Handing out superlatives for the Golden Knights’ 2018-19 season
You may have a pretty good idea about who won best hair.
Alright students, gather ‘round. It’s time to pass out your class superlatives. Every year, we give each of the Golden Knights’ players categories that they fit best in. Yes, we made most of these up, but isn’t that the point of superlatives? I won most likely to live at home forever, so I would know. I’m not kidding.
Let’s get started before I tell even more uniquely depressing stories.
Most likely to score 40 goals: Max Pacioretty
Pacioretty has scored 30 goals five times, including four years in a row before last season. That’s all while in Montreal, where he never had the luxury of playing with a franchise center. Now, he’ll be playing with Paul Stastny, who he has formed some nice chemistry with, and Alex Tuch, a better playmaker than he lets on.
Pacioretty has always had great shot production (hitting 300 shots on goal twice and more than 200 shots four more times). If he continues to shoot like he should, and with an equal goal-scoring threat on the other wing, Patches has great potential to hit 40.
Most likely to improve: Tomas Nosek
Tomas Nosek is coming off his first season, having scored 15 points in 67 games. In the playoffs, Nosek scored six points in 17 games, staying in the same position on the fourth line. He and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare were two of the best players for the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s not to mention excellent possession stats in both the regular season and postseason.
Nosek is already a cheat code on the penalty kill, so he’s not improving that much defensively. Instead, bet on him scoring more than 15 points this season. It’s basically guaranteed.
Most likely to have a trending hashtag: Erik Brannstrom
You’ve gotta admit, the #Brannwagon is both clever word play and a very bad pun. But whenever Brannstrom makes a play, that hashtag will be tweeted. Name another player on this roster who that’s the case for — and don’t say Flower, we’ve been bouncing around looking for one for Marc-Andre Fleury but haven’t settled on one.
Most likely to have a positive penalty differential: William Carrier
William Carrier had 17 penalties drawn in 37 games. That’s the best penalties drawn per game amongst the Golden Knights roster, and one of the best in the league last year. He took just six. The style he plays, with his speed and ability to drive the puck, Carrier is a natural magnet for penalties from opposing players. That should continue whenever he touches the ice this season, and it’s an added benefit that Carrier brings each game.
Best smile: Marc-Andre Fleury
Just look at him.
All smiles, all class, and all kinds of excitement from Marc-Andre Fleury. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/nZI8KrJSmU— NHL (@NHL) May 28, 2018
Most athletic: Shea Theodore
Shea is the most athletic skater on the Golden Knights roster. Nobody touches the goaltenders, however.
He’s the best pure skater on the team, he’s got a great shot and he can sashay around anyone. And let’s not forget about his ability to quickly set up plays. It’s that brilliant athleticism that sets Theodore apart (and not just on the team) on the blue line.
Most likely to continue to succeed: Erik Haula
There are a lot of takes out there about who will regress this season. One of the less frequently mentioned players is Erik Haula, and that’s for good reason. With two great teammates, Haula put up 55 points, a career high.
But having been in the league for a few years, Haula had proven to be at least a 15-goal scorer, even with lesser linemates. He should be back around 20 goals and 40 points and he should also continue to thrive as a skater and on the second power play unit. Depends on what you define as success, but Haula should exceed expectations again this season.
Most likely to make a play in both ends on one shift: Reilly Smith
One of the best two-way wings in the NHL, Reilly Smith plays a great defensive game and then has the ability to transition up ice and make plays offensively. He was the leading scorer for the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, and one of the forwards with the most penalty kill minutes. He’s everything in one package. It definitely seems likely Smith will make two great plays on one shift multiple times this season.
Celebrity who’s just like us: Malcolm Subban
Let's check in on Malcolm Subban, who's literally watching the game in a cold, unlit room. pic.twitter.com/wzj8DXsLla— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) February 9, 2018
Funniest: Nate Schmidt
Have you not heard of the great Haula-Schmidt prank war of 2017? Have you not seen the latest Pacioretty footage? Schmidt is our adorable weirdo.
Biggest warrior: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Look up Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s eye during the Jan. 21 game against Carolina. He played with that. He took so many hits last year and played through things lesser men wouldn’t have. Man’s a warrior.
Best pranks: Ryan Reaves
Best hair: William Karlsson
You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. William’s got the best flow in the game.
Most likely to be Captain America: Alex Tuch
Possible future captain? Check. Proud to be an American? Check.
Most likely to be good at basketball: Brayden McNabb
He’s 6-foot-4, taller than much of the rest of the roster, and looks like he can take the other 6-foot-4 guy, Tuch, on the basketball court. He also looks a little bit like Blake Griffin, which helps his case.
Best in the locker room: Deryk Engelland
Deryk Engelland was basically the captain last year, the veteran mentor on the blue line and everybody seems to revere him. He should be easily the best locker-room presence on the roster.
Most likely veteran presence: Nick Holden
With one of Jake Bischoff and Erik Brannstrom making the roster, someone will have to be on the third pairing with them. Right now, it seems like the natural candidate is Nick Holden. He’ll hope to cover as many mistakes as either rookie would make, and provide cover for learning. That’s the ideal for the Golden Knights, and part of the reason why Theodore had as good of a season as he did.
Best car: Jonathan Marchessault
The Vegas-themed Lambo, though, bro.
Biggest heartbreaker: Paul Stastny
When the Winnipeg Jets traded for Stastny at the deadline, they were hoping he would help them become a contender. They made the Western Conference Final with his help, and lost to the Golden Knights. They were hoping to add him back to their lineup, especially because of how good he was between Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Instead, he’ll be suiting up for Vegas between Pacioretty and Alex Tuch. Now that’s a heartbreaker.
Best/worst nickname: Ryan “Carpy Deuces” Carpenter
Every player has their nicknames. Carpy Deuces is either the best of them or the worst of them, depending on who you ask.
Most Minnesotan: Jake Bischoff
He’s from Cambridge, Minnesota. Went to the University of Minnesota. Some of his best games last year were against the Iowa Wild, the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate. Bischoff is Minnesota.
Most likely to actually be a Pokemon: Jon Merrill
This is Marill, the blue globular Pokemon.
This is Jon Merrill, the Knights’ seventh defenseman who played some pretty important minutes in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
It’s like he’s not even trying to hide it.
Good at the hockey/happiest: Brad Hunt
Brad Hunt spent much of last season in the press box, playing just 45 games in the regular season and zero in the playoffs. Yet he was one of the happiest members of the Knights locker room whenever he was interviewed and remained an active member of the community. Plus, there’s this tweet.
BRAD HUNT GOOD AT THE HOCKEY.— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) September 25, 2018
4-3. Game is somehow not over yet.
Most lopsided stat line: Oscar Lindberg
Last season, Oscar Lindberg scored nine goals and just two assists. That’s the most lopsided a stat line has been since Brandon Pirri’s 22-2—24 season with the Florida Panthers. When Lindberg comes into games this season, he’ll hope to prove he’s a better playmaker.