Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights joined the National Hockey League in the 2017-18 season with Fidelity National Financial chairman Bill Foley serving as the organization’s owner. They have since become one of the top teams in the Western Conference and are seen as annual Stanley Cup contenders.
In their first year in the NHL, the Golden Knights made it all the way Stanley Cup Final—the first expansion team to do so in their debut season since the 1968 St. Louis Blues. They have qualified for the playoffs in each of their first three seasons and have won the Pacific Division twice in that span.
Vegas has established itself as a skilled and physical club with the likes of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Mark Stone, Ryan Reaves, and Shea Theodore on their roster. The heavy style of play often wears teams down throughout games and opens up space for offensive zone opportunities while maintaining a strong defensive structure.
Marchessault and Karlsson lead the franchise in all-time points with 181 and 180, respectively, in nearly 230 games with the organization. Both were acquired during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft after being left unprotected by their former teams.
Meanwhile, starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has accumulated 90 wins in 156 games while holding a .915 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against average.
Despite their success, the Golden Knights are one of five teams to not have a captain. In fact, they are the only franchise in the league to have never had a captain in their history. Instead, they utilize three to five alternate captains in a season. In 2019-20, those captains were Stone, Max Pacioretty, Reilly Smith, and Deryk Engelland.
This no-captain philosophy has continued with the team through two different head coaches.
Peter DeBoer took over head coaching duties in the middle of the 2019-20 season after the Golden Knights parted ways with Gerard Gallant. DeBoer previously coached the Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, and San Jose Sharks and has a 415-329-111 record along with two Stanley Cup Final appearances.
The current general manager of the team is Kelly McCrimmon, who served as the assistant general manager of the Golden Knights under now-president George McPhee. Since earning the role in May of 2019, McCrimmon has brought in a number of complimentary pieces to supplement his core players, including defenseman Alec Martinez and goaltender Robin Lehner. He was also the one who ultimately decided to fire Gallant from his head coaching position and replace him with DeBoer.
Although they haven’t been in the NHL for long, the Golden Knights have been at the center of league controversy.
In Game 7 of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vegas forward Cody Eakin was incorrectly called for a five-minute major penalty after cross checking Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks. San Jose scored four goals on the ensuing power play, surmounting a 3-0 deficit in the third period, and went on to win the game 5-4 in overtime. This mistake by the officials led the NHL to mandate a video review of all major penalties the following season.
With the majority of their core players under the age of 30, the Vegas Golden Knights are poised to be a dangerous team for years to come—especially once prospects like 21-year-old Cody Glass reach their full potential. They possess the skill to put pucks in the net and the physicality to both exhaust and frustrate opponents.
All of this culminates into them being one of the most dominant teams in the league despite being only three seasons into their existence. It’s a success story unlike any other in NHL history.