As the 6th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and the first player ever drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights, Cody Glass was instantly thrust into the spotlight.
That light got even brighter after the other two first round selections by the Golden Knights were each traded in separate deals netting Vegas Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Glass was the only one left and with the success the team was having on the ice, he’s long represented the only real blue-chip prospect in the Vegas system.
The Golden Knights were purposely patient with Glass. He played his 20-year-old season in the WHL. Since, he’s spent the majority of time in the NHL, but a pair of recent demotions to the minors leaves his spot on the roster for this playoff run in question. This current trip to the AHL marks the third consecutive season the #6 overall pick has played in the minor leagues, which had me wondering, is this common?
To try and help answer that question, I went through every Top 10 selection from the 10 drafts prior to when Glass was picked. I wanted to see how many players played in the AHL at all, how many have made multiple trips back after reaching the NHL, and how many remained with their original team after a third stint in the AHL.
We’ll start with the likelihood a Top 10 pick plays in the AHL at all. Of the 100 players selected in the Top 10 between 2007 and 2016, 39 went straight to the NHL from their junior, college, or European teams while 61 saw AHL action. Of the 39, 26 of them were selected in the Top 5. So, that means 37 of the 50 players selected from picks #6 to #10 played in the AHL at some point.
When the Golden Knights selected Peyton Krebs with their first pick in the 2019 NHL Draft they knew they got something special. The very first time we saw Krebs after becoming a Golden Knight, he showed it.
Just a few days after having his Achilles tendon slit with a hockey skate, Krebs heard his name, stood up, hugged his family, and then walked down the steps of Rogers Arena, onto the stage, and slipped on his Golden Knights sweater as the Golden Knights 1st Round pick.
He’s done nothing but impress ever since.
Krebs managed to recover from that gruesome injury in less than six months, returned to play in the WHL, and as an underaged player nearly cracked the Canadian World Juniors team that went on to win the Gold medal.
He then put up 60 points in 38 games with the Winnipeg Ice before the season was canceled due to COVID. That didn’t stop Krebs though. He joined the Golden Knights for Training Camp ahead of the 2020 Playoffs and was selected to join the team in the bubble.
Next he won a silver medal at World Juniors, which he parlayed into a spot in VGK Training Camp ahead of this season, then a place on the Silver Knights where he tallied five points in five games. Finally, due to a goofy rule, the 20-year-old Krebs was forced to return to the WHL to finish out this season, which is where he recently pulled off what might be his most impressive feat yet.
The captain of the Winnipeg Ice, Krebs is one of two players on the team who was selected in the NHL Draft and he’s the only one to go in the 1st round (the other is a Flyers 6th rounder). It’s no secret he’s the best player on the team, so when the Ice had an emergency situation, they called on Krebs.
Tuesday night the Ice were without four defensemen from their normal lineup. So, they turned to Krebs, the 17th overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, a forward, who leads the entire WHL in points, to fill in on the blue line.
That was a little bit different. First time playing D since Atom (under 11 year-olds). It was fun though, I had a good time. I think that was the most nervous I’ve been before a game, I didn’t want to get dipsy-ed between the legs. –Krebs on IceTV Postgame
Krebs may have been nervous internally, but externally, he didn’t show it.
Here at SinBin.vegas we have a static page on the site called our Golden Knights Prospect Rankings. We try to update it about once every four months but the wackiness of the 2020 calendar year has thrown that for a look. We ended up going 10 months between ranking updates but the new one is finally here.
There’s a new goalie atop the list, a few newcomers to the Top 5 skaters, and all new draft picks are on the list. Here they are…
Criteria to qualify for rankings:
Must be younger than 23 years old for skaters, 25 years old for goalies
Cannot have played more than 10 NHL games
Must be either under contract or drafted by the Golden Knights
Players are ranked based on value to the organization. The most important factor is the player’s ceiling, or how good they can eventually become, but also taken into consideration is how close they are to playing in the NHL and how likely they are to play in the NHL. This is NOT a ranking of which players are the best if a game were to be held today.
Recently Removed: Xavier Bouchard (Rights Expired), Jordan Kooy (Rights Expired)
Peyton Krebs is close. He’s not there yet, but he’s close. If there’s one positive that’s come out of COVID is that it’s given the Golden Knights a chance to drag Krebs along the development path. He was in the bubble in Edmonton, he was in camp with the Golden Knights, and now he has a chance to be in AHL camp and maybe even play a few games before he has to go back to the WHL. I know people want him on the roster now, but it’s not time yet. His acceleration is impressive, his vision is very good, and his ability to make the right play in tight spaces and along the walls is solid for a player of his size. I think the future is as a winger, not a center, but I think the future is bight for this kid.
More on Krebs
4/16/20 – Krebs did everything he was supposed to since the moment he was drafted. He got himself healthy, he had a chance to practice with the NHL team for a day, and then he went back to the WHL and dominated putting up 48 assists to lead his team despite playing only 38 of the team’s 63 games. The only disappointment was that he was not selected for Team Canada at the World Juniors, but that was more due to where he was in his rehab as opposed to his skill level and worthiness to be on the team.
11/16/19 – Krebs is finally back from the Achilles injury. He skated in one practice with the Golden Knights before heading back to Winnipeg to play in the WHL. He’ll wear the “C” for the Ice and is expected to be a dominant force in the league again this year. The big test will come at the World Junior Championships in December. He’ll be one of the best players on the Team Canada roster, and coming off their disappointment last year, the pressure will be on.
7/5/19 – The Golden Knights first pick in the 2019 NHL Draft is everything and more that you can ask for out of a center prospect. He’s a 200 foot player, plays in all situations, has a high level of skill, drives the offense on his line, and has great hockey sense and compete level. Unfortunately, Krebs came to camp with an injury and wasn’t able to skate. Had he gone out and dominated camp, he would have had a real shot to have been #1 on this list due to his ceiling. Hopefully he makes it took rookie camp in September, if not, World Juniors will be his next real shot to show he’s ready. By then, Glass will probably have played in 10 games, so don’t be surprised if Krebs is atop this list the next time it is updated.
2) Ivan Morozov (F) Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall Age: 20 (May 5, 2000) Most Recent Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) Previous Ranking: #5
If Morozov was doing in the AHL what he’s doing in the KHL the excitement level surrounding him as a prospect would be much higher. The KHL is notorious for making life very difficult on young players and at age 20 Morozov is playing at a high level for one of the league’s best team’s. He’s a 200-foot center that has the hands to score and create for others. 11 goals in 47 KHL games is nothing to scoff at and once he decides it’s time to give North America a shot, I think he’ll be a Golden Knight shortly thereafter.
More on Morozov
4/16/20 – Morozov had a pretty wild year playing in three different Russian leagues and in the World Juniors. He impressed at the World Juniors and he was starting to really put it all together in the KHL playoffs. He’s the type of player that is going to get a majority of his goals through hard work and willingness. The problem in his game is that he shuts off from time to time. It ends up leading to breakdowns and penalties. Hopefully it’s something he grows out of because he has enough talent to be an NHLer.
11/16/19 – This is a deceptive one because Morozov actually moves up in the rankings, but he really shouldn’t have. He’s been unable to crack the KHL roster for SKA St. Petersburg and he hasn’t exactly ripped up the Russian minor league, the VHL. World Juniors will be important for Morozov as he may be a top-six center for Russia.
7/5/19 – Yet again, we didn’t actually get to see him play as he skipped Development Camp for the second year. Thus, he ends up soaring down the rankings even though he appears to be a player with a real future. He’s young enough to play for Russia in World Juniors this year, and he should have an expanded role. Hopefully the numbers start showing up in the KHL this year too.
1/8/19 – 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.
9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp
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.
Brisson’s selection to the eventual gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Juniors was incredibly impressive considering how stacked that team was. He offers something unlike anything we’ve seen from a VGK prospect to this point and that’s an unbelievable shot. He loves to sit in the circle on the power play and rip shots past goalies who know it’s coming and still can’t stop it. He definitely has a ways to go in regards to strength and experience and the offensive play can improve in other areas aside from the shot, but there’s no doubt Brisson has an exciting future.
The moment Vegas drafted Korczak we knew he was going to be a big guy, but he’s already a monster just one season removed from his draft year and he’s probably only going to get bigger. As he progresses through high levels like World Juniors and the AHL, it appears his calling card will be more as a defense-first penalty kill type player, but he’s certainly looking like he has an NHL future, and probably a long one.
More on Korczak
4/16/20 – There’s nothing not to like about Korczak’s game. He’s got size, he’s a good skater, he’s physical, he’s calm on the puck, he can move the puck, and he’ll chip in offensively. His numbers will continue to look good in the WHL, but it’s all about how he looks against better competition going forward and unfortunately we aren’t going to get to see much of that any time soon.
11/16/19 – Korczak looked really good at camp and he has taken that game to the WHL racking up 14 points in 19 games for the Kelowna Rockets. Korczak is the type of defenseman that the Golden Knights are desperately looking for at the NHL level. Of course, he’s not ready at this point (nor would he be available to them anyway) but he’s a mobile, puck-moving d-man who will chip in offensively while taking care of his own end. The next time we really get to see what Korczak has to offer will likely be for Team Canada in December. If he can show something special in that tournament, the 2nd round pick is going to be in the top-five on this list next time for sure.
7/5/19 – The Golden Knights moved up in the draft to select Korczak and it didn’t take long to show why they valued him so much. In his own end, he’s a rock, defending both with his feet (mainly by keeping terrific gaps) and his stick. But what impressed me most with Korczak was his willingness to jump into the rush, or even start a rush. He reminded me a lot of Nate Schmidt, where the entire offense just looks more dangerous in transition when he’s out there.
It should have happened for the first two games. Now it’s happening tonight.
I’m talking about the decision to send Cody Glass to the AHL/taxi squad, and thus take him out of the lineup, inserting Nic Hague into the defense, and keeping Keegan Kolesar on the active roster and away from waivers.
Due to the massive offseason move of signing Alex Pietrangelo, the Golden Knights spent every day between the moment they lost to the Stars to Opening Night 2021 over the cap. We knew some “salary cap gymnastics” were going to be necessary to make the team compliant before the first game against the Ducks.
They came on the final day of Training Camp. The Golden Knights waived Nick Holden, risking losing him to another team for nothing, then released a peculiar looking roster of 13 forwards, five defensemen, and two goalies. Vegas went on to play two games voluntarily down a defenseman and pulled out a pair of wins to start the season.
Admittedly, the Golden Knights were not in love with the idea of playing short a d-man, but their willingness to do it proved they believed it was necessary.
Why? While we don’t have an answer to that question on the record, we have a pretty good educated guess. That guess is that the Golden Knights have knowledge that if they placed Keegan Kolesar on waivers he would get claimed by another team.
How do they know this? Again, another educated guess, but GM’s talk to each other often, and the Golden Knights were probably one of the most active teams this offseason trying to maneuver their roster after signing Pietrangelo. Somewhere in one of those conversations, there was likely a clue that another team coveted Kolesar. If someone’s willing to trade for a 23-year-old forward with limited NHL experience and a league minimum contract, they’ll certainly be willing to scoop him up for free if he hits waivers.
So, the Golden Knights avoided it. Now, two games in, they are still trying to avoid it, but the options remain limited.
They could continue with five defensemen, but through two games, the Golden Knights have the two league leaders in average time on ice per game and all five defensemen rank in the top 15 across the entire NHL. For now, that’s fine, but over the course of an entire season (especially one that is as tightly packed as this one), that’s not a viable long-term option.
There aren’t many, if any, open roster spots for the Golden Knights heading towards the regular season opener in less than a week. But playing hockey during a global pandemic, it’s inevitable the depth of every team will be tested during a season outside of the bubble.
It’s going to be impossible for it not to run across our path at some point and then it’s how we deal with it. -Pete DeBoer
This inescapable reality has led to increased importance in the next group of players beyond those who make the roster out of camp. Normally, there are one or two players who fill the role of the “yo-yo,” bouncing back and forth between the NHL and AHL as replacement options when injuries occur. But this year, with the understanding that at any moment a team could see an entire line or even an entire position group forced away from the team completely for weeks on end, the group of players beyond the starting lineup takes on added relevance.
That starts with the collection of draft picks still yet to make their NHL debuts. Jack Dugan, Dylan Coghlan, Ben Jones, Jake Leschyshyn, Lucas Elvenes, Paul Cotter, and Brayden Pachal are all in camp and fit this group. Often though, coaches prefer to lean on experience in tough situations and this year’s team has a few new options who may play large roles when that inescapable day does come.
Dylan Sikura, Tomas Jurco, Danny O’Regan, and Carl Dahlstrom are four players with various degrees of NHL experience all in the Golden Knights system, none of which have played for this team or this coaching staff. Despite their previous successes or failures at the NHL level, it’s the here and now that counts for DeBoer.
I think it’s critical every year that you give those type of players that have come into your organization after leaving another place a clean slate. -DeBoer
The addition of Alex Pietrangelo will change everything in how the Golden Knights look on the back end. As opposed to having a more balanced group as they’ve had in the previous three seasons, they’ll come into this one with a much more clear hierarchy, Pietrangelo being at the top.
The most ice time any Vegas defenseman has averaged in a given season was 22:14 which was achieved by both Shea Theodore in 19-20 and Nate Schmidt in 17-18. Pietrangelo hasn’t averaged less than 24:00 in any season since his first full NHL year back in 2010-11 and has crossed 25:00 per game in six seasons.
Pietrangelo’s impact will be most felt on Theodore, who had risen to become the Golden Knights’ best offensive defenseman and TOI leader last year.
In a Q&A on the Golden Knights website, head coach Pete DeBoer was asked about Pietrangelo’s effect on Theodore.
I think Theodore is obviously on everyone’s radar now with how he’s played. He’s one of those guys now that every time you’re playing Vegas you’re going to circle his number on the board and he’s going to get a lot of extra attention. His benefit to Theodore, but also to a lot of other guys, is be able to free them up. –DeBoer to VegasGoldenKnights.com
The first thing I think of when I hear the word insulates from an NHL coach is in relation to competition. As the top offensive defenseman on the roster, Theodore was always going to draw the toughest defensive opponent, but with Pietrangelo here now, that may change.
It’s no secret Alex Pietrangelo is an elite defenseman in the NHL. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been the captain of a Stanley Cup champion, he wouldn’t have received Norris Trophy votes in seven different seasons, and he definitely wouldn’t have signed a $62 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.
But what is it that makes him special and worthy of garnering the title of highest-paid player in Golden Knights history? Well, I dug into the film to figure it out.
It starts with what he does in the defensive zone. He’s about as sound of a blueliner as you will find in the entire NHL. I’d make a highlight tape, but it would be about as exhilarating as watching paint dry, so I’ll spare you.
But that’s not what really sets him apart. There are plenty of lockdown d-men in the league and none get paid the way Pietrangelo now does.
Where he really separates himself from most is the way he reads the game offensively. He’s absolutely elite at becoming a part of the offense as a defenseman. Whether that means activating off the blue line, replacing the forward on a cycle play, or joining the rush, Pietrangelo does it all at an incredibly high level.
This makes him unbelievably challenging to defend against and should have VGK fans drooling about what they are going to see when the games finally get back underway.
Let me illustrate.
This is likely a set play off the faceoff, but it’s a play that very few players in the NHL can make. Pietrangelo sees the draw is won and the puck heading to the half wall. So, he activates off the blue line towards the goal. Watch the path he takes though. He wants to head directly to the back post and catch the feed across, but there’s a bit of traffic in front, so when he hits the faceoff dot, he alters his route slightly towards the slot, with his stick on the ice the entire time presenting himself for the pass. Then, he gets it, receives it perfectly, and pulls off a dazzling inside-out move that embarrasses both a defenseman and the goalie. Mesmerizing.
Next, here he is replacing a forward who is heading towards the blue line.
Over the course of the last month, the NHL has been releasing lists of the top players in the game. They broke it down into four position groups and ranked the best players in each; 20 at center, wing, and defense and 10 goalies. (See each list below)
The Golden Knights were represented in three lists by five players including Robin Lehner (G8), Mark Stone (W10), Max Pacioretty (W15), Shea Theodore (D14), and newcomer Alex Pietrangelo (D4).
Vegas was also the only team in the NHL to have multiple players listed at more than one position with a pair of wings and defensemen.
To take a look at exactly how the Golden Knights stacked up against the rest of the league, I created the “Star-Power Rankings” using the NHL’s lists. The best player in each position group earned 20 points, 2nd place got 19, and so on. Goalies only had 10 players listed so they were scored 20, 18, 16, etc.
In celebration of the start of the 2020-21 college hockey season, Sports Illustrated profiled the top 100 NCAA players to watch. The Golden Knights were represented by five of their own prospects in SI’s list.
At #24 was Vegas’ newest 1st round prospect Brendan Brisson (Michigan), 2018 draft pick Brandon Kruse (Bowling Green) was listed at #25, and another 2018 pick Peter Diliberatore (Quinnipiac) ranked #31. Defensive prospect Layton Ahac (Ohio State) came in at #43, and lastly, goaltender Isiah Saville (Nebraska-Omaha) was slotted in at #54 by Sports Illustrated.
For some of the Golden Knights prospects, this is a big NCAA season. Junior Peter Diliberatore has his eyes on capturing Quinnipiac‘s second school title, while Layton Ahac and Brendan Brisson chase a Frozen Four title for their Big Ten schools. All three universities are ranked in the nation’s top 15 teams.
While we wait with uncertainty on the specifics of the 2020-21 NHL season, there’s plenty of VGK hockey being played. Currently, 17 Golden Knights prospects are either already playing or getting ready to play this season.
Here’s a list of all Vegas prospects in action and how to watch their games.
Layton Ahac (2019, 2nd) NCAA – Ohio State
Entering his sophomore season, Ahac’s Buckeyes are expected to be very good this season, already ranking in the Top 10. Ohio State games can often be found on NBCSN, Big 10 Network, or Big 10+.
Brendan Brisson (2020, 1st) NCAA – Michigan
Brisson has played in his first two collegiate games and is already on the board with two points. Michigan games can often be found on Big 10 Network and Big 10+.
Nick Campoli (2017, 6th) NCAA – Clarkson
Campoli is entering his Junior season as a Clarkson Golden Knight. He has been more of a checking forward to this point in his career. Maybe this is the season the offense starts to come through. It needs to or his time as a VGK prospect will be limited. Clarkson’s schedule begins on November 22nd with many games airing on ESPN+.
Cormier is a big-time point collecting defenseman that is a lot of fun to watch. He’s in the running to be a part of the Team Canada World Junior roster for the tournament beginning on Christmas Day, but in the meantime, the QMJHL rolls along with a few games a week. All QMJHL games stream live on their website using the All Acess subscription.
Peter Diliberatore (2018, 6th) NCAA – Quinnipiac
Diliberatore had an excellent sophomore season and should be expected to be a huge part of a very good Quinnipiac team. The Bobcats first game is scheduled for November 24th with a few games streaming on ESPN+.
Ryder Donovan (2019, 4th) NCAA – Wisconsin
Donovan scored a pair of goals in the Badgers’ second game of the season. He’s currently playing on the 4th line as a wing. Many games air on Big 10 Network or stream on Big 10+.
It’s an honor to be able to play with and get to know Marc. A fun prize for us to win together with the hard work of our entire team. Been really cool to see the special season Marc have had and I believe that’s where the Vezina belongs. Now the fun begins!
None of the four teams to reach the playoffs from the West Division are strangers to the postseason.
All four of VGK, COL, MIN, and STL have more than 775 games of playoff experience on the roster. Who has the most? Which position groups lead the way? https://sinbin.vegas/vgk-lead-west-division-in-playoff-experience-but-not-by-much/