Vegas Expansion Team (Final)

We have been writing a lot recently about the expansion draft and the advent of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  We opined that if Vegas drafted the players we suggested in our previous article, independent of side dealings, they would have a reasonably good inaugural season (+22 AB).  They would probably make the playoffs (since teams with positive AB scores, as Vegas would have had, invariably do).

However, and prudently, we also provided a caveat with our analysis.  Our disclaimer was that we assumed Vegas desired to embark on their novel franchise status with a win now approach, but were open to the possibility that the team would be near the bottom now and try to build through the draft and by stockpiling picks though trades etc.  Optimally they could have constructed a team with unprotected players from each franchise and been near the top of the western conference and first in their own division!  However they seemingly opted for the latter.  The following table may provide some insight as to why……

Team Year entered Years it took to win Cup
LA Kings 1967 44
Philadelphia Flyers 1967 6
Pittsburgh Penguins 1967 23
St Louis Blues 1967 NEVER
Buffalo Sabres 1970 NEVER
Vancouver Canucks 1970 NEVER
New York Islanders 1972 7
Washington Capitals 1974 NEVER
Edmonton Oilers 1972 11
Winnipeg Jets 1999 NEVER
New Jersey Devils 1974 20
Calgary Flames 1972 16
Ottawa Senators 1992 NEVER
Tampa Bay Lightning 1992 12
Florida Panthers 1993 NEVER
Anaheim Ducks 1993 14
Dallas Stars 1967 32
Colorado Avalanche 1972 24
Arizona Coyotes 1972 NEVER
Carolina Hurricanes 1972 30
Nashville Predators 1998 NEVER
Columbus Blue Jackets 2000 NEVER
Minnesota Wild 2000 NEVER

As you can see, only the Islanders and Flyers were able to secure a championship within a decade of joining the league and a mere handful within 15 years.  In fact, amazingly, more than half of the expansion clubs have never won a cup, despite lengthy and, in some cases, storied, histories.

Consider the following draft picks of the franchises that eventually won Cups the fastest (and ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame in many cases (like, yeah, I think my dad has heard of some of these guys)–

New York Islanders – Bob Nystrom, Denis Potvin, Clark Gilles, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, John Tonelli, Brent and Duane Sutter and Steve Tambellini

Philadelphia Flyers – Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz, Bill Barber, Jimmy Watson, Mel Bridgeman, Al MacAdam, Paul Holmgren

Edmonton Oilers – Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier (3rd round!!), Glenn Anderson (4th round !!!!), Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Walt Podubny, Grant Fuhr, Jeff Beukeboom, Andy Moog, Esa Tikkannen

You get the idea.

It appears that the right way to build a winner in the NHL is though the draft and by stockpiling picks at the outset.  The more young players to evaluate, the better.  History shows that successful clubs can draft, develop, and keep a core of players that can do great things in a about a decade or less, especially if they are able to secure generational talents like those listed above.

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