Effectively, the ice has lastly settled on the 2018-19 season with the St. Louis Blues claiming their first-ever Stanley Cup. After 52 lengthy years and solely sporadic postseason appearances, the Blues lastly have that first notch on their belt.
With two consecutive playoff appearances in two years as a franchise, Vegas Golden Knights followers are hopeful that they gained’t have to attend half a century for a Stanley Cup victory. Earlier than consideration utterly shifts to the upcoming 2019-20 season, let’s take a second to mirror on the previous season and see how every of the Golden Knights’ place teams carried out. Beginning up entrance, we’ll work our means again to protection and goaltenders.
Golden Knights’ Sword (Offense)
The Golden Knights’ offensive weapons might not have been probably the most explosive in the course of the 2018-19 season, however they received the job performed. Out of 31 groups, Vegas tied for 13th in objectives scored over the course of the common season with the Montreal Canadiens. The Golden Knights managed to search out the again of the web 246 occasions, making for almost three objectives per sport on common.
Vegas Golden Knights’ left wing Max Pacioretty and middle Paul Stastny rejoice. (AP Picture/Isaac Brekken)
Regardless of a mean variety of complete objectives, Vegas ranked second in complete shot makes an attempt – peppering opposing netminders 2,814 occasions. That works out to be a objective each 11-12 photographs on web. And contemplating that NHL groups usually attempt for 30-plus photographs per sport, plus Vegas’ three objectives per sport common, the maths checks out. Seeing how the Golden Knights stacked up collectively in opposition to the remainder of the NHL, let’s see how particular gamers contributed to (or detract from) the mixed success of the forwards.
The Prime Line
The Golden Knights’ high line centered by William Karlsson with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith on the wings led the way in which, with all three surpassing the 50-point mark – 56, 59, and 53, respectively. Collectively, the trio mixed for nearly 28 p.c of Vegas’ 246 objectives in the course of the common season.
The highest line for Vegas definitely shouldered their share of the load in the course of the common season. Nonetheless, all three of their level totals dropped from the 2017-18 season whereas taking part in in simply as many video games (Karlsson) or extra (Marchessault and Smith) in the course of the 2018-19 season. Marchessault and Smith are each locked into contracts for at the very least a pair extra years every, however Karlsson is a restricted free agent this summer time.
William Karlsson will probably be a restricted free agent this summer time. (Picture by Jeff Bottari/NHLI through Getty Pictures)
Surprisingly, and sadly, the highest line misplaced its edge throughout a short-lived playoff run – accounting for 17 factors in seven video games. The Golden Knights’ second line accounted for 31 factors in the identical timeframe. Whereas it’s fascinating for a group to get stable manufacturing from every line, having the highest line fizzle out in the course of the postseason isn’t a recipe for achievement.
Karlsson’s free company presents a dilemma for the Golden Knights’ entrance workplace this offseason. They’d be hard-pressed to half methods with a participant who has arguably grow to be a face of the franchise, and who nonetheless performed a significant position within the Golden Knights’ offensive success regardless of not matching his 2017-18 stats. Then again, Vegas is bumping up in opposition to their cap ceiling they usually don’t need to throw an excessive amount of cash at Karlsson if his numbers are going to proceed to drop.
Center of the Pack
Whereas a productive first line is anticipated and obligatory, it’s laborious to achieve success and not using a supporting forged of different forwards who can put the puck within the web, in addition to preserve opponents at bay. Fortunately for the Golden Knights, they’d fairly a handful of forwards step up and carry the load.
Forwards similar to Alex Tuch, Paul Stastny, Cody Eakin, and Max Pacioretty all performed roles in Vegas’ offensive success. Every put up over 40 factors, with all besides Stastny scoring at the very least 20 objectives within the course of.
Max Pacioretty (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)Paul Stastny (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports activities)Alex Tuch (Picture by Christian Petersen/Getty Pictures)Tuch specifically supplied some secondary firepower for the Golden Knights. After placing up 37 factors in 78 video games in the course of the 2017-18 season, Tuch adopted up with a 52-point efficiency in 74 video games this season. Vegas well signed Tuch to a seven-year contract early on this season, demonstrating the religion they’ve in him shifting ahead. There’s no motive the Golden Knights shouldn’t proceed to count on stable performances from the younger 23-year-old ahead.
Some forwards contributed extra prominently on the defensive aspect of issues, most notably Mark Stone. Along with main the Golden Knights with 12 factors within the 2019 Playoffs, Stone was named as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, introduced yearly to the league’s greatest defensive ahead.
Apart from a high line that submitted a sub-par playoff efficiency, the Golden Knights had only a few chinks within the armor, particularly at ahead. Vegas will want Tomas Nosek and Ryan Carpenter to step up, hopefully contributing at the very least 20 factors shifting ahead and fixing minus-10 and minus-six plus/minus rankings.
One other weak level might relaxation in Ryan Reaves. It’s no shock that Reaves isn’t a high factors producer, however shelling out over $2 million for an “enforcer” doesn’t appear to mesh with the Golden Knights’ philosophy or match the mould of the opposite forwards. Vegas has garnered a status over the previous two seasons as a high-scoring, spotlight reel group. Carrying a participant like Reaves looks like lifeless weight.
Does Ryan Reaves have a job on future Golden Knights groups? (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports activities)
If the Golden Knights wish to add some grit to their lineup, there are many gamers who can present a hard-nosed fashion of play whereas additionally contributing constantly within the objectives and assists columns. One such participant that involves thoughts is Cal Clutterbuck of the New York Islanders. Clutterbuck, who sits in second place for many hits because the 2005-06 season with three,zero15, usually averages round 20 factors over the course of the season.
The Golden Knights additionally suffered offensively from Erik Haula’s absence attributable to damage. The Finnish native was a driving pressure for Vegas in 2017-18, amassing 55 factors in 76 video games. Within the 2018-19 season, he was restricted to a mere seven factors in simply 15 video games performed. Who is aware of if Haula’s presence may have sparked the Golden Knights’ offense within the postseason.
Vegas’ forwards get a B+ for the 2018-19 season. The Golden Knights had been environment friendly and constant within the common season, incomes them excessive marks. Nonetheless, the premature drought among the many high line finally introduced the forwards’ ultimate grade down.
No matter what occurs with Karlsson, Vegas has a stable physique of productive forwards who will proceed to maintain the Golden Knights in rivalry on the high of the Western Convention.