Vegas Golden Knights is making history as an expansion NHL team
Vegas is for real. And they are on their way to making history.
The Golden Knights currently have 61 points in 42 games - good for 2nd place in the entire league behind Tampa Bay. They are fifth in the league in goals scored and goals against too.
Oh, did I mention that this is an expansion team? Because that’s what makes this so crazy!
This team has been almost entirely assembled of guys not considered “protectable” by their former teams not making the 8 or 10-man lists. These players, along with coach Gerard Gallant, whose firing last season in Florida was controversial and had fans and pundits divided.
Taking a look at some of the prominent players for Vegas you will see a mixed bag. Jonathan Marchessault is averaging over 1 point per game, which is more than a lot of people expected but his availability to Vegas shocked many. Marchessault was a quality player in his time with Florida and him being available to Vegas was a huge gift as they just locked him up to a six-year extension.
Nate Schmidt was another great pickup as the Capitals just had too many players to protect and Schmidt had to be made available. He has the most points among defensemen on the team with 19 and leads the team in ice time with over 22 minutes.
Reilly Smith, David Perron and captain James Neal have all contributed to this team and their veteran presence bolstered the team's success. The play from cup-winning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban has been nothing short of outstanding. This team has gone through five goalies this season due to injuries and have still stayed afloat.
However, a crucial element of this team has been William Karlsson. The young Swedish forward was an unheralded pickup from Columbus with 50 points in over 180 games before this year. The Blue Jackets even traded a first round pick to Vegas so that they would take Karlsson instead of someone else they wanted to keep! At the time it looked like a good deal by Columbus but now we are seeing Karlsson with an astounding 23 goals in 42 games.
This storybook team is on pace to blow past all expansion teams in every major league. The best NHL expansion team was the 1993-94 Florida Panthers who finished with 83 points in the 84 game season. In 1961, the Los Angeles Angels expansion team went 70-91 in their first year, which is the best in MLB history. The 1966-67 Chicago Bulls set the expansion team record by going 33-48 in their first year. The best expansion team in NFL history was the 7-9 Carolina Panthers in 1995. The Bulls were the only team to make the playoffs in their inaugural season and all expansion teams had sub .500 records. All Vegas needs to do is win 11 of their last 40 games to finish the season above .500, which is a pretty safe bet at this point.
Now while expansion rules have given teams a better chance to succeed and survive in the league, surely nobody expected Vegas to have this hot of a start and sustaining it to this point. This is unheard of and they deserve any attention they get because this is like something out of a Hollywood movie.