Before the season started, we put together some bold predictions for the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural campaign. We may be only halfway through the season, but we feel it’s necessary to revisit those predictions just to see if we’re on track to hitting on them. Let’s jump right in!
Jonathan Marchessault will lead the Golden Knights in points
Okay, so we hit the nail on the head with this one. Marchessault has been as good as we thought he’d be before the season started. Maybe even better.
So far, despite missing a few games early in the season, Marchessault is leading the Golden Knights with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) through 38 games. He’s been so good that Vegas felt no need to wait until the offseason to sign him to a long-term extension. He’s now under contract through the 2023-24 season and, at just 27 years old, looks to be a core member of the Golden Knights for a long, long time.
And something tells me he’s only getting started, too.
Vadim Shipachyov will live up to his contract, but will neither eclipse 20 goals nor 40 assists
Where to even start with this? Shipachyov’s brief stay with the Golden Knights was a complete and total disaster from the very beginning of the season.
The relationship between Shipachyov and Vegas began to nosedive after the 30-year-old KHL star failed to make the Golden Knights’ roster out of training camp. Shipachyov was expected to be Vegas’ top-line center going into the season, so when he found out he was being sent down to the AHL instead, he was kind of upset about it. He finally got an opportunity to play in a Golden Knights uniform in mid-October, but he would be sent down to the AHL again after just three games. In response to being sent back down to the AHL, Shipachyov decided to just not play for the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves, which only ended up getting him suspended. Eventually, the Golden Knights terminated his contract and Shipachyov returned to the KHL. What a fiasco.
It would have been interesting to see how Shipachyov performed had he started the season on the roster, but some things just aren’t meant to be.
Vegas will end up with exactly 69 points
Technically it’s still possible that the Golden Knights finish the season with 69 points, but the likelihood of that happening is microscopic, considering there are still 41 regular season games remaining.
Not only are the Golden Knights the top team in the Pacific Division, but they also sit atop the Western Conference standings, too. Just halfway through the season, Vegas is on pace for 120 points (one hundred and twenty!) and look to be legitimate contenders for the playoffs. Maybe even the Stanley Cup.
For what it’s worth, only the Tampa Bay Lightning, who Vegas beat last month, have more points than the Golden Knights this season.
This team is legit, folks.
Shea Theodore will end the season as a No. 1 defenseman
It doesn’t look like Theodore will end the season as the Golden Knights’ top blueliner, but he’s certainly been a dynamic presence for Vegas since being called up from the Wolves in late October.
The 22-year-old defenseman has registered four goals and 13 points in 26 games this season and plays heavy minutes on the man advantage. He’s still a work in progress in his own end, but he’s visibly improved in the defensive zone since the start of the season.
It’s still baffling that the Anaheim Ducks gave Theodore away for literally nothing in the offseason. Sure, they wanted to protect their young core of blueliners in the expansion draft, but had they held onto Theodore, there was a chance Vegas would have taken Sami Vatanen — who doesn’t even play for Anaheim anymore — instead. Maybe the decision to unload Theodore was more calculated than we’ll ever know, but it certainly looks like the Ducks just screwed up royally by shipping him off for nothing.
Cody Eakin will set a career high in goals and/or points
Eakin has never been much of an offensive dynamo and that remains the same this season. The 26-year-old center has managed six goals and 18 points in 41 games, which certainly isn’t bad. But it doesn’t appear he’ll be setting any milestones this season.
To set a new career high in goals, Eakin will need to find twine 14 times in the Golden Knights’ remaining 41 games. A new career high in points would require 23 assists/goals during that span. That certainly isn’t impossible, but considering Eakin averages just 15:17 of ice time per game and rarely gets much time on the power play, it doesn’t appear likely.
Eakin is one of Vegas’ top penalty-killing forwards and it would take a major turn of events for him to be moved out of that role. For now, though, he’s just a defensive specialist who scores every once in a while.