Golden Knights continue improbable run in Stanley Cup Finals

Justin Kingsley, Contributing Writer

This past year, the National Hockey League expansion draft occured.  The city of Las Vegas, Nevada was hosting a new team, the Vegas Golden Knights, soon to be the 31st team in the NHL.  The Knights were set to play in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this year during the 2017-2018 season.  In order for the draft to occur, each of the teams currently in the NHL at that time had to create a list of around 8 players that were off limits for the Knights to draft and submit it to the league. 

Some of the rules were that the teams had to expose at least two forwards and one defenceman that had played at least 40 games in the 2016–17 season or more than 70 games in the 2015–16 and 2016–17 seasons combined, and had to still be contracted for the 2017–18 season.  The exposed goaltender had to either be under contract for the 2017–18 season or became a restricted free agent in 2017. 

In addition, Vegas had also made trades with other teams for picks.  For example, Vegas can propose a trade to the Rangers and basically ask for a pick, but they cannot pick a certain Ranger player in return in the draft.  In essence, the team gets to secure more players than allowed, but it is not illegal. 

With these rules being established, there were players that weren’t necessarily the best, but definitely had a great amount of potential. 

As a result, no hockey fan had high hopes for the Knights.  However, Vegas went into the season with their heads up and, against all odds, performed extremely well.  At the start of the season the hockey world was amazed to see the Knights doing well, but there were many doubts that they were going to end on a high note.  Vegas ended with a record of 51-24-7, finishing at the top of the Pacific division, earning them a spot in the playoffs. 

Not only did they do well in the regular season, the Knights won three series in the playoffs to compete for the Stanley Cup.  In the first round of the playoffs, Vegas has beaten the Los Angeles Kings four games to none, a clean sweep.  In the second round, Vegas beat the San Jose Sharks four games to two.  Finally, in the Western Conference Finals, Vegas beat the Winnipeg Jets, to contend in the Stanley Cup Final.  The Golden Knights have achieved the unthinkable and almost every hockey fan is extremely amazed by what this team has done. 

Now, many fans declare that the expansion draft in unfair due to the Knights’ success.  They believe that the rules should change and in general, an expansion team is just unfair.  

“I don’t think it’s fair because they need more spots for teams to save players and it’s way too easy for them to grab players.  Also, the way Vegas used their money was amazing, but I don’t think that’s really the draft’s intended purpose” said sophomore Sam Geida. 

However, many believe that the expansion draft is completely fair.  Vegas has an extremely good coach, who is doing a fantastic job coaching the younger players to perform as needed.  Also, the team has a tremendous amount of depth, which makes them hard to stop if every one of its forward lines are good.  The team certainly does not have the most skilled players, but what they do have is great chemistry, which is what leads them to success.  There is one player on the Knights who was the third leading goal scorer this year, William Karlsson, with a total of 43 goals.  He is objectively the best player on the team and definitely contributes a great amount to their success. 

“I think the expansion draft was fair because at the beginning of the year no one thought this team would do anything significant and no one could have predicted some of their biggest Stars such as William Karlsson being as great as he has this year,” said sophomore Finn Tatti. 

The reality of it all comes down to the fact that the Vegas Golden Knights are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals, and are now known as the best expansion team in the history of the NHL.