For the first time since 2019, the Golden Knights are holding a Development Camp at City National Arena. The pandemic wiped out two years of Dev Camp and it’s left us with a lot of prospects who have either never been in a sweater with a Vegas logo on it or have done it sparingly.
With that, there’s a lot to keep an eye on during the scrimmages at the end of the week. Here’s what I’m looking for.
1) Will Brendan Brisson look like the clear #1 prospect in the VGK system?
Brisson has impressed at every level including his most recent short stint in the AHL. However, I’ve still been left with some questions, most notably his ability to hold the puck in the offensive zone and his overall defensive game. As one of just two 1st round picks, and playing as an older player, Brisson needs to clearly stand out as one of the best players in these scrimmages.
2) Can Lukas Cormier’s offensive game translate against better competition?
Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. That’s all we’ve seen from Cormier in the QMJHL. But, due to the lack of camps the last two years we’ve only seen hin in Vegas for the Rookie Faceoff in Arizona and then a few preseason games. He wasn’t particularly good in either and it seemed like his deficiencies defensively overshadowed his offensive game. It would be great to see that half-goal-per-game player show up with a VGK uni on.
3) Is Kaedan Korczak ready?
If you take one peek at Korczak’s frame, you’ll know he’s more than ready to play in the NHL physically. He was steady through the AHL season and looked competent in his single NHL appearance. Back in September in the Rookie Faceoff, there was a lack of urgency to his game that concerned me. It seemed to dissipate as I watched him a few times for Henderson. I’m hoping to not see it again.
4) Where is Korczak compared to Daniil Chayka, Connor Corcoran, and Layton Ahac?
Korczak is the runaway favorite to be the next call-up on the blue line for the Golden Knights, but there’s a group of players at this camp that could have a say in that. Korczak isn’t the flashiest player, so he has to show out to be more responsible than each of the three names above. If he is, it’ll confirm my beliefs, but if he’s not, some doubt will likely creep in as to what his chances are to break through this year.
5) Does Patrick Guay’s scoring touch carry on to VGK Development Camp in his first appearance?
Two years ago the draft guide I trust the most (NHL Black Book) called Guay undraftable as an 18-year-old. That was before he posted 55 goals in the QMJHL a few years later. Now, the Golden Knights have spent a draft pick on the diminutive scorer and there’s no excuse for the goals to not keep flying in during these games. Typically I give this year’s draft picks a pass during their first Dev Camp, but with him being overaged, he’s not afforded that. For this pick to work, he has to score, score a lot, and keep scoring everywhere he goes. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are included.
6) Have Carl Lindbom or Jesper Vikman made up ground on Isaiah Saville?
The last we saw of the two younger goalies, it was a rollercoaster. Each had miserable practices, miserable periods, and great ones of both too. It was clear they were new to the system and still working their way through learning. The last we saw of Saville he was playing very well in the AHL. Due to age, Saville should be miles ahead of both of the Swedes, but he needs to prove it this week.
7) How do the speed merchants fare?
There are three VGK-controlled forwards in this camp that are really known for their speed. They are Ryder Donovan, Jackson Hallum, and Jordan Gustafson. Often times these scrimmages turn into a bit of a slop fest which neutralizes the speedy players’ ability to impact the games. But, that happens in the NHL too, and the guys who make it find a way to use the speed to change the game at some point. We haven’t seen a lot (or any) of these guys so it will be interesting to see if that speed flashes like it needs to.
8) Will the Michigan men stand out?
Of course, we expect Brisson to be one of the best players on the ice, but there are three other players from the Wolverines at this camp. Nolan Moyle, Mark Estapa, and Steve Holtz are all representing Michigan and all three are on the older side. Brisson said he was happy Estapa was on his team because he didn’t want to play against him all weekend. Let’s see if any of these three have us keeping an eye on them as they head back to college.
9) How many goals will Daniil Bourash score?
I spent most of the first day of camp watching with a talent evaluator and he was mesmerized by Bourash’s shot/release. Sure, he had concerns about some other parts of his game, but I want to see if that shot will shine through when he’s playing against defenders rather than just in drills. As an 18-year-old from Belarus who went undrafted this year, he could easily be someone the Golden Knights keep tabs on for next year’s draft. That is, of course, if my buddy’s eye is right and the shot is truly that good.
10) Can Wilmer Skoog pull off the lacrosse move in a scrimmage?
Everyone loves a good lacrosse-style goal, and in the history of Dev Camp we’ve never seen anyone try anything even close to as crazy as that. This kid has done it multiple times in his career. Here’s one such highlight. I vowed to donate $100 to charity if he does it and many joined in to where we have almost $2000 pledged if he pulls it off. C’mon Wilmer, do it!