Best-case scenario … When thinking about what’s best for the Golden Knights, it’s important to remember the goal isn’t to win this season. They could conceivably shock the hockey world by squeaking into the playoffs, but that wouldn’t be what’s best, long-term. The best-case scenario would be them playing an exciting brand of hockey to keep fans interested, while youngsters like Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and Tomáš Hyka establish themselves as building blocks for the future. Maybe James Neal starts off great and gets traded at the deadline for a first-round pick. And the Golden Knights have luck in the lottery, landing the first overall pick in the 2018 draft and selecting defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who could be a generational talent.
Worst-case scenario … As is the case with most expansion teams, the inaugural season could get ugly for Vegas. Neal might never recover fully from his broken hand, causing his trade value to plummet. The team could win just enough games to stay out of the top five in next year’s draft, while missing out on the playoffs. Finishing anywhere between 17th and 27th in the league would be the worst possible outcome for the Golden Knights.