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4th Times the Charm? A Closer Look at the Vegas Golden Knights This Season

The Knightly Recap

It’s been almost four years since the Vegas Golden Knights have been officially in the NHL. And they’ve done so much in the last four years. 

They’ve made it to the playoffs every year since they came to the league (and will probably make another playoff appearance this season). They’ve acquired big names like Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo through trades. Also Remember what they did during their 2018 inaugural season?

Yet they haven’t won the Stanley Cup. Maybe the fourth times the charm. Maybe this will be the year when they finally reach the top of the mountain and hoist Lord Stanley above their heads. 

Actually, this should be the year they win the Stanley Cup. 

Team Structure

The Golden Knights’ reputation of keeping its players is a pretty bad one, but look at the players they acquired. They traded David Perron, James Neal and Tomas Tatar to get Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. They sent Eric Brannstrom and Oscar Lindberg away for Mark Stone. Also, they traded Malcolm Subban and Cody Eakin for Robin Lehner and Stastny, Jon Merrill and Nate Schmidt were traded for Alex Pietrangelo.

Even before Stone, Lehner and Pietrangelo came to Vegas, the Golden Knights traded for Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Reilly Smith during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and then some. This team was built around players that weren’t needed anymore by their former teams.

T-Mobile Arena: home of the Vegas Golden Knights
From expansion team to Stanley Cup contenders, the Vegas Golden Knights look to bring Lord Stanley to the desert. Image courtesy: Caitlin Lilly/FOX5

Thus, the “Golden Misfits” were born. What this team was able to do under former Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant’s system was truly remarkable and unforgettable. Soon after that first season, players from other teams started to look at Vegas as a possible destination to play in. And look at their roster this upcoming season. Unbelievable.

Also, a coaching change from Gallant to Pete DeBoer didn’t deter this team as some thought might have. They still were the same team and even went as far as making it to the Western Conference Finals last season.

O Captain! My Captain!

Finally! Vegas announced their first ever captain in franchise history: Stone. And rightfully so. Ever since Stone came to Vegas, he’s helped this team reach new heights that it’s never seen before on both ends of the ice.

Offensively, he can set up teammates to score goals and score goals himself. The captain racked up 63 points last season (21 G, 42 A) along with six power play goals.

Defensively, he’s like Pavel Datsyuk without Datsyuk’s speed. Stone was named a Selke finalist during the 2018-19 season but he didn’t win it. In all honesty, Stone has to win this award before he retires from the game. Just this past season, he recorded 51 blocked shots and 78 takeaways. 

But the overall point is that Stone is going to be one of the main reasons for this team winning the Stanley Cup this year. He’s selfless and cares about this team and their success moving forward. 

Stone went on Sportsnet’s “31 Thoughts” with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek in 2019. This was what he said about the team after seeing their inaugural season: “I was impressed for 23 guys, management, coaching staff to come together like that and make the Stanley Cup Finals was pretty crazy. So when I went over teams that maybe I’d be willing to go to, that was pretty much the only one I wanted to go to.”

Keep in mind that Stone had only been playing for the Ottawa Senators his whole career up until he got traded to Vegas.

Landing the Biggest Free Agent This Offseason

In the words of Beyoncé from the song Shining by DJ Khaled: “Shinin’, shinin’, shinin’, shinin’, yeah. All of this winnin’ I’ve been losin’ my mind.” These were probably not the words Pietrangelo sang to himself when he got traded to Vegas on October 12, 2020.

Nicknamed Petro, he has the second biggest contract on the team right now with a seven year, $61.6 million contract. This contract says to Golden Knights and hockey fans that Vegas wants to win the Stanley Cup now.

With the addition of Pietrangelo, this team can finally utilize its defenseman in any situation both offensively and defensively. Also, Pietrangelo can do everything Theodore can do but the only difference is that he’s won a Stanley Cup. Offensively, Pietrangelo can produce goals from anywhere on the ice. He also can set up plays from the blue line which is something Vegas has been always looking to improve on.

Defensively, Pietrangelo reads passing lanes and blocks shots effectively. Once he steals the puck, he would lead the breakaway and use his nifty stick handling skills. He’s not a physical defenseman like Brayden McNabb but that’s what makes this (most likely) pairing great. McNabb plays the rough, gritty role while Pietrangelo reads the opposing team’s offensive schemes.

While he hasn’t played a single minute yet this season, he’s already been named one of two alternative captains for the Golden Knights along with Smith.

Fourth Time Should, Could and Would Be the Charm

This team is primed and destined to win a Stanley Cup. The Golden Knights have made too many moves and have given out huge chunks of money. Granted they have to do “salary cap gymnastics” from the words of DeBoer.

Many hockey experts and analysts predict that the Colorado Avalanche are the early favorites to win the Cup but there are other teams, including Vegas, that should be worthy of that title right now. The Avalanche are a good team but they’re like the Houston Rockets before the James Harden trade: They’re a good enough team to make the playoffs but don’t have enough players to go all the way. But that’s besides the point.

The point is, the Golden Knights have the personnel to go back to the Stanley Cup Finals and actually win it this time around. Just like the bubble in Edmonton last season, this will be be one of the hardest seasons to win the Stanley Cup especially with this season being shortened to 56 games. Also, the way the scheduling is this year, every game is going to feel like a playoff game and the Golden Knights have to take advantage, literally and figuratively, of all of these games.

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