(Photos by Minnesota M Hockey, AP/John Locher, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Las Vegas--Today we continue our final grade series on the 2017-18 Vegas Golden Knights with a look at the blueliners and how they did.

Over the course of the week we have issued out our final grades for the Golden Knights forwards that started with the top line, then second line, and followed by the bottom six.

Final grades for the top line can be found here.

Final grades for the second line can be found by heading to this page.

Head on over to this page to see how the bottom six did with their final grades.

Defenseman

Deryk Engelland

Previous Team: 2016-17 Calgary Flames (4 goals, 12 assists for 16 points, a +2, block shots 134, hits 135, and ATOI of 18:20 thru 81 games)

At the mid term break of the regular season, Engelland had three goals, 10 assists for 13 points and was a +9. For him he was near his previous mark from the prior season when he played for the Flames. In addition to that, he recorded 83 blocked shots, and registered 59 hits.

He also managed to log an average ice time of 19:35 at the first half break.

In the early stages of the second half of the season, Engelland inked a new one year contract extension to stay in Vegas. He called the signing “A Dream Come True”.

When the regular season concluded, Engelland thru 79 games scored five goals, recorded 18 assists for 23 points and finished with a +6 which was very good considering the stage he is at his NHL career. His end of season totals in block shots rose to triple digits at 150 that became his new career best for him and the hits he dished out were 126.

In addition, he improved his overall ice time average to just over twenty minutes at 20:17.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

During the Golden Knights Stanley Cup Playoff run that saw them make it to the finals, Engelland played in all 20 games where he would record two assists, had 46 blocked shots, dished out 38 hits, and logged 21:39 in average time on ice.

All things considered, Engelland playing in NHL in Vegas the city that he has called home since his days with the then ECHL LV Wranglers experienced the season of his life. With that, he is a leader on and off the ice and the impact that he has made in the community is greatly felt.

During the recent NHL Awards show that took place last month, Engelland won the 2018 Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for his commitment to community service.

With Engelland locked up for at least another year with the Golden Knights he should continue playing the best hockey of his life.

Grade: A+

Brad Hunt

Previous Team: 2016-17 Nashville Predators (no goals, 1 assist, for 1 point, a +1, blocked shots 2, hits 0, and ATOI of 17:13 at 3 games)

Hunt played in 18 games during the first half of the regular season which was less than 50% of the 41 at the mid term break. In that short span of games he skated in, Hunt produced seven assists which became his new season best and had no goals to his credit.

He also recorded 14 blocked shots, dished out nine hits which were new career high numbers for the 29-year-old defenseman. In addition to that, his average ice time at the break was 17:30 which was slightly better than his average he had last year with the Nashville Predators.

During the second half of the season, Hunt appeared in just 27 more games and his output and performance did not show signs of major improvement this was due to not being able to stay in the lineup on a consistent basis.

At the conclusion of the season he had three goals, 15 assists for 18 points, a -5, dished out 19 hits, recorded 36 blocked shots, and had a decrease in average ice time to 16:39.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

Based on his overall performance in the Golden Knights inaugural season its going to be interesting and tough to see where he fits in with the 2018-19 Vegas blueline.

Grade: C/C+

Luca Sbisa

Previous Team: 2016-17 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 the first half of the season, Sbisa skated in 24 games and this was in part to being out of commission for 16 total games due to a two separate lower body injuries. However with the games that he did play in he was able to record one goal, nine assists for 10 points and had a +6.

Included with his first half numbers he had 45 blocked shots, dished out 35 hits, and had an ATOI of 19:56. For him, that average ice time became his new career high.

The second half of the season for Sbisa was not good for him at all as he missed a significant of portion that reached a total of 35 games where he was out of commission again with two separate injuries (a left hand and an undisclosed injury). He only played in 30 total games in the 2017-18 season.

This alone greatly impacted his end of season totals where he added another goal, three more assists, nine additional blocked shots, 16 more hits and his ice time average decreased to 19:31. Sbisa’s end of season totals in goals were two, his assists at 12 for 14 points and managed to record a plus/minus of +8.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

Due to his undisclosed injury he sustained in the regular season, Sbisa missed the first four games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He only play in 14 of the 20 games during Vegas’s run to the finals. He managed to record four assists for four points, a +5, had 26 blocked shots, dished out 31 hits and had an average ice time of 16:07.

Sbisa is no longer with the team as the Golden Knights allowed him to walk in free agency.

Grade: C+/B-

Brayden McNabb

Previous Team: 2016-17 Los Angeles Kings (2 goals, 2 assists for 4 points, a +1, 54 blocked shots, 110 hits, and ATOI 15:04 at 49 games)

At the mid term break, McNabb played in 38 games and in that span he recorded two goals, six assists for eight points and was a +16. He also had 96 blocked shots, dished out 113 hits that put him at the top as team leader in both categories along with that, he averaged 20:14 in ice time.

Another thing that happened to McNabb during first half of the regular season was extending his stay in Vegas to a new four year contract extension. McNabb at that time became the first Golden Knights player to receive a contract extension by GMGM.

When the regular season concluded with 76 games played, McNabb finished with five goals (a new career best), 10 assists for 15 points and completed with a +25 rating (the highest in that category). McNabb’s average ice time rose to 20:09 which became the highest average he logged in a single season in the NHL.

McNabb finished out the regular season with 175 blocked shots and a whopping 225 in hits (new career highs).

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

In the 20 games during the Golden Knights Stanley Cup Playoff run to the finals, McNabb played in all of them where he scored two goals, pitched in with three assists for five points and a completed with a +2. In addition he recorded 47 blocked shots and dished out an impressive 82 hits and logged an average of 21:23 in ice time.

Overall McNabb had himself a heck of a first season with the Golden Knights so the question would be, can he build off of that in the upcoming campaign for Vegas, we are going to have to wait and find out.

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 played in the entire first half of the season for the Golden Knights and produced two goals, pitched in with 17 assists for 19 points, and was a +13. In addition he recorded 68 blocked shots, dished out 23 hits and logged an average of 22:39 in ice time which during that stretch led the team among blueliners.

At the conclusion of the regular season thru 76 games, Schmidt finished with five goals, 31 assists (a new career best), a +19, nearly doubled hit blocked shot total to 121, dished out 41 hits and leveled off at 22:14 in average ice time.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Schmidt was Head Coach Gerard Gallant‘s go to man in the ice time category as he logged an impressive average of 24:25 over the course of the 20 games.

During their run to the finals, Schmidt scored three goals, pitched in with four assists for seven points and finished with a +7. Schmidt also had 27 blocked shots and dished out 18 hits in the playoffs.

The 2017-18 season with the Golden Knights was Schmidt’s best ever campaign he put together in the five years he’s been in the NHL so that alone could help him build off of that for the upcoming season.

Grade: A+

Jon Merrill

Previous Team: 2016-17 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)

During the first half of the season, Merrill played in only 14 games and at that time he was healthy scratch player for the majority part thereof. In the span of games he did play in, he produced one goal, one assist for two points, a +5, and had 18 blocked shots, dished out 12 hits which included an ice time average of 16:15.

In the early stages of second half of the regular season, Merrill signed a two year extension with the Golden Knights thru the 2019-20 season. This was good news for him because he could continue his NHL career with the Golden Knights.

However during the rest of 2017-18 season Merrill missed 20 games due to an undisclosed injury. He would play in 20 more games and his end of season totals did not improve by any means as he finished out with a single goal, two assists for three points, a +7, recorded 42 blocked shots, dished out 35 hits, and would log an average of 16:05 in ice time (the lowest in his NHL career).

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

Moving forward as the next season approaches it will be interesting to see where Merrill fits in and how many games he plays in for Gallant in the 2018-19 campaign.

Grade: C/C+

Colin Miller

Previous Team: 2016-17 Boston Bruins (6 goals, 7 assists for 13 points, even, 36 blocked shots, 85 hits, and ATOI of 15:49 thru 61 games)

Miller played in all of the first half games for the Golden Knights. In that span, he produced five goals, pitched in with 16 assists for 21 points, had a +2, recorded 32 blocked shots, dished out 78 hits and at that time he had career high in average ice time of 18:46.

At the conclusion of the regular season, Miller played in all 82 games and in doing so, he doubled up in goals with 10, nearly did the same in assists at 31 for 41 points, and had a slight drop in plus/minus at -4 .

In addition, Miller recorded 64 blocked shots, dished out a total of 165 hits which was something he has never done before in his short NHL career. He would also improve is overall average in ice time to 19:21 when the regular season ended.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

During the Golden Knights Stanley Cup Playoff run to the finals, Miller played in all 20 of their games. In those games he scored three goals, pitched in with four assists for seven points, and finished with a +5. He also recorded 26 blocked shots and dished out 37 hits as well as logged 19:08 of average ice time.

With only three seasons in the NHL under him, the 2017-18 campaign with Vegas was Miller’s best he put together.

In the offseason he was one of three players along with William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek who filed for salary arbitration but he became the first to avoid going thru with it all together by signing a new four year deal with the Golden Knights.

Judging by what Miller did last season he could definitely build off of this in the upcoming campaign for the Golden Knights.

Grade: A+

Shea Theodore

Previous Team: 2016-17 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 played in 26 games for the Golden Knights during the first half of the season and this was slightly in part due to spending some time in the minors in Chicago.

However in that span, he recorded four goals, pitched in with nine assists for 13 points, and was a +2, which included 37 blocked shots, and had eight hits. In addition during the first half of the season he logged an average of 19:23 in ice time.

At the completion of the regular season, Theodore’s numbers improved to six goals, 23 assists for 29 points and finished with 70 blocked shots, dished out 29 hits and his time on ice average rose to 20:21.

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(Table by PuckPedia.com)

In the 20 games during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Theodore contributed with three goals, pitched in with seven assists for 10 points, a +2, and logged an average of 21:48 in ice time. He also recorded 26 blocked shots and dished out seven hits.

Overall for Theodore this was not a bad year for him, in fact this was the best season he put together as a whole in his young NHL career.

We foresee Theodore to get more playing time in the upcoming season patrolling the Golden Knights blueline.

Grade: B+/A-

Moving forward, the Golden Knights blueline for the 2018-19 season will be slightly different with the addition of newcomer Nick Holden who GMGM signed during free agency.

Our final piece in this series we’ll grade the goalies to see how they performed last season.

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