Vegas Golden Knights One-Hit Wonders

Vegas one-hit wonders

Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Vegas Golden Knights One-Hit Wonders.

Vegas Golden Knights Top Three One-Hit Wonders

Erik Haula

Erik Haula had a turbulent path to the NHL. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, following a strong year with Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota’s prep school league. He dominated in the USHL the following year before moving to the University of Minnesota for the 2010-11 season. After a bumpy freshman year, he exploded for 49 points in 43 games in his sophomore season. He’d continue his tear in his junior year, with 51 points in 37 games, before leaving college and going pro.

His first full professional season was the 2013-14 campaign, one that saw him bounce back and forth between the NHL and AHL. He ultimately mounted 27 points in 31 AHL games and 15 points in 46 NHL games. This was strong enough to earn him a solidified NHL role but it never upped his production. He stayed at this pace, setting a then-career-high 34 points in 2015-16, throughout his entire tenure with the Minnesota Wild.

During the 2017 Expansion Draft, the Wild traded Alex Tuch to Vegas, in an effort to convince them to take the struggling centre instead of exposed players Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella. The rouse worked and Vegas selected Haula over much better options, like Dumba or Eric Staal.

One-Hit Season

The 2017-18 season was Haula’s first season in 10 years outside of America’s Midwest. And whether it was finally being away from soybean fields, or the harsh winters, something clicked in Haula. His first season in Vegas was incredible.

After a career of struggling to muster much excitement, Haula scored an impressive 29 goals and 55 points in 76 games, ranking him second on the new team in goals and fourth in points. He was one of many players to come alive with Vegas and was an absolutely crucial part of their lineup. His scoring was unmatched. It was a dull sight for Minnesota, who watched both Haula and Tuch tally impressive breakout seasons.

After the Wonder

But Haula’s true self started to show through in Vegas’ historical playoff run. He only scored nine points in the 20-game post-season, eighth on the team.

His 2018-19 season was cut short, after only 15 games and seven points, thanks to a hard hit from then-Toronto Maple Leafs winger Patrick Marleau. He would need to be stretchered off of the ice and missed the remainder of the year with a knee injury.

Haula was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes the following summer, sending Nicolas Roy and a fifth-round pick back to Vegas. He managed an admirable 22 points in 41 games with Carolina but was constantly nagged by the knee injury that he suffered the year prior. Carolina traded him to the Florida Panthers, as a part of the package that acquired them Vincent Trocheck, but he didn’t manage much before the season’s halt. While he could bounce back to his 2017-18 ways in Florida, hopes don’t seem to be high, unfortunately. This is especially thanks to a newfound knee injury that has clearly hindered his performance.

William Karlsson

Every team has their face. And much like Jonathan Toews‘ bland personality has embodied the now-struggling Chicago Blackhawks, the young William Karlsson has become the player-embodiment of the rowdy-but-exciting Golden Knights.

Karlsson was always an interesting player to follow. The Anaheim Ducks selected him with their second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. Following his draft year, he’d go on to perform very well in leagues throughout Sweden. He was signed by Anaheim in the spring of 2013 but again spent much time in Sweden, thanks to a loan. He finally made his full-time jump to North America for the 2014-15 season, which he spent much of in the AHL: recording 24 points in 37 games.

Karlsson was then traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets the following March. He spent the next two seasons underperforming in Columbus, with 20 and 25 points respectively. While the hopes around him were high, he was simply not reaching expectations.

And much like with Haula, the Blue Jackets sent Vegas a first and second-round pick in an effort to have Vegas pick Karlsson, instead of players like Josh Anderson, Joonas Korpisalo, or Matt Calvert.

One-Hit Season

And, again much like Haula, the trade seemed very counteractive a year later. Karlsson’s 2017-18 season was phenomenal, earning him top-10 votes for both the Hart Trophy and Selke Trophy.

It was a terrific season that came out of nowhere for NHL fans who didn’t closely follow Karlsson’s tenure in Columbus. He scored a terrific 78 points in 82 games, including 43 goals. His goal totals ranked third in the entire league, ahead of players like Connor McDavid and Evgeni Malkin and only behind Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine.

Karlsson went from a struggling prospect to one of the NHL’s stars. His flashy and dominant play became the trademark of Vegas hockey. This is especially thanks to a terrific post-season, with 15 points in 20 games. By the 2018 summer, everyone in the league knew that Karlsson was unquestionably Vegas’ star.

After the Wonder

Well, “unquestionably” until the 2018-19 season. Despite serving in the same role, alongside nearly the exact same roster, Karlsson looked noticeably weaker in the year following his incredible breakout. While he still managed 24 goals and 56 points, it was a far cry from the elite talent he boasted in 2017-18.

His 2019-20 season continued this trend. He tallied 46 points in 63 games before the season ended, on pace for only 59 points. While an improvement, it was still a far, far cry from his 2017-18 season.

Karlsson has been replaced as Vegas’ star as a result. Players like Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone have instead taken the reigns, with even Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith overcoming Karlsson. His bright smile and demeanour still warms the hearts of Vegas fans but his on-ice production has been far from what was promised after the 2017-18 campaign.

Colin Miller

Colin Miller‘s story follows the same path as Haula and Karlsson. He was a fifth-round draft pick in 2012 but had to wait until 2015 to make his NHL debut, despite great numbers in leagues outside of the NHL. This included 52 points in 70 AHL games during the 2014-15 season, third among any AHL defenceman that year.

His first NHL season was, again, plagued with bouncing between the NHL and AHL. He gained a full-time role during his sophomore season but didn’t live up to the high-scoring expectations.

But unlike Haula and Karlsson, there was no under-the-table deal that sent Miller to Vegas. Well, that is excluding the “unrelated” fifth-round pick that the Boston Bruins gifted Vegas during the 2017 NHL Draft. Still, it seemed Vegas picked up Miller cleanly.

One-Hit Season

But, like Haula and Karlsson, Miller immediately made the Boston Bruins regret losing him. He burst into the player Boston wanted him to be for years during the 2017-18 season, scoring an incredible 41 points in 82 games. This ranked him 27th among NHL defencemen that year, ahead of players like Aaron Ekblad, Duncan Keith, and Charlie McAvoy.

His defence was great as well. All-in-all, he became the top-pair defenceman that Vegas wanted him to be. It was a crazy-exciting year that crafted Miller into a top-end name.

After the Wonder

But he quickly fell back down to Earth. The 2018-19 season began reverting Miller’s expectations. He only tallied 29 points in 65 games, a pace of only 35 points. It was enough to earn him an expelling from Vegas, who dealt him to the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round and fifth-round pick.

And Miller plummeted this season. He scored a career-low 11 points in 51 games while being completely ignored by the Rasmus Ristolainen-obsessed Sabres. While his poor performance this year is surely in-part on his new team, he’s far, far from the 41-point, top-end player that he was in his first year with Vegas.

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