Who are the Vegas Golden Knights? We profile the NHL history makers
Team on the verge of Stanley Cup success
Not many franchise teams enjoy a debut season quite like the Vegas Golden Knights.
Dubbed a team of misfits at the start of the campaign, coach Gerard Gallant his led his unfancied bunch to the Stanley Cup Finals at their first attempt, defying odds of 500/1 along the way.
They are the first side since the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues to reach the Finals in their inaugural season. And they’re now just 21/20 to lift the trophy.
Here’s all you need to know about their remarkable rise…
Who are they?
The Vegas Knights were formed in June 2016 by Bill Foley.
The 73-year-old paid £403m to the National Hockey League (NHL) to form the expansion team who double up as Las Vegas’ first-ever major professional sports franchise.
Based in Nevada, they play their home matches as the 17,500 capacity T-Mobile Arena in the Western Conference. They’re the 31st franchise awarded by the NHL and are coached by Gerard Gallant, formerly of the Florida Panthers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Route to the Final
No-one could’ve predicted the level of success the Knights have enjoyed in their first NHL season.
Gallant’s men rattled off eight wins from their first nine matches to set the tone for a momentous campaign. In total, they racked up 51 successes from their 82 matches to break the record for most wins and most points by an expansion team in their debut season.
An impressive home record of 29-10-4 helped them top the Western Conference and become the first modern-era franchise from the NHL, NBA, NFL or MLBA to win the league in their inaugural season.
And while some teams may have buckled in the playoffs, the Knights flourished. They crushed the Los Angeles Kings in the first round before seeing off the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in round two.
A 4-1 series victory over the Winnipeg Jets, secured courtesy of Sunday’s 2-1 win in Nevada, ensured them of their place in the Stanley Cup Finals at their first attempt.
In their first season, they have a remarkable 12-3 playoff record.
Center Jonathan Marchessault has been a major factor behind the Knights’ success. The 27-year-old bagged 27 goals in the regular season (well behind William Karlsson on 43) but has come alive in the post-season.
The former Panthers star has plundered eight goals in the playoffs, ahead of Karlsson and Alex Tuch on six apiece.
However, he’s not the man most likely to win the Conn Smythe Trophy – awarded to the most valuable player (MVP) in the playoffs. That honour goes to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The veteran stopper has been a revelation for the Knights this season after being tossed on the pile following three Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Against the Jets on Sunday, Fleury kept out 31 of the 32 shots he faced to increase his playoff save percentage to .947 and goals conceded average to 1.68.
If the Knights are to succeed in the final, you can guarantee he’ll be a large part of the reason why.
Reilly Smith has also been a major asset, contributing 14 assists in the playoffs alongside his 38 in the regular season.
So it all comes down to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Knights will face the Washington Capitals across the best of seven game series which begins on Monday 28th May. The Capitals won the Metropolitan Division for the third season in a row before advancing past the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightening in the playoffs.
This is their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1998. They’ll be hoping for a better outcome this time around after being thrashed 4-0 by the Detroit Red Wings 20 years ago.
They may be the more experienced side, but they’re not the favourites with our traders. The Golden Knights hold that distinction at 10/13 for the series against 11/10 for the Capitals. It’s 12/1 for the new kids on the ice to land a 4-0 whitewash, while they’re also 20/29 for the most series goals.
Las Vegas have already made it this far against all the odds. You can be sure that they’ll be ready when the klaxon sounds on Monday night in Nevada.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing