Are NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights the Best Expansion Team in League History?
FiveThirtyEight crunches the numbers, but says the squad will likely miss the playoffs.
Who knew that there were ice-skating rinks in the desert? According to FiveThirtyEight, there must be, because of the Vegas Golden Knights—who are 6-1, just three weeks into the young National Hockey League season—are performing better than any expansion team in the history of the NHL.
Since 1991, just three expansion teams—the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Anaheim Mighty Ducks—have won more than one of their first seven games. And while a number have since cracked the playoffs and won Stanley Cups, the Golden Knights recently broke the NHL record for most wins in their first seven games.
The Golden Knights’ record can largely be attributed, argues FiveThirtyEight, to the solidity of the roster, which is a potpourri of talent signed during the expansion draft from around the league. It doesn’t hurt that they were able to land three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury—a key piece to any professional hockey team.
The paradigm, regarding expansion teams and playoffs in the last 20-plus years, is the San Jose Sharks, who have made the postseason 19 times in 25 seasons. And the odds aren’t great that the Golden Knights will get anywhere near the playoffs in their first season. But that’s why odds are meant to be beaten. And what better place to do it than Las Vegas?
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