It’s taken quite some time, but it looks like the rookies are finally fully cooked and ready to play in the NHL.
With the move of Colin Miller the Golden Knights roster currently stands with just five NHL players under contract and likely a sixth when Deryk Engelland re-ups in Vegas.
While the trade was made to help with cap compliance it was also made to provide some hope for the young defensemen we have in the organization. We really believe we have some terrific young defensemen, different flavors, bring different things to our lineup. -McPhee
There are five players with a legitimate claim to that open spot. They are Nic Hague, Jimmy Schuldt, Zach Whitecloud, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan.
So this is going to be a year where we’re going to add a rookie on the blue line and we have different flavors and I’m not sure which one at this point will do it, but it brings some enthusiasm and some freshness to your lineup and we believe will make us better because these kids are good, they are good players. -McPhee
When Cody Glass was drafted in 2017, he stood 6’1″, weighing in at 175lbs. Two years later, Glass is filling in nicely.
Yeah I think I’m 190lbs now, and I’m 6’2 and a half. I’m not close to my brother or my dad, but it’s nice to see some improvement on my weight and height. -Glass
Since becoming a Golden Knights prospect he was told to add weight and muscle while developing in WHL and the AHL.
It’s always been a struggle for me to put on weight… the team has been helping me along the way. They gave me tips on how to be a better player and a better professional. It all starts with eating the healthy. It sucks at first but when you get used to it, it’s a lot better and it’ll help down the road. -Glass
Same goes for prospect Jack Dugan, who was sizably different from his first Golden Knights development camp.
Jack, to me, looks like a man now. That’s a guy who’s improving leaps and bounds.”-Kelly McCrimmon
Both director of player development Wil Nichol and assistant coach Mike Kelly echoed those same thoughts, almost word for word.
Dugan, a sophomore at Providence College, knew he had the talent when Vegas selected him in 2017, but he knew he needed to get stronger. So he began training more off the ice and in the gym.
When I was drafted I had never been in a weight room before. This past two years that’s been the main focus, more so off the ice. I think my on-ice ability got me drafted. Put the two together and I think I have a pretty good chance. -Dugan
Incoming General Manager Kelly McCrimmon spoke at length about the growth and strength development of players attending their third camp. It’s the one thing that’s most noticeable year-to-year.
Seeing players come back year to year to year, it gives an appreciation for how development actually works. And for the time it takes for guys to get there… Specifically with Cody, he’s a good example. When you look at the difference in Cody from year one, to year two, to year three you see a player that’s bigger, stronger, faster, more confidence. -McCrimmon
It breaks down to commitment and discipline. Unfortunately, pizza and fried chicken aren’t in that equation.
No, stay away from it. Unless it’s the end of the season. -Glass
For the record, the SinBin.vegas crew ate pizza literally an hour before we spoke to Glass. We’ve yet to find the link between terrible eating habits and poor blogging.
Friday night was one the Krebs family has been envisioning for a very long time. You might’ve noticed the 17th overall surrounded by his proud parents and siblings as his name was being called. The handshakes, hugs, kisses, and tears of joy. It was a made for TV moment.
My parents could tell early on that Peyton had something special. His heart has always been with hockey and to see his dreams come true at the Draft was so amazing. My family’s passion and love for the game is steadfast. Hockey has brought so much joy to my parents and brothers lives. -Maddison Krebs, Sister and Professional Musician
Peyton’s sister Maddison was spotlighted by NBCSports after Vegas made their 1st round selection. We chatted with Maddison following last weekend’s Draft. Like her brother, she chased her dream and is a successful singer/songwriter living in Nashville. Peyton and Maddison both recognized their passion early on, and their parents stood by in support.
Just like my brother’s, I found what I loved to do very early on. My parents gave us kids dream books when we were little. In the book, you write all your goals and dreams with a picture. This inspired us to always go after what’s in our hearts. My parents bought me a guitar when I was 7 and that’s when my big dreams where born. Since then I’ve dedicated myself to my dreams in music and it’s been an amazing journey so far. -Maddison Krebs
Quite like a young hockey players first stick, Maddison was gifted her first instrument and the music began to flow. Before they were teens, the Krebs’ kids were on their future path to dream careers, and it was never deterred by Cindy or Greg Krebs.
All the boys played high-level hockey and I was competing in dancing, along with pursuing music. This was all happening prior to any of us having our driver’s licenses. And we of course only have two parents, so that can give you a pretty good idea of our crazy schedules! We could not have done any of this without our parents. -Maddison Krebs
Let’s be honest, most parents would remind their children it’s nearly impossible to become a professional athlete or a professional musician. Most tend to lead their children down a traditional college/business route. It’s the logical approach for parents. But not for Cindy and Greg. They gave their four children the support to grow and flourish. (The other two Krebs boys are both hockey players. Dakota, 20 plays in the WHL, and Dru, 16, plays in their hometown of Okotoks for the Okotoks Oilers.)
For the first time since the nightmare at SAP Center, there will be Golden Knights on the ice this week at City National Arena. 2019 Development Camp gets underway tomorrow with practices for the early half of the week and then scrimmages on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
43 players have been invited to this year’s camp including 22 Golden Knights draft picks. Here’s a quick rundown of the roster.
Draft Picks by Year
2019 – Kaedan Korczak, Pavel Dorofeyev, Layton Ahac, Ryder Donovan, Isaiah Saville, Marcus Kallionkieli, Mason Primeau (Not Attending: Peyton Krebs)
2018 – Slava Demin, Brandon Kruse, Connor Corcoran, Peter Diliberatore, Xavier Bouchard, Jordan Kooy (Not Attending: Ivan Morozov, Paul Cotter)
2017 – Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Lucas Elvenes, Jack Dugan, Nick Campoli, Jiri Patera, Ben Jones
20 – Mick Messner, Charles-Antoine Roy, Bray Crowder, Tim Theocharidis
21 – Mitchell Chaffee, Jermaine Loewen, Keenan Suthers, Gustaf Westlund
Times attending VGK Camp
Third Appearance – Cody Glass, Nicolas Hague, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, Lucas Elvenes, Jack Dugan, Nick Campoli, Jiri Patera, Ben Jones, Dylan Cohglan, Dylan Ferguson
Second Appearance – Brandon Kruse, Connor Corcoran, Peter Diliberatore, Xavier Bouchard, Jordan Kooy
First Appearance – Slava Demin, Kaedan Korczak, Pavel Dorofeyev, Layton Ahac, Ryder Donovan, Isaiah Saville, Marcus Kallionkieli, Mason Primeau, Garrett Pinoniemi, Cole MacKay, Cullen McLean, Zak Smith, Mason Lohrei, Kirby Proctor, Zach Uens, Mike Vorlicky, Wyatt Bongiovanni, Taro Jentzsch, Brayden Pachal, Mick Messner, Charles-Antoine Roy, Bray Crowder, Tim Theocharidis, Mitchell Chaffee, Jermaine Loewen, Keenan Suthers, Gustaf Westlund
What To Watch
2019 Draft Picks
Since Peyton Krebs will not be skating, I’ll have my eyes first and foremost on Pavel Dorofeyev. He’s the most offensive-minded of all of the 2019 Draft picks with an impressive ability to hold the puck in the offensive zone. He has an excellent shot with what’s been described as a creative release.
The battle between Korczak and Ahac should be fun to watch as well. They are similar prospects, but Korczak was the one VGK seemed to value more, trading up to get him. But, since both are defense first type defensemen, I’d be surprised if they stand out too much on the ice in drills or scrimmages.
Finally, there’s Donovan and Kallionkieli. Both natural goal scorers with excellent skating and speed, it will be interesting to see how they look against the 2017 and 2018 picks. Can they keep up? Are they there physically? Will they be able to score?
Demin missed last year’s camp after being a 4th round pick in 2018. He had a solid freshman year at the University of Denver and it will literally be the first time I’ve seen him play in person. His skating is what excites me the most, would love to see it show up in a big way in camp.
In 2017 both Glass and Hauge looked like just regular guys among the bunch. In 2018, Glass started to stand out a bit more with his creativity but still didn’t seem to really drive offense. Hague still looked a little shaky skating, but his offensive game was dominant and he wowed with his toe-drag goals in scrimmages. This year, it’s time for those two to stand out so far beyond everyone else that it almost seems embarrassing they are even at this camp. When Alex Tuch skated with the Golden Knights prospects in 2017, he looked like a dominant force every time he stepped on the ice, that needs to be Glass and Hague, otherwise, I’m going to start doubting they are truly ready to make the big roster.
Last year all of the hoopla was about Jimmy Schuldt, and we all know how that ended up turning out. This year, there’s no Jimmy Schuldt, but that’s not to say there aren’t a few players who are going to deserve a closer look for a contract.
Nearly two hours after the start of the 2019 NHL Draft, Peyton Krebs’ family finally got to let out the massive cheer they’ve been planning for years. 18-year-old Peyton stood up, dolled out some hugs, and then he made the long trek from Section 117 to center stage at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. He hobbled down the arena stairs, limped along the draft floor, and staggered his way up onto the stage to accept his Vegas Golden Knights jersey and hat before taking a picture with his new GM and President of Hockey Operations.
Photo courtesy of NBCSN on NBCSports.com
And he did it all with a giant smile on his face.
17 days ago Peyton Krebs was participating in an on-ice training session when another player’s skate cut through his sock slicing into his Achilles tendon. Three days later Krebs was under the knife having surgery to repair the “partially torn” tendon.
A player who was previously expected to be picked in the top 10, and maybe even the top five, had gone from a high-end NHL prospect to a risky one. All because of a freak accident.
That didn’t stop the Golden Knights though, who made Krebs the fourth 1st round pick in team history and the first since Vegas’ first Entry Draft in 2017. But now, the focus really intensifies on the new prized prospect’s heel.
It’s definitely something (teams) wanted to know about, how it’s healing and everything, but I don’t think it was a huge factor. I think I went where I was supposed to and I’m going to make the most of it. -Krebs
Luckily for Krebs, all Achilles injuries are not alike. Recently, Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury during the NBA Finals, ending his postseason and leaving his availability for all of next season in jeopardy. NFL superstar cornerback Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles in November of 2017 and despite getting back on the field in 2018, most believed he returned a different player. Krebs’ injury is very different.
It’s way better to happen with a cut, or a laceration. If it gets cut clean, that means that the two ends of the tendon prior to the injury were healthy. You would assume the cut was little higher up than the typical tear because the skate protects the lowest part of the tendon, which is normally where people hurt it. -Dr. Caleb Pinegar, Crovetti Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
Krebs is an elite talent who tore his Achilles tendon in early June. He was projected as a potential top-five pick but fell all the way to #17. Krebs is a 200-foot player that is a playmaker and described as a “constant difference maker.” He’s a two-way center who played on one of the worst teams in the WHL, yet he still put up 86 points.
Krebs is an excellent passer who has terrific vision as well. He’s a high-end skater who has very good speed and good burst. He’s also described as a player with excellent creativity.
Krebs was the captain of his WHL team the Kootenay Ice. He was also the captain of the Team Canada U18 team. Krebs led both teams in points.
Vegas was one of the meetings that I came out of and I felt really good about. They felt like family from the get go and so happy to be picked by them. -Krebs
I absolutely love Krebs game. I’ve said thi all year long. He drives the bus. He’s a line driver. Think Turcotte light. #NHLDraft
He’s a very mature kid. He does everything possible off ice to make himself better. He goes full out effort all the time on the ice. He’s skilled, he can skate, he can make so many plays. I expect him to be an explosive top-six forward in the NHL. –James Patrick, Winnipeg Ice coach to The Athletic
"I wanted to go to a place where I get the shivers every time I walk in the building. So, I think Vegas will do that. I'm pretty pumped." – Krebs on his excitement to play in Vegas. #VegasBorn
A well-rounded defenseman who skates well for his size. He’s steady in all areas and is considered one of the best defensive defenseman available in this Draft. He’s a 6’3″ right-handed defenseman who is very strong physically.
The Golden Knights traded up, ahead of Minnesota and Chicago to select Korczak forfeiting one of their 3rd round picks to make the deal happen.
"Just a steady reliable guy on the back end. I’ll take guys like him every year." -NHL Scout "No real weakness and I think he's just scratching the surface. I see a lot of room to grow.” -NHL Scout
Dorofeyev is a skilled forward with a deadly shot. He is said to be very calm with the puck and has the ability to create time and space while holding the puck. He has a sneaky release on his shot which can be deceptive to many goalies.
He’s listed at 167 pounds, becoming the lightest forward the Golden Knights have ever selected.
As kids growing up in Russia, the pair of Nikita Gusev and Nikita Kucherov first played together at the age of 15 for a team called the White Bears. Both undersized players, coach Gennady Kurdin took them in and urged them to use their skating and passing to unlock defenses. Quickly, they became unstoppable.
They then moved on together to play for CSKA Moskow of the KHL. Kucherov eventually to the leap of faith heading across the Atlantic ocean to play in the QMJHL where he would become a 2nd round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft while Gusev stayed in Russia where he went from an undersized castoff to the best player in the KHL.
Following MVP campaigns in their respective league, this summer the pair reunited to play for Team Russia in the IIHL World Championships and lit the world on fire.
He’s a skilled player, smart player that can make plays. We played together as kids and it was nice to get back together and we had that chemistry back. He’s a fun guy to play with and a fun guy to be around. We’ve known each other for a long time and it’s easy to talk and easy to hang out with him. He’s just a great guy. -Kucherov
Kucherov and Gusev accounted for 10 goals, 32 points, and a +23 rating in six games together. They ranked #2 and #3 in scoring in the tournament and were the talk of the tournament.
This year, Gusev will try to match Kucherov’s success in the NHL playing his first year with the Golden Knights.
We’ll see what’s going to happen, but I wish him luck and I wish him the best. He’s my good friend and Vegas is going to be happy to have him. -Kucherov
Gusev said the reason he decided to leave his home country to come to North America was that he wanted to play against the best in the world. You would think in making that decision he would lean on his friend, the best player in that best league, for advice. But according to Kucherov, that wasn’t necessary.
He won the Olympic Gold Medal, I should be asking him for advice, not him asking me. -Kucherov
Hopefully, the skill levels translate for Vegas’ Nikita as well as it has for Tampa’s.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported this week the Montreal Canadiens are looking to bolster their blueline. The Golden Knights are expected to make some moves this offseason and 26-year-old defenseman Colin Miller could be one of the players involved. We’ve speculated Miller could be moved in an attempt to make space for Golden Knights defensive prospects (Nic Hague, Jimmy Schuldt, Zach Whitecloud) and continue to build up organizational depth.
The sense that I’m getting is that (Bergevin’s) in the market for a good young defenseman. I don’t know who that might be, but if that’s what he’s looking for than he’s going to have to give up a good player or players. -Darren Dreger, TSN Montreal
Other defensemen rumored to be available are Islanders’ Nick Leddy, Toronto’s Nikita Zaitsev, and Calgary’s TJ Brodie. All three cost $4.5-$5.5M against the salary cap, and two shoot left-handed. Miller is more affordable (3.875M) and carries a right-handed stick.
Are there players, or is there a player that maybe didn’t have as good of a season as the team or the player expected last year of has struggled the last couple of seasons? Maybe that individual needs a change of scenery. -Dreger
One thing Montreal will take into consideration is Miller’s disappointing 2018-19 season. Accuracy was a major problem for Miller shooting a career low (2.3%), only edging out Deryk Engelland (1.9%) for the worst percentage for Golden Knights players with a minimum of 100 shots. The Canadiens front office could see that as a good problem. Montreal defenseman Shea Weber has one of history’s most lethal shots, and this could add some vital assistance.
There’s a lot of talk. There’s a lot of chatter out there. I’m going to be curious see how much of it is connected to the RFA, the restricted free agent pool. I look at the Vegas Golden Knights… they don’t have William Karlsson signed yet and they’ve got a lot of money. They’re at the cap and they’ve got players that they’ve got to attend too. I think more than ever, there are so many contracts that potentially are trying to be moved. I had a high profile player agent tell me the other he thinks there are at least 35 contracts in the league that are in play. -Dreger
Another note to mention is Montreal GM Marc Bergevin tends to make a splash early. Over the past few years Bergevin has traded for Shea Weber, Jonathan Drouin, and Max Domi in mid to late June. Miller’s not quite a big fish but he could fill a large need for the Canadiens.
To what degree and what is the willingness from Montreal’s standpoint to put up a good player, or players, or prospects, or draft picks to acquire this piece. -Dreger
The Golden Knights front office are clearly comfortable working with Bergevin after both parties came away satisfied after the Max Pacioretty trade late last summer. Who knows maybe both teams will work on future deals together. Possibly starting this Saturday.
With the calendar turning over from May to June it means the Golden Knights can officially begin negotiations with Nikita Gusev and Jimmy Schuldt who signed entry-level contracts late in the 2018-19 season.
This contract will expire June 1 and then we get working on the second deal. You can’t work on that deal now, it’s a circumvention of the salary cap. So to get him in here it burns the entry-level part of his contract so he can get into a different level of contract in the summer. -McPhee speaking about Gusev on 4/14/19
Gusev and Schuldt are both restricted free agents. Gusev has arbitration rights while Schuldt does not.
The first step in the process for restricted free agents is for the team to extend a qualifying offer. By doing this, they retain control on the player. The player then can either sign that offer or the two sides can negotiate a different deal.
Both Gusev and Schuldt received the largest entry-level salary possible which means they will each be extended equal qualifying offers. According to CapFriendly.com, that offer will be a two-way contract with an NHL salary of $874,125.
It’s unlikely either player signs the qualifying offer. Gusev can, and probably will, file for arbitration. Not because he and his agent expect to go to arbitration, but because it will set a deadline on their negotiation (sometime between the last two weeks of July and the first week of August).
Schuldt will likely take the Shea Theodore path of not signing the qualifying offer and negotiating a longer-term deal. However, due to a relative lack of bargaining power, Schuldt’s shouldn’t last into training camp like Theodore’s did a year ago.
Where might both of those contracts land? Well, let’s go to the history books.
Schuldt’s deal is much easier to look at because we have a few recent situations similar to his.
This isn’t earth-shattering news, nor is it all that important to the future of the Vegas Golden Knights, but a first is a first, and we’re officially two days away from another first in the history of the franchise.
With the 96th pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the Golden Knights selected Maksim Zhukov. He’s a goalie who at the time was playing with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
Since being drafted, Zhukov attended Development Camps in both 2017 and 2018, was drafted by the Barrie Colts in the CHL Import Draft (48th overall), played 19 games in the OHL with Barrie before leaving Canada to head back to Green Bay and the USHL.
By NHL rule, in order to retain the exclusive negotiating rights on a drafted player, a team must extend a “bona fide offer” (fancy term for a contract) to a player prior to June 1st of the 2nd year following his selection in the draft.
In the case of Zhukov, that’s Saturday (June 1, 2019), and at this moment, that has not happened.
Thus, if in the next two days the Golden Knights do not sign him to a contract, he will become the first draft pick in team history to be eligible to re-enter the draft. If selected, he becomes property of the new team, if not, Zhukov would be able to sign an entry-level contract with any team.
Now, it’s important to note that by not signing Zhukov it does not exclude the Golden Knights from signing him in the future. If undrafted, he could still attend Development Camp and Vegas could eventually sign him like they would any other unrestricted free agent. It’s just no longer do they have exclusive rights on him, meaning if another team wanted to swoop in, they could.
As for how Zhukov has played, the answer is not very well. In the USHL this year he put up a 3.94 goals against average and a save percentage of just .882. He wasn’t much better in the OHL either posting a 3.43 GAA and .900 Sv%.
He ranked as the 30th best goalie in the USHL (and second on his own team) by save percentage and 37th by goals against. He was beat out in Barrie by a goalie who is ranked by NHL Central Scouting as the 28th best North American goalie prospect, and was outplayed in Green Bay by an undrafted 19-year-old headed to Quinnipiac next season.
All in all, it shouldn’t be seen as a big surprise if the Golden Knights let the clock hit midnight on Zhukov. Nonetheless, he would go down in history, so there’s that.