Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments of the decade. Here is the Vegas Golden Knights Team of the Decade lineup.
Vegas Golden Knights Decade Team
The Vegas Golden Knights have only been in existence for the past three seasons. This is more of a one-third of a decade analysis, but they still deserve mentioning in this series. They have accomplished more than some teams who have been in the NHL for years. No names mentioned, you may fill in the blanks.
They have lived the dream of going to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season of existence and that’s something to remember and cherish.
So how did this collection of misfits gathered in an expansion draft climb the highest mountain in the NHL and come so close to winning it all? It comes down to good coaching, scouting, management, and showing everyone that a team of outcasts can form a pretty darn good team.
Left Wing: Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty has only been with Vegas for two seasons, yet he is the choice here for left wing. The talented winger spent 10 years in the Montreal Canadiens organization where he added 226 goals, 222 assists for 448 points in 626 games. He was traded to the Vegas team on September 9, 2018. In return, Montreal got forwards Nick Suzuki and Tomas Tatar along with a second-round 2019 draft pick.
Pacioretty has fit in quite nicely with the Vegas offence as he has been on their top line and shows he deserves it with the numbers he is putting up.
Honorable Mention Left Wing: David Perron
David Perron has to be considered even though after being unprotected by the St. Louis Blues in the expansion draft, he left Vegas to go back home. Perron signed as a free agent to go back to the arch city. He’s done well there too with 25 goals, 35 assists in 71 games this suspended season. He had 16 goals, 50 assists with Vegas and is a valued forward.
Centre: Jonathan Marchessault
Jonathan Marchessault has been with the team all three years after playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets (briefly), the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Florida Panthers. It’s difficult to determine why the Panthers would allow a 30-goal scorer to go unprotected in the expansion draft, but Vegas wasted no time grabbing him.
He has been a good addition to the Sin-City group. In his three years there, he has played in 225 games, collecting 74 goals, 107 assists for 181 points. He also has had 17 power play tallies and 15 game-winning goals. What put him in the first selection at centre ice is his playoff performance of eight goals, 13 assists in 20 games during their initial season. He pretty much was a go-to guy and that makes him very valuable. He’s a reliable physical player too with 296 hits to his credit.
Honorable Mention Centre: William Karlsson
It is difficult to not include William Karlsson here. He has scored 82 goals, 98 assists for 180 points. Karlsson too has had 17 power-play goals, with seven shorthanded tallies as well. He is quite the accurate shooter with a 16.7 percent accuracy rate. Where Karlsson comes short is in his lack of physical play. Compared to Marchessault he only had 139 hits. When it comes down to it, the Golden Knights have two valuable centres for years to come.
Right Wing: Reilly Smith
While some may argue that Mark Stone should be in this slot, Reilly Smith‘s production and possession statistics give him the edge. Smith was traded to the Vegas club from the Panthers in the summer of 2017 for a fourth-round pick. So, not only did the Golden Knights steal Marchessault from the Panthers they got Smith as a bonus. Smith has proven his worth while in Vegas with 68 goals, 99 assists in 212 games. He has potted 14 power play goals and four short-handed tallies. He can hit the net well with a 13.4 percent shooting accuracy. His possession numbers are top-notch with a Corsi For of 54.1 percent and a Relative Corsi of 0.7.
Honorable Mention Right Wing: Mark Stone
Had Mark Stone played more games with Vegas, he may have taken the top right wing spot. As it is he has 26 goals, 48 assists for 74 points in just 83 games. He is a prolific scorer and has seven power play goals with a 11.7 percent shooting accuracy. His possession numbers are off the chart with a Corsi For of 57.6 percent and a Relative Corsi of 4.4. This was another adept trade made by the Vegas organization. Stone came over from the Ottawa Senators for three young players and a second-round 2020 draft pick.
Left Defence: Brayden McNabb
Brayden McNabb is yet another player the Vegas team acquired in the expansion draft, this time from the Los Angeles Kings. He is a stay-at-home blueliner who stands 6′-4″, 212 pounds. He has collected 448 blocks and 626 hits in his three years with Vegas. He’s nothing fancy, but gets the job done.
Honorable Mention Left Defence: Alec Martinez
Alec Martinez was acquired on Feb. 19 for two second-round picks, one this year and the other next year. While Martinez turns 33-years-old this July, he is still a very serviceable blueliner who can help stabilize the Vegas defence. He has scored eight points in the 10 games he’s appeared in thus far.
Right Defence: Nate Schmidt
Nate Schmidt came over from the Washington Capitals in the expansion draft. He has averaged 0.49 points a game and is a strong blueliner who helps out on the power play. The Golden Knights have liked what they see in Schmidt and extended his contract in July 2018 with a six-year $35.7 million deal to keep him in Vegas.
Honorable Mention Right Defence: Shea Theodore
Shea Theodore is another good defenceman for the Vegas club. He has collected 31 goals, 81 assists for 112 points. His statistics are similar to Schmidt and having these two defencemen signed until the 2025-26 season solidifies their defence. Theodore is four years younger than Schmidt.
Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury has taken this team under his wing and has seen some great success in his three years in Vegas. He has a 91-50-14 record with a .915 save percentage. Fleury has collected a 2.51 goals-against-average and 17 shutouts. It goes without saying that he is the heart and soul of this team. When he plays well they win, when he doesn’t they lose. Every successful team has a goalie who stands out and can determine the outcome of games. Fleury defines this as well as any netminder in the game. This is an easy choice for this team’s goalie selection.
Honorable Mention Goalie: Robin Lehner
Robin Lehner has just joined the team. He has won all three contests he has participated in and will hopefully re-sign with Vegas to give the team a great goalie combo. Lehner is going to want some money, so it’s unclear what will happen. He can make this team stronger if he stays. He has an impressive 44-23-10 record since the 2018-19 season. Keeping him has got to be a priority for Vegas going forward.
This Vegas team of the decade has seven more years to officially be called a decade. If they continue to play as they have over the first three seasons, it should be some decade. Before the suspension of play the Golden Knights resided in first place in the Pacific Division. Look for them to be there a lot.
They are a good quality team and have a shot to compete for another Stanley Cup soon.