Vegas Golden Knights: Reilly Smith could be a dark horse to wear the “C”

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) against the Calgary Flames. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) against the Calgary Flames. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

Reilly Smith could be a sleeper candidate to become the Captain of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Since beginning play in the 2017-18 season, the Vegas Golden Knights have opted not to select an official Captain.

Instead, a number of players have worn the “A” on their jersey and the Golden Knights have chosen to go down the leadership by committee route.

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However, that will change in 2020-21 with Head Coach Peter DeBoer confirming that the Golden Knights will enter their fourth season as an NHL franchise with a Captain in place.

We have speculated here who the candidates could be and the general consensus leans towards Mark Stone becoming the first Captain in franchise history.

While that does seem the most likely and obvious choice for the Golden Knights, there could be a compelling dark horse waiting in the shadows.

Step forward Reilly Smith.

An original member of the “Golden Misfits,” Smith ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to what you expect from a Captain, and he would be a perfect choice should Stone not get the nod.

Here’s why…

Leading By Example

Leaders come in many different shapes and sizes and some shout and are vocal on and off the ice, while others prefer to let their play and their actions do the talking.

Reilly Smith certainly fits into the latter category and he’s straight out of Central Casting when it comes to the definition of a silent leader who sets the tone for his teammates with his actions.

A crucial cog of this well-oiled machine from day one, Smith is the heartbeat of this Golden Knights team and he is a coach’s dream in how he plays the game.

He hustles in every single shift, he sets the tempo for his team, he can play in all situations and he never, ever gives up on a single play.

Smith is a gritty, two-way forward who can play a dominant 200-foot game, eat big minutes, kill penalties and he’s also got that ability to come up clutch in big moments.

As well as boasting all the right intangibles, Smith is a proven and established top-six forward in the National Hockey League too, recording 167 points (68 G, 99 A) in 212 career regular season games for the Golden Knights, while he also has 11 goals and 31 assists for 42 points in 47 career postseason games for Vegas.

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19).
Vancouver Canucks right wing Jake Virtanen (18) and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) fight for the puck. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Smith has averaged 18:02 minutes of total ice time in the regular season for the Knights, while he’s arguably one of the best penalty killers in the entire NHL given how responsible he is in his own zone, coupled with the fact that he is good for at least a couple of high-danger chances every shift on the PK.

But, more importantly when it comes to measuring the merits of a prospective Captain, Smith, who was worth a Point Share of 6.8 in 2019-20, is respected by his teammates, the coaching staff and the front office, he’s well respected throughout the league, his work ethic is admirable and he just carries himself in the right way on and off the ice.

He plays a perfect 200-foot game and that desire on the ice to execute every single play should inspire his teammates, and his hunger to want to improve every single day should also have a positive impact on prospects and the younger players on the Golden Knights roster.

You want your Captain and leader of the franchise to not only produce the goods on the night, but also play the game in the right way, help the younger players on the team, help the coaching staff, set the tone at all times at the rink and away from the rink and Smith does all of those things.

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Overall, the Vegas Golden Knights have certainly got options when it comes to naming the first Captain in franchise history, but Reilly Smith should certainly be a finalist given everything he can bring to the table in that role.