Vegas Golden Knights helping raise hockey's betting profile

This was always going to be a tough season for the Detroit Red Wings. Not only had he never scored 10 goals in a single season before, let alone nearly won the Rocket, Karlsson almost tripled his previous career-best shooting percentage by scoring on In that vein, the Jets accomplished nigh last season. See our Commenting FAQ. View author archive Get author RSS feed. The bar is set

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Attendance & Merchandise Help Drive Vegas Success

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Confirm Password Passwords must match. He was an NHL lifer who had turned 59 a few days earlier. McPhee played seven seasons for the Rangers and Devils, and had worked in management for three decades for the Canucks, Capitals and Islanders before Foley convinced him that Las Vegas, incongruously, was a place where hockey could thrive. Whenever they held an event, Foley told him incredulously, more people kept showing up.

McPhee took the plunge and dived headfirst into the unknown — and the unsullied. You want to win. The Knights have not only become immensely popular in Las Vegas, but they have emerged as one of the top teams in the league, with the clinching of a playoff berth imminent.

Originally established as to-1 by the Vegas sports books to win the Stanley Cup, the Knights are now considered legitimate contenders to do so. By all measures, Vegas is blowing away all standards for expansion. Once hired, McPhee picked the brains of others who had gone through the expansion process — most notably Doug Risebrough, who ran the expansion draft for the Minnesota Wild , and Bobby Clarke, who masterminded the Florida Panthers.

If McPhee has any advice for the next expansion GM, it would be to focus on putting together the scouting staff as quickly as possible. Though McPhee hired 35 people in a whirlwind first 60 days and made the key hire of coach Gerard Gallant in April , the emphasis always was on getting the scouts out to watch games as quickly as possible, with the expansion and amateur drafts looming. By September, with the scouting staff having been outfitted uniformly with laptops, iPads, cellphones and software, the entire group met for an intensive, three-day planning session.

The Knights were painstaking in their preparation for the draft, holding myriad internal mock drafts to cover every contingency. Certainly, the NHL helped ensure the Knights could have a quicker path to early success than previous expansion teams by the way it set up the expansion draft.

Existing teams could protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie. So instead of protecting 14 or 15 players, as was the case in previous expansion drafts, teams were able to protect just nine or That meant that good players were available, if you knew where to look. The rules called for the Knights to take one player from each existing team.

By all measures, McPhee maneuvered brilliantly, executing 10 side deals in addition to the draft. The key selection was standout goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who had won three Stanley Cups but was left unprotected by Pittsburgh after year-old Matt Murray had led the Penguins to a second consecutive title last season. Others who have emerged this year include William Karlsson, who went from a sporadic scorer with Columbus to a team-leading 39 goals with Vegas; journeyman forward David Perron, who has 50 assists and leads with 66 points; and Erik Haula, formerly of Minnesota, who has 28 goals.

The league has said that the next expansion draft would operate under the same rules , so Seattle would have the same opportunity to thrive early.

Why saddle a new team trying to make inroads in its market with what is typically a woefully non-competitive inaugural team? Of those 63 previous expansion teams in the four major sports, 21 had the worst record in their league, and they had a total.

That motivation even fit Gallant, the coach, who had been fired by the Panthers 22 games into the season despite leading them to the playoffs the previous season. Gallant said he scoffed initially at the notion that the Knights were playing with chips on their shoulder. Then he noticed an inescapable fact.