Thursday, September 26, 2019

Jonathan Marchessault Autographed Card

(As per years past, this is a twin-post with my "regular" blog, where I predicted the Vegas Golden Knights would finish first in the Pacific Division in 2019-20).

To think Jonathan Marchessault went undrafted because of his size... he'd been a point-per-game player in Juniors, even in the playoffs, and had been named CHL Player Of The Week in the playoffs, even, but no, even in 2010, a Quebecer who stood at just 5'9" (if that...) wasn't going to be given the benefit of the doubt, despite the success of Martin St-Louis.

And so he plowed through, producing five near-point-per-game seasons in the AHL before the Tampa Bay Lightning gave him a chance to shine, and even then, as a contending team, they didn't want to "waste" a roster spot on a young player who needed some fine-tuning, so they let cross-state rivals Florida Panthers snag him up, and Gerard Gallant's coaching made him into a 30-goal player.

And after Gallant was abruptly fired by the Cats and promptly hired by the Vegas Golden Knights, the expansion team did well to secure his rights for their top line in their inaugural season, and he didn't disappoint, scoring 27 goals and posting 75 points in 77 games; and although he "just" had 25 goals and 59 points last year, his line was still considered the "top" line for Vegas, playing against the opposition's top line and freeing the just-as-potent second line to face weaker competition and bring home similar if not higher production. It should be more of the same this season.

I knew from the start that the Golden Knights selected themselves a winning, post-season ready roster, I just thought they got rid of too many excellent experienced defensemen (Alexei Emelin, Marc Methot) and kept questionable ones (Deryck Engelland), but the talent level up-front, the depth, the youth, the coaching and the fact that they had one of the ten best goalies in the league (Marc-André Fleury, who has actually been more like a top-5 in Vegas so far) made them better than half the league from the get-go.

And their uniforms are great as well, as can be attested by card #229 from Upper Deck's 2017-18 Parkhurst set:
Were the California Golden Seals ahead of their time with the white equipment, or did the Golden Knights just have much better designers? In any event, that's their away uniform, and Marchessault signed the card for me in blue sharpie early in the summer when he passed through town before going on vacation. I believe he attempted to tag his jersey number (81) at the end.

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