The Golden Knights did not have a 1st round pick due to the trade of Jack Eichel. They are slated to make six picks on Day 2 however with the first coming at #48. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about each player selected by the Golden Knights in the 2021 NHL Draft.
2nd Round – #48
Selection: Matyas Sapovaliv (C) – Saginaw (OHL)
Sapovaliv is a tall two-way center who is most known for his work defensively. He is an incredibly high-IQ player who does not have elite skill or skating. Sapovaliv scored 52 points in 68 games in the OHL last season. He was ranked as the #23 skater in North America by the NHL Central Scouting Service.
Matyas Sapovaliv is a large framed, shutdown, playmaking center, who makes his teammates better. What makes Matyas an outlier is his unique level of intelligence when evaluating the defensive side of the game. Most prospects at this age, work in their own zone by reacting to opposing plays and then attempting to shut them down. Matyas works largely on the principle of forcing a reaction out of an opposing player in advance of the play coming together. Sapovaliv might be an example of a player who scouts will appreciate more than the casual fan. He’s a substance over style, defense first, transitional disruptor of the play, who acts like a third defenseman in his own end of the ice. He’s a supporting juggernaut, who brings tremendous defensive upside. He’s built for playoff hockey, he plays a mature, highly structured game, and there is some untapped offensive potential. –2022 NHL Black Book
One of the biggest problem areas for Sapovaliv is his skating. He lacks agility and explosiveness, and despite his strong two-way play, he needs to skate backward quicker to improve his defensive abilities. If he wants his offensive prowess to translate to the faster American Hockey League (AHL) and NHL level, he needs to improve his skating. It could be the difference between developing into a middle-six scoring forward and a bottom-six defensive forward. -Sean Raggio, TheHockeyWriters.com
**TRADE – VGK acquire #79 from Toronto for #95 and #135**
3rd Round – #79 Overall (from TOR)
Selection: Jordan Gustafson – Seattle (WHL)
Gustafson is a two-way center who has a knack for scoring goals. He notched 23 last season in the WHL. The knock on him has been his lack of elite hockey sense which impacts his passing game.
There are conflicting scouting reports on his skating and shooting. Some indicate he is nearly an elite skater while others call him average. His release is fairly consistently considered strong but the velocity is up for debate.
Jordan has some nice timing for finding pucks near the net. That timing skill also gets exhibited on loose puck battles. He can cruise along and then burst into a free puck, especially when he’s approaching the puck from behind. He has a good motor, he can play the start and stop game. He gives a pretty good effort in the defensive zone. –2022 NHL Black Book
*TRADE – VGK acquire #128 from Montreal for a 2023 4th Round Pick*
4th Round – #128 Overall (from MTL)
Selection: Cameron Whitehead (G) – Lincoln (USHL)
Whitehead is a tall (6’3″) athletic goalie that gets from post to post quickly. Central Scouting ranked him 8th among North American goaltenders in this draft.
He is committed to play NCAA hockey for Northeastern.
Another thing that works to his advantage is that he’s a decent skater with good edgework that allows him to explode off the post quickly to make saves. He has good awareness and anticipation that factor into that. Whitehead has room to improve upon how he handles breakaways, as he sometimes looks like he’s caught guessing. -Sean Raggio, TheHockeyWriters.com
As a balanced and versatile goaltender with elasticity in his game, Whitehead does a good job maximizing coverage with his length and recovery tactics, as well as performing the appropriate depth control in various situations. Whitehead is consistently visually attached to the puck, which helps him compete for every puck. -Frank Longo, RecruitScouting.com
5th Round – #145 Overall
Selection: Patrick Guay (C) – Charlottetown (QMJHL)
Guay scored 55 goals in 68 regular season games and then added 13 more in 15 playoff games. He finished the season with 132 points in 83 games.
He is an overage player (20-years-old) who went undrafted in previous drafts before exploding offensively in 2022.
We don’t see the NHL upside in him, and we wouldn’t want to use a pick on him. However, he is a good option for a summer or training camp invitation. In the next two or three seasons, he’s going to become a very good junior player in the QMJHL. –2020 NHL BlackBook (His first draft-eligible year)
6th Round – #177 Overall
Selection: Ben Hemmerling (RW) – Everett (WHL)
Hemmerling is a high-IQ playmaking winger who makes quick decisions at high speeds with the puck on his stick. He is not quite as skilled as some of the higher end prospects in this draft but makes up for it with how well he thinks the game.
Hemmerling plays at a quick pace and skates at a good level for an undersized forward. I wouldn’t call Hemmerling an elite skater, but he is able to move at a quick pace and make plays in transition. Despite playing more on the perimeter in the offensive zone, Hemmerling takes an active role in Everett’s transition play and is usually the player that carries the puck and makes a pass either right before a zone entry or immediately after. -Matthew Somma, SmahtScouting.com
7th Round – #209 Overall
Selection: Abram Wiebe (D) – Chilliwack (BCHL)
Wiebe is a large defenseman who is committed to head to the NCAA’s University of North Dakota. Scored just 2 goals in 54 games last season but added 29 assists in the regular season and nine more in 11 playoff games.