The Saturday Slate is a weekly discussion or platform where members of Win Column Sports provide their respective opinions and thoughts on an event that took place in the prior week. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups. This week, the Win Column panel discusses the NHL action on December 15th.
With Seattle officially being announced as the 32nd team to enter the NHL, beginning play in the 2021-22 season, we can start looking to the future of the franchise. What will they be called? What will the jersey look like? And most importantly, who will be on the team?
The Vegas Golden Knights were the last team to join the NHL and they started with a bang! In their first season in the league (2017-18) they finished with a 51-24-7 record, winning their division and making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. In their first season! And how? A good expansion draft. Cemented with Marc Andre Fleury in net and William Karlsson’s 43 goals, the Knights were built well by GM George McPhee. Seattle will be playing under the same expansion rules that Vegas was, meaning that they have just as many quality players available to them unless the rest of the league changes their approach. What are Seattle’s hopes to replicate that success in 2021-22?
Slim to none. Look, the Vegas Golden Knights were incredibly lucky to have players like Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal fall into their lap during the expansion draft, with numerous others like William Karlsson and Johnathan Marchessault joining the team through shrewd deals with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers, respectively. The team also benefitted from a number of players having career years last season, something the team is desperately lacking in the tightly-packed Pacific Division this season. While it’s difficult to begin projecting Seattle’s inaugural roster, it’s hard to fathom how they could possibly reach the same heights the Golden Knights did last season. Even given the same expansion draft rules, I’ll predict that Seattle contends for a playoff spot but ultimately falls short.
As mentioned before., Vegas had a probable Hall of Fame goalie fall into their laps, as well as players have career years. For example, Karlsson’s shooting percentage was ungodly high and it’s evident in the fact that the team has come back down to earth this season. I don’t think Seattle will be nearly as good. Will they be Washington Capitals 7-win bad? I also don’t believe that. However, with a much improved Pacific division forthcoming, Seattle is going to have some tough sledding to replicate what the Golden Knights did in their expansion season. We will more than likely never see an expansion season like that and Seattle will prove that the expansion format isn’t actually flawed, Vegas just struck the hottest flash in a pan in sports history.
I was completely blown away by Vegas’ success in their inaugural season just like everyone else was. Can it be replicated by Seattle in their inaugural season? Probably not, but who knows at this point. As hockey evolves the players coming into the league are only getting better which obviously plays to their advantage in regards to the expansion draft. George McPhee did a fabulous job building a team through the draft, the highlight was acquiring a proven goaltender in Marc Andre Fleury which proved to be their golden ticket, not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs.
Seattle will be in tough in the Pacific division especially in the next couple of years. Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary have young and very talented cores which can take them to the next level with a little help. With that being said, a whole lot can change in the league before Seattle hits the ice.
What the Golden Knights did was legendary. Historic. Impossible to match. Probably. Seattle certainly will have a hard time making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, as everyone does year in and year out. That shouldn’t be the bar that they are held to. But can they win the division? Sure, they’ll have to beat 7 other teams in the Pacific Division, and with the Coyotes moving to the Central, that will get a little bit harder. A lot can change in the 3 years before Seattle starts to play, so it’s almost impossible to know who the powerhouse of the Pacific will be by then, so let’s look mostly at how Vegas won and if Seattle can do the same.
Goaltending was the biggest benefit for them. Getting Marc Andre Fleury from the Penguins was huge for this team. As it stands right now, there isn’t a team with a fantastic 1-2 punch that can be expected to be poached. I have an unrequited love for Juuse Saros in Nashville, but Pekka Rinne will be 39 years old and certainly not a part of any team’s future at that age. Can a fantastic duo develop over the next 3 years? Certainly, but Seattle shouldn’t hold out hope for a fantastic goalie to fall into their lap. With that not happening, I find it very hard to imagine Seattle doing anything close to what Vegas did. Sign me up for the 6th place Seattle Hockey Players.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|Flames @ Wild||Wild||Flames||Flames||Flames|
|Sabres @ Capitals||Capitals||Capitals||Sabres||Capitals|
|Senators @ Canadiens||Senators||Canadiens||Canadiens||Canadiens|
|Ducks @ Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Ducks||Ducks||Ducks|
|Kings @ Penguins||Penguins||Penguins||Penguins||Penguins|
|Red Wings @ Islanders||Islanders||Red Wings||Islanders||Red Wings|
|Maple Leafs @ Panthers||Panthers||Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs||Maple Leafs|
|Devils @ Predators||Predators||Predators||Predators||Predators|
|Stars @ Avalanche||Avalanche||Stars||Avalanche||Avalanche|
|Flyers @ Canucks||Flyers||Canucks||Canucks||Canucks|
Records Thus Far:
- Ben: (58-48), Last Week: (4-6), Winning Percentage: (55%)
- Carl: (34-33), Last Week: (4-6), Winning Percentage (51%)
- Spencer: (49-57), Last Week: (4-6), Winning Percentage: (46%)
- Arik: (49-57), Last Week: (5-5), Winning Percentage: (46%)
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- The NHL Saturday Slate: December 1
- The NHL Saturday Slate: November 24