Since the 1991-1992 season 10 teams have been added to the NHL; San Jose, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Anaheim, Florida, Nashville, Atlanta (now Winnipeg), Columbus, Minnesota and now Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights are 100-1 to win the Stanley Cup, according to Bovada. This puts the Golden Knights at the same payout as Vancouver, New Jersey, Colorado, Detroit and Arizona.
BetOnline has the Golden Knights with an over/under to win 26.5 games. Colorado who ended in last place last season is listed at 29.5 games. Detroit is listed to at 34.5 games. Between the other five teams at 100-1 they are listed at an average of 5.3 more wins than the Golden Knights.
Of the teams that have entered the league since 1991, none have made the playoffs in its first two seasons. On average, it takes NHL expansion teams about four seasons before making the playoffs. These teams have finished with an average of 57 points in their first season, which last season would have seeded expansion franchises in 29th place behind Vancouver and ahead of Colorado.
The Golden Knights forward core has a very strong depth to it from the expansion draft. With players like Teemu Pulkkinen, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Cody Glass, and Nick Suzuki to round out the bottom lines and/or fill in healthy scratch positions, the Golden Knights should be able to consistently put a bottom six line out on the ice.
Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki were both drafted in the first round of this year’s draft and have been signed to rookie contracts. It is still unknown if either one will crack the opening day roster.
The problem with the Golden Knights is the team’s top six lineups. The team needs to have players like Cody Eakin, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, each with 12, 37 and 51 points last season, respectively, step up and play top line minutes each night.
James Neal put up 41 points last season. Neal has played top-six line minutes in Nashville over the last few seasons. Neal played in the Stanley Cup Final last season, but was only able to produce 9 points in the 22-game run. He is a near-guarantee to crack the first line.
The defensive corps of Vegas is their weakest point. With players like Luca Sbisa, Jason Garrison, Deryk Engelland, and Brayden McNabb who have all filled bottom line defensive roles in the past, the Golden Knights will have to move some of them up in the lineup to fill in their top four defensemen.
The defense is also filled with up and coming talents such as Shea Theodore, Erik Brannstrom, and Nicolas Hague. Shea Theodore, who is coming off his second partial season with the Anaheim Ducks, finished with 9 points (2 goals and 7 assists) and 28 PIM’s in 34 games.
Goalies are the Golden Knights strongest point. Their best pickup in the expansion draft was Marc-Andre Fleury a 3-time Stanley Cup Champion. He finished last year with a 3.02 GAA and .909 save percentage. Fleury has become a proven winner and has been a great role model for the younger players in the league.
The backup goalie, Calvin Pickard, played for Colorado last season and had a 2.98 GAA with a .904 save percentage. He only has 84 career games under his belt, compared to Marc-Andre Fleury’s 691 games.
Another option for the backup position is Oscar Dansk from Columbus. He hasn’t spent any time in the NHL yet, but he was a highly touted prospect drafted back in 2012.
Overall the Golden Knights have built a team with lots of future potential. The Golden Knights have a foundation for the future, but are not built for immediate success. This is why we feel throwing money away on the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup, even at 100-1, is a losing proposition.