The Golden Knights finished the Rookie Showcase in Irvine winless and looking rather listless for a majority of the three games. However, there were plenty of positives to take away from the tournament in terms of individual players. I wrote up recaps from Games 1 and 2 earlier, this one is a bit more of a recap of the whole weekend, but includes Game 3.
- The standout of the entire weekend was Dylan Coghlan. His offensive game popped consistently no matter the situation, and he was one of the most responsible defensemen in his own zone. He personally scored three of the team’s seven goals and registered a beautiful primary assist on another. There’s still a long way to go, and rookie games probably hold the least weight in comparison to full training camp and preseason games, but Coghlan’s performance in Irvine will absolutely play a part in the final decision as to which defenseman stays with the team when camp breaks in a few weeks.
- Paul Cotter did well to start the process of cementing himself as a pro. He was one of the few Golden Knights to play with an edge and it led to him being in the middle of a lot of the team’s best offensive plays. He still has a lot to prove over the next week or two before he’s sent out of camp and either to the OHL or the AHL, but those three games were a giant leap towards Chicago.
- Two non-roster players survived the rookie games to get an invite to full training camp. They are forward Jermaine Loewen and defenseman Brayden Pachal. Loewen’s big body is certainly noticeable when he’s on the ice, but I didn’t feel like he had any impact on any of the three games. I completely understand what they see in him physically, but there must be more to his game than he showed in Irvine for him to get the call to stick around. He’s likely to sign with Chicago and play for the Wolves this year, which should give us a lot more time to get to know what he can be as a player. Pachal had his moments, including one slap shot from the point that literally seemed to frighten radio broadcaster Dan D’Uva because it was shot so hard. He looked solid in his own end and he jumped into the rush consistently when the Golden Knights were in transition. Vegas has a deep group of young defensemen, but he may just be another diamond in the rough that they’ve uncovered.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Golden Knights simply do not have enough forward prospects who can score. They went the entire tournament with just three goals from forwards and a few of their top prospects went goal-less (Glass, Rondbjerg, Cotter). Sure, they were missing Jack Dugan, Pavel Dorofeyev, and Ivan Morozov, but there were plenty of draft picks there and they still couldn’t muster up much offense. I think there are plenty of legitimate NHL forwards in the Golden Knights system, but I don’t see anyone who is capable of scoring 20+ goals consistently (aside from maybe Dorofeyev) at this point. That’s a bit concerning, but there’s plenty of time to correct it, or hope one of these guys has a big development leap and turns into that guy.
- The Golden Knights goalies were pretty darn good the whole weekend. They were outshot majorly in each of the three games and there was only one goal that would be considered soft (Patera allowed it in Game 1). Both Kooy and Ferguson came up with a number of terrific saves and all three looked poised under heavy pressure. We’re still probably a few years away from seeing any of them start to make a push for the NHL, but it appears that the Golden Knights have multiple tickets in the goalie lottery.
- I expect to see a lot more of Glass, Rondbjerg, Leschyshyn, Cotter, and Elvenes in the preseason. Together, they weren’t able to generate a ton of offense, but maybe that changes with a few NHL level forwards with them. Gerard Gallant has a history of mixing veterans and rookies in preseason games and will likely do that again this year.
If you want to watch any of the rookie games, they are all archived on the Rookie Showcase website here.