We’re finally here, hockey is back. No, it’s not quite regular season game time yet, but players wearing Golden Knights jerseys will be skating around competing both in Rookie Training Camp and then the Rookie Faceoff in Phoenix this weekend.
14 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goalies are set to participate in rookie camp with 21 of them under VGK or HSK contracts. Let’s make some bold predictions about what we’ll see in the next few weeks from these youngsters.
Kaedan Korczak won’t record a single point in the three rookie games but will be VGK’s best defenseman
There have been high hopes for Korczak since the Golden Knights moved up in the 2nd round of the 2019 Draft to acquire him. Aided by some amended rules due to COVID, his rise through the ranks since being drafted has been quick, but he’s looked like he belonged every step of the way. He’s a big kid that skates very well for his size and has a multitude in his arsenal of defensive techniques. Be it gap control, body position, a strong stick, physicality, or anything else it takes to be a good defensive defenseman, Korczak has it. The trouble is his game is not really suited to put up points. It’s a bit similar to McNabb’s in that it’s not like he’s afraid to get forward or carry the puck, but his first idea when he does it is not to score, but instead to put the puck on a better offensive player’s stick. This is why coaches will love Korczak, and why he’ll eventually be an NHLer, maybe even this season. But it won’t show up on the scoresheet, which is often what we’re all a little too focused on any time there are two teams on the ice.
Goalies Carl Lindbom and Jesper Vikman: One will stand out while the other will struggle
Goalies take the longest to develop and with the limited amount of time these two have had around Golden Knights coaching, it’s going to be a tough ask for either of them to truly flash. I expect Jiri Patera to look like he’s on another level simply based on age and experience in the VGK system. As for Lindbom and Vikman, I think the coaching will instantly fit one of them and will be challenging for the other. I can’t say I’ve seen enough of these two to know which will be which, but my guess is that we walk out of camp saying “that guy is much better than the other guy” when in reality we won’t really know that for at least another two years.
Maxim Marushev will outscore higher round draft picks Jack Dugan, Pavel Dorofeyev, Zach Dean, Marcus Kallionkieli, and the two Jakub’s (Brabenec and Demek)
One of the players that truly popped in the little AHL playoff run the Silver Knights went on was Marushev. He just seems to have that knack to be in the right place at the right time to put points on the board. I’m always going to expect more out of the older guys at these rookie games (Marushev is 22), but I think this will be a true step down in competition compared to what he’s used to and he’ll be able to flash a bit more than he even did with the Silver Knights. I’m interested to see how Manny Viveiros deploys his lines in these three games, which could lead to this prediction being horribly wrong, but if Marushev is out there with the most talented offensive guys VGK has, he’ll find his way on the scoresheet, a lot. (Notice I didn’t include Krebs in the names listed. I fully expect him to lead VGK in scoring and be the most impressive player, but that’s not a bold prediction now at all is it?)
Lukas Cormier will underwhelm in Arizona
I really hope this is wrong, but I have a feeling it has to be right because of the hype train that’s started to build behind Cormier. Of all the prospects not named Krebs, Cormier is the one with the highest expectations coming into this rookie camp because of his two incredible offensive seasons since being drafted. I just think this might be a bit of a jarring step up in competition while his focus is on a different system that may not fit him perfectly immediately. Remember, the Golden Knights rookies will only step on the ice twice together before they are out there to play the Coyotes rookies at Gila River Arena on Friday night. Cormier has been almost a point and a half per game player the last two seasons in the QMJHL, so the expectation is for him to light up the scoreboard here as well. If he does it, the hype train could reach Brannwagon-esque levels. If he doesn’t, it’s really not the end of the world, nor does it even mean much at all. He’s a 19-year-old undersized defenseman, it’s not going to be perfect every step of the way.