When the Vegas Golden Knights hit the ice for the first time to start their first ever season in the NHL way back in October, they did so without a captain.
Admittedly, after the tragic events in Las Vegas in October, and the fantastic speech delivered at centre ice, Deryk Engelland sort of assumed the unofficial captains role, but through the season he had an A on his jersey along with James Neal, David Perron and Luca Sbisa.
So honestly this post requires a bit more thought than I’m giving it because some influential players aren’t guaranteed to be around for the 2018/19 season.
Also, do Vegas need a captain?
They’ve managed to make it to the Stanley Cup finals in year one, without an actual captain.
They’ve done what four other expansion teams have never done. Minnesota are still waiting to make the Finals since joining the league in 2000, Columbus are waiting to do the same, The new Winnipeg Jets have been waiting since 2011 (and won’t be waiting much longer at their rate) and then Arizona are going to continue to wait since 1996.
Vegas went from only having Reid Duke to the Stanley Cup finals in one year without anyone wearing a C.
We may have had a clearer picture on who they pictured as captain if they had won the cup, but because we don’t have that luxury it’s time to speculate.
One player that would be good, if he wasn’t so covered in pads would be Marc-Andre Fleury. Say what you will about his struggles in the Stanley Cup Finals, he’s a huge part of why the team have done so well in year one.
The problem is, goalies can’t be captains officially. Roberto Luongo was technically the captain of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons but wasn’t able to serve as captain during games.
We’ll rule Fleury out but it’d be nice to see Flower lead the team, he’s definitely done all he can to help Vegas to the impossible this year.
Deryk Engelland did the city of Vegas and the Golden Knights organisation proud when he made that wonderful speech ahead of the teams first ever home game, and as a resident of Las Vegas after playing for the Las Vegas Wranglers in the ECHL in 2003-04 and 2004-05, it’d be a nice touch to give him the C.
Engelland is by no means the best player on the team, far from it in fact, although he did set a career high in points this year with 23 at the tender age of 35, turning 36 towards the end of the year.
As an elder statesmen on the Golden Knights roster, I think his name gets thrown in because of his service to the game over the years playing in the NHL and the minors, but mostly the resident part plays a factor in me, but it may not come to much.
My actual pick for captain goes to former Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators and now Vegas Golden Knights forward James Neal (unless he doesn’t re-sign this summer, that would be embarrassing for me).
Neal has been around for a while now. Starting his career with the Stars in 2008, he’s amassed 263 goals and 499 points in 703 regular season games, adding 53 more points in 93 games during his time with the Penguins and Predators.
His eye for goal and experience among his career to me makes him a prime candidate for the vacant position.
Look back to game two, after Alex Tuch missed a chance to tie game two late on, Neal made a point of talking to the 22-year-old rookie, that’s captain material right there.
Neal wants to win, and Vegas would do well to keep him around next year, and he’s already got an A on his chest, maybe it’s time for the C.
While I think that Neal is the obvious choice given his veteran status and the way he’s conducted himself this year, other names to be considered could be Braden McNabb, Jonathan Marchessault or even David Perron (if he returns).
But it’s hard to see past Engelland or Neal to lead the charge for Vegas.
Now I hope you’ve enjoyed this massive speculation of a post, but let’s be honest with my luck and track record, watch Vegas sign John Tavares or something in the offseason and chuck the C on his chest and make me look like an idiot.
I mean George McPhee has let me down before (yes, THAT trade) so I wouldn’t put it past him to do it again.
Featured Image: Jason Halstead/Getty Images