(Last updated: August 7th, 2021)

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: Dylan Coghlan (NHL)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Peyton Krebs (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #17 overall
Age: 20 (January 26, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Ranking: #1

An unfortunate injury kept Krebs from getting his shot to star on the biggest stage in the playoffs this year. Now, he’s going to have to compete amongst a suddenly deep group of forwards to even earn a spot out of camp. His waiver exempt status will certainly play against him early in the season, but by the end of 2021 Krebs should be a mainstay in the VGK lineup.

More on Krebs
2/3/21 – 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 bright for this kid.

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.

 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2) Kaedan Korczak (D)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #41 overall
Age: 20 (January 29, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #4

Korczak worked his way up the depth chart for the Silver Knights as the year went on but could never find his place in the lineup permenantly. That should change this year as he’ll probably end up on the HSK top-pair fairly quickly. He’s close to being NHL ready, but the group of seven defensemen in front of him at the NHL level will likely keep him down. Wouldn’t be shocked to see his NHL debut in 2021-22 though.

More on Korczak
2/3/21 – 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.

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.

 

3) Ivan Morozov (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall
Age: 21 (May 5, 2000)
Most Recent Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

The biggest question mark right now on Morozov is when is he going to make the trip across the pond and come to North America. Once he does, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he jumps to #1 on this list instantly. He’s been dynamite in the KHL playing center for one of the league’s best teams. He even went to the World Championships where he added three points in eight games. This kid is the real deal, but he’s not worth thinking about until he leaves Russia.

More on Morozov
2/3/21 – 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.

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.

 

4) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 19 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: 3

Brisson had a solid freshman season at Michigan scoring 10 goals and adding 21 points in 24 games. He’s a power play weapon and will continue to be a point producer at the NCAA level this season. However, with Michigan’s stacked lineup, his playing time will be interesting to monitor. Michigan had four of the top five picks in the 2021 Draft and all are expected to be on the roster this year. As a late 1st round pick from the year prior, Brisson should be able to hold down a permanent spot, but we’re definitely going to learn a lot about him as to where coach Mel Pearson has him in that stacked lineup.

More on Brisson
2/3/21 – 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. 

 

5) Lukas Cormier (D)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #68 overall
Age: 19 (March 27, 2002)
Most Recent Team: Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 10

Cormier took the most significant jump in this edition of the rankings and it’s well deserved. 54 points in 39 games in the regular season to go along with nine more in eight playoff games cannot go unrecognized. He’s still young and with his small frame he’s likely to take a little longer to even be ready for the AHL, let alone the NHL. He should get a chance to participate in training camp with VGK and maybe even get into a few preseason games. Both will be key in seeing where the ceiling could be on him. Basing it just on his junior stats though, the ceiling is very high.

More on Cormier
2/3/21 – This kid is a little firecracker and he’s going to be a fun one to keep an eye on as his career progresses. He’s an offensive wizard, especially on the power play and he’s feisty enough to give people problems in his own end. 21 points in his first 14 QMJHL games has people in Eastern Canada buzzing and his invitation to the ridiculously stacked Team Canada World Junior camp should turn heads. We’re a long way from seeing Lukas in a Golden or even Silver Knights jersey, but there’s absolutely some intriguing upside here.

 

6) Zach Dean
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 1sr Round, #30 overall
Age: 18 (January 4, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

VGK’s 1st round pick in 2021 is the prototypical selection from the Golden Knights. He’s a good skater that pays in all situations and has a high hockey IQ. The most exciting part of his game is his skating ability, which he told me he believes can get even better. He’ll probably need another two years of seasoning before he’s knocking on the NHL door, but there’s not a ton of negatives to go along with this 1st round pick.

 

7) Jack Dugan (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #142 overall
Age: 23 (March 24, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #8

Dugan put together a very nice season in his first year in the AHL. One has to wonder when his chance will come to make the leap to the NHL, but as long as he’s a member of the Golden Knights, that’s going to be tough. Being passed up for Dylan Sikura and Tomas Jurco last year proved VGK doesn’t quite believe Dugan is ready. Maybe they will this year, assuming there’s ever a need.

More on Dugan
2/3/21 – This is a big step for Dugan. After leaving college and quickly signing a contract with the Golden Knights, he’s set to play a big role for the Silver Knights. He needs to be an offense-driving player both at even-strength and on the power play. So far, through camp and a few preseason games, it hasn’t happened, but that definitely doesn’t mean it can’t as time goes on. He’s scored at every level he’s played at, but this is going to be easily his stiffest test. Don’t expect an NHL call this year, but a big AHL year could put him in the mix for a bottom-six role in the near future.

4/16/20 – It’s still a mystery how Dugan was not among the three finalists to win the Hobey Baker Award after leading college hockey in points the entire season. Even without the honor though he clearly defined himself as one of the best players in college hockey. Now the question is what’s next? He could stick around for one more year after missing out on the playoffs this year, or he could sign a contract and play with the AHL team in Vegas. Either way, he’s going to be pushing for an NHL spot by the back end of the 2020-21 season.

11/16/19 – Since his terrific 2019 Development Camp, Dugan has taken his game to the next level absolutely dominating the NCAA. His 24 points in 10 games leads college hockey. Dugan recently mentioned on a podcast that he wants to “dominate” at the level he’s at before moves on. He’s doing that, and then some.

7/5/19 – Maybe the most impressive player at 2019 Development Camp, Dugan appears on the path to being one of the best picks in the Golden Knights 2017 draft class. He’s absolutely everywhere in the offensive zone whether his team has the puck or not. His skating looks excellent for as large as he’s become and his ability and willingness to carry the puck seems to have come a long way. The one thing missing with Dugan is his finishing ability. It just didn’t show up much at all despite having multiple chances in Dev Camp. He’s going back to Providence this year, and it wouldn’t shock me if he’s there for a few more, but when he’s done, he’s going to be in the picture for the Golden Knights, which is awesome for a 5th round pick.

1/8/19 – The fact that Dugan dropped three spots has much more to do with what I think of the system as a whole as to what I think of Dugan. In short, I really like this kid and think he’s going to be a good player someday. The problem is that NCAA kids take forever to get to the NHL and I don’t see any difference with him. As a freshman he’s put up 22 points in 20 games at Providence so he’s continuing to produce despite the rise in competition.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp

7/28/18 – The leap Dugan made from the 2017 Development Camp to 2018 was tremendous. He was a scoring machine in the scrimmages both putting the puck in himself and setting up teammates. Last year he scored 66 points in 54 games with the Chicago Steel. This year he’ll be making the leap to Providence College to play in the strong Hockey East conference. Don’t expect to see Dugan in a Golden Knights uniform anytime soon, it literally might be four years away, but this is a player with a lot of upside and will likely go from relative unknown in the Golden Knights prospect system to an impactful player on NHL ice in a hurry.

 

8) Daniil Chayka (D)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #38 overall
Age: 18 (Octover 22, 2002)
Most Recent Team: CSKA Moskva (KHL)
Previous Ranking: #N/A

The pandemic excuse is a popular one for prospects who had down years last season, but for Chayka it actually seems to be fair. After an excellent season with Guelph, he was forced back to Russia with the OHL taking the season off. He did not fare well at all spitting time between their three leagues. The scouting report is exciting on this kid, so the hope is the return to North America will bring back out the best in him.

 

9) Paul Cotter (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #115 overall
Age: 21 (November 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #11

It would have been great to have seen a bit more scoring from Cotter in the AHL, but overall it’s hard to be too disappointed with his second season as a pro. This is the year that he’ll have to really take a jump and prove he’s more deserving of an NHL shot than guys like Dugan, Elvenes, Rondbjerg and others.

More on Cotter
2/3/21 – You aren’t going to find a much bigger fan of Paul Cotter than me. The way he plays the game has NHL written all over it, I just think it’s going to take some time for him to become truly trustworthy enough to play at that level. He’s a handful in the corners, he loves the dirty areas in front of the goal, and he has enough scoring touch to do some damage.

4/16/20 – Like Dorofeyev in the KHL, Cotter spent the whole year gaining the trust of the coaching staff in the AHL but never put the numbers up to go with it. Cotter is plays with a bulldog-like style which may or may not translate to the NHL (or even the AHL). But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of time since the Golden Knights selected Cotter, it’s never to give up on this guy.

11/16/19 – Cotter had a goal of earning his spot in the AHL out of Rookie Camp this September. He did just that playing very well both in the rookie games in Irvine, CA as well as in the preseason when he got a chance. Cotter is a bulldog on the ice and plays the style of game that Gerard Gallant will love. Thus far, his AHL numbers have not translated, but he’s been a constant in the lineup and should get the call for Team USA for World Juniors.

7/5/19 – Missing Development Camp really hurt Cotter in these rankings. It’s probably unfair because he’s almost certainly better now than he was a year ago, but not getting to see him with the likes of Dorofeyev, Elvenes, Rondbjerg, and Dugan made it tough to keep him above all of those guys. He was out with an injury and didn’t even attend camp to my knowledge. I still really like the skill level and scoring ability Cotter possesses. Hopefully, he has a monster year and rips up World Juniors and he can bully his way back into the top five.

1/8/19 – Cotter has had an interesting year after starting at Western Michigan. He was having limited success and even found himself scratched from a game at one point. He decided to leave school to go play with the London Knights of the OHL where he’s thrived. 12 points in 17 games has earned him a consistent role in the lineup of a good team. Also, Cotter signed a contract with the Golden Knights recently. This kid can score and he’s probably going to keep doing it at every level he plays at. I’d still guess he’s two or three years away from making his way to Vegas, but you can bet he’ll be a name to keep an eye on at next year’s World Juniors.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp.

7/28/18 – The clear standout from the draft class of 2018 at Development Camp. Cotter has since been invited to play for Team USA at the World Junior Showcase where he’ll be joined by fellow VGK prospect Brandon Kruse. There’s just a certain smoothness to Cotter’s game that is fun to watch. He barely looks like he’s moving when he has the puck and has shown an innate ability to make good passes in traffic. Plus, he has a lightning quick release on his shot which gives most goalies trouble. He’ll head to Western Michigan this year to play in the NCAA and hopefully, he’ll have a spot on the World Junior Championship team in early 2019.

 

10) Lucas Elvenes (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #127 overall
Age: 21 (August 18, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #7

Unfortunately, Elvenes did not quite build on the dominant rookie season in his second AHL season with Henderson. That’s not to say he was bad, it just wasn’t the step you’d hope from the player who was awarded Rookie of the Year. It just felt like his place among the prospects was part of the group as opposed to standing out above them. Now, we start to think about age and further development in this system.

More on Elvenes
2/3/21- After a strong season as a rookie in the AHL, Elvenes has to back it up with another one this year in Henderson. In NHL camp he was a bit underwhelming as I expected to see a bit more of an offensive game and it never quite showed up. On the power play, he’s probably still one of the better options Vegas has in the system. He certainly has a chance to get his shot at the NHL level, but it looks like there’s going to be a bit more competition for scoring at the AHL level which may lead to his numbers increasing. If he can outscore guys like Danny O’Regan, Dylan Sikura, and Peyton Krebs (as long as he’s a Horsie), he’ll shoot back into the Top 5 in no time.

4/16/20 – Elvenes turned in a great first full professional season in North America, leading the Wolves in points and ranking fourth among all rookies in the AHL. It’s a bit surprising that both Gage Quinney and Keegan Kolesar received call-ups before him, but age likely played the biggest factor in that decision. Next year will be big for Elvenes. It’s time to take that final step.

11/16/19 – Another fast riser on this list, Elvenes is all the way up to #3 because he’s taken the AHL by storm as a 20-year-old. He’s leading the Wolves, all AHL rookies, and ranks 2nd in the entire AHL in points with 21. He also leads the league in assists with 16 in 16 games. Elvenes is a playmaking forward that seemed to be slow to see his game translate to NHL-sized ice. No longer is that an issue as he’s scoring in every situation in the 2nd best league in the world, the AHL. He’s knocking at the door of getting a chance to show his stuff at the NHL level, but don’t expect his stay to be long if he does get that chance due to injury at some point soon.

7/5/19 – Admittedly, I’ve been all over the place on Elvenes, but the more I watch him, the more I like him. Plain and simply, he’s a playmaker and the more comfortable he is with the players he’s playing with, the more plays he makes. In Development Camp he and Dorofeyev were shredding defenses, creating scoring chances left and right. The smaller ice appears to be less and less of an issue for him and I think surrounding his with guys who can score will help him a lot. This season with the Wolves is going to be a big one for Elvenes. If he dominates, he’s going to fly up this list, if he’s just so so, he could be near the bottom soon.

1/8/19 – 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.

9/12/18 – Elvenes has been flying up the charts on prospect ranking charts all over the place, but not here. He moves up a bit because he showed out very well on the Golden Knights power play, but at 5-on-5 he continued to be invisible. In practice he looked like he was primed to go out and have a huge impact on the games, then he didn’t. Not even close to time to give up in him, but he’s got to figure out the even strength on the small ice.

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.

 

11) Jackson Hallum (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #91 overall
Age: 18 (September 8, 2002)
Most Recent Team: St. Thomas Academy (US-HS)
Previous Ranking: 17

Yet again, Hallum torched the high school circuit, putting up 41 points in 21 games. Now it’s time for a massive step up in competition, not only in who he’ll play against, but who he’s playing with. We mentioned the stacked University of Michigan team when talking about Brisson, it’s even more interesting for Hallum, who may not even find his way onto the ice at all. If he can make an impact on that team, we’re really onto something, if he doesn’t, we might learn that the high school numbers were a mirage.

More on Hallum
2/3/21 – The speedy high schooler is once again shredding kids he’s much better than in Minnesota preps. Seven goals in six games and another 10 assists is certainly going to excite anyone, but the competition is about as weak as it gets for an NHL Draft pick that it’s not time to get overly excited. Missed seeing him in a Development Camp, hopefully we do in 2021.

 

12) Pavel Dorofeyev (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #79 overall
Age: 20 (October 26, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #5

When I first saw Dorofeyev in a Henderson uni, I thought there was a real chance he was ready for the NHL right then and there. But as I got to watch him more and more, I started to pick up some of the inconsistencies in his game. To me, he’s just not quite strong enough at the moment to be able to handle himself and unleash his best skills at the NHL level. He must be able to possess the puck and create space, if he can’t, he becomes a very average player. There were moments in the AHL where he could, but also moments where he couldn’t. It’s going to take time with him, so there’s no reason to give up, but if he was going to be a superstar, he’d have lit up the AHL much more than he did.

More on Dorofeyev
2/3/21 – Dorofeyev is nowhere near as close to the NHL as a few of the players behind him, but he still represents the player in the Vegas system not named Krebs with the most upside. The decision to come to North America and join the Silver Knights is going to be huge in his development and could put him on a path to challenge for a roster spot in a few years. He’s the type of player that Vegas hasn’t had since David Perron and will offer offense to any line they put him on at any level. He needs to get bigger, he’s going to have to prove he can do it in a bit of a grittier league, but this guy has a chance to be a top-six player in the NHL, not many others on this list can.

4/16/20 – There are two ways to look at Dorofeyev’s season. On one hand you can say, “he spent the entire year in the KHL” while on the other you can say “but he did nothing while he was there.” Clearly he earned the trust of the coaching staff of Metallurg Magnitogorsk which is a huge plus as a 19-year-old, but the results simply weren’t there. His performance in World Juniors was just so-so too. Dorofeyev remains a boom or bust prospect, but the boom would be much more significant than the bust.

11/16/19 – Playing in the KHL at the age of 19 is an impressive feat. Early in the season he hasn’t really put up much by way of numbers, but no matter what the stats say, there’s no denying the talent Dorofeyev possesses. The more professional experience he gets under his belt, the better he’s going to become. He’ll be at World Juniors for Team Russia, and he’ll likely put on a show.

7/5/19 – This guy has skill for days and he’s only 18-years-old. Dorofeyev slipped in the draft, but he impressed mightily at Development Camp in his first appearance. The KHL prospect is incredible controlling the puck and advancing it to dangerous areas. His vision is stupendous which matches his passing. After a full season on the international-sized ice it was to be expected that Dorofeyev would not look as comfortable on the puck on the smaller rink, but that couldn’t have been further from reality. He’s got a long way to go physically, but the upside on Dorofeyev is incredibly exciting.

 

13) Brayden Pachal (D)
Acquired: Signed as a Free Agent on September 20, 2019
Age: 21 (August 23, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 9

Pachal was a steady defenseman for the Silver Knights, but he rarely stood out. There’s reason to believe he could be the next Zach Whitecloud because of the consistency in his play, but there’s also a chance he’s simply just an AHL level guy. With the departures of Dahlstrom, Murphy, and Schuldt, Pachal is likely in for a larger role. Handle it well, and he’ll be back in the Top 10 in no time.

More on Pachal
2/3/21 – Keep an eye out for Pachal. He plays with an edge and always makes the right play in his own end. He skates well and has just enough offensive spark to make him an interesting prospect for the future. He’s going to grow and grow in his role in the AHL and I have a feeling he’s going to become one of the guys Manny Viveiros leans on when the Horsies need a big defensive shift. Fans of the Silver Knights are going to like him, and I think there’s a chance fans of the Golden Knights get a look before he moves on from this organization. 

 

14) Layton Ahac (D)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #86 overall
Age: 21 (February 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #15

Scouting stay-at-home defensemen is always going to be tough, and that’s the case with Ahac. He actually flashed a lot more of an offensive game on different viewings I had, but he’s certainly not going to be labled as an offensive-minded defenseman any time soon. Like Pachal, there’s probably a bit more of a role of him this season. Can he climb the depth chart?

More on Ahac
2/3/21 – Unlike the player ahead of him at this point (Diliberatore), he needed to go back to college to continue developing on both ends of the ice. Scoring as a defenseman at the NCAA level is tricky, and Ahac still likely projects as more of a defense-first option. He has one goal and six assists in 17 games, numbers that would need to improve if he’s going to stake his claim as a high-end prospect he was hoped to be as a 3rd round selection.

4/16/20 – Ahac disappointed a bit at the Fortress Invitational in Vegas and didn’t make much noise as a freshman at Ohio St. However, there’s no way that should mean it’s time to write him off. His skating ability alone is worth keeping him on the radar and he should get better and better as he progresses through his college career. It might be a while until we see him in Vegas, even in the AHL, but if he can develop the way the Golden Knights envisioned, he has the tools to be a solid player.

11/16/19 – Ahac has cemented himself as a staple in the Ohio State defense, which is impressive as a freshman. Statistically, he’s not going to blow you out of the water, but Ahac is a very good defense-first defenseman. He and the Buckeyes will be at T-Mobile Arena for the Fortress Invitational in early January.

7/5/19 – The tall, skinny, defenseman is headed to Ohio State to play college hockey this year, but he sure impressed in camp before leaving. His skating was impressive, his poise was excellent, and his passing from the defensive zone was suburb. I would have liked to see a little more jump to his offensive game, but in a first camp, as a 3rd round pick defenseman, he looked pretty darn good.

 

15) Maxim Marushev (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #215 overall
Age: 22 (January 1, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights
Previous Ranking: 21

After surprisingly coming over to play in the AHL, Marushev grew into the league and started to really make an impact in the playoffs. The style of game he plays still has me a bit concerned that he’s only an AHL producer and not an NHL producer, but as a 7th round pick, it’s awesome to see him here and with a shot to be something in this system.

More on Marushev
2/3/21 -The dream is for Marushev to be the next Nikita Gusev. A late pick that really never was expected to come to North America, but plays so well in Russia that he kind of has to. Marushev’s spot on this list is solely because of the fact that Vegas decided to take him, not due to anything he’s done on the ice that I’ve seen or read about. They’re willing to throw a 7th round pick his way knowing he may never come to America, there’s got to be something there. Hopefully we learn about it over the next five years.

 

16) Brandon Kruse (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 22 (March 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Bowling Green State University (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #16

After yet another successful offensive season, Kruse is now on his way to Boston College to finish up his final college season. We can definitely expect him to dominate offensively again but what comes next is the real question.

More on Kruse
2/3/21 – Once again, Kruse is dominating at the NCAA level, so far putting up 25 points in 20 games. He also carries an impressive +24 rating through 20 games which is strong, but his team has a +42 goal differential so it would be concerning if Kruse’s rating was anything but soaring. He’s still a smaller player that is going to have a lot to prove at the AHL level when he finally gets there.

4/16/20 – Kruse has quietly had a terrific NCAA career consistently putting up points in bunches. He’s basically become a point per game player at Bowling Green and his speed and creativity have allowed him as a small winger to succeed in the heavier college game. We’ve seen some of the playmaking in Vegas and as he gets older it will be interesting to see if he can push for a roster spot in the AHL. That is, if he doesn’t go backt to school for his senior year.

11/16/19 – The little speedy forward has continued to do nothing but produce at George McPhee’s alma mater. He’s essentially a point-per-game player and is keeping that up in his junior year in college. That being said, his so-so performance at Development Camp is keeping him from flying up the rankings. A selection to the Team USA World Junior roster would go a long way in helping him up into the top ten.

7/5/19 – Kruse was a standout in 2018 Development Camp, he was not in 2019 Camp. That’s not to say he was bad, but the passing skills that made him jump off the ice a year ago didn’t really shine through this time around. All he does is put up numbers in college, so hopefully, that translates a little better the next time we see him.

1/8/19 – Kruse continues to put up solid numbers at Bowling Green as a sophomore. Seven goals and 26 points in 21 games is exactly what he needs to be doing. Look forward to seeing how much bigger he’s gotten when he gets to come back to Vegas in July for Development Camp.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp

7/28/18 – The other Golden Knight prospect to be invited to the World Junior Summer Showcase is 19-year-old Kruse. He’s an excellent passer that is a good skater and has the ability to score. As a freshman at Bowling Green, he scored 33 points in 41 games. At Development Camp, Kruse was impressive despite looking tiny. Just 5’9″ and weighing less than 160 pounds Kruse is a long way from being NHL-ready, however, the tools are there and he looks to be a promising prospect.

 

17) Connor Corcoran (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #154 overall
Age: 20 (August 7th, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #12

Corcoran only saw two games with the Silver Knights and was unspectacular in both. He eventually made his way to the ECHL where he was able to put up three assists in four games. Expect to see him in the AHL much of this season competing for time amongst the group of young D.

More on Corcoran
2/3/21 – Unfortunately, Corcoran has not been available for the start of camp, the AHL preseason, and likely the start of the regular season. It’s a crowded blue line in Henderson that he’s going to have to compete with and missing time never helps anyone. Will the offensive game translate from Juniors to the AHL? If the answer is yes, he’ll be on track for an NHL job in a year or two. If it doesn’t, the development as a newer defenseman will have to continue.

4/16/20 – Corcoran took a huge step in the right direction in his second season as a full-time defenseman. His defensive game has always been there but this season in the OHL the offensive game came with. Corcoran was a risky pick as a defenseman who had barely even played the position when he was selected, and he looked that way when we first saw him in Vegas, but he’s come a long way and he’s turned himself into a player with massive upside.

11/16/19 – Corcoran is expected to be a defense-first player, but he’s lighting it up offensively in his fourth season in the OHL. Four goals and nine assists in 16 games has him in the top 15 for defenseman in points per game and he’s taking care of his own end as well posting a +3 thus far. Considering he ended last year with a -45 rating, that’s quite a step in the right direction.

7/5/19 – He continued to look like the player we’ve expected him to be. He’s a defense-first guy who relies on fundamentals over flash. These types of guys are so hard to keep tabs on, even when you get to watch them live, because the best thing they can do is be unnoticeable. He was that in Development Camp, which I think is a good thing, right?

1/8/19 – He’s going to be a tough one to keep track of because he’s a typical defensive-minded defenseman. The stats won’t look good and he’s not going to find his way into many glowing postgame stories. He’s kind of in a class of his own among VGK prospects as there aren’t many giant defensemen list.

9/12/18 – In the rookie games, Corcoran looked like the youngest player on the ice. As the weekend went on he certainly grew and started to seem a bit more comfortable, but like Bouchard, it’s not really fair to judge him against the other four defensemen. We’ll learn a lot more about him when he returns next year for camp.

7/28/18 – The youngest Golden Knight prospect is likely going to be a more defensive minded player as he matures. He’s physically very strong and looked excellent along the boards at Development Camp, but his skating and puck-moving skills never quite displayed themselves at City National Arena.

 

18) Ben Jones (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #189 overall
Age: 22 (February 26, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #19

You always have to be wary of putting a prospect into a box and then not allowing themselves to play their way out of it. With Jones, the box I put him in the very first time I saw him is still the box he remains in now.  He’s a good player, but he’s just not likely to be an NHLer.

More on Jones
2/3/21 – I’ll never say never on anybody, but if you had to pin me to it, I’d say Jones is slated for a long, solid career in the AHL. He’s exactly the type of player you want on your team. Hard worker, plays in all situations, smart, and a leader. I’m just not quite convinced the talent is there for him to make an impact in the NHL.

4/16/20 – Jones, like Leschyshyn, has established himself at the AHL level, but needs to add more offense to his game to ever become a full-time guy at the NHL level. He’s got the ability right now to come in and contribute defensively in the NHL, but I wouldn’t be counting on him to break through the crowded Golden Knights forward group any time soon.

11/16/19 – Jones has pretty much always looked the same player, a defensive center who scored in Canadian juniors but no where else. He’s certainly good enough to have a professional career, but it’s hard to project him as anything but a long-shot to make the NHL at this point.

7/5/19 – Jones continued to look like the player we’ve seen in the past. He’s a defensive forward who puts up points because of his forechecking and the way he takes care of the puck. This year will be a big step for him playing in Chicago with the Wolves. If the offensive numbers translate, he’ll shoot up these rankings, but I’m not so sure they will. I still expect him to eventually become a bottom-six penalty kill type guy.

1/8/19 – Now the captain of the IceDogs, Jones has continued to dominate the OHL. He’s a +26 38 games into the season which is likely more due to his defensive prowess than offensive. I’m ready to see what he can do in a league with better competition.

9/12/18 – Here’s a guy who took a nice step in the right direction at Rookie Camp. Jones is probably not ever going to be a top-six type player, but he has workhorse bottom-six guy written all over him. He has a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare style to his game. He’s an excellent penalty killer, always seems to be in the right place defensively as a center, and just outworks guys all over the ice. The 7th Round pick definitely didn’t look like it among a group of players drafted above him.

7/28/18 – The last skater selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 Entry Draft was one of the eight players from that draft who signed a contract. He was a bit more noteworthy in 2017 than 2018, but there was nothing glaring to the negative either year. Jones had a huge year in Niagara scoring 79 points in 68 games and added 12 more in 10 playoff games. Late round picks have an incredibly low success rate, which is why he is so low on this list, but he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on in Training Camp this year. Wouldn’t be a major surprise if he’s top 15 or even top 10 by the time he heads back to Niagara.

 

19) Peter Diliberatore (D)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #180 overall
Age: 21 (March 31, 2000)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #14

The hope was an AHL stint would push Dilberatore up this list, unfortunately it did the opposite. The few times I was able to watch him he just didn’t quote look like he belonged. Obviously, last year was a rough year on a lot of people, so it’s not time to give up here, but while there was some hope a while back, it’s certainly fading.

More on Diliberatore
2/3/21 – Rather than signing a pro contract, which I believe the Golden Knights would have offered him, Diliberatore headed back to Quinnipiac where he’s been excellent as an alternate captain on a good team.

4/16/20 – Diliberatore had his name announced to the world when he was invited to the Team Canada World Junior camp ahead of the tournament. He was one of the final players cut from the team that went on to win the tournament. Numbers-wise there’s nothing to get too excited about, but a 6th round pick almost making that team is nothing to scoff at. Look for Diliberatore to make an impression the next time he wears a sweater with a Golden Knight on it.

11/16/19 – It would have been nice to have seen more of Diliberatore in Rookie Camp, but as an NCAA player he was not eligible to participate. He was one of the players that showed the most amount of development from 2018 to 2019 and he’s continuing to show that at Quinnipiac. Six points in nine games and 21 PIM shows he’s got a little grit to his game.

7/5/19 – Diliberatore was the last prospect in the rankings both times he’s been eligible. Not anymore. He now looks like a confident, steady defenseman with smooth, strong skating which allows him to generate offense in transition. He was one of, if not the most, impressive defensemen in camp and he’s starting to look like a player who has a real shot at becoming an NHLer. His size didn’t seem to impede anything he was trying to do on the ice and his decision making was nearly flawless the entire week. He’s a good example of why you don’t write off draft picks after one Development Camp a few days after they are drafted.

1/8/19 – A rare smaller defensive-minded defenseman (or at least that’s what he’s been scouted as), Diliberatore has nine points in 20 games as a freshman at Quinnipiac.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp

7/28/18 – As a high schooler playing with many high-end prospects and even a few professionals, Diliberatore kind of looked like a high schooler. It’s really not too fair to judge him on the performance at Development Camp though because as a shorter defenseman he was kind of thrown to the wolves.

 

20) Marcus Kallionkieli (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #139 overall
Age: 20 (March 20, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #18

Kallionkieli has been in the Golden Knights’ system for a while now, but he just hasn’t been on the ice enough to make a true impact in that time. He scored twice in six games in Henderson, but even while doing so he wasn’t really popping on the AHL ice. A solid full pro season could really shoot him up this list.

More on Kallionkieli
2/3/21 – It was certainly a disappointment to not see Kallionkieli’s name listed on the Finnish World Junior roster. He’s currently playing on a U20 team in Finland where he’s done fine to start the year. There’s still quite a bit of upside to his game, so at this point he’s not plummeting down the rankings.

4/16/20 – After the injury that took him out of both Development and Training camps, Kallionkieli headed up to McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings where he took some time to get his feet underneath him. Just as he started to get it going and show his ability to drive offense, he got hurt again. Injuries obviously now become a concern, but this kid can flat out play when he’s healthy.

11/16/19 – Kallionkieli has been injured since Development Camp and has been rehabbing with the NHL team at City National Arena. Without the ability to see him play, it’s hard to really judge much on him since the draft. Scouts like him a lot, and the Golden Knights are investing in him by keeping him around. Plus, he signed a contract, which many above him on this list have not. That’s a good sign in what the team thinks of him.

7/5/19 – Kallionkieli was fairly unnoticeable in the short time he was able to spend on the ice during the scrimmage at Development Camp. He did not play in the final two games due to injury which could certainly have been a reason his skill level didn’t shine through when he was out there. His skating looked good though, which is why he’s not at the very bottom of this list. Just need to see a lot more from him.

 

21) Jonas Rondbjerg (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #65 overall
Age: 22 (March 31, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #13

There was a time when Rondbjerg was looking like he was going to be knocking on the door for an NHL job. The past 18 months, he’s looking more like he might need some ECHL time. Maybe he can carve out an AHL career for himself, but more likely he’ll be playing in Europe in the next few years.

More on Rondbjerg
2/3/21 – The Jonas Rondbjerg from camp in 2019 has not returned since the injury that took away his 2029-20 season. There’s still a tenacious forechecker with enough offensive upside to be an NHL level guy, but the year off definitely seems to have forced a step back. He’ll have to work his way up the Silver Knights roster this season with a new coaching staff, which will be tough with a lot of talented forwards currently ahead of him.

4/16/20 – Missing an entire year of development is never good and it’s certainly not for a player coming over from Europe. However, Rondbjerg’s absence proved just how light the VGK system is with young forwards than can score. He has the ability to do it and he’ll play an intelligent 200-foot game along with it. He’s going to make some noise once healthy, though it’ll probably be at the AHL level first.

11/16/19 – In the very first game of the AHL season Jonas Rondbjerg was injured and is expected to be out for an extended period. Rondbjerg had an excellent Development Camp but wasn’t as noticeable in Rookie Camp. It’s a shame he’s missing time because he’s the type of player that could have possibly pushed to get a call-up as a bottom-six fill in for the Golden Knights this year.

7/5/19 – Rondbjerg is a player that is probably not going to jump off the ice for most people watching him, but if you key in on him you’ll learn to love the way he plays the game. He’s excellent positionally, he’s a tenacious forechecker who has a strong stick, and he’s everywhere in terrific in the defensive end. The offensive game has a bit of a ways to go, but I think the forechecking might eventually lead to that coming his way as he plays with better players. He looked unstoppable with Jack Dugan at Development Camp and I expect him to have a monster year with the Wolves.

1/8/19 – Rondbjerg was far and away the best player on Team Denmark at World Juniors. He looks like a physical force on the ice who is reliable all 200 feet. Scoring remains a bit of a question mark as he and his teammates didn’t do much of it in that tournament and he’s struggled to score with Vaxjo in Sweden. However, as a 3rd round pick, he looks like he’s got an NHL future and should make the jump to the AHL next season.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp.

7/28/18 – Rondbjerg impressed at 2018 Development Camp consistently creating scoring chances for teammates. He has very good hockey sense which tends to lead to finding himself with the puck in open areas. When he’s there, he’s a smart player that picks out the right play more often than not. Rondbjerg has played 40 games in the SHL playing against grown men so he may be ready for the jump to the AHL this season. However, it’s more likely he’ll stay in Sweden for another full season. He has shined when playing for his country, Denmark. In six games at the World Junior Championship, he tallied seven points which ranked him tied for 12th behind many top prospects including Casey Mittelstadt, Martin Necas, Filip Zadina, Cale Makar, Brady Tkachuk, Sam Steel and others. It’s elite company to be keeping in a very competitive tournament. Don’t sleep on Rondbjerg, he might end up being the Golden Knights steal of the 2017 Draft.

 

22) Jake Leschyshyn (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #62 overall
Age: 22 (March 10, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #23

Every time I watch him play I become more and more convinced that this is not an NHL player. He’s very unnoticeable on the ice in the AHL, which is not a positive for a player that showed amazing offensive ability prior to being drafted. This is the final season of his ELC, after that, he’s probably headed elsewhere.

More on Leschyshyn
2/3/21 – It’s hard to give up on a 2nd round pick, but we might be heading that way here. He’ll play in Henderson this year, and likely next, but he’s probably not going to ever crack the list of potential fill-ins for the Golden Knights.

4/16/20 – Leschyshyn appears to have fallen into the category of “good enough to play in the AHL.” There’s still time for him to develop into an NHL player, but until it happens he’s going to be watching others get call-ups before he ever gets his first chance. The skill level flashes at times, it just needs to show up more consistently.

11/16/19 – For the first time ever, in rookie games and the preseason, we finally started to see what made Leschyshyn a 2nd round pick. There were flashes of speed, his hands looked better, and his positioning as a center was good. However, as cap wore on, he started to fade. Then, heading off to the AHL, he’s really done nothing through 16 games. Leschyshyn has three years left on his entry-level contract. Right now, it seems like a longshot that he’ll progress out of the AHL before it ends.

7/5/19 – I just wanted more from him all week long. He was playing with two wingers that were consistently impressing, but Jake never seemed to be the one making the plays. He’s definitely a reliable player, but as a 2nd round pick you would expect to see much more in his game. Also, I’m not sure the AHL is going to be a place for him to thrive either as he’s still a smaller guy in stature.

1/8/19 – Let me start out by saying I am NOT someone who gets overly excited about numbers in the CHL, but this kid just keeps pumping them out. Despite being traded from Regina to Lethbridge Leschyshyn has kept up an over a point per game pace and he is getting rave reviews from everyone who watches him play. Back to that trade, he was traded for a massive haul of draft picks because Lethbridge believes they can win now. I’m admittedly still skeptical, but there might be something in this 2nd round pick we hadn’t really seen yet.

9/12/18 – Not entirely sure what to make of Leschyshyn’s play in the rookie games. He didn’t stand out, but he didn’t seem to have trouble either. His size is a bit of a concern if he’s not going to end up being a scorer in the NHL. He probably still deserves a pass due to the devastating injury, but he’s got to get going this season and come to the next rookie camp and look great to live up to that 2nd round pick.

7/28/18 – Prior to the 2017 Draft, Leschyshyn tore his ACL and missed a majority of the season. He was having a good year and was seemingly destined to be a 1st round selection. The injury caused him to slip to the 2nd round where the Golden Knights selected him. He’s recovered from the surgery, but his game has not seemed to come completely back. He played as the 3rd line center on the Regina Pats and did not make a major impact on the CHL’s biggest stage, the Memorial Cup. Then, at Development Camp he didn’t really stand out like a 2nd round pick should. It’s far from time to give up on Leschyshyn, but this season will be important for him to get going back in the right direction.

 

23) Mason Primeau (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #141 overall
Age: 20 (July 28, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #22

Earning a contract is certainly a nice step for Primeau and a sign the Golden Knights really believe in him. However, the on-ice performance really hasn’t matched it as he was a non-factor at the AHL level. A few ECHL games saw him produce a bit more but nothing spectacular. He’s young, he’s big, there’s still plenty of time, but so far, he looks like a 5th round pick.

More on Primeau
2/3/21 – Primeau is currently skating with the Silver Knights as the OHL awaits a start date. In practice, he certainly doesn’t stand out, which can be interpreted one of two ways. Eiter he’s good enough to play at that level or he’s not doing anything good enough to get noticed. He’s still super young, so the 6’5″ forward still has a chance to turn himself into something.

4/16/20 – When in doubt, the story about Mason is going to head towards his bloodlines, ones that run deep with NHL experience. To this point though, he hasn’t shown much aside from the last name as to indicate he’s got NHL caliber skill. He’s a gigantic kid and he skates well for his size, but 19 points and a -36 rating in 45 games in the OHL isn’t going to cut it.

11/16/19 – Named an assistant for North Bay, Primeau has decreased his penalty minutes while increasing his scoring through 20 games.

7/5/19 – I’m not normally a fan of bigger guys, he wasn’t able to use his physicality in camp, and he was one of the youngest guys on the ice. It was all cut out for Primeau to be the last ranked player on a list made by me. Truthfully, it’s unfair, because his hands were better than expected and he didn’t stand out as slow, but someone has to be on the bottom, so here we are.

 

24) Jakub Brabenec (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #102 overall
Age: 17 (September 11, 2003)
Most Recent Team: HC Kometa Brno (Czech)
Previous Ranking: N/A

One of the youngest players in the entire Draft, Brabenec has plenty of time to develop and move up this list. He’s done well internationally but has been underwhelming in the Czech league. He’s expected to be much more of a defensive center than anything else though.

25) Jakub Demek
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #128 overall
Age: 18 (June 6, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

We’re still trying to figure out how the Golden Knights found this kid as he was unlisted on most draft guides and was ranked very poorly by NHL Central Scouting. VGK have reached for players like this before and they’ve succeeded at the lower levels. Let’s see if Demek can do it as well.

26) Artur Cholach (D)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #190 overall
Age: 18 (June 6, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Sokol Kiev (Ukraine)
Previous Ranking: N/A

It’s all going to come down to how well Choclach can skate for his size. A gigantic kid at 6’4″, 200 pounds, he may even get bigger by the time he makes his way onto VGK or HSK ice. The numbers have been pedestrian, but he’ll likely fare much better playing against kids instead of men.

27) Noah Ellis (D)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #184 overall
Age: 19 (February 1, 2002)
Most Recent Team: UMass Amherst (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: 24

Ellis had a nice season in the USHL last year as he plans on heading to college this year. Coming off a -20 rating in 2019-20, he turned it into a 0 in 2020-21. This year will represent a step up in competition, ice time will be telling for Ellis.

More on Ellis
2/3/21 – As a product of not being on the ice this season at all, Ellis has never had a chance to show much of anything since being drafted. He’s a big kid that’s likely to get bigger, but until we see him, he has to be near the bottom of these rankings.

 

28) Ryder Donovan (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #110 overall
Age: 20 (October 4, 2000)
Most Recent Team: University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #20

After a pair of underwhelming seasons for Wisconsin, it’s going to be crucial that Donovan starts to prove himself in his Junior season. He has just eight points in 54 collegiate games. That number needs to be upwards of 20 if he wants a legitimate shot of earning a VGK contract.

More on Donovan
2/3/21 – Man, I was really hoping this would be the year he’d take a huge step forward with a very good Wisconsin team. It just hasn’t happened and it’s concerning for his future as a prospect. He’s playing on the 4th line and has scored just twice in 16 games adding one assist. He’s spent a ton of time in the penalty box too, 38 minutes.

4/16/20 – Donovan had an unspectacular freshman year, but the jump in competition is a big one for a high school senior to a freshman in college. His size and speed along with playmaking ability continue to be exciting, but he’s going to have to start producing over the next few years if he’s ever going to prove he can make an impact professionally.

11/16/19 – Donovan hasn’t exactly lit up the scoreboard, but he’s been a constant in a very talented Wisconsin lineup. A big, speedy player, he needs experience for his hands to catch up to his mind and feet. The more he plays in college, the better he’ll get.

7/5/19 – The name of the game for Donovan is speed. He just needs the rest of his game to catch up to his feet. Playing with much better players than he’s used to, he didn’t look out of place at all because his skating kept him around the action. His hands need to get much better but I definitely think they can as he heads to the University of Wisconsin. I expect when we see him again that he’ll be a standout in the “look how far this guy progressed” category.

 

29) Nick Campoli (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #158 overall
Age: 22 (February 16, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Clarkson University (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #25

The only reason Campoli is still on this list is because the Golden Knights still hold his rights. That likely won’t be the case in the coming months.

More on Campoli
2/3/21 – The numbers just haven’t been there for Campoli. As a junior in college he’s 18 games into the season he has just four points and a -4 rating. Vegas holds his rights until August of 2022, but at that point, I think his time in the Golden Knights system will come to a close.

4/16/20 – 17 points in almost 70 games in college doesn’t stir up much excitement for Campoli. Plus, he’s consistently been “just a guy” when we’ve seen him in Vegas. Luckily for him, being an NCAA player, there’s still plenty of time before the Golden Knights have to move on, but he has to show a major improvement in his junior and senior years if he’s going to end up going pro.

11/16/19 – Before you go crazy saying “woah, up eight spots!” understand that this has a lot more to do with players coming down and him staying steady than anything else. As a 2017 Draft pick, he’s starting to run low on time to prove himself worthy of a contract. Vegas has until August of 2022, so we aren’t that close, but his four points in 10 games (including zero goals) is a bit concerning for a 20-year-old forward in college.

7/5/19 – Multiple times I found myself looking down the roster sheet thinking, which players have I not focused some attention on. Multiple times the name Nick Campoli came to mind. So, in the final game, I made a point to watch him specifically in as many shifts as I could. He didn’t make a mistake that I could pick out, but he also didn’t do much to help his team drive offense. As an older player in the camp, I expected him to pop a few times, I didn’t see it, which means he has to stay near the bottom of this list.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp

7/28/18 – Campoli is already a Golden Knight, heading to Clarkson University to play in the NCAA. He scored and in bunches in the OJHL but it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up at the collegiate level. He’s short, but has a stout frame and a strong accurate shot.

 

GOALIES 

1) Logan Thompson
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on July 13, 2020
Age: 24 (February 25, 1997)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 1

While Thompson still remains the clear #1 goalie in the system, VGK’s unwillingness to hand him the reigns in 2021-22 is concerning. He won the award for best goalie in the AHL and served as the backup for many games throughout the postseason, however when Vegas moved Fleury, they quickly went out and replaced him with an NHL level backup in Laurent Brossoit. Now the question is how do the Golden Knights keep him if he doesn’t get the 28 games necessary to avoid Group 6 free agency.

More on Thompson
2/3/21 – This kid has impressed me so much that I decided to change the qualifications so he could be on this list. Thompson was dynamite in both preseason games in the AHL and he’s been a nightmare to score against in every practice. He’s a very confident goalie that loves to chirp at shooters, whether in practice or in games. For the first time in VGK history, they may have a legitmate NHL goalie in waiting.

 

2) Jiri Patera
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #161 overall
Age: 22 (February 24, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #3

It was definitely good to see Patera getting plenty of time with the NHLers at the end of the season on the taxi squad. His AHL numbers were a bit of a mess however as he went 2-4-0 on a team that won the division. It’ll be interesting to see if he wins the job as the backup in Henderson this season. There will be a battle to back up Thompson, and Ferguson absolutely might win it.

More on Patera
2/3/21 – I probably dock players for injuries more than I should, but it’s just tough to keep guys up in the rankings when they aren’t healthy. Value certainly has dropped on Patera as he was likely to compete for the backup AHL job and now he’s on the sideline watching Ferguson and Thompson compete for it. His injury isn’t expected to be too long-term, but every day missed hurts.

4/16/20 – Patera had a masterful year in the WHL playing for his NHL GM’s team. He was easily the best goalie in the league and showed the promise that had him as the second goalie ever selected by the Golden Knights. Now it’s time for Patera to really face some challenges. He’ll likely sign a contract and end up in the ECHL where he’ll have to compete for a starting role. He went from #4 to #1 in these rankings in a short time, which proves just how close this group of goalies still is.

11/16/19 – Patera has found himself in a bit of a battle just for playing time in Brandon. He has started just eight games, while draft eligible Ethan Kruger has seen the nets 14 times. Patera’s stats are better, but playing time is a good indicator of form in Canadian juniors.

7/5/19 -He dropped down to 4th on the list last time due to a shoddy performance at World Juniors. He stays at #4 now because the guys in front of him all look very good. As a whole the goaltenders had their best camp yet, with all four of them looking good for the most part. Patera definitely seems to be progressing and is starting to track the puck a bit better than he had the previous times we’ve seen him. I was down on the goalie prospects in the system, but after doing this exercise again, ranking Patera 4th, and realizing how good he was in camp, the depth in the system actually looks pretty good.

1/8/19 – Patera is the only one of the Golden Knights goalie prospects to have made a World Junior roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good while playing with the Czech team. He had a miserable game the one he was in the net and even had the blooper of the tourney tripping while trying to get back to the net. His numbers in Brandon have been pretty good though, so don’t go crazy. These are 19-year-old goalies we are talking about, if any of them pan out it would be amazing.

9/12/18 – Despite having the best stat line of any of the three goalies, he was the least impressive. It may have a lot to do with the fact that the Kings rookies did not generate much offense, but Patera seemed to lose track of the puck quite a bit. It’s important to note though that the gap between #1 to #4 is fairly slim here. Couple good periods and Patera could be first.

7/28/18 – Patera was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and is looking forward to trying his hand against better competition this season. He made a couple of incredible reactionary saves during 2018 Development Camp, one in particular that still boggles the mind as to how he kept the puck out. He seems to have quick reflexes and is a fairly large guy for his age.

 

3) Dylan Ferguson
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 22 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #4

Ferguson took his ECHL “demotion” in stride and absolutely dominated in his time with the Fort Wayne Komets. He allowed less than two goals per game and posted a 7-3-1 record before leading his team to the Kelly Cup winning eight of 12 playoff games.

More on Ferguson
2/3/21 – I wouldn’t say there’s been much wrong with Ferguson’s game to this point in Henderson, but it’s clear he’s behind Thompson and it’s arguable that he’s well behind. He’s going to get plenty of chances to play with the abridged AHL season, he has to make the most of it.

4/16/20 – Ferguson’s season in the ECHL was less than stellar but most of the time that has little to do with the goalie as it does the porous defense in front of him. Ferguson’s competitive drive still makes me believe he’s got a shot to make it in the NHL. Where he lands to start next season will be a telling sign of what lies ahead in his future.

11/16/19 – Ferguson has officially cemented his spot as a professional goalie starting the season in the ECHL and making two AHL appearances in Chicago. He’s clearly on the right path and will likely start to push Dansk and/or Sparks next season. As for this season, he needs to keep showing consistency, something he’s done over his first two months as a professional.

7/5/19 – The one aspect of Ferguson’s game that shows up the most when watching him is his compete level. He looks like he wants to save every single shot, no matter the situation or likelihood he should actually save it. In the scrimmage that he was able to play in Development Camp it appeared like he was planning on winning the game singlehandedly for his team. The intensity is there, his style is good, and he’s getting more and more consistent. For a smaller guy, his ability to look big inside of the goal is impressive and his athleticism is exciting. It appears like the Golden Knights’ plan for Ferguson is to hand him the reigns as the backup in Chicago, which says a lot about what the organization thinks of him as well.

1/8/19 – Ferguson has put up similar numbers to his other seasons in the WHL saving a little over 90% of shots. Due to his age he seems to be a bit further along than Kooy but the physical tools aren’t as promising. Don’t forget that he was the first to sign a contract, he was specifically targeted by VGK in a trade and he was seemingly the highest rated goalie in rookie camp. It’s neck and neck with Kooy but ties are no fun so Dylan drops down a spot.

9/12/18 – Ferguson didn’t play in any of the rookie games, which in theory should be a bad thing. Instead though, it indicates the Golden Knights rank him the highest, by giving him the first preseason game rather than a rookie game. We’ll heed VGK’s rankings and leave him atop the list.

7/28/18 – You might remember young Dylan from his short stint with the Golden Knights, but you should remember him from his solid showing at Development Camp. He looked confident in the goal, something he didn’t look while in the net in Edmonton or even at Development Camp in 2017. Ferguson has a little bit of an edge to him, and it seems to translate to confidence and swagger on the ice. Plus, he’s awesome interacting with kid fans when he comes off the ice.

 

4) Isaiah Saville
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #135 overall
Age: 20 (September 21, 2000)
Most Recent Team: University of Omaha-Nebraska (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #2

Another similar season has Saville sticking right where he has always been among the Golden Knights goalie prospects. That spot is as a hopeful option to turn pro and become a good minor league and eventually push to make the NHL. At this point, he doesn’t have much to prove in college, but there’s really no sense in leaving yet either as there’s not a spot for him in the VGK system. Based on talent alone, he is probably #2 on the list, but being stuck in college has dropped him to #4.

More on Saville
2/3/21 – Nothing but steady play from Saville has his climbing back into the #2 spot for the Golden Knights. The question now becomes how long does he stay in college and then when he does decide to turn pro, what does the organizational depth look like at that time. He’s probably ready to be an AHL backup already, one has to wonder how long he’s willing to wait to make that a reality.

4/16/20 – Saville’s freshman season was solid in Omaha, especially for a newcomer goalie. He got the call to be a part of Team USA at the World Juniors but served as the third goalie and never saw action. Nonetheless, everything is headed in the right direction for Saville despite heading in the wrong direction on these rankings.

11/16/19 – “The Mayor” has gotten off to a nice start in his collegiate career. Posting a 2.27 GAA in seven games, Saville has helped the Mavericks get out to a 5-3-1 start. He’ll always be a bit of an anomaly as a right-hand catching goalie, but there’s nothing to make anyone doubt this kid to this point. Plus, he’s got a heck of a personality, which is going to make him a fan favorite no matter where he plays.

7/5/19 – Saville has been by far the most impressive goalie in his first appearance with the Golden Knights. He looked incredibly confident in the goal and his technique was terrific for an 18-year-old. Dave Prior is constantly working with goalies to try and make minor changes to their game, often times throwing them off a bit, but with Saville that wasn’t the case. Prior wanted Saville to challenge shooters further out of the goal cutting down angles. He did it, and it seemed to make him even better as the week went on. Of the goalies remaining in the Golden Knights system, he’s the highest draft pick and he looks like he’s on the right path to becoming a solid prospect.

 

5) Carl Lindbom
Acquired: via Trade from Dallas Stars with 2020 2nd Round Pick for Marc Methot (selected in 2017 Entry Draft, 7th Round, #194 overall)
Age: 21 (September 20, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

He served as the main goalie for Team Sweden in the U18 Championships where they earned a bronze medal. It will be interesting to see how his aggressive nature is coached as the Golden Knights have headed more towards the passive style of goaltending since relieving Dave Prior.

 

6) Jesper Vikman
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #125 overall
Age: 19 (April 30, 2000)
Most Recent Team: AIK (J20 Nationell)
Previous Ranking: 5

Vikman bounced between three leagues in Sweden and didn’t have a ton of sucess in any of them. He’s still very young, so there’s no reason to give up, but at the moment, this is the only place he can be in these rankings.

More on Vikman
2/3/21 – Vikman is the earliest drafted goalie in the VGK system (2nd all-time behind Maxim Zhukov). The Golden Knights moved up in the Draft to get him so there has to be plenty they like. At the moment though, unspectacular stats in Sweden make it hard for me to assign much value.