Las Vegas–With the Vegas Golden Knights inaugural season long gone, the final grades are finally out for arguably the best top line in the National Hockey League in the 2017-18 campaign.
At the mid-term point of last season, we ran a series grading the Golden Knights players that painted a picture of where they stood in terms of performance and production compared to what they did for their former NHL clubs from the year prior to coming over via the “Vegas Draft”.
Previous Team: 2016-17 Florida Panthers (30 goals, 21 assists for 51 points and was -21 in 75 games played)
At the mid-term point of the 2017-18 season, Marchessault had 16 goals, 24 assists for 40 points and was a +17 thru 38 games played. However he missed a few games with an injury early on but he did very well with being out for the short term.
With his first season as Golden Knights forward in the books, he completed the campaign with 27 goals, 48 assists for 75 points and a +36. If he were not injured during a small part of the first quarter in the last season, he would have had back-to-back campaigns at 30 goals or more.
Overall, Marchessault had a great first season with Vegas as this was the first time in his NHL career where he reached the 70 point threshold.
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Marchessault thru 20 games produced eight goals, 13 assists and was a +8. He also averaged 19:25 of ice time during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Previous Team: 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets (6 goals, 19 assists for 25 points and was +10 thru 81 games)
At the mid-term point of the 2017-18 season, Karlsson was having himself the best campaign of his life in the NHL. He had 22 goals and led the team overall in that category.
Included at that time, he had 14 assists which was not far off from what he completed with in his last season with the Blue Jackets. In addition, his plus/minus was impressive at +20
As the 2017-18 season is now a thing of the past, Karlsson finished with an impressive 43 goals, 35 assists for 78 points and a whopping +49 rating. The 78 points he recorded last season led the team overall.
His 43 goals place him third overall in the NHL behind Washington Capitals Captain Alexander Ovechkin and Winnipeg Jets Patrik Laine.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs we saw Karlsson thru 20 games he scored seven goals, recorded eight assists at 15 points, completed with a +8, and averaged 21:40 of ice time over that span and into the Stanley Cup Finals.
This was the most successful season the Karlsson put together in his short NHL career, the first 40+ goal campaign (two hat tricks included), followed by his first 70+ point year and on top of that he took home the 2018 Lady Byng Trophy, not a bad year for him by any comparison.
Previous Team: 2016-17 Florida Panthers (15 goals, 22 assists for 37 points and was a +13 in 80 games)
Smith at the mid-term point of the season was also relishing in the success of the Golden Knights as scored 15 goals, added 24 assists for 39 points which basically bested out last years number he put together as a member of the Florida Panthers.
Fast forward to the end of the Vegas inaugural season with 67 games, Smith finished it out with 22 goals, 38 assists for 60 points at +31. This was the third time in Smith’s career to have scored 20 goals of more in a single season.
Thru the 20 games he played in during the Golden Knights run to Stanley Cup Finals, Smith scored five goals, recorded 17 assists for 22 points and a plus/minus of +5 and had an average ice time during the playoffs of 20:23.
In his seven seasons of his NHL career, the 2017-18 campaign with the Golden Knights was Smith best overall.
Heading into the next season, it will be interesting to see how well the top line in going perform now that the rest of the league has taken the time during this summer hiatus in reviewing hours upon hours of video of their playing style.
The next piece, we will take a look at the Golden Knights second line forward to see how they did when the season ended.