My biggest takeaway from Game 2 of the Rookie Showcase in Irvine is that the Golden Knights sent out a roster that wasn’t good enough to compete in that game, and they still managed to play two solid periods. Let’s be quite honest with what the Vegas roster looked like against Arizona. They had just five forwards of their 12 that were drafted by the Golden Knights. Plus, their defense was without Jimmy Schuldt. Simply put, this game had little to do with the score and even less to do with the team as a whole. In games like this, it’s all about individuals and their path to eventually becoming contributors at the NHL level. Some did just that, others did not, but the terrible period, the apparent lack of energy, and the inability to generate offense as a team means little to nothing
so stop tweeting me about it.
- The first name to highlight is one that’s almost been written off as a Golden Knights prospect, and that’s Jake Leschyshyn. He shows excellent flashes of speed, looked terrific helping to generate offense through the neutral zone and into the o-zone, and looked his normal stellar self backchecking and defending. The former 2nd round pick has not shown a ton while wearing a Golden Knights jersey over the past two summers (partially due to the injury that caused him to miss one), but in this game we could finally see some of the traits that garnered that selection. He plays in all situations and has always been good on the defensive end, but he is finally starting to assert himself a bit more in offensive situations. I’m hoping to see him with Cotter, Rondbjerg, and/or Elvenes in the final game, then we should get to see even more offense show up.
- Jordan Kooy continues to establish himself as one of, if not the most, promising goalie prospect the Golden Knights have. His size is a big part of that when comparing him to Dylan Ferguson (who will be in the net for the 3rd game). Kooy looks comfortable in his goal no matter what’s going on in front of him, and since that one scrimmage that was a disaster, there hasn’t been a single soft goal scored on him since while in a Vegas net. He was under siege for most of this game and helped keep the score looking respectable.
- It was the first we got to see of Connor Corcoran and Xavier Bouchard since Development Camp and they left a lot to be desired as a pair. There were far too many times as a pair they were unable to clear their own zone, they couldn’t seem to stay on the same page reading rushes in transition and their man-marking was spotty for most of the game. At Dev Camp, I remember feeling like both had taken solid steps forward from 2018 Dev Camp, hopefully this game was an anomaly.
- What a rollercoaster ride of a game for Nic Hague. The first period was a bit of a mess and it ended with him finding himself in the penalty box for what appeared to be a borderline call. He just didn’t look fully engaged in the game early and it led to a few giveaways and mistakes. As the game went on though he started to turn it on and eventually scored the Golden Knights only goal. He’s going to have to be much steadier than he was in this game if he’s going to be the last man standing when camp comes to a close at the end of the month.
- Three non-roster players have stood out over the first two games. Pavel Gogolev, Charles-Antoine Roy, and Taro Jentzsch. Gogolev remains the most impressive of the bunch but Jentzsch is starting to make a little bit of a case as the “prototypical Golden Knights player” as he’s just solid no matter what situation he winds up in. Roy continually impressed with his speed, especially in transition. I’ll still take the “no” on any one of them finding themselves with a Golden Knights contract in front of them by the time camp is over, but there’s much more of a case now that there was for anyone after Development Camp.
- Paul Cotter is so much fun to watch. The guy is just a bulldog and he plays the game exactly the way most fans like to watch it. Plus, he has the skill and the speed to go along with it. I’m still a little sad he missed his golden chance to put one home, because then his name would have popped out a bit more, but overall, he’s been enjoyable to watch and I have a feeling Rocky Thompson is going to want to keep him when all is said and done.
- For me, it’s still too early to start putting a ranking on the five defensemen competing for that coveted VGK spot. However, I came in thinking Dylan Coghlan was the least likely to win the spot, and that’s absolutely not how I see it anymore. It’s going to be incredibly tight for the next three weeks and opinions are going to vary with each and every appearance for all five, but trust me when I say, all five have a legitimate shot to win the job.
- Finally, it would be wrong to write nearly 1,000 words on a rookie game and not at least mention the most important rookie on the ice, Cody Glass. His work on the power play in this game was mesmerizing. The game just slows down for everyone when the puck is on his stick on the man-advantage and he has the skill to make any pass if the window is open. I’ve been critical at times of his offensive skill level at even strength, and I’ll probably continue to do so as he hasn’t done a ton to change my mind over the first two games, but on the PP, this kid is an absolute weapon.
The third and final rookie game is today at 3PM The link to watch live will be on the Golden Knights website, the replay will be here about 24 hours after the game.