Las Vegas Golden Knights - HOW?

The NHL draft system which created the Knights is primarily responsible. Also, the Knights had experienced management and scouting systems in place well before their draft date.

Then the draft. They got the opportunity to pick the 7th to 11th best player from every other NHL team.

Got Top 5 goalie lucky in procuring Marc-Andre Fleury from Penguins, who already had another younger/cheaper Top 5’r in Matt Murray.

Didn’t draft any head cases or nutbars - thus no waste of trim or fat on the cattle they brought in.

Above average NHL coach in Gerard Gallant.

Great crowds and great facility to play in.

Decent backup G in Malcolm Subban.

Still amazing if they drive San Jose off the cliffs of Red Rock Canyon tonite - VGK up 2-0 after 2 w/ 3-2 lead in the series.

And off to the conference finals the Knights go with a little help from friends like left and right posts.
3-0 win.


Not only did they hire a fantastic HC ( who was left behind by the Panthers loading his suitcase into a cab no less), a solid GM in George McPhee who assembled the other team’s castoffs.

A team of second round picks. Looks like a recipe for success.

The expansion draft rules allowed the Golden Knights to pick good players... add to that the trades they made throughout the year, and you have a fairly decent team. George McPhee is one the best GMs in the NHL... its already been said that the next expansion draft won't be as generous for Seattle, so expect Vegas' success to be an anomaly, not the norm.

The draft system helped but you have to give the primary to the management at this point . They the LVK GM and assistants created an environment and the skill collaboration to see this kind of success this soon out of the box .

The NHL gave them the tools to be competitive ONLY not to dominate proven teams .

This either shows up the NHL as a watered down mess or you have to give credit to the LVK .

I really think it's either or and not both .

As far as my opinion early on I thought it was a NHL watered down mess ;now I think it's the LVK management and player colaboration that equalizes Team work over Proven finesse and skill .

They created a system that has brought strangers together that were lower tiered or throw aways next to the protected and either traded or drafted them into a juggernaut . It takes a special blend of character and skill evaluation to bring this type of team together to find this type of success this soon over proven competitors who have been around with a strong infrastructure base .

This is Team first mentality is special to see in this all about me type pro sports business world .

One thing I've noticed about LVK is that they run 4 lines - most of which could be 2nd lines on most other NHL teams.

Think about that - they don't have a Toews/Kane connection or a Bergeron/Rat type line; probably not even a Wheeler/Schiefele trio but they have 4 lines that are relatively productive and these 2nd liners all have the ability to check aggressively.

Their D is mostly no-name - no stars like Ogre Burns in San Jose, Big Buff in Wpg., Letang in Pittsburgh, even P.K. from Nashville. A full grouping (Top 7 or 8 guys) who are probably all #3 or #4 guys on most teams -

Goal-keepers - I've already mentioned - its really good to spectacular.

Add to that a great GM, solid coaching & scouting and voila - there's the ticket.

Main problem is their farm system isn't fully developed - YET

I think they'll give Winnipeg or Nashville a vicious run for the money; perhaps not taking the series in 4 or 5 games (like they did to LA and SJ) but taking either opponent deep (six or 7 games).

One hidden factor but cannot be ignored - I don't think LVK had massive injury woes this year (other than a 4 to 6 week run where they didn't have their Top 2 goalies - AND STILL WON with rounders! NOW THATS PERFORMANCE!

I think the draft system worked to perfection here. You don't want the expansion teams to take years to develop. Same as in Ottawa in CFL. Hopefully in Halifax soon.

In many ways it's easier to develop an expansion team than rebuild a current squad.
-no cap problems
-can develop a strong culture from the start. Changing an ingrained culture is almost impossible
-motivated players
-if lucky you have a super accepting fan base

Like Ottawa they hired a GM early on. McPhee cut his teeth in developing Washington as an expansion team as well.

I disagree with Lyle as to these guys being 2nd line equivalent on most teams. Outside of Fleury, when the season started an NHL fan would be hard pressed to recognize any names.

An eye-opener for sure on team building.

Fleury is a god in Vegas. A perfect first face of the franchise.

Haven't seen more than a handful of Vegas games but I really believe they have the most balanced lineup between their #1 to #4 lines.

Winnipeg would be a close #2 - but only when they have all their regularly injured players available.

#3 Tampa
#4 Boston
#5 Toronto
#6 Washington
#7 Pittsburgh

We say that now. But at season start everyone was thinking .."who's that?"

You just have to look at William Karlson 43 g 35 a but the previous year was 6 g 19 a for 25 points with Columbus or Erik Haula 29 g 26 a but last year in Min 15g 11a .

Just a well balanced team put together who are performing well as a unit and are achieving personal highs .

The draft helped I agree but the admin staff and coaching must have a cohesiveness that over steps that little bonus given by the NHL which I believe should have been given as the price for entry is now at a ridiculous price .

Evaluation of talent and team balance is unheard of for a team that didn't exist one year ago .

James Neal, ex Predators is the only other player outside Fleury that comes to the top of mind.

Great first year team heck maybe the best ever.
But, there is no way they will match up with the top 3 lines and in fact the 4 balanced lines of the Jets if they meet in the next round.

The Seattle ownership is going to pay $650 million for the franchise. They deserve the same expansion draft rules that Las Vegas received.
That being said, McPhee and Gallant both had impressive track records before Las Vegas. They built their team around no-name players who are great skaters. Their success is built around their transition game and their ability to forecheck.

Two things:

  1. NHL expansion draft system works very well. No more duds out of the gate. This isn't a coincidence. It justifies the hefty price the NHL commands of an expansion team.

  2. The horrific Vegas shooting galvanized the city and the club.

There is a lot more to it than that... in an expansion draft, you have to know which players you want to pick, to give your team some kind of identity. McPhee is a very good GM who knew which players he wanted, and how to get a decent team by trading some of those guys that they picked. Like I said before, there is no way an expansion team is going to be that good again.

I believe we are going to see more of this in pro sports: smart usage of the expansion draft leading to very early success

Ya. I'm repeating myself but in many ways an expansion team with these kind of drafts is more apt to have success than many long established teams.
-no cap problems
-no poor culture to turn around
-motivated players, no entitled guys
-long start-up period ( like an authors best book is often their first because they have had their whole life to gather it)
-excited fan base for a team rather than a cap busting "star"

Find a solid GM to establish the early blueprint. That's a key I guess.

the thing about this instant success is that now fan's expectations are higher.

I cant help but fear how many will dive from the bandwagon when the shine wears off.

That happens no matter how old the team