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2017 Draft Class Has Had Success In The NHL, It’s Time For VGK To Take The Plunge And Give Pick #15 His Shot

The 2017 NHL Draft was a big one for the Golden Knights. Following the Expansion Draft, Vegas went into their first Entry Draft with three picks in the top 15 and four in the top 35.

Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom, and Nic Hague were the Golden Knights selections, and between the four of them, they’ve played a total of 0 NHL games 17 months after they were selected.

That’s not common at this point for that draft class, look.

1 – New Jersey – Nico Hischier – 92 games, 62 points
2 – Philadelphia – Nolan Patrick – 82 games, 34 points
3 – Dallas – Miro Heiskanen – 12 games, 4 points
4  – Colorado – Cale Makar*
5 – Vancouver – Elias Pettersson – 8 games, 10 points
6 – Vegas – Cody Glass
7 – NY Rangers – Lias Andersson – 7 games, 2 points
8 – Buffalo – Casey Mittelstadt – 19 games, 8 points
9 – Detroit – Michael Rasmussen – 11 games, 3 points
10 – Florida – Owen Tippett – 7 games, 1 point
11 – Los Angeles – Gabriel Vilardi
12 – Carolina – Martin Necas – 8 games, 2 points
13 – Vegas – Nick Suzuki
14 – Tampa Bay – Cal Foote
15 – Vegas – Erik Brannstrom
16 – Calgary – Juuso Valimaki – 12 games, 1 point
17 – Toronto – Timothy Liljegren
18 – Boston – Urho Vaakanainen – 2 games, 0 points
19 – San Jose – Josh Norris*
20 – St. Louis – Robert Thomas – 6 games, 1 point
21 – NY Rangers – Filip Chytil – 21 games, 5 points
22 – Edmonton – Kailer Yamamoto – 20 games, 5 points
23 – Arizona – Pierre-Olivier Joseph
24 – Winnipeg – Kristian Vesalainen – 5 games, 1 point
25 – Montreal – Ryan Poehling*
26 – Dallas – Jake Oettinger*
27 – Philadelphia – Morgan Frost
28 – Ottawa – Shane Bowers*
29 – Chicago – Henri Jokiharju – 13 games, 7 points
30 – Nashville – Eeli Tolvanen – 3 games, 0 points
31 – St. Louis – Klim Kostin
*Playing in NCAA

17 of the 31 players selected in the 2017 NHL Draft 1st round have played in the NHL, 15 of them have registered a point, yet the Golden Knights are 0 for 3.

Of course, it’s important to note that George McPhee was likely operating under the belief that his team NHL team was going to struggle, so picking players who were going to make an immediate impact was not a high priority. That being said, 55% of players have made their debuts and Vegas who had three picks in the top half of the 1st round still don’t have any.

With the Golden Knights heading into the season fully healthy at the forward position, Cody Glass did not appear ready out of training camp. He might be considered an option now, but the CHL/NHL agreement forbids Glass’ return to the Golden Knights until his Junior season is over.

McPhee was able to trade one of the three first rounders to help bring back a superstar in Max Pacioretty. Therefore, it’s not to say the return has been completely barren. But, 0 games out of three top 15 picks, when nine of the 12 non-VGK players have cracked the NHL is a bit of a problem.

What’s the worst he can do, pinch at the wrong time? (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Especially when you consider one of Vegas’ players has had success every step of the way since being selected. Erik Brannstrom has seven points in seven games in the AHL and was the standout defenseman at the rookie showcase “tournament” that was held at City National Arena. Two of the three defensemen picked before Brannstrom have not made the NHL yet, but four of the nine blueliners selected in the 1st round have broken through.

The Golden Knights are struggling defensively and they have just one goal from defensemen through 13 games this season. McPhee always talks about how he prefers to “overcook” his prospects, and Brannstrom might not be as “well-done” as the GM likes. But if he keeps waiting until the “temperature” is right for the young-Swede, his team might be the one that’s cooked before his prospect.

What may not have been the case a month ago now is, the reward far outweighs the risk. It’s time for Erik Brannstrom.




Golden Knights vs. Hurricanes: Must-Win?


  1. Rabbit

    Really revving up that Brannwagon Ken. Gonna need a new set of tires before its left the starting line.

    FWIW, I’m on board.

    • Rick Dames

      Love the Brannwagon, however is this the time? Do we need an offensive defenseman (Brian Leetch is my all time favorite) or a highly responsible defensive defenseman at least til Schmidt comes back? The Brannwagonw was exciting in pre-season but didn’t appear defensively mature enough for the NHL. Brannstrom’s +/- in Chicago (not a stat I love) is 4 th of 6 defenseman. Nic Hague is a plus 8, Brannstrom is Plus 3. ( Erik was the only +/- with a minus in the Knights pre-season) Again, there can be a lot of reasons for that (match up, etc) however more time in the AHL could give us a better return IMHO

      • Jeff

        This team does not have a defensive problem outside of the lack of offense the back end is creating so Brannstrom is the correct choice if you’re talking about bringing up defensemen. I personally believe that the first line needs to be broken up and the potential scoring be spread out at least while Patches and Stasny are out.

  2. Larry LeMaire

    Could not agree more. Not sure if GM will make the move though. Guess we’ll know soon enough I hope.

  3. Mike Gronning

    It seems to me they are just trying to tread water until Schmidt gets back. When he does, Merrill will most certainly be out. The question then is Brannstrom a better option than Holden? I personally think he is. However, given the recent acquisition of Holden and the money they are paying him I think they are going to be reluctant to bench him anytime soon. The problem is that treading water isn’t working and their D right now will already have them sunk by the time 88 is back in the lineup.
    Love the site, love the tweets, and love the great job you are doing covering VGK!!

  4. DGL

    The TEAM with the exception of the fourth line isn’t playing well at all. One player, especially a rookie defenseman isn’t going to change it. Let’s focus on the team issues, line combinations/chemistry and powerplay first before we sacrifice the lambs!

  5. Hector

    Follow Chicago Twitter…its clear he needs more time there….a minor detail I know

  6. Jason

    Teams are bringing guys up early sure but 99 of the guys have little to no impact on that list. Guys are very rarely ready physically and ready to compete with that physicality. The kid from Vancouver was picked up with one arm and body slammed and got a concussion. Takes time to develop, a year will only do him well in the long run.

  7. Bill

    Couldn’t hurt, give him the run til Nate comes back and if he is good keep him, if not Nate takes his spot he goes back down, doesn’t count as a year.

  8. the hockey GOD

    he’s not ready, he needs more time in minors

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