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VGK Earns High Respect In Latest NHL Power Rankings

(Image credit: SinBin.vegas photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL playoffs begin exactly a month from yesterday. Barring major breakdowns, the Golden Knights will be one of the most dangerous participants in the Western Conference. However, some continue to doubt that Vegas is a serious contender for the Stanley Cup. For example, MoneyPuck power rankings lists the Golden Knights as the 16th best team in the league.

Over the years, the Golden Knights’ front office has built a team well-suited for the postseason. Six players have custom championship rings and 12 others have playoff experience. Experience makes a difference in the second season of the NHL. While MoneyPuck’s computer model casts doubt on Vegas’ odds, several other power rankings are much more favorable for the 31st franchise. Here are the latest rankings of hockey outlets across the league.

Sportsnet – VGK #2

As you’d expect from a team dubbed the “Golden Misfits” in their early days of expansion, there’s no shortage of guys in Vegas who beat the odds. All three members of the original “Misfit Line” – William Karlsson between Reilly Smith and undrafted Jonathan Marchessault – are still there and were joined by a captain in Mark Stone, who was a questionable skating pick in the sixth round; Chandler Stephenson, a third-place finisher who became an instant top-six center after Vegas fleeced Washington for his services; and undrafted goaltender Logan Thompson, who was midway through the Calder Trophy race before his injury this season. – Ryan Dixon, Sportsnet

Canadian Avenue clearly respects the Golden Knights lineup enough to have them ranked among the powerful Boston Bruins and higher than two teams with better records. It’s possible that Sportsnet sees an easier postseason path for Vegas, or that their newly formed lineup is deep enough for a Cup run. Would Sportsnet rank Vegas higher than Boston if Mark Stone was healthy in time for the playoffs? That’s a bit of a stretch.

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The ice hockey news – VGK #3

The Knights are on a tear with four straight wins and seven of their last eight. They still haven’t really missed a beat despite being their fourth starter with Jonathan Quick, who is 4-0-0 with the Knights. It looks like the Knights and Kings will face off in the second round of the playoffs if they advance.- Jason Chen, THN

THN released its latest Power Rankings ahead of the Golden Knights’ final contest, but it would be difficult to lose Vegas more than two or three spots. Jonathan Quick’s success with Vegas has given the Pacific Division leader more confidence at the net after virtually every Golden Knights goalie was injured.

NHL.com – VGK #4

When healthy, Alec Martinez is an important, underrated play for the Golden Knights. The veteran defenseman won the Stanley Cup twice with the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014). He leads the NHL with 208 blocked shots, 35 more than Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. He averages 1:36 ice time on penalties, third with the Golden Knights. But unfortunately this style takes its toll and he has a history of injuries. What makes him valuable also comes with the risk that Vegas could lose him from the lineup. – Nicholas J. Cotsonika, columnist

The league’s official website ranks incredibly high on the Golden Knights list, ranking them as the top Western Conference team on their list. According to NHL columnist Nick Cotsonika, only the record-breaking Bruins, Hurricanes and Devils are ahead of the Golden Knights. There’s an argument that Vegas is slightly overrated by NHL.com, especially after being throttled 7-2 by Calgary on Thursday night. However, as legendary MLB manager Connie Mack famously said; “You can’t win them all.”

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ESPN – VGK #5

With four goals and eight points in his first nine games, Ivan Barbashev has helped the Golden Knights find a temporary solution to the hole left by captain Mark Stone. Losing Stone left the Golden Knights without one of the league’s premier two-way forwards. It seems Barbashev, a pending UFA, could be the one to fill that gap. And if so, it’ll make his off-season pretty interesting. – Ryan Clark, ESPN hockey reporter

The global leader is quite impressed with the acquisitions the Golden Knights have made around the trading deadline. Over nine games, Ivan Barbashev has settled well into Bruce Cassidy’s system and built fast chemistry with his new teammates. If Barbashev can continue his production in the 2023 playoffs, ESPN could be on the right track. Despite not being Mark Stone, the 27-year-old is doing his best to fill the incomparable role of captain.

Seattle Times – VGK #4, LA #5, DAK #6, MIN #8, EDM #9, COL #10, SEA #12

Even the Seattle Times ranks the Golden Knights in the top 4. Given that the Times is reporting on another Pacific Division team, it would be easy for them to inflate the Kraken’s position in the league. However, given the newspaper’s knowledge of the Pacific, it’s possible that its ranking is generally correct. The placement of seven Western teams in their top 12 also indicates their strong knowledge of the conference.

As we do when a power ranking is updated, you have to take it with a grain of salt. It’s fair to rank the Golden Knights between 2nd and 16th place. Computer scales like MoneyPuck have their factors like expected goals and goalkeeper efficiency, while Sportsnet and ESPN base their opinions on results. Both are acceptable, but only one can be right. We’ll find out what’s more accurate starting April 17th.

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