(Last updated: July 28th, 2018)
Criteria to qualify for rankings:
- Must be younger than 23 years old
- Cannot have played more than 10 NHL games
- Must be either under contract or drafted by the Golden Knights
The diminutive Swedish defenseman almost has an aura around him when he steps on the ice. Much like a home-run hitter in baseball, there’s a feeling that every time he touches the puck something special is about to happen. He has great vision and an incredibly high confidence level that leads to breathtaking stretch passes. He’s also a very good skater which helps him overcome his small stature. Moving forward he has to work on controlling mistakes. Due to his unwavering belief that he can make something happen with the puck, he tends to turn it over or get caught out of position quite frequently, much more than a reliable NHL defenseman should. Brannstrom has a legitimate shot of making the Golden Knights roster out of camp, but with his waiver exempt status and a bit of a logjam of NHL-level defenseman, he’ll more than likely end up in the AHL to start the year.
The first draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights history has done nothing but dominate since being selected by George McPhee. He scored 102 points in 64 regular season games in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks including 37 goals. What makes Glass such a promising prospect is his ability (and willingness) to defend. He’s been relied upon in Portland as a top penalty killer and is consistently given a large minute load when his team is ahead. He’s also widely regarded as a tenacious forechecker, a skill that will fit in well with the current Golden Knights roster. Glass projects in the NHL as a two-way player with good speed, solid vision, and the ability to score. He’s still likely a year out from making the NHL roster and will probably head back to Portland this year.
3) Zach Whitecloud (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 8th, 2018
Age: 21 (November 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Vegas Golden Knights
The most pro-ready prospect in the entire Golden Knights pool is Zach Whitecloud. He spent the final few weeks of the season with the Golden Knights and even played in an NHL game with Vegas in which he was +3 vs. Edmonton. In Development Camp he was physically the most ready player, but he also displayed great poise and leadership on the ice. When his time comes, and it may not necessarily be out of training camp, he’s not going to be a flashy player, but he will be reliable. He projects as a solid stay-at-home defenseman with potential upside offensively as he matures. His place near the top of the list is more based on how close he is to playing in the NHL than it is the likelihood he becomes a superstar player. That being said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Whitecloud puts together a long and successful NHL career.
4) Nic Hague (D)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #34 overall
Age: 19 (December 5, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Since slipping out of the 1st round, Hague has seemed to play with a chip on his shoulder, going out and winning the Max Kaminsky Trophy for the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman. Hague is a giant on the ice standing 6’6″ tall and weighing over 215 pounds. He also has a laser beam of a shot that he unleashes when he’s able to join the attack or on the power play. His greatest defensive skill is his reach, but his skating still holds him back a bit from being a completely reliable defenseman. Hague will almost certainly head to the AHL this season where he may get a chance to make his NHL debut at some point during the year.
5) Nick Suzuki (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #13 overall
Age: 18 (August 10, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Hands, hands, and hands is the name of the game for Suzuki. Of every prospect in the Golden Knights system, no one’s hands even come close to that of Suzuki’s. He also has tremendous vision which allows him to see and make passes most players can’t even imagine pulling off. He’s still a bit undersized though and has a tendency to disappear a bit when he’s not the best player on the ice. When he eventually makes his debut in the NHL it’ll likely be as a winger rather than the center position he’s played for much of his career. His creativity and quickness should blend in well with the Golden Knights system which should help his game translate to the NHL. This preseason and training camp will be important for Suzuki. He’s unlikely to make the roster, and will probably be headed back to Owen Sound, but it’s a good chance to make a lasting impact.
6) Jonas Rondbjerg (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #65 overall
Age: 19 (March 31, 1999)
Most Recent Team: IF Troja-Ljungby (Allsvenskan) on loan from Vaxjo Lakers HC (SHL)
Rondbjerg impressed at 2018 Development Camp consistently creating scoring chances for teammates. He has very good hockey sense which tends to lead to finding himself with the puck in open areas. When he’s there, he’s a smart player that picks out the right play more often than not. Rondbjerg has played 40 games in the SHL playing against grown men so he may be ready for the jump to the AHL this season. However, it’s more likely he’ll stay in Sweden for another full season. He has shined when playing for his country, Denmark. In six games at the World Junior Championship, he tallied seven points which ranked him tied for 12th behind many top prospects including Casey Mittelstadt, Martin Necas, Filip Zadina, Cale Makar, Brady Tkachuk, Sam Steel and others. It’s elite company to be keeping in a very competitive tournament. Don’t sleep on Rondbjerg, he might end up being the Golden Knights steal of the 2017 Draft.
7) Jack Dugan (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #142 overall
Age: 20 (March 24, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
The leap Dugan made from the 2017 Development Camp to 2018 was tremendous. He was a scoring machine in the scrimmages both putting the puck in himself and setting up teammates. Last year he scored 66 points in 54 games with the Chicago Steel. This year he’ll be making the leap to Providence College to play in the strong Hockey East conference. Don’t expect to see Dugan in a Golden Knights uniform anytime soon, it literally might be four years away, but this is a player with a lot of upside and will likely go from relative unknown in the Golden Knights prospect system to an impactful player on NHL ice in a hurry.
8) Paul Cotter (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #115 overall
Age: 18 (November 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
The clear standout from the draft class of 2018 at Development Camp. Cotter has since been invited to play for Team USA at the World Junior Showcase where he’ll be joined by fellow VGK prospect Brandon Kruse. There’s just a certain smoothness to Cotter’s game that is fun to watch. He barely looks like he’s moving when he has the puck and has shown an innate ability to make good passes in traffic. Plus, he has a lightning quick release on his shot which gives most goalies trouble. He’ll head to Western Michigan this year to play in the NCAA and hopefully, he’ll have a spot on the World Junior Championship team in early 2019.
9) Dylan Coghlan (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on September 20, 2017
Age: 20 (February 19, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Tri-City Americans (WHL)
As an invitee to both 2017 Development Camp and Training Camp, Coghlan impressed and parlayed it into a contract before heading back to Kennewick, Washington for the WHL season. While there, he had a massive offensive year for a defenseman, putting up 63 points in 69 games. He’s going to have to get a bit better in his own end, which is part of the reason he was passed over in back-to-back drafts, but his offensive ability is exciting.
10) Brandon Kruse (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 19 (March 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Bowling Green State University (NCAA)
The other Golden Knight prospect to be invited to the World Junior Summer Showcase is 19-year-old Kruse. He’s an excellent passer that is a good skater and has the ability to score. As a freshman at Bowling Green, he scored 33 points in 41 games. At Development Camp, Kruse was impressive despite looking tiny. Just 5’9″ and weighing less than 160 pounds Kruse is a long way from being NHL-ready, however, the tools are there and he looks to be a promising prospect.
11) Ivan Morozov (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall
Age: 18 (May 5, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Mamonty Yugry (MHL Russia)
Unable to attend Development Camp following the Draft, Morozov remains a bit of an unknown. However, he has recently signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg (yeah, the Shippy one) and was selected with Vegas’ only pick in the top 75 of the 2018 Draft which indicates he’s highly regarded. He has quick hands and should be a strong two-way center if/when he makes it to the NHL. A trip to World Juniors would do well for him to move up this list where he probably belongs.
12) Keegan Kolesar (F)
Acquired: via Trade from Columbus Blue Jackets for 2017 2nd Round Pick (selected 2015 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #69 overall)
Age: 21 (April 8, 1997)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
The Golden Knights used one of the many picks they acquired in the Expansion Draft for the 2017 Draft on a player from the 2015 Draft. Kolesar is a strong player that skates well and has an excellent shot. He had a bit of a rocky year in his first professional season however slipping between the AHL and ECHL. He’s got all the characteristics of being a typical Golden Knights fourth liner, but the troubling season coupled with the lukewarm 2018 Development Camp leaves some pause.
13) Slava Demin (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #99 overall
Age: 18 (April 4, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)
Like Morozov, Demin was unable to attend Development Camp. Thus, he’s much further down this list than he probably should be. He’s an exciting puck-moving defenseman with excellent offensive upside and isn’t undersized like many other Golden Knights 2018 draft picks. He’s highly regarded defensively as well. Everything you read about Demin makes him out to be a great defensive prospect, but the fact that we’ve yet to see him has him down much further than where he was drafted. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the name, he’s American. Born in California, played in Anaheim Ducks youth system, and is committed to Denver University.
14) Jake Leschyshyn (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #62 overall
Age: 19 (March 10, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Regina Pats (WHL)
Prior to the 2017 Draft, Leschyshyn tore his ACL and missed a majority of the season. He was having a good year and was seemingly destined to be a 1st round selection. The injury caused him to slip to the 2nd round where the Golden Knights selected him. He’s recovered from the surgery, but his game has not seemed to come completely back. He played as the 3rd line center on the Regina Pats and did not make a major impact on the CHL’s biggest stage, the Memorial Cup. Then, at Development Camp he didn’t really stand out like a 2nd round pick should. It’s far from time to give up on Leschyshyn, but this season will be important for him to get going back in the right direction.
15) Xavier Bouchard (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #185 overall
Age: 18 (February 28, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
A tall slender defenseman who skates reasonably well for his size. He’s known as a puck-mover, but a smart offensive-minded defenseman. After a big first year in Baie-Comeau and earning the “A” in year two he took a bit of a step back, posting a -30 rating and dropping 13 points in scoring. At Development Camp he looked a bit uneasy at times but certainly had some strong moments that made it clear the talent is there.
16) Reid Duke (F)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on Match 6, 2017
Age: 22 (January 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Forever the answer to the trivia question, the first Golden Knight is back from the shoulder injury which kept him out a majority of last season. Duke took an off-ice leadership role at Development Camp but the on-ice success was missing. As a 22-year-old playing with 18 and 19-year-olds Duke was expected to stand out in a big way. He didn’t. He went scoreless in 14 games with the Chicago Wolves after returning from injury. All this being said, Duke has had his downs in his career and he’s always seemed to rebound. Probably higher on this list than he should be at the moment, there’s just something about this guy that makes it feel like he’s eventually going to break through.
17) Lucas Elvenes (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #127 overall
Age: 18 (August 18, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Rogle BK (SHL)
A member of Team Sweden for the second consecutive World Junior Summer Showcase, Elvenes needs to build on his last international appearance. He put up four assists and a goal in two games last year with the Swedish U20 team but his game hasn’t translated on the North American ice at Development Camp. He didn’t flash much at all during the scrimmages either year. Playing on the smaller ice may be a factor.
18) Ben Jones (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #189 overall
Age: 19 (February 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
The last skater selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Entry Draft was one of the eight players from that draft who signed a contract. He was a bit more noteworthy in 2017 than 2018, but there was nothing glaring to the negative either year. Jones had a huge year in Niagara scoring 79 points in 68 games and added 12 more in 10 playoff games. Late round picks have an incredibly low success rate, which is why he is so low on this list, but he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on in Training Camp this year. Wouldn’t be a major surprise if he’s top 15 or even top 10 by the time he heads back to Niagara.
19) Connor Corcoran (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #154 overall
Age: 17 (August 7th, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The youngest Golden Knight prospect is likely going to be a more defensive minded player as he matures. He’s physically very strong and looked excellent along the boards at Development Camp, but his skating and puck-moving skills never quite displayed themselves at City National Arena.
20) Nick Campoli (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #158 overall
Age: 19 (February 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: North York Rangers (OJHL)
Campoli is already a Golden Knight, heading to Clarkson University to play in the NCAA. He scored and in bunches in the OJHL but it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up at the collegiate level. He’s short, but has a stout frame and a strong accurate shot.
21) Peter Diliberatore (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #180 overall
Age: 18 (March 31, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Salisbury School (USHS-Prep)
As a high schooler playing with many high-end prospects and even a few professionals, Diliberatore kind of looked like a high schooler. It’s really not too fair to judge him on the performance at Development Camp though because as a shorter defenseman he was kind of thrown to the wolves.
1) Dylan Ferguson
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 19 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
You might remember young Dylan from his short stint with the Golden Knights, but you should remember him from his solid showing at Development Camp. He looked confident in the goal, something he didn’t look while in the net in Edmonton or even at Development Camp in 2017. Ferguson has a little bit of an edge to him, and it seems to translate to confidence and swagger on the ice. Plus, he’s awesome interacting with kid fans when he comes off the ice.
2) Jiri Patera
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #161 overall
Age: 19 (February 24, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL)
Patera was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and is looking forward to trying his hand against better competition this season. He made a couple of incredible reactionary saves during 2018 Development Camp, one in particular that still boggles the mind as to how he kept the puck out. He seems to have quick reflexes and is a fairly large guy for his age.
3) Maxim Zhukov
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #96 overall
Age: 19 (July 22, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
His first year in the USHL was a bit better than his second which is exactly the opposite of his performance at Golden Knights Development Camp. This year he looked much more composed in the goal and used his large 6’3″ frame to play positionally sound. Judging goalies at the age of 19 is nearly impossible though, so don’t put too much stock in him being third yet being the highest pick of all the goalies.
4) Jordan Kooy
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #208 overall
Age: 18 (April 30, 2000)
Most Recent Team: London Knights (OHL)
Kooy had an incredibly rough first scrimmage at Development Camp, but quickly turned it around and may have even been the most impressive goalie in the second and third scrimmages. He appears to be a guy who has excellent upside and a year or six of working with Dave Prior never hurt anybody.