When they embark upon a new voyage of discovery next season, Seattle Kraken will become the latest expansion added to the NHL. The 32nd franchise will be hoping to make a strong start and if any inspiration is needed, they only need to look at the Vegas Golden Knights.
For the fourth season running since they hit the ice, the Vegas Golden Knights have secured their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They were the first team to do so this season and for the greenest franchise in the NHL, that is quite the accomplishment. “Hit us up for expansion tips” is the boastful message on their official Twitter profile page.
To be fair, this franchise has every right to be proud of its achievements. No new franchise has ever managed to achieve the same level of consistency, becoming genuine championship contenders in each of their initial campaigns. The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their very first 2017-18 season, before ultimately losing to the Washington Capitals.
Their second 2018-19 campaign was frustrating by comparison, yet the Golden Knights made the Playoffs once again, albeit eliminated in the First Round. After a poor start to the 2019-20 season cost Gerard Gallant his position as coach, Peter DeBoer arrived and turned things around, guiding a team with renewed confidence to the Conference Finals.
In the end, the Golden Knights fell short against the Dallas Stars last season, yet they have used that to fuel a powerful 2020-21 campaign. Right from the start, their intentions on the ice have been bold and clear. No team in the Honda West Division has managed to concede fewer goals, while only the Colorado Avalanche has scored more.
Becoming the first to qualify for the Playoffs has undoubtedly boosted expectations. According to the latest online betting at LeoVegas, the Golden Knights are priced as +750 futures to win the Stanley Cup. The clear favorites at present are Colorado Avalanche at +375 odds, with both teams likely to cross paths in the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Under normal circumstances, these two sides would be hot favorites to compete in the Conference Finals, battling for the opportunity to contest the Stanley Cup Finals. However, due to the unique divisional realignments this year, the Stanley Cup Playoffs were also modified. Instead, teams from the Honda West Division will compete against teams from the Scotia North Division, at the Semifinals stage.
Given the overall roster strength and depth, even without boasting NHL stats leaders in any given category, teamwork is the essence of what makes the Golden Knights a powerful group. This is a team infused with great chemistry and experience, while half of the current Vegas roster joined the franchise in 2017.
If there’s one thing vital in professional hockey, more so than any outstanding individual stars, it is when a team can forge an unrivaled sense of unity. The Golden Knights have built on exceptionally solid foundations, which is arguably the underlying secret to their consistent success. Having already met their minimum expectations this year, ambition will now drive this team towards reaching a second Stanley Cup Finals in just four years.