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  1. NHLGamers! As of today, the European online qualifiers for the NHL Gaming World Championship 2018 are over and we have very exciting news to share. All eight regional finalists are part of the NHLGamer community! Best wishes are going out to: @Hansulinho (Xbox Live: Hansulinho) - EU XBOX #1 bracket winner @plee999 (Xbox Live: PleeMaker) - EU XBOX #1 bracket runner-up @Erkki (PSN: I_Eki_I) - EU PS4 #1 bracket winner @FlyerKungen (PSN: FlyerKungen) - EU PS4 #1 bracket runner-up @Kane (Xbox Live: Kaneyh) - EU XBOX #2 bracket winner @Nieppii (Xbox Live: Nieppi) - EU XBOX #2 bracket runner-up @Darkic01 (PSN: Darkic01) - EU PS4 #2 bracket winner @Artuzio (PSN: Artuzio) - EU PS4 #2 bracket runner-up The European Region Finals will take place in Stockholm, Sweden at Viasat Studios on May 6th, from which the winner and runner-up will be invited to the World Finals in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 19th to compete against the best players from Canada and the USA, who will be represented by two players each as well. If you don't know what the NHL Gaming World Championship is about, read up on it in our previous news story! Good luck everyone - the entire NHLGamer community will be rooting for you!
  2. 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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