With the NHL pausing the 2019-20 regular season on March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus, is taking stock of each of the League's 31 teams.
Today, the award-worthy candidates for the Vegas Golden Knights at the pause:
The Vegas Golden Knights look like Stanley Cup contenders again in their third season in the NHL.
They went through an adjustment period after replacing coach Gerard Gallant with Peter DeBoer on Jan. 15. But since Feb. 13, they have gone 11-2-0 and added defenseman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 19 and goalie Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 24.
The Golden Knights are in first place in the Pacific Division, three points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers, and hope not only to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and to make it to the Cup Final, as they did in their inaugural season of 2017-18, but to win it all.
To showcase the best performances, here are the top players in various categories:
Mark Stone has been what the Golden Knights hoped he would be in his first full season in Vegas. The 27-year-old, acquired in a trade from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25, 2019, leads them in points per game (0.97) and forwards in average ice time (19:25), playing against top competition in all situations. He had 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 65 games through Feb. 26. Vegas announced March 1 that Stone was week to week with a lower-body injury.
Video: Top 10 Golden Knights Plays ... Thus Far
The nod goes to Nicolas Hague over Cody Glass. Hague, a 21-year-old defenseman the Golden Knights selected in the second round (No. 34) of the 2017 NHL Draft, has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 38 games. Glass, a 21-year-old center Vegas selected No. 6 in the 2017 draft, has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 39 games.
Shea Theodore leads Vegas defensemen in goals (13), assists (33), points (46), rating (plus-12) and average ice time (22:14). The Golden Knights have controlled 58.5 percent of the shot attempts when he has been on the ice at 5-on-5. Since Dec. 13, the 24-year-old has 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 37 games.
Video: VGK@EDM: Theodore nets OT winner for Golden Knights
Stone is a contender for the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL. He is one of the best two-way forwards in the League by many measures. The Golden Knights have controlled 57.7 percent of the shot attempts when he has been on the ice at 5-on-5, and his 78 takeaways are tied for second in the NHL with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews behind Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin's 81.
Max Pacioretty leads Vegas with 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists), on pace for 76 points (37 goals, 39 assists) over an 82-game season. That would be an NHL career high and a turnaround for the 31-year-old forward, who had 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 66 games for the Golden Knights last season and 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) in 64 games for the Montreal Canadiens in 2017-18. Pacioretty had at least 30 goals and 60 points five times previously.
Video: VGK@CGY: Pacioretty strikes on power play