If hockey returns this year then the Vegas Golden Knights will get the chance to fight for a championship, and they could be helped by a secret but very potent weapon.
The sports world is still very much in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the NHL is working hard to try and resume the 2019-20 season for the Vegas Golden Knights and its 30 other teams.
While a lot is still up in the air and major sports will ultimately be dictated to by health authorities and the virus itself, there is some hope that we could have hockey back at some point this summer.
What that will look like is anyone’s guess right now and there has been a plethora of different proposals and ideas floated out there.
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Many players and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would like to resume the 2019-20 regular season, although the main priority is to ensure the integrity of the 2020-21 season.
As a result, jumping straight into the playoffs is a real feasible option and expanding the postseason format to 24-teams could become a reality in order to be fair to those teams who were on the outside looking in prior to the NHL going on lockdown.
That particular proposal isn’t without its flaws, and we addressed some of those in an article here, but it would mean that the Golden Knights as a top seed would get a bye.
And, should hockey return this year and if we jump straight into the playoffs, Vegas could pull an ace from under their sleeve.
Lucas Elvenes was stellar in his rookie year for the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League, putting up 12 goals and 36 assists for 48 points in 59 games.
While the plus/minus rating of -9 is a slight blemish on the resume, Elvenes was a bright light for the Wolves and his outstanding play secured a trip to the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic at Toyota Arena, home of the Ontario Reign.
Furthermore, the 20-year-old finished 17th in points in the AHL, 4th among all rookies and the left-shot also became only the second rookie in the 26-year history of the Wolves to lead the team in scoring.
Not bad at all.
Boasting a wicked release, good puck-handling skills and excellent skating ability, Elvenes has all the tools needed to become a very productive winger at the NHL level.
He certainly adapted well to the AHL in his rookie year, a dream debut season that was cut short this week after the American Hockey League was forced to cancel the remainder of the regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs.
However, the Chicago Wolves’ loss could prove to be the gain of the Golden Knights who will need extra bodies if the season does resume.
Whether the regular season can be salvaged or not, all teams will be coming back off a substantial break and will need to navigate a short Training Camp before jumping back into games.
With the AHL now officially finished, that opens the door for NHL teams to bolster their roster with extra bodies.
For the Golden Knights who are seen as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this year, they could benefit from carrying a wildcard in Elvenes on the roster for their playoff adventure.
Although not tested on the biggest stage yet, the winger wasn’t fazed ahead of his rookie year in the American Hockey League and look at how that turned out.
Teams won’t have the measure of Elvenes yet and he’s built perfectly for the style of hockey the Golden Knights play.
He could slot in on the third line and provide a real offensive punch, maybe even sparking some much-needed secondary scoring into life for Vegas.
With a high compete level too, Elvenes would no doubt adapt well to the cut-throat nature of the NHL and coming in without too much of the spotlight could be a huge benefit.
After all, there is a long and rich history of rookies making their debuts in the playoffs and absolutely thriving, just look at the impact Cale Makar made for the Colorado Avalanche in the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While I’m not saying Elvenes will be at that level, I don’t want to set unfair expectations after all, there is no doubt that the prospect could wreak some havoc for the Golden Knights.
He’s ready to make that next leap and, if nothing else, playing in the postseason would be an invaluable experience for Elvenes and it will give him a tantalizing taste of what it is like to play in the majors, adding fuel to the fire once Training Camp opens for the 2020-21 season.
Fortune favors the brave after all and the Vegas Golden Knights have nothing to lose by rolling the dice and unleashing Lucas Elvenes in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.