As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, the fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at Vegas Golden Knights players, listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Impact of Pacioretty trade to Golden Knights
Marc-Andre Fleury, G -- The 33-year-old became a No. 1 goaltender again with the Vegas Golden Knights, and he arguably had the best season of his NHL career. He was limited to 46 games because of a concussion but went 29-13-4 with elite efficiency (2.24 goals-against average and .927 save percentage, each an NHL career best, with four shutouts) and had identical GAA, SV% and SO numbers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fleury is in line for at least 30 wins if healthy with a heavier workload, but his peripherals could dip closer to his NHL career averages (2.56 GAA, .913 SV%), especially with top defenseman Nate Schmidt suspended for the first 20 games.
William Karlsson, C/LW** -- The 25-year-old was one of the biggest fantasy surprises last season, with NHL career highs across the board, including goals (43; third in NHL), assists (35), points (78), plus/minus (plus-49; led NHL), power-play goals (eight), power-play points (16) and shooting percentage (23.4 percent; led NHL). Karlsson thrived with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith on the first line, and the security of having either Marchessault or Max Pacioretty on his left side should keep Karlsson in the 65-70 point range. However, Karlsson isn't a high-volume shooter (184 shots on goal; 2.24 per game), and his percentage was significantly higher than his previous career high (8.3 percent), so his goal total is likely to fall this season.
Max Pacioretty, LW -- The 29-year-old should be pursued in fantasy as an injury bounce-back candidate (limited to 64 games because of knee injury) after being traded to Vegas. He's likely to slot in on either the top line with Karlsson or second with Paul Stastny, with either scenario yielding arguably the best center linemate of his NHL career. Pacioretty is a five-time 30-goal scorer who produces hits (118 last season; 1.3 per game in NHL career) and is worth targeting inside the top 75 overall. Likely to play on Vegas' first power-play unit, Pacioretty has a chance to surpass his previous career high in PPP (reached 17 twice).
Jonathan Marchessault, C/LW -- Playing on the first line with Karlsson, Marchessault built upon his breakout 2016-17 season (51 points in 75 games with the Florida Panthers) and had 75 points, including an NHL career-high 48 assists. The 27-year-old also led Vegas in SOG (268), was tied for sixth among Golden Knights skaters in hits (99), and was second in the NHL with a plus-36 rating, giving him complete category coverage. Pacioretty jumps ahead of Marchessault in NHL.com's fantasy rankings after being acquired by the Golden Knights, but Marchessault has proven chemistry with Karlsson and could feasibly keep his top-line, first power-play role. Marchessault can improve his shooting percentage (10.1 percent last season; 15.5 in 2016-17) and should provide value in the middle rounds, especially if he dips in drafts after the Pacioretty trade.
Reilly Smith, LW/RW -- Like his frequent linemates, Smith had an NHL career high in points (60 in 67 games). The 27-year-old continued that strong production in the playoffs, when he led the Golden Knights in points (22) and assists (17). Smith should remain valuable as long as he's on the top line and first power play, but he isn't a flashy fantasy pick and has yet to have consecutive 50-point seasons in his NHL career.
Alex Tuch, RW** -- The 22-year-old had 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 78 games as a rookie, playing mostly on the third line in the regular season before taking on a second-line, first power-play role in the postseason. With more consistent lineup placement and a potential boost from Pacioretty and/or Stastny, Tuch has a chance to build upon his points-per-game averages from last season (0.47 in regular season; 0.50 in playoffs). Tuch finished sixth on Vegas in SOG (171), reached double digits in PPP (10), and was tied for sixth in hits (99) last season, making him worthy of a late-round flier ahead of his likely full-time top-six role.
Shea Theodore, D -- Despite beginning the season with Chicago of the American Hockey League, the 23-year-old was third among Vegas defensemen with 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) and especially effective down the stretch with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his final 10 games. Theodore spent time on the first power play (nine PPP) and finished fourth on the Golden Knights in blocks (70). However, he isn't a factor when it comes to hits; his 29 were tied for 10th fewest in the NHL among defensemen (minimum 50 games). If Theodore holds down the first power-play role and develops more consistency in his second full NHL season, he could lead Golden Knights defensemen in scoring with at least 40 points.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Colin Miller, D; Paul Stastny, C; Erik Haula, C/LW
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent