell you that, but just enjoy the experience this year in Vegas. Learn about the game and what makes it great so you are educated and ready for when the wins start piling up.
To do this they grabbed young players in the expansion draft instead of talented veterans with bloated contracts. The plan instead was flipping assets from that draft to acquire rookie picks for this season and the years down the road.
Currently Vegas has acquired extra draft picks for the next three seasons:
2018 – Extra 5th Rounder
2019 – Two extra 2nd Rounders, two extra 3rd Rounders and one extra 5th Rounder.
2020 – Two extra 2nd Rounders.
All these bonus selections after having an incredible three 1st Round picks this season. The Knights first pick was at No. 6 overall, selecting Center Cody Glass; also selected were No. 13 Center Nick Suzuki and No. 15 Defenseman Erik Brannstrom. All of these kids are not expected to get minutes early but might see late season games to gain some valuable experience for the following year.
According to many this is a great year to nab the No. 1 overall rookie pick as Rasmus Dahlin is considered the top pick and would give the Knights a cornerstone defenseman to build around. And if you know hockey, those are like quarterbacks in the NFL, they don’t have many of them.
But what about this year?
Stars of the team include Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the preseason face of the franchise from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with a couple of Stanley Cup Championships under his belt bringing much needed big-game experience to the club. Forward James Neal, picked from the expansion draft from the defending Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators, scored 23 goals and 18 assists last season.
Another name to keep an eye on is Vadim Shipachyov, who played in the Russian Hockey League last season and compiled 76 points (G 26, A 50) in 50 games.
The young players that should be a big part of this team for the years to come:
Reilly Smith pencils in as a 2nd Line right wing and is under contract for the next five seasons. He has playoff experience with the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers, Gallant’s old team.
He will get opportunities to become one of the faces of the franchise as the years move along. At only 26 he has time.
Cody Eakin, likely a canadiate for the third line, was an intriguing choice by McPhee and the Knights front office. He had a poor season with only three goals after 16-, 19- and 16-goal seasons. He is under contract for the next three seasons.
Lastly Erik Haula, who was a suprising pick to many with Minnesota Wild Defenseman Matt Dumba on the board. Haula is likely the best of the three mentioned as he has been a key cog to the Wild offense. He should see the most ice time of his career likely on the same line as Smith.
In the weeks ahead we will have recaps and previews of the weeks betting lines and bet ideas.