When the Golden Knights drafted Connor Corcoran in the 5th round of the 2018 Draft he was widely considered a defense-first defenseman. A bigger kid standing 6’2″ at around 190 pounds, Corcoran was most known for his gap control and poise on the puck in his own end but the offensive side of the game had not really shone through.
Two years later, that label probably needs to be thrown in the trash can after Corcoran put up the best offensive season of his career with 19 goals and 35 assists in 62 OHL games while remaining solid in his own end. He finished in the top 10 in the league in points and 4th overall in the OHL in goals this season. In fact, Corcoran scored more goals himself than every other defenseman on his team combined, and it wasn’t close (19 to 12.)
Corcoran actually started his OHL career with a familiar face to the Golden Knights. When he joined the Spitfires in 2016, the head coach in Windsor was Rocky Thompson. The future Wolves coach allowed Corcoran to play both forward and defense before moving him full-time to D.
Playing D this year I really liked it. So I’m hoping I’ll be able to step in as a two-way D, play on the penalty kill, chip in a bit on the power play, but I’d say (the plan is to) stick to D. -Corcoran on 6/24/18
Obviously the Golden Knights believed the progression would come and it absolutely has with Corcoran taking the massive leap offensively this season. He plays a physical game, skates well, and clearly the offensive side to playing D has started to flash.
Corcoran says he models his game after current Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen, a player who has put up 25 points in seven straight seasons while averaging more than 22 minutes a night.
A right-handed two-way defenseman that plays in every situation and adds offense consistently, Corcoran is exactly what the Golden Knights need coming up through the system.
Using the current calendar (which may change due to the hiatus), Vegas only owns Corcoran’s rights until June 1st of this year. With the steps he took in his second season after being drafted, you can bank on the Golden Knights finding a way to sign him to an entry-level deal soon and Corcoran to be pushing for a spot inside of his old coach’s lineup for the AHL team heading to Vegas/Henderson next year.
While the Golden Knights are still waiting to really receive some major impact from a rookie at the NHL level, the bottom of McPhee and McCrimmon’s draft classes continue to impress. They may not have the next superstar in the system, but consistently hitting on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round picks is one way to keep the cupboard stocked, and the Golden Knights appear to be on the right track in doing that with Corcoran.