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  1. NHLGamers, It's been a while to say the least, in October 2018 we released the first part of my analysis on captaincy in the NHL and its virtual counterpart and now I'm back with an updated second part and views from a one year older (smarter?) me. If you missed it or need a refresher, please take a look at the first part here. With that out of the way, welcome to the second part of our captaincy analysis. We'll start with the captains of Eastern Conference and after that discuss some thoughts about NHL20 captaincy and what EA could do to improve it. Eastern Conference: Atlantic Division: Boston Bruins – Zdeno Chara The Giant. Has a hulking presence in the Bruins defense. Is the longest reigning captain currently in NHL also the longest ongoing career in the NHL. Even though Chara is not getting any younger and he’s not that fast, he still has a solid contribution both on defense and offense. The slapshot of this monster of a man is still one of the hardest in the whole league. Has been training like a madman in the summer so I don’t expect his performance to deteriorate too much from the last few years. The question still remains: Does he still have juice left for one more year or is this his last? My guess is that next year the skipper could be Bergeron. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Eichel Last year was the first year for Eichel as captain and Buffalo did not make play-offs (again). It was more about the quality of the team than about Eichels ability to lead, though. It remains unknown if he is captain material and if he can lead Buffalo to greatness in the future, but he is currently the best chance that the Sabres have. With him, Dahlin and Mittelstadt, Buffalo has good set of future superstars and in the coming years we will see them in playoff contention. Detroit Red Wings – Vacant The reign of swedes ended with Zetterberg. Motor City is in turmoil for a second season straight. No light at the end of the tunnel and still no captain. The team has bigger problems than assigning their captaincy, but they should have one to lead them through these troubled waters. I would like to see Larkin appointed C and start the building from there. There is a long road ahead, but Larkin is young, dependable and has good point potential. Florida Panthers – Aleksander Barkov Let’s say it out loud, Mackenzie as a captain was a failure. It is good that Panthers saw and acknowledged that, set their sights to the future and appointed Barkov as captain in 18-19. Barkov is everything that captain should be, he puts up points but is no slouch in defense either, has a high work ethic and is an exceptional gentleman of a player. Those things are the definition of leading by example and I would not be surprised if Barkov is the captain in Florida for the next 10 seasons. Florida should easily be in the playoffs this year and I hope that they will finally be the serious cup contender with Barkov at the helm. Montreal Canadiens – Shea Weber Montreal is no easy place to be captain as hockey is a way bigger sport in there than in most parts of USA and Canada. That influences many players too much as your performance on the ice reflects to your everyday life. If you are on a winning streak people will high-five you in the street and that surely gives boost, but there’s a big caveat here too a Montreal’s Captain cannot escape the responsibility that comes with poor performance at all. If you've lost a game, you will hear about it the next day during grocery shopping and you just have to deal with it. That role is not for everybody, but Weber has adapted to this role very well. Weber is a senior player and might have 3-4 good seasons left. He starts to slow down on the ice but his slapshot is still deadly. The Canadiens team itself is just mediocre and they must do their absolute best to reach playoffs. I am a bit surprised how well they have started the season but that is partially because of so many underperformers in the Atlantic division. The performances have started to even out as of late though. Ottawa Senators – Vacant The era of Karlsson has been over for a while now. Last season was a disaster as expected but there are signs of hope in the future. Jean-Gabriel Pageau needs to be appointed Captain as soon as possible and start building play-off team from there. Pageau is quite a small player but is a good scorer and has many good years ahead of him. Team around him is not of a great quality but you have to start from somewhere. Let’s check up on them in 2-3 seasons, before that I don’t see any chances of playoffs. Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos Stammer - He might just be the best shooter in the whole NHL and we all know that, but this season and in 18-19 we have seen a new type of Stamkos as he has adapted a bit more to a playmaking style. That makes him even more of a threat to opponents. Stamkos if one those players who can win games all by himself, but as he has developed more into a team guy as he's gotten older that just might be the missing piece that leads him to greatness. Toronto Maple Leafs – John Tavares The Leafs appointed Tavares expectedly as Captain for this season. So far it has not held any fruit, but that is not because of Tavares. Tavares is the best choice for the Leafs and I see them as potential cup contenders in coming years. This year has started with a crisis around Babcock and it escalated as Toronto sacked him. it remains to be seen if Tavares and coach Keefe can turn the ship around and sail towards playoffs. If not this season, then the next. The Stanley Cup is coming back to Toronto in the coming years that’s for sure, but is it this season, next season or the season after that? Metropolitan Division: Carolina Hurricanes – Jordan Staal After a double captaincy catastrophe 18-19 Hurricanes came to their senses and they appointed Williams as captain. Williams retired after the season and Carolina appointed Staal as Captain for this season. Staal has worn the Captain badge before and is a logical choice because of that, but I would have liked to see Aho as captain. Aho signed contract till 23/24 season with them and is their future Franchise player. Why not give him more responsibility and make him even more committed to Carolina? Columbus Blue Jackets – Nick Foligno Who else for Columbus? Has grown as a leader in the last few seasons by big leaps. Big player on the ice, but HUGE player in the locker room, one of those players that you can’t judge by their point production because the overall impact of the player is much bigger for the team. Won the King Clancy trophy (Leadership/humanitarian award) and Mark Messier leadership award in 16/17. At 31 years old he can still play for quite some time and we shall see if he gets the crown for his career and maybe goes down in history as a true great captain. New Jersey Devils – Andy Greene No thrills, no frills defender. Well liked player by fans and players around him. Will not set any scoring or passing records, but he is the definition of reliability on defense. Has played all of his NHL career for the Devils and I’m sure he won’t be going to any other team. There is one caveat with Greene as there is with many other captains, he has not won anything major as captain or as a player so when or at this late in his career we might say if the time comes to lead the team to victory is he ready for it and can he even do it? New York Islanders – Anders Lee The Tavares era ended. Lee took the reins and he is the natural choice for the Islanders. Dependable player with good scoring sense. Has played all his NHL matches for the Islanders and knows the team and their mentality well. Islanders surprised us all last season as they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. They have started this season very well and if nothing drastic happens they will make playoffs for the second year in a row. It seems that the Islanders did not need Tavares at all, and they are playing way better without him. New York Rangers – Vacant Marc Staal or Mika Zibanejad would have been the natural choices for the Rangers captaincy this season, but they have not appointed anyone yet. Rangers was a messy bunch last season, but they made an impact in the summer as they signed Artemi Panarin with a huge over 11 million AAV contract. The season so far has been mixed for them and they have not been able to be solid either away or at home. With Kaapo Kakko, Panarin and Zibanejad they now have the star players, now they need to settle with a captain and start chasing the playoff spot again. Philadelphia Flyers – Claude Giroux Fast on skates and fast with his hands, pretty small in size but big in attitude. Has already won the World Championship and World Cup so he sure knows how to win. His leadership skill are enough to lead quality team to the Finals and even a championship but I just don’t see that the 19/20 Flyers is that team. I hope he proves me wrong because he is just so entertaining to watch on the ice. Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby Who else? Has won everything in his career. A top two player in the league, might even be the best depending on who you ask. Teammates and fans love him, and others hate him. Has a reputation of doing tricks on the grey area of the rulebook and that pisses lots of people off. Even the haters cannot deny Sids ability to lead the team from one win to another and even from one cup to another. I am 100% sure that he will still get more huge wins in his career as his fire for winning is next to none. Has had lots of concussions in his career so there is a bit of speculation that he might retire early, but I think that he is so driven to win that he will play for another decade. Washington Capitals – Alexander Ovechkin The greatest goal scorer of his generation and some might say greatest scorer of all-time. As a younger player had some problems with his defensive mentality but has improved his defensive efforts and as of now, he is a very well-rounded player. Has a plethora of medals from World Championships, World Cup and now even Stanley Cup. The biggest problem with Alexander the Great though is that although he plays with passion, that fire gets the best of him sometimes. He lives and dies by the game and sometimes it makes him do great things and miraculous goals that look impossible but the downside is that the team sometimes suffers. In 18/19 Alexander proved that he can be the leader that team needs and finally grabbed the Cup to his Capitals. That seals the deal of the speculation if he can or cannot win Stanley Cup. The Cup win boosted to Alexander the Great and he scored over 50 goals last season and Capitals are one of the strongest favorites to win the Cup this year. Captains in NHL 20 How do the captains influence the game when you are playing NHL 20 and how much of an impact does that give? The answer is easy: none, nada zilch, zero! It does not matter if its HUT, Franchise mode, Threes, online versus or shootout, captains on the ice do not have any effect on the game and they are just like any other player. I think that it should not be like that. Captains make all the difference in real life why they cannot do that in game also? EASHL is kind of a breed of its own though. There the assigned Captains do matter because when you are playing with human players on your team, communication is one of the key parts of the game and captains do it in EASHL kind of like real hockey captains communicate in the NHL, making sure that a plan is followed and everybody does their part. I still remember that in HUT there were meaningful ”A” and ”C” cards a couple of years ago.The ”A” card gave +1 to all stats to a maximum of two players in your team. The ”C” card gave +2 to all stats to one player in your team. That way you could boost your favorite players and they made kind of a difference and captains meant something. I really think that it was a good feature and I don’t have a clue why it was changed so that “A” and “C” cards are now purely cosmetic. I really would like to see it make return in future NHL. But that does not solve the problem that in another modes the captain doesn’t have any impact. Communication with referees is a key part of a captain in real hockey but I think that cannot be implemented meaningfully to a NHL game. Yes, referees can be improved but that is a discussion for a different article 😉 I have been thinking about this quite a lot lately because I think that captains play such a crucial role in a teams success or failure in the real world, so I think that they have to have a bigger impact in NHL games too. I watch hockey passionately and I also passionately play NHL on consoles so it’s natural for me to compare the two and think about things to improve or change. The solution that I came up with is really quite simple, it does not change the fundamental gameplay a lot but captains would have straight and noticeable ”impact” on a game. So my idea is a ”momentum”. It has been debated for years now that NHL games have invisible momentum and ”ice tilt” features, but let’s not go into those too much now. On my model whenever ”A” does something significant for example a big clean hit, assist, goal, successful deke, or a blocked shot your whole team gets a 5-30 second boost to the whole teams overall stats. I was thinking about +2 to all stats or something similar. When ”C” does the same thing the boost would be more, for example +3 to all stats. On both cases there would be a visible difference like the overhead player indicator chances to upwards pointing triangle for the duration of the momentum. When the assistant captains or the captains does something hurting your team like takes a penalty or accidentally scores an own goal the team would take a similar negative momentums -2 overall for ”A” or -3 overall for ”C”. The duration would be affected by the length of the penalty or severity of the mistake, but I would make it equal length as the boost so 5-30 seconds, this would be indicated by downwards pointing triangle as the player indicator. I really think that this would work in all play modes and it would encourage a bit different playstyles and bring it a bit closer to real hockey. It would not make or break a match but potentially this feature would make captains relevant and knowing when you are controlling one might affect your play style. Potentially this brings one extra strategical element to the game and makes manual line changes mean more and besides timeouts gives you more of a “control” on your teams momentum and I think that when you have visible momentums that you can affect yourself the game becomes more enjoyable for everybody. What do you guys think? Are my analyses spot on or did I miss something? What about captains in NHL games? Is this a feature we should see in future games? Let me hear your opinions in the comment section I am eagerly awaiting your input!
  2. In this first part we'll be diving in to captaincy itself and analyzing the captains of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League. In the second part we will be focusing on the Eastern Conference and captaincy in virtual hockey. The NHL season recently kicked off, so far we've had around 50 games played, over 200 goals scored and a bunch of NHL firsts. Be it first points, first goals or first games. We're living an exciting time of year and it's simply wonderful that the greatest league in sports is back with some action. The term captain derives from the Greek word katepánō, which roughly translates to ” placed at the top”. That defines a captain rather well, a captain is the Top-Dog, the Alpha-male, the one who steers the ship. Your ship could be the fastest, biggest or the most expensive in the world, but it's useless without a good captain. The same very much goes for ice hockey teams. Without a proper captain, your ship sails where the current takes it. You need a captain with the passion, vision, fire and will to win - then you can even sail against the wind. A hockey match is a battle where questioning your choices might very well mean defeat. That’s where the captain comes into play. He makes sure that everybody goes by the plan and that everybody does their part on the ice. That is what differentiates a good captain from the average or bad ones. A good captain gets the whole team to stand by him no matter what and if the plan needs to be changed he can communicate it to the team and he will lead by example. Let’s take a closer look at all NHL-teams and their captains. I'll give you my opinion and analysis about them. Western conference: Pacific Division: Anaheim Ducks – Ryan Getzlaf Getzlaf is the best player in his team season after another. Point production and playing intensity can vary depending on the mood of Ryan, but even on the off nights he is a force to be reckoned with. When he is in the zone, nothing can stop him. He is a big player with a good shot, but prefers assisting. Getzy also defends well and has no real weaknesses to his game. Has also won a Cup with the Ducks in '07. Truly a franchise player. One of the most underrated players in the NHL. Arizona Coyotes – Oliver Ekman-Larsson OEL claimed the captaincy out in the desert this summer. Arizona has been adrift for quite some years and the hockey culture in over in the Phoenix-Glendale area has suffered immensely, partly due to the lack of success. The Swede is turning into the face of the franchise very much needed after the era of Shane Doan has passed. We'll have to wait and see what kind of captain OEL will turn out to be, in a recent interview he stated that he will let his play do the talking and let his assistants be more vocal in the locker room. Calgary Flames – Mark Giordano Solid defender with a flame in his heart. Has always represented Calgary at the NHL level and I think he will stay there till the end of his career. No major achievements in his career and that is the biggest problem. I think a good captain needs to have that winning mentality and culture, which sorry to say - Mark simply doesn't possess. I doubt the Flames will make a cup run with Giordano as captain. There is no big flaws in his game but on the other side there aren’t any superb ups in his game either. History won’t remember him as a great leader, but history will remember him as a loyal and solid Flames defenseman. Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid Does this player even need an introduction or any explanation on why he is the captain? Best player of the NHL right now. McDavid as captain was set in stone from the moment he was drafted. I believe he will turn the franchise around and do good things with them. Los Angeles Kings – Anze Kopitar Anze is going into his third season as a captain. His first captaincy season was his worst in the NHL. He had to prove that he can be a leader both on and off the ice and that he did in the 17/18 season as he put up an amazing tally of 92 points. Has two cups already, so he knows what it takes to be the top dog and communicate it to the team, boosting others to make the whole team better. Will the high flying of this Slovenian magician carry on and will rest of the team catch some air time too? It all remains to be seen, but I wouldn't count them out as contenders in 18/19. San Jose Sharks – Joe Pavelski ”Captain America” or ”Big Joe” took the Sharks leadership after another great in leader Joe Thornton. I recall some minor controversy when the captaincy was transferred to the younger Joe. However, the passing of the torch went well and Pavelski has led the San Jose team efficiently. They even went head to head with the Penguins for the cup in 15/16 but ended up on the losing side. Even though Pavelski has proven himself as playmaker, passer and scorer he still need to prove himself as winner. His only notable win outside of juniors is an Olympic silver medal and with that you won’t go down in history as a great captain. Vancouver Canucks – Vacant The age after the Sedins begin. Vancouver is in a huge crisis right now. Their defense is mediocre, goalies are mediocre and offense is mediocre. No captain and basically no playoff expectations. They really need to start building their team for the long term in hopes of making the playoffs in the next 5 years. The Canucks have some young assets in Elias Petterson(who's been looking like a stud in his first strides on the NHL ice!) and Brock Boeser, who went almost a point-per-game in his first full NHL season. Vegas Golden Knights - vacant As you know, the Golden Knights are team who has done tremendously well without a captain. I think that this is a unique situation in the history of the NHL. There is some kind of a magical atmosphere within the team and everybody does their best to chip in. I think that stems from the fact that all players were starting from 0 in a new team that has no burdens of history. I certainly thought they'd have to pick a captain for this season as the ”honey moon” is over and some of the first season magic will fade. Central Division: Chicago Blackhawks – Jonathan Toews No drawback found here. Toews is an all-round package in a playing field with some of the best hockey senses ever both on defense and offense. It's a huge reason why the Blackhawks have won three titles during his tenure. He has also won two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup. This guy really knows how to win and every team in NHL would be lucky to have such a great leader in their team. Colorado Avalanche – Gabriel Landeskog Had a bad season in 16/17 and had a lot prove in 17/18. Gabriel ended up delivering an excellent effort along Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Solid overall player who is leading by example both on the ice and in the dressing room. Still young at the age of 25 and really excellent choice for a captain albeit the criticism that has earlier surrounded him. Can be the leader for coming years and is a good piece to start slowly building a true Cup contender team. Also notable that he has been the team captain for almost 6 years already. Dallas Stars – Jamie Benn Still relatively young at age 29 and he has been a captain since 13/14. Has proven himself as goal scorer and a true offensive threat. He is a natural winner and has a U20 gold medal, a WHL championship and an Olympic Gold medal to back that up. In my opinion, Dallas as a team doesn't currently have what it takes to win a cup, but if they can improve some areas such as goaltending I predict that Benn has the qualities to lead the Stars to a Cup. Minnesota Wild – Mikko Koivu Koivu has had a bit too big of a hill to climb when has been the sole leader of Minnesota. Since the acquisition of Eric Staal in 16/17 they have a second big leader in the dressing room and Minnesota has bounced back nicely. Also notable is that Mikko's older brother Saku was the captain of the Montreal Canadiens for 10 years so the leadership gene sure runs in the family. Both have also been captains of team Finland and both are gold medalists in the IIHF World Championships, however neither one has won Stanley Cup. Still remains to be seen if the Koivu family will get a taste of the Cup. Nashville Predators – Roman Josi Roman Josi has had a great start to his captaincy. Nashville lost to a strong Winnipeg team after a struggle the Playoffs last year, mostly simply due to how good their opposition was. The Preds defense backstopped by "Betoni-Pekka" Rinne is one of the best in league. Josi himself is a superb defender who is never in a rush whether it’s in the attacking zone or in front of the own net. His team can rely on him every night and even if there is a hiccup Mr. Rinne will handle the rest. I'd be surprised if Josi wouldn't lead his team to at least a legitimate cup run in the next three seasons. St. Louis Blues – Alex Pietrangelo Reliable. That is the term that defines Pietrangelo. He won’t be the top scorer or top passer, but you can bet on him to be on the ice when the game is in its closing moments and it's time to play the hard minutes. Chasing the 3-gold club as he has an Olympic gold and World Cup gold. Still needs a Stanley Cup and has at least 6-7 seasons left to get it. He knows how to win and what makes a winning team. Now he just needs the material around him to be good enough and he will lead them to glory. Winnipeg Jets – Blake Wheeler Blake Wheeler is a machine of a human being. Huge presence on the ice. He is big, he is fast and has the scoring and passing ability. The epitome of a power forward who can be on the ice on powerplays and on the PK. Wheeler doesn't have any big team achievements or major personal trophies in his career so far. The argument could be made: does he have enough passion and fire for winning to achieve greatness as the Jets captain? Winnipeg has a good group of guys put together and it remains to be seen if Wheeler is the locomotive that can haul the rest of the team all the way to a Cup. Inked a fresh five year deal, I predict at least a Cup final run within these five years. What are your thoughts so far? Who is you favorite captain in the West? Who should be named captain to take one of the vacant spots? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for the second part in which we'll take a look at the Eastern conference and dive in to what captaincy means in virtual hockey.
  3. Now that the expansion draft and rookie drafts have passed it's time to sit down and see what and who Las Vegas Golden Knights have acquired. Here is my analysis of the players that currently are in the roster. After each player analysis you can find the current NHL 17 overall rating and my prediction of where the overall rating will be when NHL 18 is released. Goalies: Marc-André Fleury: Three-time Stanley Cup winner, Olympic Gold medalist. First pick off 2003. Everyone who watches NHL knows this guy. He is a winning goalie and still not even that old at age 32. I predict four good seasons for Fleury. Coach Gallant can rest easy his team won’t stumble in the goalie department. Simply put, Vegas got a jackpot with Marc-André. Overall in NHL 17: 88 Prediction for NHL 18: 87 Calvin Pickard: Pickard had an ok season with Colorado starting 50 games and getting a 90,4% save percentage. Has a cap hit of 1.0 mil so he is a good back-up for the price. Don’t really see potential in him will robbing the starting goalie position from Fleury but still a solid back-up. Overall in NHL 17: 82 Prediction for NHL 18: 84 Defense: Deryk Engelland: Seasoned pro with a decent size. Your basic third pair defender and trustworthy near own net. Not getting any younger at age 35. Will not make or break the team. Overall in NHL 17: 81 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Jason Garrison: Highish cap hit at 4,6 mil. Not a point making defender either. Can play full seasons but movement is a problem. Jason is clocking the scales at over 100 kg although he is 188 cm. His last two seasons has been -4 and -8 playing for Tampa Bay. Overall in NHL 17: 84 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Brayden McNabb Good sized defender of 193 cm and 94 kg. Moves well on the ice considering his size. His last three seasons with the Kings were +11, +11 and +1. Not high on points but at a cap hit of 1.7 mil and the age of 26, you can't go wrong with this guy. McNabb also has good point tallies in the AHL, so there might be some potential bubbling under. Overall in NHL 17: 85 Prediction for NHL 18: 85 Jon Merril Bad version of McNabb. Good size, but awful +/- stats for last the four seasons. -3, -14, -15, -9. Not in the first six defenders in my books. Overall in NHL 17: 84 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Colin Miller One full season in the books for this guy. Did not shine, but also did not disappoint. Has some point potential and is still young at the age of 24. Overall in NHL 17: 80 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Lucas Sbisa Good two-way defenseman with a good shot. Has good scoring potential and is very usable on the powerplay. Sbisa is a bit wonky on defense at times and passing is so-so, but he can compensate with some good puck handling. Overall in NHL 17: 83 Prediction for NHL 18: 85 Clayton Stoner Defensive defenseman with a physical presence. Stoner suffered from injuries last season and only played in 17 games. Don’t expect anything spectacular from Clayton and you might be surprised, most likely you won't, though. Overall in NHL 17: 81 Prediction for NHL 18: 80 Shea Theodore At age 21, Theodore is a bit young for a defenseman and it shows when he gets the call to the NHL. He has an ok size but is quite penalty prone. Has potential to be a point leading defender for his team but it’s still a few years in the future. I think he will spend half of the season in the AHL. Overall in NHL 17: 80 Prediction for NHL 18: 80 Alexei Emelin A leading defender for Vegas. Aggressive player with a superb slapshot. Not huge on points but a defender you can trust and put on the ice in every situation. 31 years old so has a few good seasons still ahead. Vegas can’t go wrong with this guy. Overall in NHL 17: 85 Prediction for NHL 18: 85 Overall defense The defense seems to be lacking in players that will score points. Sbisa is the only one who can consistently score and get points. Theodore will be up there in few years, but in the meantime, there needs to be someone else. The rumored Vatanen trade would be a blessing. The team could use one more seasoned leading defender as Marc Methot was traded away. Emelin by himself is not enough for a whole season of penalty kills. Offense: Pierre-Édouard Bellemare Workhorse for the 4th line with a low low cap hit of $712 500. Low risk, low reward player. You know what you get and cannot be disappointed. At the age of 32 now, was a late bloomer and currently playing the best hockey of his career. Still two or three seasons left in the NHL and then I expect him to play in Europe. Overall in NHL 17: 80 Prediction for NHL 18: 80 William Carrier 41 games for the Buffalo Sabres, resulting in 8 points, 21 penalty minutes and a –1. Those stats tell me one thing and one thing only: This guy plays in the AHL next season. Aged 22 so he can still grow as a player and cement his position as an NHL player. I just don’t see it happening this upcoming season. Overall in NHL 17: 76 Prediction for NHL 18: 78 David Clarkson 33-year-old. Cap hit at 5.25 mil. Not a single game played during the last season due to injury and may not ever play in the NHL again. Clarkson's contract ends in the 19/20 season and even if he could play I don’t see David as an asset for the team. One good season for the Devils in his whole career, otherwise kind of a so-so third-line player. Even at full health the cap hit is too high in my opinion. Overall in NHL 17: 80 Prediction for NHL 18: 80 Cody Eakin Cody Eakin is an stablished NHL player and is still quite young at the age of 26. He has had a few 30+ point seasons and one 40-point season. Second line center for sure. I really think Eakin could bloom in Vegas after a rougher season in Dallas. Good playmaking abilities and plays well in his teams own end. Put a decent sniper to his side and I would almost guarantee a career high in points during next season. Eakin also provides some crucial “secondary scoring” for the team. Overall in NHL 17: 84 Prediction for NHL 18: 83 Mikhail Grabovski Another “Mr. Injury”. Did not play last season. If he can play he is a huge asset to any team. One of the best hands in the business, can do anything with the puck, also shoots well and is a superb passer. Only minuses are lack of physicality and Mikhail can sometimes “forget” to defend. Hugely entertaining player whenever he is on the ice. Overall in NHL 17: 82 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Erik Haula Solid defensive forward with an ok ability to pass and shoot. Not a spectacular player but will get the job done. Can play penalty kills. Combine this with the age of 26 and a cap hit of 2.75 mil and we have a superb deal. Still has potential to grow and become an even better player, as his role in Minnesota was mainly in the lower lines. Overall in NHL 17: 83 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 William Karlsson Where to even start with this youngster. Awesome hands, superb speed, good shot and nice passing ability. You have the whole package here. Hopefully he will take the next step playing for Vegas and becomes the point machine that he has the potential to be. I predict over 50 points this upcoming season and superstar status in coming years for this guy! Overall in NHL 17: 80 Prediction for NHL 18: 82 Jonathan Marchessault “Poor man’s Gaudreau”. Nice hands, good speed and nifty moves. Lacks the size and strength but will make that up with everything else. Last season Marchessault had 51 points in Florida and I don’t see why that can’t happen again. Needs good two-way forward on his side because defending is not one of his strengths. Overall in NHL 17: 83 Prediction for NHL 18: 85 James Neal Aged 29 and starting his 10th season in the NHL, Neal has one 80+ point season under his belt playing for the Penguins, otherwise solid 40-60 point seasons. Definitely a 1st line guy and possible potential for team captain. Could even become the face of the franchise for the next 10ish years. Overall in NHL 17: 88 Prediction for NHL 18: 88 Tomas Nosek Good sized player but is still a complete mystery if this guy is good enough for the NHL. 17 games spanning two seasons in Detroit. Starting in the AHL and despite his size still needs to gather strength and be more aggressive on the ice. Overall in NHL 17: 72 Prediction for NHL 18: 74 David Perron David Perron seems to be getting the hang of the game again after scruffy seasons in 14-15 and 15-16. Last season he played for St. Louis and racked up 46 points. Two over 50-point seasons overall and is at the golden age of 29. Vegas is getting the best years from Perron and hopefully he will deliver. Cap hit is also reasonable at 3.75 mil, however the contract is just for the 17/18 season, so a good season could potentially bump it up to ~5 mil. Overall in NHL 17: 84 Prediction for NHL 18: 85 Reilly Smith 26-year-old with a long contract spanning to 21/22 season. Cap hit at 3.425 mil. Good offensively oriented player with high scoring potential. Still need work with all-around playing and needs to gather more strength. +/- stat was -13 last season and that cannot happen again. Smith is still relatively young, so he can still work on the shortcomings and spark that star status in Vegas. Overall in NHL 17: 85 Prediction for NHL 18: 83 Alex Tuch Huge power-forward, clocking the scales at 100 kg and 193 cm tall. Just six NHL games under the belt, but decent stats in the AHL. He is just 21 years old, so sky is the limit with this guy - just don’t expect that he will reach the sky next season. Overall in NHL 17: 73 Prediction for NHL 18: 76 Vadim Shipachyov The Russian wonder finally decides to come to the NHL. Not a physical player, but moves so fluidly on the ice. Really loves the puck and lives or dies with it. Great passer and awesome shot. The only question mark is how well Vadim settles into Vegas, as he has never played outside of Russia before. In the NHL he is not automatically “the star” that he is in Russia and sometimes the Russian star players haven't been a good fit for the faster and more physical play style of the NHL. I had same doubts about Radulov last season and he proved me wrong. If the same happens with Shipachyov, the Golden Knights has a golden nugget in their hands. Overall in NHL17: 78 (World Cup player) Prediction for NHL18: 85 Overall Offense: Considering that this is first season for the Golden Knights, the offense is looking decent on paper. If Grabovski can play he will bring a lot to the table, but we need to be realistic as he most likely won't be able to play. Vegas needs at least one star status player who can bring a solid scoring ability to the team. Otherwise the youngsters need to step up their game with huge leaps if they want to go to Stanley Cup playoffs. Overall thoughts of the team: The first season is always hard. There are some seasoned pro's on the coaching bench and at the back office. But most of these players haven’t played together, so there are no established dynamic duos or existing chemistry between players. No tradition of a playing style, no rivalries between the Kinghts and other NHL teams. All these things start from a zero and coaches, players and even fans will have to work double-time to make these things happen. Vegas is a different kind of city compared to anywhere else on the planet, so there wont be a shortage of viewers on the game nights, but how easy it is to build fanbase on such a tourist-heavy city? And will the tourists cheer for Vegas or are they there for "just" the show? In other words: will there even be a proper home audience? The possible problems aside, overall it has the potential of being a decent team and a good addition to the Pacific Division, but if they want to truly compete for a playoff spot, they need two or three spot-on trades. At least one point-oriented defender and one solid sniper on offense are the minimum requirement for the team. Even if they get these additions it’s not an easy road to clinch the playoff spot. I don’t think that Vegas has problems being ahead of Vancouver or Arizona, but Los Angeles and Calgary are a different story. San Jose, Anaheim and Edmonton are in different category than the rest of the Pacific, so all points from them are a plus. My prediction with the current knowledge and roster: 5th in Pacific division If they can get the rest of the puzzle pieces to the roster: First round of playoffs, but they lose to Edmonton. Do you agree or disagree with my analysis and predictions? Let me know in the comment section. I would love the know what you guys think!

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