NHL Week in Review (December 17-23)

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With all of the talk of expansion in the NHL recently it is easy to look beyond the latest NHL team from the most recent expansion.

It seems strange that only a year ago the debate was all about how well hockey would be received in Las Vegas.

The league was going to a very non-traditional market after years of trying to keep non-traditional markets alive like Arizona.

Putting a team in another desert was going to be a challenge especially an expansion team where success is a struggle.

It is hard enough for teams that have been around for years to find chemistry and compete from season to season let alone a team that has had no seasons to get that chemistry together.

Then there is the fact that expansion teams always build their teams from the leftovers of other teams.

The expansion draft is rarely a place where a team can get the best players in the league instead, having to choose from the players that the rest of the league is ready to give up on.

That will usually lead to a number of years where these teams struggle to get into the competitive part of the league.

Instead, they sit at the bottom of the league while they develop a team and for a new team trying to break through in a non-traditional market, that is time that the Vegas Golden Knights never had.

If they weren’t good right away the excitement about a pro team in Vegas would surely wane especially when the NFL was on its way to the desert as well.

This team needed to be successful on the ice if they wanted to be successful off of the ice but that was going to be a challenge for an expansion team.

At least, that is what the prevailing thought was as the new team was approved and they began setting themselves up.

Things changed though when the NHL revealed the new rules for the expansion draft and everyone started looking at what the new team could be.

The rules for the expansion draft allowed the Knights to take some pretty impressive talent and build a team that could be good.

Nobody expected what was to come though as the Knights have been an unexpectedly good team in only their first year.

They started off the season with a big winning streak and despite some major injuries they have continued their run through the league.

The Knights have had to deal with plenty of issues this season including losing their top three goaltenders within the first two months.hockey-sidebar

They had to come up with a way to figure out how to get through losing one of the most important positions in the game and did exactly that.

The Knights found a way to get through and found the right mix of players to make them one of the best teams in the league.

Players like Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson have put up plenty of points to help the Knights rise to the top of the Pacific Division.

With the holiday break coming up the Knights are now in a position unlike anyone thought they would be.

They are directly in line to make the playoffs at about the halfway point and heading into the new year they are in the right position.

That was not something that was expected by anyone as the Knights could be the best expansion team in the history of the league.

It is going to be an interesting new year for them as they look to make their way to the playoffs and achieve the unexpected.

That success on the ice has made the Knights a successful franchise off of the ice as well and that is extremely important for the league.

The Knights are establishing themselves as the team in Vegas and the more they ingrain themselves in the culture the more successful they will be.

It gives them a few years to establish themselves before bigger leagues like the NFL make their way to the desert.

It is also a message to the league that expansion is possible and that it can be successful right away.

If a place like Las Vegas can become a town where a hockey team is successful there aren’t many places that won’t be able to be successful.

 

Overtime

Heading Back to Long Island

The New York Islanders have long been a team without a true home as Nassau Coliseum was outdated for years and Barclays Center never really wanted them. When the team moved out of Long Island and into Brooklyn it was apparent from the start that they were never that welcome in their new stadium. Now they will finally have a new stadium all to themselves as they are moving back to Long Island. This week their proposal for a new arena at Belmont Park was approved giving them a future permanent home.

Boeser’s Record Pursuit

Brock Boeser is giving the Vancouver Canucks plenty of hope for the future as the rookie has put up a fantastic pace in his first year in the league. After 34 games in the league, Boeser has a total of 34 points putting him on pace to beat out a record for the most points in a rookie season by a Canuck. That record is held by Pavel Bure who had 65 points in his rookie season which was held up in court for a number of games. If Boeser continues this pace he will be far past a legend and for the Canucks giving them some hope for the future of the team.

Swedish Boost

 The Buffalo faithful will have someone extra to cheer for in the World Juniors this year as the tournament travels to Buffalo once again. Sabres prospect, Alex Nylander will be there playing for Sweden after the Sabres released him to the Swedish junior team giving Team Sweden an extra boost for their run at a gold medal. It will also give the Buffalo fans a chance to see one of their brightest young prospects play on the international level.

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