The Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first NHL season in 2017-18. They lost to the Washington Capitals in five games but set the tone early that they want to win the Stanley Cup as soon as they can.
Since picking their inaugural team in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, they have made many changes to the roster, including adding big-ticket players in center Jack Eichel and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights enter their sixth season with their third coach in Bruce Cassidy, who led the Boston Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
The Seattle Kraken finished last in the eight-team Pacific Division in their first NHL season in 2021-22 and are taking a more patient approach to becoming a Cup contender.
They are trying to build through the draft, taking Matty Beniers with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and Shane Wright at No. 4 in the 2022 NHL Draft. This offseason they signed two-time Stanley Cup winner Andre Burakovskybringing in a proven winner for coach Dave Hakstol’s team.
But which of the two most recent NHL expansion team will see its dream of a Stanley Cup come true, first?
That’s the question before NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers and Editor-in-Chief Bill Price in this installment of State Your Case.
Price: There is a growing sentiment around NHL circles that the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup window has slammed shut, but I’m not buying it. Sure, they could struggle to make the playoffs this season after missing out last season, but let’s not forget that this is Las Vegas. It’s a town that loves winners and owner Bill Foley knows that. He’s not going to be satisfied until there is a parade down Las Vegas Boulevard. So though they may not win it this season after having come close in their first few seasons, the idea that the Kraken can win the Cup before the Golden Knights is not something I see happening as long as Foley is in charge in Vegas.
Myers: Sure, the Kraken had a tough inaugural season, but the truth is, that’s how a first season goes for pretty much every expansion team. It only paled in comparison to the Golden Knights’ anomaly of a first season that included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. But back to the Kraken: The NHL season is a marathon, not a race, and so is building a Cup contender. Forward prospects such as Matty Beniers and Shane Wright will start putting their mark on this team, perhaps as early as this season. It may take a few years, but I believe even at slow and steady, the Kraken will hoist that Cup before the Golden Knights.
Price: There is no question that Seattle is building its team the right, or should I say, the Wright way. Having Wright fall into the Kraken’s laps as the No. 4 pick in the 2022 draft might have been the biggest gift the city of Seattle has received since Eddie Vedder moved there from California as an up-and-coming singer. And listen, by the time this argument is settled, the two of us might each be enjoying early-bird specials somewhere in a Florida retirement community. That being said, the Golden Knights, despite the hits they have taken in the past few seasons, are much closer to a Cup, and I think Cassidy is one of the most underrated coaches in the NHL and will work wonders with Eichel and Mark Stone on The Strip. And again, Foley won’t rest until the Cup is his.
Myers: No argument on the Cassidy impact. He’s a great coach who led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2019, when they lost to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. Speaking of the Cup, the Kraken have a few players who are familiar with that big, shiny trophy. Forward Yanni Water Bottle won it with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 and 2021, defenseman Vince Dunn with the Blues in 2019 and goalie Philipp Grubauer with the Washington Capitals in 2018. This offseason they acquired Burakovsky, who won the Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and with the Colorado Avalanche this year. Past Cup winners will help the young group come along and let them know what it’s going to take to reach the pinnacle. Yeah, I agree with Bill: this probably won’t be figured out for a few seasons but I’m putting my money on the Kraken. No offense, Vegas.