1. Vegas Golden Knights
Whether NHL fans are critical or not, no one can ever overshadow or take away what the Vegas Golden Knights achieved last season — the NHL’s expansion club advanced all the way to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
There’s no arguing that it was a remarkable story, but the chances are that it was a once in a lifetime performance. There will never be another Vegas Golden Knights expansion season in professional sports, again. With Sin City exceeding expectations in year one, the team is set for a serious setback in year two.
For starters, the Golden Knights won’t take teams by surprise anymore on the first-go-around during the first half of the season. Opponents will be more prepared, and the Western Conference foes are all out to take down the Western Conference champions Knights.
The Knights are officially “public enemy No. 1” out West.
The reality is that the Knights’ success last year was in large part to chemistry and timing — almost something unexplainable. That’s not the case for the team’s second season, and will there still be extra motivation to succeed and with a new group of players in the mix?
While unrestricted free agent departures James Neal and David Perron were arguably overpaid by their new respective teams, it will affect the Knights in a negative aspect. Both of those skaters embraced their unique roles with Vegas last season, and that’s a hole that the Golden Knights weren’t able to fill this offseason.
Vegas will finally run into some bad luck along the way and don’t be surprised to see them miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs.