During off-seasons, there’s quite a bit of talk about “clean slates,” but the Vegas Golden Knights are the first team in more than a decade to enjoy an actual clean slate.
GM George McPhee enjoyed the rare opportunity of building a team from the ground up. Even with a weak draw for their top pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, there were some great options in the expansion draft, whether that came down to players they could land to what they can land in not taking certain players.
The Golden Knights landed some interesting players headlined by Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault/Reilly Smith, Cody Eakin, and David Perron. They also flipped players they did take into other picks.
Just consider the quantity and quality they’ve managed as far as draft picks go:
2017: Three first-rounders, two second-rounders, third, fourth, two fifths, two sixths, and one seventh.
2018: One first, one second, no third, Penguins’ fourth, two fifths, one sxith, no seventh
2019: One first, three seconds, three thirds, one fourth, two fifths, one sixth, one seventh
2020: one first, three seconds, normal picks third to seventh
That haul (they already have extra picks in 2020!) is quite impressive, and it stands as a bigger reason for optimism than the relatively solid set of players they picked and actually kept.
They also hired a head coach with experience and some success with younger teams in Gerard Gallant.
As far as the 2017-18 season goes, the Golden Knights seem almost certain to be bad, maybe to the point of being the worst team since the last lockout. The bigger picture is outstanding, and you get the feeling McPhee still has some tricks up his sleeves, including players on expiring contracts.
PHT ends this year’s run of Team of the Day features with the Golden Knights, who are starting it all soon enough. Enjoy.