Las Vegas–With the mandatory bye week coming to an end for the Vegas Golden Knights, we take a look at the blueliners and hand out their mid-term grades.

Defenseman

Deryk Engelland

Previous Team: Calgary Flames (4 goals, 12 assists for 16 points, a +2, block shots 134, hits 135, and ATOI of 18:20 thru 81 games)

This season as a veteran among the Golden Knights blueliners, Engelland has played in 40 games with the team and has produced 3 goals, 10 assists for 13 points and is currently a +9. He also has recorded 83 blocked shots, and registered 59 hits at the break. The 35-year-old is having a career season with Vegas in ATOI of 19:35.

His career high in blocked shots of 142 came during the 2014-15 season with the Flames so it can be reached easily and maybe even be surpassed with the numbers he put up in the first half of the season with Vegas.

In terms of hits, he’ll probably see triple digit numbers at the completion of the current campaign with the Golden Knights.

Engelland has scored 6 goals in his career once with the 2013-14 Pittsburgh Penguins so we think he can the veteran blueliner is capable of reaching that mark once more. With 10 assists on the year, Engelland has the opportunity to pass his career high of 14 he set 6 years ago with Pittsburgh. His ATOI is probably going to remain the same around the 19 minute mark during the second half. Grade: A

Brad Hunt

Previous Team: Nashville Predators (no goals, 1 assist, for 1 point, a +1, blocked shots 2, hits 0, and ATOI of 17:13 at 3 games)

This season, Hunt has played 18 games which is less than half of the first two quarters of the current campaign. During that span of games he has skated in, Hunt has produced 7 assists a season best and zero goals.

He’s recorded 14 blocked shots, 9 hits which are both career high numbers for 29-year-old defenseman. His ATOI with the Golden Knights this year is slightly better than the year before with Nashville at 17:30.

The thing with Hunt going forward is during the second half of the season is how many more games will he actually play patrolling the blueline for Vegas because he’s been scratched a lot with Gallant giving Merrill some playing time. Grade: B-/B+

Luca Sbisa

Previous Team: Vancouver Canucks (2 goals, 11 assists for 13 points, a -1, 122 blocked shots, 130 hits, and ATOI of 18:59 at 82 games)

In 24 games this season with the Golden Knights, Sbisa has recorded 1 goal, 9 assists for 10 points, a +6 while registering 45 blocked shots, 35 hits, and an ATOI of 19:56 which beats out his previous high he set during the 2011-13 campaign as a member of the Ducks d-corp at 19:50.

Sbisa has been having a bit of rough year with Vegas this season as he has missed 16 games due to a two separate lower body injuries. With the recent news coming from the Golden Knights, Sbisa will miss the next 6 to 8 weeks recovering from a hand injury he sustained during the Chicago Blackhawks matchup.

So for us, it’s tough to know what Sbisa’s numbers will be in the second half of the season when he returns to the lineup. Grade: B+/A-

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Brayden McNabb

Previous Team: Los Angeles Kings (2 goals, 2 assists for 4 points, a +1, 54 blocked shots, 110 hits, and ATOI 15:04 at 49 games)

McNabb has played in 38 games this season as a member of the Golden Knights d-corp and in that span, he recorded 2 goals, 6 assists for 8 points, a +16. His 96 blocked shots and 113 hits puts him at the top in both categories with the team as well as having a career year in terms of ATOI of 20:14.

For McNabb, he has the opportunity to get back to the 200 mark in hits during the second half of season at the current pace he is on of 2.97 per game.

He also has the chance to put up career numbers in goals/assists as well when the season is over with along with setting a new high it total blocked shots. Grade: A

Nate Schmidt

Previous Team: Washington Capitals (3 goals, 14 assists for 17 points, a +22, 37 block shots, 51 hits, and ATOI of 15:29 thru 60 games)

Schmidt has played in the entire first half of the season with the Golden Knights this year and has produced 2 goals, 17 assists for 19 points, a +13, recorded 68 blocked shots, 23 hits and has logged an ATOI of 22:39 which leads the team among blueliners.

With the second half of the season, Schmidt can pretty much double up the number in goals, assists, points and his plus/minus rating all of which can be new highs for the 26-year-old. We also think that he’ll continue to be the leader in the TOI for the rest of the season. Grade: A

Jon Merrill

Previous Team: New Jersey Devils (1 goal, 5 assists for 6 points, a -9, 67 blocked shots, 39 hits, and ATOI of 18:34 thru 51 games)

Its been an interesting year for Merrill and the Golden Knights as a whole. During the first half of the season, he’s played in only 14 games and has been a healthy scratch for the majority part thereof. In that span, he’s be able to produce 1 goal, 1 assist for 2 points, a +5 with 18 blocked shots, 12 hits to his credit and an ATOI of 16:15.

Moving forward with Merrill and given the amount of games and ice time that Gallant has awarded him with, we are not sure where he’s going to end up at the completion of the year.

He is well below his career high in assists of 12 the he set back in the 2014-15 season with the Devils. So for us, we are going to give him what we think is a fair assessment of his performance. Grade: C+/B-

Colin Miller

Previous Team: Boston Bruins (6 goals, 7 assists for 13 points, even, 36 blocked shots, 85 hits, and ATOI of 15:49 thru 61 games)

Since he’s been with the Golden Knights, the 25-year-old defenseman has played in all of the first half games with the team. In that span, he’s put up 5 goals, 16 assists for 21 points, 8 better than last years numbers, a +2, and has recorded 32 blocked shots, 78 hits and a career high in ATOI of 18:46.

We think that based on his first half performance on the blueline with Vegas, Miller should have no problem in improving those numbers across the board in the remaining 41 games of the season. Grade: A

Shea Theodore

Previous Team: Anaheim Ducks (2 goals, 7 assists for 9 points, a -6, 30 blocked shots, 14 hits, and ATOI of 17:19 thru 34 games)

Theodore among the d-corp of the Golden Knights is the youngest at just 22-year’s of age. He currently ranks 5th in ATOI of 19:23 (season high for him) among defenseman this year with Vegas thru 26 games played. In that span, he recorded 4 goals added 9 assists for 13 points, a +2 with 37 blocked shots, and 8 hits (current career highs).

With the second half of the season getting underway tomorrow, Theodore can set new career highs in goals, assists, total points, hits, blocked shots, and ATOI. Grade: A

Part 4 and our final piece, we’ll grade the goalies.

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