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Why Jack Dugan Committed To The Golden Knights Without Actually Signing A Contract

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Jack Dugan news broke via press release from the Golden Knights it was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Instead of an announcement of a contract or trade, this press release indicated that Dugan had “agreed to join the Golden Knights organization.”

The announcement expressed that Dugan was done with college and he was set to sign a contract with the Golden Knights. However, the wording made it clear that the pen had not officially hit the paper on that contract.

As we’ve done before, we immediately started to “read into” the why behind this peculiar announcement. Why not just sign the contract? Other teams have done it with prospects leaving college, what’s different with Dugan?

The answer lies in the desired start date of the contract.

Since the league went on hiatus, 81 players have joined NHL teams. Most of them were announced with the same language we are used to hearing, “signed to an entry-level contract.” The ones that had more information all indicated that the contract would begin in 2020-21. In other words, they are signing contracts for next season, not for the one that is paused.

This is common in the NHL. When a player’s season wraps up, whether from Candian Junior, the NCAA, or overseas, a team can sign the player immediately for the following season even if that team is still playing this year. This makes the player ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the ongoing season and their contract begins for the next year.

Or, a team can do what Vegas has done each of its first two seasons. They’ve signed players for the current season, brought them directly onto the NHL roster, and in the case of two (Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt) of the three (Nikita Gusev is the other) actually played them in an NHL game right away. By doing this, it “burns” the year off the entry-level contract.

Let me show you the difference using an example.

Method 1 – Sign player for the following season

Player signs 2-year entry-level contract
Ongoing season (2019-20) – Ineligible to play
2020-21 – Year 1
2021-22 – Year 2
Contract expires on July 1, 2022

Method 2 – Sign player for the ongoing season

Player signs 2-year entry-level contract
Ongoing season (2019-20) – Year 1
2020-21 – Year 2
Contract expires on July 1, 2021

As you see, using Method 2, a player becomes a free agent (restricted in most cases) 365 days sooner even though they are signed to the exact same contract on the exact same day. The only difference is the start date.

So, let me go back to Jack Dugan. Based on the multitude of contracts that have been signed since March 12th when the league was paused, we know NHL Central Registry (the office in charge of approving contracts) is allowing contracts to be signed. However, not a single contract has been announced as signed for 2019-20.

When the NHL suspended this season March 12, the league instructed teams that no contracts for draft picks or college, junior and European free agents could be signed with a start date of this current season. All contracts had to begin in 2020-21. –Michael Russo, The Athletic

According to Jesse Granger of The Athletic, Dugan is hoping his contract will begin in 2019-20 instead of 2020-21.

Dugan’s preference is to begin his professional career immediately when hockey resumes, a source told The Athletic. -Jesse Granger, The Athletic

The Golden Knights should want that as well. (I’ll explain in a moment.)

So, if the league won’t allow a contract to be signed for 2019-20, then… don’t sign a contract. That’s exactly what Dugan did. Instead, he “agreed to join the Golden Knights organization.”

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Late Round Pick Success Stories Give Hope For Jack Dugan

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

In 2010, the Ottawa Senators took a flier in the 6th round on an 18-year-old awkward skater from Winnipeg. The Golden Knights took a similar chance in the 5th round in 2017 on Jack Dugan, a player with close to the same build.

As a young player, I had to do a lot of things to even make it here… I wasn’t a very good skater. That was documented when I was 12 years old. Everyone told me I couldn’t skate. -Mark Stone

Going back to the 2012 NHL draft, only 106 of the 729 players selected in the 5th round or later have suited up to play in an NHL game. Only 28 have played more than 100 games.

A few have been successful in the NHL, but none have become elite like Stone. The former Wheat King, Senator, and current Golden Knight is an outlier when it comes to late draft picks. Stone has enjoyed eight seasons in the NHL, scoring 385 points, 601 takeaways, and is valued at $9.5M per year. Finding a player with that resume after the first three rounds takes incredible scouting, trust, and let’s face it, luck.

We’re still probably a year or two away from Jack Dugan even breaking into the NHL, but he’s trending in the direction of a late-round steal just like Stone.

At the time of the draft, Dugan’s scouting reports were lukewarm. Some thought he had the skill and eventual size to play a bottom-six role in the NHL.

Jack Dugan Scouting Reports:

The Hockey News
Every draft has sleepers, dark horses and late bloomers and Dugan may be a hidden gem that encompasses all three. A big, aggressive and raw talent who was passed over.

Dobber Prospects
Dugan is a late bloomer who is big, aggressive and is loaded with raw talent. Black Book
Isn’t a smooth skater but moves well and handles the puck at his top speed. We like his potential, has size, skill and a good hockey IQ.

Mark Stones Scouting Reports:

Hockey’s Future
Probability of success: C
The size and hands are there as is the willingness to work the boards and get to the dirty areas. The one noticeable weakness is his choppy stride which he’s working on and has spent time with the Ottawa skating coach improving his foot-speed. Smart on the ice and well-spoken off of it, Stone has the talent, intensity and work ethic to get himself to the NHL in time.

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(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Jack Dugan ELC Could Be Coming Soon

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Though games are halted, the business of hockey continues on. Over the past few days, both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings have signed contracts with draft picks that were playing in the NCAA.

K’Andre Miller (NYR) and Alex Turcotte (LAK) each signed entry-level contracts after their college seasons wrapped up at the University of Wisconsin. Both players’ contracts will begin for the 2020-21 season.

When the NCAA made the decision to cancel the remainder of all winter and spring sports, it meant the end of his sophomore season for Golden Knights prospect Jack Dugan. Dugan led all of college hockey in points and is the favorite to win the NCAA’s top award, the Hobey Baker.

After being selected in the 5th round of the 2017 NHL Draft (142nd overall), Dugan played a season in the USHL before heading off to college. In his two years at Providence, Dugan put up 91 points in 75 games, more than any player in the NCAA over that time.

Dugan said earlier this year that he wants “dominate” the level he’s currently playing at before moving on to the next one. With the points lead in hand and the Hobey Baker soon to follow, it appears he’s accomplished that goal.

Dugan is eligible to play for the Golden Knights this season, assuming it is to resume, as well as during the playoffs. However, if he does so, it will burn up one of the three years of his entry-level contract. With the uncertainty of the current times and the Golden Knights history of “over-cooking” prospects, it’s much more likely that Dugan’s contract would begin in 2020-21. The contract is expected to be a three-year, two-way deal with an NHL salary of around $925,000 AVV and performance and signing bonuses.

Now it’s up to Dugan and the Golden Knights to ink that deal. As long as the league still allows it during the pause, it should come much sooner than later.

Carp: Dugan Will Be Worth Waiting For

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Well, that was a crazy 72 hours of hockey, wasn’t it?

Between the Golden Knights win over the Flyers Thursday, the come-from-behind overtime victory over the Blues Saturday, and the Fortress Invitational Friday and Saturday, there was no shortage of memorable moments.

Today, I’m going to focus on the college hockey component.

When the Golden Knights drafted some prep school kid from upstate New York in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, I admit I was mildly intrigued.

The buzz was still palpable from the day before when the Knights took Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom in the first round. So as the next wave ensued, which included Lucas Elvenes, Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg and Maxim Zhukov, hearing Jack Dugan’s name called wasn’t setting off any Mark Stone-like celebrations in my mind.

Dugan was already committed to play college hockey at Providence. But he thought it was cool to be drafted by an expansion team, even though he wasn’t quite sure what that meant to his fledgling hockey career.

Would he be an afterthought? Would he be traded? Would he get a legitimate shot to play in the NHL with Vegas?

Friday, there was Dugan, skating in T-Mobile Arena, not with the Knights, but with the Friars, who were facing Army in the Fortress Invitational. He received a warm reception from those who were in the building, perhaps a sneak preview of what could come in March.

He didn’t disappoint, scoring against the Black Knights in a 3-1 win.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Saturday, in storybook fashion, Dugan scored the game-winner in a 3-2 shootout victory for the 16th-ranked Friars over No. 2 Cornell. He also had a beautiful assist earlier in the game.

Now a sophomore, Dugan leads the NCAA in scoring with 37 points (7 goals and 30 assists). The right wing has filled out physically, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 194 pounds. He is well-spoken, confident, and focused on winning games for his school. Yes, he has an eye toward the future. Yes, he’d find it cool to be the recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, which is given each spring to college hockey’s best play, something no one at Providence has ever accomplished. But he’s really looking forward to making Las Vegas his home and having a stall in the Knights’ locker room at the T.

That’s my goal, to play in the NHL. That’s what I’ve been working toward my whole life. -Dugan

Dugan’s got great hands. He’s got a very got shot. He skates well and he’s strong. All of that was on display Friday in Providence’s win over Army. Fittingly, Dugan scored the first goal of the tournament, a power play goal that saw him slot the puck through the goalie’s five-hole.

He was shaken up after taking a hit in the second period but he was back on the ice for his next shift, displaying some of that toughness he prides himself on.

The Knights had several people, led by owner Bill Foley, watch Dugan play. Wil Nichol, the team’s director of player development, keeps the closest tabs on Dugan. And Nichol has been impressed with the way Dugan is coming along.

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Updated Prospect Rankings – November 16th, 2019

(Last updated: November 16th, 2019)

Criteria to qualify for rankings:

  • Must be younger than 23 years old
  • 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: Cody Glass (NHL), Nic Hague (NHL), Nic Roy (NHL)


(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

1) Peyton Krebs (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #17 overall
Age: 18 (January 26, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

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 be wearing 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.

More on Krebs
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, skates 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: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2) Jack Dugan (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #142 overall
Age: 21 (March 24, 1998)
Most Recent Team: Providence College (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: #8

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.

More on Dugan
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.


(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

3) Lucas Elvenes (F)
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #127 overall
Age: 20 (August 18, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Chicago Wolves (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #9

Another fast riser on this list, Elvenes is all the way up to #3 since he’s taken over the AHL by storm as a 20-year-old. He’s leading the Wolves, all AHL rookies, and ranks 2nd in the entire league in points with 21. Also, Elvenes leads the A in assists with 16 in 16 games. He’s a young  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.

More on Elvenes
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.


See the skaters ranked 4-23 plus all four goalies here.

(Prospect Rankings update following each significant event including prospects such as Development Camp, Rookie Camp, World Juniors, etc. They can always be found on the static page listed in the navigation bar on the site.)

Vegas Prospect Jack Dugan Wants To “Dominate” Before He Leaves College

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Golden Knights prospect Jack Dugan has spent much of his career being overlooked.

As an 18-year-old he went undrafted despite putting up more than a point per game as a junior in prep school. He used that to fuel himself the next year in which he nearly put up two points per game in his senior season (80 points in 47 games). That Summer he expected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round of the NHL Draft. Instead, he slipped all the way into the 5th round where Vegas finally selected him as the 142nd overall pick.

He came to Development Camp and didn’t really establish himself as a top offensive prospect in the system. He then headed back to the USHL’s Chicago Steel where he once again eclipsed a point per game amassing 66 in 54 games. Heading back to Vegas the following Summer, Dugan was still not viewed by most as an NHL or even AHL ready prospect.

So, off he went to Providence College to play as a freshman. Not surprisingly, at least anymore after reading those last two paragraphs, Dugan nearly hit a point per game with 39 points in 41 games. His team went to the Frozen Four and he established himself as one of college hockey’s best freshman.

Then Development Camp 2019 came, and Dugan looked a step above everyone not named Cody Glass. He was strong, powerful, relentless, and showed good enough hands to finish chances when he got them. Yet, still, it was not time for Dugan to make the leap into professional hockey.

Now, at Providence College as a sophomore, Dugan is lighting up the Hockey East conference. 14 points in six games including four goals, 10 assists, and a whopping +7 rating. He’s also shown a bit of edge to his game tallying 20 penalty minutes in those six contests.

The question now is when, not if, Jack Dugan is going to make the leap to the next level. But with all NCAA kids, they have to leave school and sign a contract first. Draft or undrafted, before an American college player can play in the AHL or NHL, he has to officially declare himself done with college hockey, which is not easy for many guys.

Speaking to Jack Manning of the Golden Knights Watch Podcast, Dugan keyed us in on exactly when the time will be right for him to move on from the NCAA.

I’ve always had that mentality that I probably shouldn’t move up a level until I’ve dominated the first one. So, I would say if the feeling’s right and timing’s right, sure, but if not maybe wait another year. -Dugan on Golden Knights Watch Podcast

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