For the past two years (2017, 2018), we’ve taken a stab at possible NCAA free agents that might be on the Golden Knights radar. To pat myself on the back, I predicted last year Vegas would have interest in Zach Whitecloud. Whitecloud signed a contract with Vegas the next day. How’s that for puck luck?
Since some college programs are finishing up their seasons let’s try and predict right again in 2019.
Defenseman (6’1″, 205)
St. Cloud State
You’ve probably heard us hyping Jimmy Schuldt for some time. Well, he lived up to his senior season earning a candidacy for the Hobey Baker and is leading the #1 ranked team in the country to the NCAA tournament. The 23-year-old left-handed defenseman was a participant at Golden Knights camp last summer so we already know Vegas is interested. The St. Cloud Huskies are expected to make a deep run, so we’ll have to wait and see if McPhee pursues the highly-scouted free agent again.
Forward (5’11”, 181)
The 21-year-old is currently playing his junior season for the #8th ranked team in the country. Some overlooked the 5’11” winger due to injuries after being a highly-touted teenager. Last summer, Wilkins was injured and was forced to turn down multiple NHL camp invites, including one from the Golden Knights. Maybe, Vegas will circle around again after his strong campaign in Providence. Another factor to keep in mind is Wilkin is a teammate with Vegas prospect Jack Dugan. Both are having successful seasons and are the most productive players on the team.
Wilkins: 34 Games, 36 Points (14G, 22A)
Dugan: 34 Games, 32 Points (10G, 22A)
Maybe McPhee will take a look at their strong chemistry and develop both Friars together.
Forward (6’3″, 207)
The 23-year-old German is finishing off a fantastic career at Clarkson. He’s considered the best defensive forwards in the NCAA and has that high hockey IQ all organizations are after. Sturm’s mature enough to fit in on the Chicago Wolves lineup right now. Most important, the center would feel right at home with Vegas’ because Clarkson’s mascot is also the Golden Knights. So, Sturm comes prepared with armor.
Defenseman (5’10”, 185)
The Golden Knights just traded a small, offensive defenseman for Mark Stone, so maybe they’re in the market for another. Introducing Brannstrom 2.0, Duszak a 5’10” right-handed defenseman that’s tearing up the NCAA. This season the Mercyhurst defenseman is top five in points in the entire country, scoring 1.30 points per game. Duszak lives up to his offensive expectations, unloading 3.5 shots on net per game. Earlier in the season, the New York native scored nine goals and tallied six assists in eight games, which was part of an 11-game point streak. Lastly, and most importantly, Duszak’s speed is one of his best assets. Like other players on this list, Duszak is a candidate for the Hobey Baker award.
He could be off the market any moment though.
Per NHL source, Mercyhurst D Joseph Duszak is expected to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Exceptional skater and puck-handling D. Finished the season with 47 points, good for third nationally among all players (not just D). Finishes three-year NCAA career with 99pts in 101 GP.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) March 12, 2019
Forward (6’0″, 181)
Some may remember Veronneau, as he skated in the 2017 Golden Knights Development Camp at the Las Vegas Ice Center. The 6’0, 23-year-old forwards scouting report highlights his strong puck possession and play making abilities. At Princeton, Veronneau is second in scoring for the Tigers with 13G, 24A) 37 points.
Forward (5’11”, 185)
Carpenter has pure hockey blood. His sister is an Olympic silver medalist, and his father Bobby was the #1 overall pick in 1981. The patriarch was considered the best American prospect of all-time at the time, and was dubbed as the Can’t-Miss Kid. Unfortunately, the NHL world would never get to see Bobby’s full potential. He had a series of devastating knee injuries and struggled for the latter half of his 18-year career. His son Bobo is finishing a wonderful career at BU and is eager for the next level. Although he’s undrafted, Carpenter has been on the NHL’s radar for some time. He attended camp for the NY Islanders, and the New Jersey Devils a year later. Plus, Bobo attended the same catholic high school as I did. And let’s face it, every NHL team could use another Masshole.