Ken was joined by Jesse Granger of The Athletic to chat all things Golden Knights prospects. We went through the prospect list using a few different qualifiers including NHL readiness, ceiling, and likelihood to play 100 NHL games.
Following the World Junior tournament which was laden in Golden Knights prospects, six to be exact, we decided now was a good time to update the SinBin.vegas Golden Knights Prospect Rankings.
On this page we rank every Golden Knights prospect under the age of 23 including and add a paragraph of reasoning for each player each time the rankings are updated.
There are a total of 24 prospects ranked and a newcomer had slipped his way into the new Top 5. The biggest risers on the list are Lucas Elvenes who jumped six spots and Reid Duke who move up five.
To see the list in its entirety, click here.
For a little taste, here are players ranked 6-10.
T6) Zach Whitecloud (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 8th, 2018
Age: 22 (November 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #4
As somewhat of a veteran among the Wolves defense, at age 22, Whitecloud continues to look like the same player we’ve seen since he signed with Vegas. He’s good defensively with a little bit of offensive skill. He moved down on the list because of the way the Golden Knights treated him during the time when Nate Schmidt was out. Jake Bischoff made the roster over Whitecloud and Bischoff couldn’t get into a game. The more and more you see of Whitecloud the more you see a solid NHLer who just needs his breakthrough moment.More on Whitecloud
7/28/18 – 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.
T6) Dylan Coghlan (D)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on September 20, 2017
Age: 20 (February 19, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #6
He’s become a stalwart in Rocky Thompson’s Wolves lineup. As a right-hand shot, he certainly has value to the Golden Knights eventually as they are short on RD’s. He’s in a very similar spot as Whitecloud, hence the tie, as there’s a bit of a logjam of defensemen and seemingly no room for any of them to ge through. Brannstrom, Hague, Whitecloud, Bischoff, and Coghlan all seem to deserve a look but maybe only one or two will be likely to get it this year after rosters expand. There are a lot of factors of who gets that shot first and when, and it’s not all to do with talent. I wouldn’t expect to see Coghlan in a VGK uniform any time soon.More on Coghlan
7/28/18 – 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.
8) Ivan Morozov (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall
Age: 18 (May 5, 2000)
Most Recent Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Previous Ranking: #10
The first real chance we’ve gotten to see Morozov was a good one. He looked very good at times as the 4th line center for Team Russia. His selection to this team was impressive in the first place as Russia historically does not like to choose 18-year-olds for their U20 team. However, Morozov helped make an impact and looks like a terrific 200-foot player. His backchecking was probably the most exciting part of his game as he constantly would come back into his own zone, break up a play and then get the puck moving forward. Still want to see a lot more of him, but don’t be surprised if he’s in the top 3 or 4 the next time I update this list.More on Morozov
7/28/18 – 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.
9) Lucas Elvenes (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #127 overall
Age: 18 (August 18, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Rogle BK (SHL)
Previous Ranking: #15
There is obviously an inherent bias towards guys directly after World Juniors, but I will admit, I went in with a keen eye on Elvenes looking for one thing, playmaking at even-strength. Finally, I saw it and I saw it in bunches while Sweden was still in the tournament. He looked dangerous almost every time he was on the ice and with a maligned Swedish forward group he was probably the second or third best forward on the team. Playing in the SHL appears to have him looking for the puck a bit more and becoming more active in the play. I’m still not 100% sold this is an NHL prospect, but he’s a lot closer now than I thought four months ago.More on Elvenes
7/28/18 – 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.
10) Reid Duke (F)
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on March 6, 2017
Age: 22 (January 28, 1996)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #14
This massive jump up the rankings has almost everything to do with the call-up he received from the Golden Knights. Of course, he didn’t end up in an actual game, but as a 22-year-old getting the call after playing in the AHL goes a long way. He’s been very good with the Wolves and looked like he belonged in practice with VGK. When they first signed Duke I thought, well this is cute but there’s no way this guy ever plays in the NHL. He’s slowly won me (and seemingly the organization) over and I’ll now say the exact opposite, I’d be stunned if he doesn’t play in the NHL.More on Duke
7/28/18 – 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.
For the rest of the list, click here.
Following Rookie Camp at City National Arena and the trade of Nick Suzuki, we’ve updated our prospect rankings. As always, the full rankings can be found using our navigation bar under the “Prospects” tab. Or, click this.
(Last updated: September 12, 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
Recently Removed: Nick Suzuki (Traded to MTL)
Brannstrom attended his first rookie camp and did not disappoint. He was easily the best player on the ice in all three rookie games and showed the much more responsible defensive game needed to have a shot to play in the NHL this year. AHL Coach Rocky Thompson (who was coaching the rookie games) specifically called him “a future top two defenseman.” In the immediate future, he’ll be heading to full training camp to try and earn a spot on the Golden Knights roster this season. With Nate Schmidt out for 20 games, he’s got a real shot.More on Brannstrom
Hague had a great trio of games at City National Arena. Not only did he score a number of power-play goals, but he also proved he’s a heck of a leader. Coaches and players couldn’t stop raving about how much impact he had on others during camp. He still looks like he’s not quite ready for the NHL, but it’s starting to feel safer and safer that he’ll be an NHLer. When it happens, he’s going to give Colin Miller a run for his money for heaviest shot on the team.More on Hague
As the #6 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Glass was expected to be a top-six type forward. He still may eventually become that, but his performances in the rookie games made him look like he’s more likely headed for a role as third center. He makes a lot of little plays on both ends that impress, but he doesn’t quite show the flair that a top-end guy should playing against other 19-year-olds.More on Glass
Read the rest of the prospect rankings here.