Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Vegas Golden Knights
For the last 15 years (12 with The Hockey News, last year’s via pinch-hitter Cam Robinson) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 16th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Vegas loses a bit of scoring pop on the wing and gain in terms of depth down the middle. The Golden Knights had already prepared for the loss of Perron when they acquired Tomas Tatar at the trade deadline, so in the end the talent just shifted a bit from Neal on the wing to Stastny at center. This should free up some more ice time for the up-and-coming Alex Tuch, who is a big winger with great hands and he looks to be progressing a lot faster than most power forward types. Erik Haula goes from a No.2 center to more of a 2A/2B situation with Stastny, despite having a great 2017-18.
Without Neal and Perron leading a strong second line, things could get a little tighter for that first line. We all expect the big Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith line to take a step back in the year ahead, mostly because they were so extraordinary last season. But these roster changes will only increase the odds that it will happen.
With the team losing Sbisa, plus the recent Nate Schmidt news (suspended for the first 20 games), the deep defense corps is suddenly not so deep. Holden helps, and Brad Hunt looked good in limited action as an offensive blueliner. But the odds of Erik Brannstrom making this team just went up a little. It goes up even further if Shea Theodore doesn’t get signed to a contract in time for training camp.
Ready for full-time – Erik Brannstrom is one of the best defensemen outside of the NHL. Drafted 15th overall in 2017, the shifty Swede played against men in the SHL for the last two seasons and yet still managed 21 points in 79 games. The thinking is that he could use one more year adding size and strength (just 173 pounds) in the AHL (or he was also drafted in the WHL this year, but that seems an unlikely destination), but with the aforementioned issues surrounding Schmidt and Theodore, Brannstrom could get a long look.
Cody Glass, drafted sixth overall in 2017, dominated the WHL and has nothing more to learn there. However, he is still not eligible for AHL play and for that reason the Golden Knights may keep him around for a few games early on despite their tremendous depth. But it’s that depth that makes it unlikely he stays for the full season so you can probably expect ridiculous numbers for Portland again.
Daniel Carr stuck with the Habs in the second half of last season, but that’s kind of like getting a participation ribbon isn’t it? A true test for the 26-year-old is if he can stick with Vegas. One advantage that I’ve noticed over the last three seasons is that in the first dozen games after being called up, he is very productive. The problem is that he tends to tail off after that and fade down the lineup and into the press box.
Vegas Golden Knights prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – The expansion Vegas Golden Knights team took the hockey world (and fantasy hockey world) by storm when they scored 272 goals. Only three teams beat that mark. And while most pundits agree that they over-achieved and they will come down to earth, this still should only mean about 10 or 20 goals. And in just one year they have cobbled together a pretty good list of prospects with fantasy upside. While last year we were over-analyzing the likes of Reid Duke, one year later we’re excited about five or six prospects. That still falls short of a lot of other NHL teams, but this squad didn’t even exist 18 months ago. It remains to be seen if Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson can repeat as legitimate high-end NHL stars, but my hunch is that they will and they are.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was C-)
Other Offseason Fantasy Outlooks: