The Las Vegas Golden Knights. Who would have thought the expansion team would lead the league in points this far into the season? Dreamers, maybe. Three time Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury has proved he can still play at a high level. The goaltender has 21 wins in 30 games started, (21-7-2). Yes, only 30 games started because of his concussion early in the season. The Golden Knights have had four others tend the net this season including Malcolm Subban (11-3-1), Maxime Legace (6-6-1), Oscar Dansk (3-0-0), and Dylan Ferguson (0-0-0) who made one appearance in November when the Golden Knights were plagued by injuries to their goaltenders. What’s more surprising than the great goaltending is how much Las Vegas is scoring. Through 61 games, (41-16-4), they have scored 213 goals, that’s 3.5 goals per game. Only the Tampa Bay Lightning, (41-17-3), have scored more with 217 goals through 61 games, 3.6 goals per game. James Neal started the season off hot for Las Vegas, Alex Tuch has had a great rookie year, and defensemen Nate Schmidt and Colin Miller have both provided offense from the back end. The most surprising players on the Golden Knights:
Jonathan Marchessault: 22G, 39A, 61P in 58GP. +29
David Perron: 15G, 42A, 57P in 55GP. +8
Reilly Smith: 20G, 36A, 56P in 61GP. +31
William Karlsson: 33G, 22A, 55P in 61GP. +36
Karlsson sits 3rd in goals in the NHL, trailing Alexander Ovechkin (36), and Evgeni Malkin (34). David Perron has already matched his career high 57 points through 55 games. Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson have all surpassed their career highs in points. But the high scoring in Las Vegas isn’t the only surprise this season. A few other names worth a mention:
Josh Bailey: 15G, 47A, 62P in 58GP. The winger was rewarded with a six-year $30 million dollar contract extension this month.
Matthew Barzal: 17G, 48A, 65P in 62GP. Another Islander. This kid is the real deal. If John Tavares ends up leaving New York, the Islanders do not have to worry about finding a first line center.
Brock Boeser: 27G, 24A, 51P in 57GP. The Vancouver Canuck rookie is having a great season. Boeser stole the show during the NHL’s All-Star game and skills competition.
Will Butcher: 2G, 28A, 30P in 60GP. After playing 4 years for the University of Denver, Butcher signed with the New Jersey Devils. Colorado drafted him in the 5th round of the 2013 NHL Draft.
Vincent Trocheck: 23G, 31A, 54P in 58GP. The 2011 3rd round pick has progressed along nicely the past few seasons.
Last but not least, Nikita Kucherov. 32G, 48A, 80P in 61GP. There are not many 100 point scorers in today’s NHL. Kucherov is on pace for 107. Claude Giroux is 2nd in the league with 74 points.
Honorable Mentions: The Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Taylor Hall, Jakub Voracek, Eric Staal, and Jaden Schwartz.
Rookies to keep an eye on: Danton Heinen, Alex Iafallo, Samuel Girard, and Alex DeBrincat.
Surprising in a bad way:
The New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks. It looks like the Rangers are set to begin some form of a rebuild. The Chicago Blackhawks dynasty is over.