The Golden Knights finished the Rookie Showcase in Irvine winless and looking rather listless for a majority of the three games. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament in terms of individual players. I wrote up recaps from Games 1 and 2 earlier, this one is a bit more of a recap of the whole weekend, but includes Game 3.
The standout of the entire weekend was Dylan Coghlan. His offensive game popped consistently no matter the situation, and he was one of the most responsible defensemen in his own zone. He personally scored three of the team’s seven goals and registered a beautiful primary assist on another. There’s still a long way to go, and rookie games probably hold the least weight in comparison to full training camp and preseason games, but Coghlan’s performance in Irvine will absolutely play a part in the final decision as to which defenseman stays with the team when camp breaks in a few weeks.
Paul Cotter did well to start the process of cementing himself as a pro. He was one of the few Golden Knights to play with an edge and it led to him being in the middle of a lot of the team’s best offensive plays. He still has a lot to prove over the next week or two before he’s sent out of camp and either to the OHL or the AHL, but those three games were a giant leap towards Chicago.
My biggest takeaway from Game 2 of the Rookie Showcase in Irvine is that the Golden Knights sent out a roster that wasn’t good enough to compete in that game, and they still managed to play two solid periods. Let’s be quite honest with what the Vegas roster looked like against Arizona. They had just five forwards of their 12 that were drafted by the Golden Knights. Plus, their defense was without Jimmy Schuldt. Simply put, this game had little to do with the score and even less to do with the team as a whole. In games like this, it’s all about individuals and their path to eventually becoming contributors at the NHL level. Some did just that, others did not, but the terrible period, the apparent lack of energy, and the inability to generate offense as a team means little to nothing so stop tweeting me about it.
The first name to highlight is one that’s almost been written off as a Golden Knights prospect, and that’s Jake Leschyshyn. He shows excellent flashes of speed, looked terrific helping to generate offense through the neutral zone and into the o-zone, and looked his normal stellar self backchecking and defending. The former 2nd round pick has not shown a ton while wearing a Golden Knights jersey over the past two summers (partially due to the injury that caused him to miss one), but in this game we could finally see some of the traits that garnered that selection. He plays in all situations and has always been good on the defensive end, but he is finally starting to assert himself a bit more in offensive situations. I’m hoping to see him with Cotter, Rondbjerg, and/or Elvenes in the final game, then we should get to see even more offense show up.
Jordan Kooy continues to establish himself as one of, if not the most, promising goalie prospect the Golden Knights have. His size is a big part of that when comparing him to Dylan Ferguson (who will be in the net for the 3rd game). Kooy looks comfortable in his goal no matter what’s going on in front of him, and since that one scrimmage that was a disaster, there hasn’t been a single soft goal scored on him since while in a Vegas net. He was under siege for most of this game and helped keep the score looking respectable.
Cody Glass just wants to play. He’s told us for three straight summers now, his goal is to play in the NHL. ASAP.
The question is, where would he play?
It’s the NHL, I’ll play anywhere. I’ll play defense if I have to. -Glass
Earlier this summer, Glass said he’s grown, and he’s ready to make the leap from juniors/minors to the NHL. However, in his third NHL training camp, his age, size, nor maturity will decide his path. It will be up to the Golden Knights management to choose between an established NHL body and giving their young center a chance to flourish.
But again, where will he play?
To be anywhere on the Vegas roster it would be unbelievable. You need to find that role and you need to play it. So, if they want me to be a checking forward, I’ll do my best to be a checking forward. -Glass
You have to love Glass’ eagerness to make the club, but let’s be serious, Vegas didn’t draft a center sixth overall to be a checking forward. That role is best filled by guys like Tomas Nosek, or William Carrier. The Golden Knights have higher expectations for a two-way, top ten drafted center.
One heavy point of emphasis for Golden Knights prospects at Development Camp was the importance of their strength and conditioning regimens.
Cody Glass spoke with us about his strict diet that was designed by the Golden Knights organization. At first, he had trouble eating his nutritional menu but soon realized it was for his own good.
It’s always been a struggle for me to put on weight. Gary Roberts has been helping me along the way. I went to him last year and he’s just given me tips on how to be a better player and a better professional. It all starts with eating healthy. It sucks at first but when you get used to it, it’s a lot better and it’ll help down the road. -Cody Glass
The Gary Roberts he’s talking about is a former NHL player turned into a well-known strength and conditioning guru. He’s helped proven NHL’ers like Connor McDavid and Mark Schiefele get faster and stronger. Over the past few years, the Golden Knights have tapped Roberts’ resources to help develop their pipeline.
Focusing on working on developing my legs. Adding muscle mass while maintaining my speed. I do a lot of cardio and muscle mass type workouts. I’m always talking to Wil Nichol and Gary Roberts about stuff that can help my game. They’ll talk to me throughout the year and give their input on what I should add to my workouts and regiment to help get to that next level. -Brandon Kruse
Jack Dugan will begin his sophomore year at Providence College this fall, but both GM Kelly McCrimmon and assistant coach Mike Kelly agreed he looked like a grown man, not a college student. That’s because Dugan has followed the guidance of the Golden Knights training staff since his draft date.
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.
Over the past weekend, I spent four days in San Diego watching the Chicago Wolves play three games in the Western Conference Final of the AHL’s Calder Cup. My focus was specifically on the Golden Knights draft picks and the players Vegas has under control for beyond this season.
To make this easiest to write, and hopefully to read, I’ve listed every player that either played or I was able to talk to while in San Diego, that has time left on their contract with VGK or are RFAs.
Cody Glass (1st Round, 6th overall in 2017, $863,333 AAV through 21-22)
Anyone who reads/follows me closely knows I haven’t been as high on Glass as the rest of the world seems to be. I’ve come to the realization that the reason for this isn’t because I necessarily view him as a player much differently than most, but that my expectations are substantially higher. As the 6th overall pick in a draft class that includes Elias Petterson, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, Nico Hischier, and many others that have already had major impacts in the NHL, my expectation for Glass is massive. Top-six forward, impact player, one of the faces of the franchise. That’s what I’m looking for, and still, even though the next paragraph is going to make it sound otherwise, I’m not sure he’s going to be that guy.
Glass literally does everything on the hockey rink that you want to see from a center. The skill that jumped out most to me over the three games was his backchecking and breakouts. Every time his line turned it over in the offensive zone, he was flying back to negate any transition chance. His skating speed really showed in that sense, but also showed once the Wolves recovered the puck and began their transition back into the offensive zone. He’s terrific carrying the puck out of the D-zone, through the neutral zone, and into the O-zone. I’ve seen him do it with ease at the CHL level, but to see it look exactly the same at the AHL level gives me a strong belief that it’ll continue in the NHL.
I liked how he played along the walls, I loved his vision, his positioning, his movement in the offensive zone. Pretty much everything he did, I thought, yep, this guy is pretty darn good. But still, over the course of three games, there wasn’t enough shown in his ability to create offense. It’s the only thing I can knock him for, but at the same time, it’s the thing I value most in a high draft pick forward. Aside from the occasional chance created directly off an entry (which I do believe will continue in the NHL), there wasn’t a ton created beyond rebound chances. Again, I’m aware that my expectations are gigantic, and I’m asking a lot out of him having played a month in the AHL, but I still didn’t see enough of what I needed to in order to completely change my mind and say he’s going to be a superstar in the NHL.
Cody Glass is going to be an NHL player, and I’m probably going to be on the bandwagon calling for him to make the roster out of camp, but I’m still on the fence of whether I think he’s closer to a Cody Eakin or a William Karlsson. When all is said and done I’m confident he’ll fall somewhere in between these two, however, my opinion still shades more towards 21 than 71.
Nic Hauge(2nd Round, 34th overall in 2017, $791,667 AAV through 21-22)
I came into the weekend expecting to come out saying Hague is the surefire #1 defensive prospect in the Golden Knights system. That’s not what I ended up seeing. That’s not to say Hague was bad, because he certainly wasn’t, it’s just that the fears I had, which I’ve been told by multiple high-ranking people that I shouldn’t have, didn’t go away.
The biggest among those is whether or not his skating is good enough to keep up with the elite skaters at the NHL level. The place it showed up most was in gap control. When a player would enter the zone, sometimes not even moving that quickly, far too often Hague would be more than a stick length away from him (which is a long way with his long arms and stick). Then, once he did enter, it took too long to close down that space which often led to an easy pass or on multiple occasions a dangerous shot. It’s important to note that I watched him play against the same team, on the road, three times, so there could be a gameplan piece here that I’m missing (and when speaking to Rocky Thompson about Hague he didn’t seem to have any issues with the way he was defending). However, that style won’t work in the NHL and his recovery plan (reaching out with that long stick and poking pucks away) won’t work as often against Nathan MacKinnon as it did Corey Tropp or Sam Carrick.
I still love Hague in the offensive zone and on the power play though. His instincts at the blue line are tremendous and he’s going to be a threat to do some damage when he does eventually make it to the NHL. Really looking forward to watching him play in the preseason against NHL level forwards, but at this moment, he no longer ranks as the “most likely defenseman to make the NHL roster in the Golden Knight system” on my list.
Zack Whitecloud (Undrafted, Signed as free agent, $925,000 AAV through 2019-20)
Patrik Elias is one of the finer European players to ever play the game. The future Hall of Famer was considered a highly smart two-way player with elite skills. The two-time Stanley Cup champion is New Jersey’s franchise leader in points, goals, and assists, which is doubly impressive since Elias played a good chunk of his career in the Dead Puck era.
Elias was in town last month to assist with the NHL’s new player tracking technology, and to watch his Devils face off against the Golden Knights. So, I tracked down the retired star to get his thoughts on the youngsters in the Vegas pipeline.
After all, the Czech was an assistant coach for his home country at this past World Junior Championships. Elias was enthusiastic by what he saw from the Golden Knights prospects.
Before I could finish my question, Elias cut in…
He’s an NHL player no question about it. I watched not only minutes but a couple of hours of video on him because of the way he runs a power play. He’s got a great poise. Obviously, right handed shot. Hockey smarts, great skater. He was one of the better, most fun players to watch. He’s going to be an NHL pro. -Elias
Elias wasn’t committing to a timetable for Glass but he expects it won’t be long.
You see a lot of the guys making the jump quickly. If they work hard, they’ll get the chance. It is a young man’s league. But nothing wrong with playing in the minors for a little bit. Adjust to it a little, even though it’s a different game. -Elias
Just as he was with Glass, Elias was incredibly high on Vegas’ spitfire defenseman.
The biggest event in City National Arena history starts on September 8th. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
The Golden Knights practice facility, City National Arena will host a six-team, three-day “tournament” featuring top NHL prospects. The six teams participating are the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. It’s being called the Vegas Rookie Faceoff.
Each team will play three games with all nine games being held at City National Arena. Games will be played on September 8th, 9th, and 11th with the Golden Knights rookies taking on the Avalanche, Sharks, and Kings.
Here’s the full schedule for the event.
Saturday, Sept. 8 Game 1 – ARI vs. SJS, 3 p.m. PT Game 2 – LAK vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT Game 3 – COL vs. VGK, 7 p.m. PT
Sunday, Sept. 9 Game 1 – LAK vs. ARI, 3 p.m. PT Game 2 – COL vs. ANA, 5 p.m. PT Game 3 – VGK vs. SJS, 7 p.m. PT
Tuesday, Sept. 11 Game 1 – ANA vs. ARI, 11 a.m. PT Game 2 – SJS vs. COL, 11:30 a.m. PT Game 3 – LAK vs. VGK, 2:30 p.m. PT
Rookie tournaments are fairly common in the NHL as they offer a chance for teams to play games against different opponents in a short period of time without having to travel. The Red Wings have hosted a tournament in Traverse City, MI for the past 20 years and includes eight teams. Toronto and Buffalo host similar tournaments as well.
Last year the Golden Knights traveled to El Segundo to play a pair of rookie games against the Los Angeles Kings.
Ticket information has not yet been released for the Vegas Rookie Faceoff. However, fans interested in tickets can fill out this contact form to be alerted when they are available.
The games are expected to be available either on TV and/or via Internet stream, but details have not been announced at this point.
These games will be an excellent opportunity for fans to see Golden Knights top prospects, Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, and Nic Hague. Plus, the 5th overall pick from 2018, Barrett Hayton (ARI), the 4th overall pick from 2017, Cale Makar (COL) and the 3rd overall pick from 2015, Dylan Strome (ARI) are expected to participate. Other top prospects like Gabe Vilardi (LAK), Kale Clague (LAK), Sam Steel (ANA), Vladislav Kamenev (COL), Conor Timmins (COL), and Ryan Merkley (SJS) should all play as well.
Hopefully, the Vegas Rookie Faceoff becomes an annual thing because it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
Glass and Suzuki should shine at the Summer Showcase. Hopefully on the same line. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Every year, in advance of the IIHF World Junior tournament that takes place in December, four teams get together for the World Junior Summer Showcase. Last year it took place in Plymouth, Michigan where Erik Brannstrom starred for Team Sweden. This year the Summer Showcase is headed to Kamloops, British Columbia and the Golden Knights are well represented.
Golden Knights prospects selected for World Junior Summer Showcase
Team USA Paul Cotter (2018, 4th Rd) Brandon Kruse (2018, 5th Rd)
Team Canada Cody Glass (2017, 1st Rd) Nick Suzuki (2017, 1st Rd)