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Golden Knights Analysis

The Misfits’ Evolution: Then, Now & Finishing the Job



Reilly Smith and William Karlsson Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

When NHL owners voted Las Vegas would be home to a new expansion team, unprotected and wanted players were cherry-picked to create the 2017-2018 Vegas Golden Knights. The outcasts deemed underdogs created a new moniker, “The Misfits.” Now, six years later, the remaining six remants stand on the verge of that original goal to prove outsiders wrong and hoist the Stanley Cup that the originals came so close to lifting.

After a pair of lopsided wins at T-Mobile Arena over the Florida Panthers, the VGK lead the Stanley Cup Final, 2-0.

Two more wins and that original promise will be fulfilled. Perhaps somewhere, even Marc-Andre Fleury is smiling.

Misfits: Then, Now & Evolution

Brayden McNabb

VGK selected McNabb from the L.A. Kings. In his last season with them, he only saw ice for 49 games. He netted two goals and two assists and had a +/- of 1.

With the Golden Knights, he could solidify his place as an elite defenseman as the team was starting from scratch. He played 76 games that first season, and his stats jumped. He had five goals, ten assists, and his +/- leaped to 26. Even losing in the Final, he had an impressive year.

Year over year since, his stats have stabilized. Still, he assisted in getting the team far into playoffs consistently (minus last season), and he impressed management enough to get a three-year contract last January. Hoisting the Cup this season would prove he was worth the risk.

Reilly Smith

The Florida Panthers traded Smith away for a 2018 fourth-round draft pick and as a condition for the Vegas Golden Knights for selecting Jonathan Marchessault. His last year there, he reached 15 goals with 22 assists, but his +/- was -13.

A new team in 2017 meant he had a fresh start to shine as a forward. He could prove to Florida that they made a mistake trading him away like he was nothing. With VGK, he hit 22 goals, 38 assists, and his +/- skyrocketed to 31.

Within the last six years, Smith married and became a first-time father. A 2018 championship would have made history, but a win now would give him that plus a timeless legacy for his new addition.

Shea Theodore

Anaheim traded Theodore to Golden Knights to keep them away from their other defensemen. Before arriving, he tallied two goals, seven assists, and his +/- was -6.

Once a Golden Knights, his assists increased dramatically to 23. His vision creates chances for others, a key aspect that led to the team’s initial success.

Since the last Final appearance, Theodore had quite the scare. He tested positive for stage 1 testicular cancer in 2019 and underwent surgery. He went into remission, but unfortunately his grandmother Kay Darlington lost her battle to breast cancer the following year. Theodore has a second chance at life, and a win during his second chance at glory would make it all the more sweeter.

William Carrier

Carrier was selected from the Buffalo Sabres. He was there only one season, and though he only played half the games of the season, he had five goals, 3 assists, and his +/- was -1.

With VGK, he took on more of an enforcer role. He and Ryan Reaves proved to be a challenging tandem, landing huge hits on tough opponents like Washington’s Tom Wilson and San Jose’s Evander Kane. Though his stats weren’t racking up like others, his plays and hits helped catapult the Golden Knights to the Final initially.

Since the first appearance, his stats have been steadily improving. This season has proven to be a breakout year, though, as he’s had 16 goals, 9 assists, and had a +/- of 15. After next season, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. With his incredible stats and a victory this year, he could make a strong case for a new contract come 2024.

William Karlsson

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded away a first-round draft pick, a second-round 2019 pick and David Clarkson (an injured forward) to entice Golden Knights to select the Swedish forward in the expansion draft. In his last season in Columbus, he only had six goals, 19 assists and a +/- of 10 in 81 games.

Being shoved to Vegas surely fueled his drive to turn his career around. After middling in Columbus, his Misfit stats were astronomical; he scored 43 goals, 35 assists, and had a +/- of 49.

Similar to Smith, Karlsson also married and had his first child since the last Stanley Cup appearance. He also signed a hefty eight-year contract extension with the Golden Knights in 2019. What better way to start the last half of the contract and establish a legacy than with a Stanley Cup?

Jonathan Marchessault

The Vegas Golden Knights selected Jonathan Marchessault from the Florida Panthers during the 2017 draft. He was shocked that he was left unprotected. He had an affordable contract and put up 30 goals the previous season.

The personal slight came with Marchessault. He earned a little bit of schadenfreude when he netted 75 points (27-48-75) in his first season as a Golden Knight, while his former team failed to qualify for playoffs, while he went on to the Cup Final.

The forward has proven to be an essential cog in the VGK machine and consistently been among the leading Golden Knights’ leadings goal scorers. In  bit of poetic justice, he must help defeat his former team.

In 2018, the Misfits had to prove not to bet against the underdogs. This time, they all have deeper reasons for wanting the ultimate NHL victory. Game 3 is Thursday at FLA Live Arena.

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