Who Will Be the Playoff X-Factor for the Vegas Golden Knights?

It's no secret the Vegas Golden Knights are a well-rounded team. So who's the x-factor for the defending champs?
Anaheim Ducks v Vegas Golden Knights
Anaheim Ducks v Vegas Golden Knights / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

With the Vegas Golden Knights making the playoffs again, spring hockey is becoming a tradition in Sin City. As the sun starts to melt unsuspecting citizens in Las Vegas, the boys in gold still stay cool on the ice.

But this year's a little different. Now, the Golden Knights have a loaded roster, with new acquisitions taking the helm and returning. These new pieces have boosted everything, from the power play to passing.

However, there's one under-the-radar star that's the difference in helping the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup. Who's the mystery player who can become a folk hero in Las Vegas?

Watch Out For Brayden McNabb

Brayden McNabb has been an important piece of the Vegas Golden Knights since being selected in the Expansion Draft. The defenseman is a veteran leader on the team, picking the team up when they needed it. In turn, it's made him an underrated player.

But his leadership isn't the only thing he contributes. Entering the final regular season game against Anaheim, McNabb has the fourth-most blocked shots in the NHL (206). He's a key part of the Golden Knights's forecheck, generating pressure on his opponents by taking away any shooting lanes.

In short, McNabb is the ultimate defenseman in Bruce Cassidy's system. He contributes in more ways than one, putting in great effort at every turn. For the Golden Knights, losing your best defenseman can hurt the team terribly. Just look at Alex Pietrangelo's absence during the last road trip.

The Proof is in the Vegas Golden Knights Pudding

Entering Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks, the Vegas Golden Knights were tied for third in team blocked shots with 1,491. As mentioned earlier, a big part of that identity comes from having McNabb around. Without him, the Golden Knights are easier to beat in the gaps.

But the Canadian defenseman is also physical, delivering 148 hits before Thursday's final game. Without Brayden McNabb, the Golden Knights lose their bite defensively. Vegas isn't able to wear down their opponents, leaving teams to stick around.

If the Vegas Golden Knights are to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, it starts with getting McNabb involved. That even includes the offense, where his booming shot will come into play. There's no denying that the "Original Misfit" has a big role on the Golden Knights. Without him, life will get much harder for Vegas, specifically against teams like Dallas and Edmonton.