There is nothing to measure this team against, there is just a band of players that are now put together to compete as a team and we're just meant to wait and see what happens.
For us poolies, however, we have the unenviable task of using these players in our gambling habits and in doing so, we are hoping to correctly prognosticate how this team will fare in the scoring department and for the goalies, how many wins they may get.
The Golden Knights, fresh out of the expansion draft, were very back heavy. They did well to pick up a few NHL-ready goalies and then bulk up with defensemen, some of which to use as pawns for deals later on in the summer, trying to round out their roster.
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
No matter how this team was built through the expansion draft, the most intriguing player on their roster is none other than the Russian import Vadim Shipachyov. The 30-year old was considered to be one of the best players outside of the NHL for a few years and when his KHL contract ran out, the NHL was lining out the door to speak with him.
The opportunity to bring along the Golden Knights as a new franchise had to be somewhat exciting or else you would think that a veteran player like Shipachyov would have preferred somewhere that had some staying power and a chance to win everything right away. He's supposed to be a very talented scoring forward, we'll now find out if those skills are indeed transferable to the NHL and I figure he'll be good for 50 points.
First Round Picks
As you could have probably have guessed, there are no projected 1st rounders for the draft in Vegas and it will be a bit of a toss up about who goes first among these Golden Knights. Sure, my projections say Shipachyov should be the top pick, but the goalie scare could see Marc-Andre Fleury be the top draw from Vegas too, no matter how many losses he may incur.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
This team is going to be brand new and it will certainly offer some players some extra ice-time, some time they may not have been able to get with their previous team and that could make them more pool worthy than previous seasons. Currently, I am showing James Neal, David Perron, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault and Cody Eakin as the only ones I'd be confident in taking as pool worthy forwards, besides Shipachyov.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The Golden Knights only picked one pool worthy defenseman from last season at their expansion draft, but ended up dealing him away, not to mention dealing away Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, two other long shots for being pool worthy. Looking at what is left, they are very unappealing to poolies, like myself, but a Jon Merrill or Luca Sbisa might get a shot at more ice-time and maybe a few more points.
The goaltending is good on paper, but they are going to be under siege in the team's first year of existence in the league. Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard are lining up as 1-2, with Fleury the likely starter and given how this team is starting to line up, might be the only one that gets enough points to be in the conversation. These two goalies will remain busy, so how they determine the split of playing time will likely be the most telling factor for their points.
Team To Pick From Late?
There are going to be players still on the list, who are possibly pool worthy late, but they won't be playing in too many high-scoring affairs, where they're also getting some goals. I wouldn't be in a big hurry to offer up to too many Golden Knights late on in the draft.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Golden Knights don't have any restricted free agents left to deal with this summer, so they can take a long look at some drafted players and they may want to fill out their depth with some unsigned unrestricted free agents.
Vegas won't have to dip into the Long Term Injured Reserve right away, as both players in red above would qualify, since they still have $6.3 million of unused cap space with those two on the roster and on the regular Injured Reserve.
The Golden Knights inherited a couple of long-term injuries to help teams with their salary cap woes, picking up David Clarkson from the Blue Jackets and Mikhail Grabovski from the Islanders, both coming in at over $10 million in cap space cleared up with these two moves off of their former teams. Clarkson's back problems and Grabovski's concussion issues may have both ended their careers, but there is word that both will try and give it one more go.