As the Vegas Golden Knights prepare to face the Dallas Stars in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, Jonathan Marchessault remains focused on the task at hand. However, with the Florida Panthers already waiting in the Stanley Cup Final, Marchessault can’t help but think back to the 2017 expansion draft that changed his career trajectory.
At the time, Marchessault was coming off a 30-goal season in just his second full NHL campaign. He was convinced that he would be protected by the Panthers, but to his surprise, he was left exposed in the draft. This decision was made in an effort to protect defensemen Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk from the expansion draft, while also seeking cost savings on forward Reilly Smith’s contract.
The Golden Knights saw an opportunity and selected Marchessault in the expansion draft, acquiring a foundational piece for their franchise. In addition, they traded for Smith, who has since become a key player for the team. Marchessault has scored 348 points, including 150 goals, in 432 games with Vegas, while Smith has 286 points in 399 games with the Knights.
Although he was initially disappointed by the Panthers’ decision, Marchessault has since moved on from the situation. He understands that sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, and he remains focused on helping the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup.
Similarities Between the Golden Knights and Panthers
If the Golden Knights advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they will face a Panthers team that Marchessault believes is similar to the Vegas squad that went to the championship round in the franchise’s inaugural season. Both teams have worked hard to get where they are and have a strong sense of determination.
The Panthers still have a few connections to the team on which Marchessault played, including captain Aleksander Barkov and top defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Marchessault and Smith have also discussed their Panthers past together, acknowledging how trades like theirs helped build the Golden Knights organization.
Overall, Marchessault’s journey to the Stanley Cup Final has been one of perseverance and hard work. He has used the Panthers’ surprising decision as motivation and has become a key player for the Golden Knights. As the team prepares for Game 4 against the Stars, Marchessault remains focused on doing his part to help his team advance to the final round.
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