It is almost a perfect win-win scenario for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Per the NHL’s Return To Play Plan, which was revealed on Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights are the 2019-20 Pacific Division winners and will be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs no matter what.
However, they will be kept busy while 16 teams contest a best-of-five Play-In series in order to punch their postseason ticket.
As per the plan that has been laid out, the Golden Knights and the other top seeds will contest a three-game, in-conference round-robin tournament that will determine seeding for the traditional 16-team Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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So, in the Western Conference, the Knights will be the third-seed and will play once each against the St. Louis Blues, (1), the Colorado Avalanche (2) and the Dallas Stars (4).
This is where the Golden Knights can really use the three-game tournament to their advantage however they see fit.
For starters, if they were to come out on top by winning all three games then they would be given the top seed going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This is beneficial for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, the top seed would guarantee an easier matchup in the First Round if the NHL decides to reseed for the Playoffs, although the Calgary Flames and the Winnipeg Jets would be the opponent under the current proposal.
Secondly, by winning three straight games against elite competition, the Golden Knights would start to build some serous momentum which they could then carry into the postseason.
Plus, with Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reporting that teams would be given two exhibition games in addition to the round-robin tournament, the Knights will have ample time to get back into their groove when you consider that they will have at least a three-week Training Camp too.
On the flip side, very little will be lost if the Golden Knights decided to experiment during the three-game round-robin tournament.
Currently a three-seed, the worse-case scenario is they fall to a fourth-seed where, under the current stipulations, Vegas would face either the Edmonton Oilers or the Chicago Blackhawks in the First Round.
That may actually be more beneficial given that the Golden Knights were 2-1-0 in three games against the Oilers during the regular season, although the Blackhawks are loaded with postseason experience.
But I would be more happy with the Oilers and maybe the Blackhawks than the Flames or especially the Jets in the First Round.
Although, as we’ve said time and time again this week, to be the best you have to beat the best.
The argument for taking it easy during the round-robin tournament is to make the most of the Expanded Rosters by keeping certain star players fresh for the proper Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Head Coach Peter DeBoer could throw the likes of Lucas Elvenes and Jake Bischoff in to see if they could play a part during the postseason, while blowing off any rust may take priority over winning anyway.
All in all, the Vegas Golden Knights are in the unique position that the round-robin tournament could prove to be a win-win scenario win or lose.
They won’t put themselves in a world of hurt by staying as a three-seed or dropping to the fourth-seed, while succeeding would ensure that they ride the hot hand going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
However they decide to approach it, the Golden Knights can certainly use the three-game round-robin tournament to their advantage.