Golden Knights expecting to be competitive in first season
LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
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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