Golden Knights expecting to be competitive in first season

Vegas Golden Knights' Colin Miller (6) pulls Los Angeles Kings' Michael Mersch (49) away from the net during the third period of an NHL preseason hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)


EXPANSION: The Golden Knights are the first NHL expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000.

COACH: Gerard Gallant (first season, seventh NHL season).

PLAYER TO WATCH: LW James Neal. He’s been a consistent scorer throughout his nine-year NHL career, eclipsing 20 goals every season. He scored 40 goals and had 81 points with Pittsburgh in 2011-12 and had no less than 23 on a balanced Nashville team in three years there. Neal could see an uptick in production on a team that will rely heavily on him.

OUTLOOK: No NHL expansion team has put together a winning record in its first season, but the Golden Knights have a chance to be competitive in their inaugural run. GM George McPhee put together a solid roster through trades and the expansion draft, adding some steady veterans to go with the young guys. That includes goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who won the Stanley Cup three times with Pittsburgh. A trip to the playoffs is probably a stretch for the Golden Knights in their first season, but don’t expect them to get walked over on a nightly basis.

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