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Tag: Lukas Cormier

Golden Knights Prospect Rankings – August 16th, 2022

A lot has changed since the last update to the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings. VGK added a new group of prospects via the NHL Draft, a number of former draft picks departed the system, and the first Development Camp in two years took place at City National Arena.

There’s a new prospect atop the skater rankings, a new name atop the goalie rankings, and a bunch of shuffling up and down the rankings.

Here’s the new list, ranking all 26 skaters and 5 goalies in the system.

Criteria to qualify for rankings:

  • Must be younger than 23 years old for skaters, 25 years old for goalies
  • 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: Zack Hayes (Age), Ben Jones (Free Agent), Jack Dugan (Free Agent), Maxim Marushev (Age), Brandon Kruse (Rights Expired), Nick Campoli (Rights Expired), Dylan Ferguson (Free Agent)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Kaedan Korczak (D)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #41 overall
Age: 21 (January 29, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

There’s really only one thing holding Korczak back from the NHL and that’s roster space. He’d have to have a massive Training Camp to push any of the top-seven defensemen off the roster, but there’s no denying he’s ready enough to play in the bigs if there were a spot. He completely dominated Development Camp to the point that he was ruining drills because he’s so sound defensively. He physically looks like an NHLer too. There’s no question of if with him now, it’s when and then for how long, and my guess would be once he breaks through, he’s spending a decade plus in the league.

More on Korczak
2/23/22 – Ranking: 2 – Korczak made his NHL debut earlier this season and definitely didn’t look out of place in the big leagues. He’s continued to take strides both offensively and defensively in the AHL and the occasional nonchalant-ness that we had seen previously is dissipating. His biggest challenge with Vegas is going to be the logjam in front of him, not to mention the few challengers pushing behind him. He’s an NHL player without question though.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 2 – Korczak worked his way up the depth chart for the Silver Knights as the year went on but could never find his place in the lineup permenantly. That should change this year as he’ll probably end up on the HSK top-pair fairly quickly. He’s close to being NHL ready, but the group of seven defensemen in front of him at the NHL level will likely keep him down. Wouldn’t be shocked to see his NHL debut in 2021-22 though.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 4 – The moment Vegas drafted Korczak we knew he was going to be a big guy, but he’s already a monster just one season removed from his draft year and he’s probably only going to get bigger. As he progresses through high levels like World Juniors and the AHL, it appears his calling card will be more as a defense-first penalty kill type player, but he’s certainly looking like he has an NHL future, and probably a long one.

4/16/20 – There’s nothing not to like about Korczak’s game. He’s got size, he’s a good skater, he’s physical, he’s calm on the puck, he can move the puck, and he’ll chip in offensively. His numbers will continue to look good in the WHL, but it’s all about how he looks against better competition going forward and unfortunately we aren’t going to get to see much of that any time soon.

11/16/19 – Korczak looked really good at camp and he has taken that game to the WHL racking up 14 points in 19 games for the Kelowna Rockets. Korczak is the type of defenseman that the Golden Knights are desperately looking for at the NHL level. Of course, he’s not ready at this point (nor would he be available to them anyway) but he’s a mobile, puck-moving d-man who will chip in offensively while taking care of his own end. The next time we really get to see what Korczak has to offer will likely be for Team Canada in December. If he can show something special in that tournament, the 2nd round pick is going to be in the top-five on this list next time for sure.

7/5/19 – The Golden Knights moved up in the draft to select Korczak and it didn’t take long to show why they valued him so much. In his own end, he’s a rock, defending both with his feet (mainly by keeping terrific gaps) and his stick. But what impressed me most with Korczak was his willingness to jump into the rush, or even start a rush. He reminded me a lot of Nate Schmidt, where the entire offense just looks more dangerous in transition when he’s out there.

 

2) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 20 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: 1

It would have been great to have seen more out of Brisson at Development Camp. He didn’t score a goal in the scrimmages and aside from his well-known elite one-timer, he didn’t pop as the only 1st round pick on the ice. Often times players aren’t quite themselves in the summer, especially after a long season. So it’s possible he comes into Rookie Camp, lights it up, and claims a spot. But as of right now, he still appears to need some professional seasoning in the AHL.

More on Brisson
2/23/22 – Ranking: 1 – Brisson has shot up this chart in large part due to his stellar sophomore season at Michigan but also his inclusion and impact on Team USA at the Olympics. Brisson continues to be dangerous on the power play, and his hockey sense has started to shine through. He’s not afraid to stick his nose into traffic to grab a loose puck and he has a good knack for where loose pucks are going to end up. When chaos happens, Brisson is usually there to clean it up. He continues to look like a bonafide NHL prospect with a ceiling in the top-six.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 4 – Brisson had a solid freshman season at Michigan scoring 10 goals and adding 21 points in 24 games. He’s a power play weapon and will continue to be a point producer at the NCAA level this season. However, with Michigan’s stacked lineup, his playing time will be interesting to monitor. Michigan had four of the top five picks in the 2021 Draft and all are expected to be on the roster this year. As a late 1st round pick from the year prior, Brisson should be able to hold down a permanent spot, but we’re definitely going to learn a lot about him as to where coach Mel Pearson has him in that stacked lineup.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 3 – Brisson’s selection to the eventual gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Juniors was incredibly impressive considering how stacked that team was. He offers something unlike anything we’ve seen from a VGK prospect to this point and that’s an unbelievable shot. He loves to sit in the circle on the power play and rip shots past goalies who know it’s coming and still can’t stop it. He definitely has a ways to go in regards to strength and experience and the offensive play can improve in other areas aside from the shot, but there’s no doubt Brisson has an exciting future. 

 

3) Lukas Cormier (D)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #68 overall
Age: 20 (March 27, 2002)
Most Recent Team: Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 6

All Lukas Cormier does is post numbers. He once again won the Defensman of the Year award in the QMJHL (first guy ever to win it back-to-back) and he looked comfortable both Development Camp and World Juniors. Questions will continue to remain about how well he’ll hold up in the defensive end against pros, but his offensive game is easily good enough to play at the NHL level. He’ll probably play at least a full year in the AHL before he makes any real push for playing time with the Golden Knights.

More on Cormier
2/23/22 – Ranking: 6 – In maybe the least surprising prospect news, Lukas Cormier is filling it up in the QMJHL. He’s been doing it for three years and is likely to continue his upward trajectory in Juniors. He was also selected to Team Canada and played in two games in World Juniors before it was postponed. It wasn’t perfect for him in that tournament, but he was able to get on the board with a point and an assist. The question marks are still there, but he’s still looking like he could be a 3rd round diamond in the rough.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 5 – Cormier took the most significant jump in this edition of the rankings and it’s well deserved. 54 points in 39 games in the regular season to go along with nine more in eight playoff games cannot go unrecognized. He’s still young and with his small frame he’s likely to take a little longer to even be ready for the AHL, let alone the NHL. He should get a chance to participate in training camp with VGK and maybe even get into a few preseason games. Both will be key in seeing where the ceiling could be on him. Basing it just on his junior stats though, the ceiling is very high.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 10 – This kid is a little firecracker and he’s going to be a fun one to keep an eye on as his career progresses. He’s an offensive wizard, especially on the power play and he’s feisty enough to give people problems in his own end. 21 points in his first 14 QMJHL games has people in Eastern Canada buzzing and his invitation to the ridiculously stacked Team Canada World Junior camp should turn heads. We’re a long way from seeing Lukas in a Golden or even Silver Knights jersey, but there’s absolutely some intriguing upside here.

 

4) Jakub Brabenec (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #102 overall
Age: 18 (September 11, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 10

The fastest riser in the rankings, Brabenec finished off an excellent season in the QMJHL and then impressed at Development Camp. It’s a shame he didn’t go to World Juniors because he could have easily turned heads. There’s really not much to dislike about his game. He’s an excellent passer, he has a knack for being in the right place around the blue paint, and he forechecks with a ferocity. He’s definitely not ready for the NHL, maybe not even the AHL, but the future is bright.

More on Brabenec
2/23/22 – Ranking: 10 – In his first season in North America, Brabenec is lighting it up with one of the league’s best teams. He’s tallied 28 assists in 34 games and added 12 goals too. Plus, he was named to the Czechia team at World Juniors where he looked decent in his appearance. He still has a long way to go as he’s still very young, but the ceiling on Brabenec now is much higher than it was a year ago.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 25 – One of the youngest players in the entire Draft, Brabenec has plenty of time to develop and move up this list. He’s done well internationally but has been underwhelming in the Czech league. He’s expected to be much more of a defensive center than anything else though.

 

GOALIES 

1) Jesper Vikman
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 5th Round, #125 overall
Age: 20 (March 11, 2002)
Most Recent Team: Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Previous Ranking: 4

Wow did Vikman look good in the net at City National Arena during Development Camp. He was extremely calm in the net, moved well for a bigger guy, and was positionally sound all week long. I know he’s probably not, because he’s yet to become old enough to drink in the United States, but he looked good enough to be able to play in an AHL game tomorrow.

More on Vikman
2/23/22 – Ranking: 4 – Vikman was fairly good in his start in the Rookie Faceoff and looked like he was right on par with Patera in the practices. He’s been solid in the WHL and he was very good in his pair of hames for the U20 Team Sweden.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 6 – Vikman bounced between three leagues in Sweden and didn’t have a ton of sucess in any of them. He’s still very young, so there’s no reason to give up, but at the moment, this is the only place he can be in these rankings.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 5 – Vikman is the earliest drafted goalie in the VGK system (2nd all-time behind Maxim Zhukov). The Golden Knights moved up in the Draft to get him so there has to be plenty they like. At the moment though, unspectacular stats in Sweden make it hard for me to assign much value.

 

To see the rest of the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings, click here.

Four Golden Knights To Play In World Junior Championships This Month

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Eight months ago the first few games of the 2022 edition of the World Junior Championships were played. However, due to a rash of positive COVID tests, multiple teams were forced to forfeit. It became clear fairly quickly that the sanctity of the tournament was jeopardized by the forfeitures, so the IIHF quickly moved to postpone the tournament to a later date.

Because the event has an age limit on it, there weren’t a lot of options on when the hockey’s international governing body could reschedule the tournament. So, we find ourselves here in August preparing for a tournament that typically kicks off the day after Christmas.

All games that were played in December have been wiped from the record books and Russia has been banned from the tournament due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. That leaves the tournament with 10 participating nations, with all games to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, from August 9th to the 20th.

Lukas Cormier (Canada), Matyas Sapovaliv (Czechia), Jakub Demek (Slovakia), and Carl Lindbom (Sweden) are the four Golden Knights who will participate in this summer’s event.

Cormier, the smooth-skating offensive-minded defenseman, will likely play a key role for a Canadian team with eight drafted defensemen including #1 overall pick in 2021, Owen Power. Cormier’s prowess on the power play should see him getting significant special teams time. The biggest question mark will be where he lands on the depth chart at even-strength. Is he a top-four guy or does he play a sheltered role on the third pair?

Sapovaliv came into camp with a cloud above his skating. It was clear on the ice that he’s not the fastest player, but overall the skating did not slow him down in the scrimmages. His forechecking was elite for the group on the ice and he made a lot more plays than the scouting reports suggested he would. He’ll probably be used in a defensive role in this tournament, likely playing 3rd or 4th line minutes with penalty killing duties.

Demek did not attend Dev Camp which was likely to make sure he was fully healthy for this tournament. He’s one of just seven drafted players on the Slovakian team, including Juraj Slafkovsky, this year’s #1 overall pick. Hopefully, Demek gets a chance to play with Slafkovsky either on a line or on the power play. If he does, it should give a bit more of a glimpse into where he is compared to a player who is probably going to make his NHL debut in October.

Lindbom was solid in the goal during Camp, which was an improvement over his performance in the rookie games in Phoenix. There are three goalies on Team Sweden, both of which were selected much earlier in the Draft than Lindbom. Jesper Wallstedt was picked 20th overall in 2021 while Calle Clang went 77th in 2020. If Lindbom plays over these two, it will be a strong statement. If he doesn’t, while disappointing, not much should be made of it at this point.

10 Questions I’m Interested To Have Answered At Development Camp Scrimmages

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

For the first time since 2019, the Golden Knights are holding a Development Camp at City National Arena. The pandemic wiped out two years of Dev Camp and it’s left us with a lot of prospects who have either never been in a sweater with a Vegas logo on it or have done it sparingly.

With that, there’s a lot to keep an eye on during the scrimmages at the end of the week. Here’s what I’m looking for.

1) Will Brendan Brisson look like the clear #1 prospect in the VGK system?

Brisson has impressed at every level including his most recent short stint in the AHL. However, I’ve still been left with some questions, most notably his ability to hold the puck in the offensive zone and his overall defensive game. As one of just two 1st round picks, and playing as an older player, Brisson needs to clearly stand out as one of the best players in these scrimmages.

2) Can Lukas Cormier’s offensive game translate against better competition?

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers. That’s all we’ve seen from Cormier in the QMJHL. But, due to the lack of camps the last two years we’ve only seen hin in Vegas for the Rookie Faceoff in Arizona and then a few preseason games. He wasn’t particularly good in either and it seemed like his deficiencies defensively overshadowed his offensive game. It would be great to see that half-goal-per-game player show up with a VGK uni on.

3) Is Kaedan Korczak ready?

If you take one peek at Korczak’s frame, you’ll know he’s more than ready to play in the NHL physically. He was steady through the AHL season and looked competent in his single NHL appearance. Back in September in the Rookie Faceoff, there was a lack of urgency to his game that concerned me. It seemed to dissipate as I watched him a few times for Henderson. I’m hoping to not see it again.

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Pair Of Golden Knights Prospects Collecting Trophies In QMJHL

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

The Golden Knights’ prospect pool has been starting to look a little barren over the course of the last few seasons. With the departures of multiple 1st round picks from the first five drafts and a host of players getting their opportunity in the NHL this season, there’s not a ton to get excited about.

However, two recent middle-round prospects are teammates and are both tearing up the QMJHL. 3rd round pick in 2020 Lukas Cormier and 4th round pick in 2021 Jakub Brabenec each had standout regular seasons for the Charlottetown Islanders and they are continuing on the success in the Q’s playoffs.

Cormier was named Defenseman of the Year and Brabenec took home both the Offensive Rookie of the Year and the overall Rookie of the Year awards.

This is the second consecutive year Cormier has claimed the Émile-Bouchard Trophy becoming the first player in league history to do so. The award’s history is full of standout NHL defensemen including Kris Letang, Thomas Chabot, Sam Girard, David Savard, and Keith Yandle.

The rookie awards won by Brabenec come with impressive alumni too. Sidney Crosby, Jakub Voracek, Nico Hischier, Alexis Lafreniere, and Nikolaj Ehlers have all claimed both of the awards in their first seasons in the QMJHL also. Former VGK waiver claim Valentin Zykov also won both awards back in 2012-13.

The smooth-skating offensive defenseman Cormier once again was a point-grabbing machine this season amassing 81 in 62 regular season games. He took a major step forward in the goal-scoring department this year more than doubling his career-high with 33 goals. In the playoffs, Cormier has not slowed down a bit tacking on four more goals and 12 points in nine postseason games.

Meanwhile, the high-IQ, creative, and skinny Brabenec, playing in his first season in North America, surpassed the point-per-game mark by tallying 64 in 58 contests. Like Cormier, his success has continued on into the playoffs where he has 10 assists in the Islanders’ nine games.

The Charlottetown Islanders currently lead their semifinal series 2-1 over the Sherbrooke Phoenix with Game 4 coming up tonight at 4 PM. You can stream the game live using the CHL’s official streaming site.

If Cormier and Brabanec’s Islanders win tonight or Wednesday, they’ll head to the QMJHL finals where they can earn a trip to this year’s Memorial Cup in late June.

Observations On Every Player Who Put On A VGK Sweater At The Rookie Faceoff – Defensemen & Goalies

Golden Knights rookies spent the weekend in Phoenix competing in three games against fellow rookie squads from the Coyotes, Sharks, and Kings. A total of 25 players suited up for Vegas, here’s are my observations on every single one of them.

Defensemen

(Photo Credit: Robert Schneidmiller, IceTimeHockeySW.com)

Daniil Chayka (3 games, 1LD, 1 LD, 1LD)

Chayka was steady but never really seemed to get his footing adding any offense. In his own end, he was able to use his strong frame to push guys off the puck as well as protect it when he had it. The decision-making could probably have been a bit quicker, though it got better as the weekend wore on. For a first impression, there was a lot more good than bad.

Kaedan Korczak (2 games, 1RD, 1 RD)

As expected, Korczak looked like he was on another level compared to almost everyone else on the ice. He was calm on the puck, quick in retrieval, and always made the right decisions. There’s probably never going to be much offense in his game, but his willingness to push the puck up the ice will certainly generate chances for his teammates in the future.

Artur Cholach (3 games, 2LD, 2LD, 3 LD)

The first game he looked a step behind pretty much everyone rushing at him, but as the games continued he was able to gain his footing and improved. The concern about his ability to get to pucks and get them off his stick quickly enough to succeed at this level remains though. Overall, it wasn’t a bad weekend for him, but it was far from great.

Lukas Cormier (2 games, 2RD, 2RD)

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Rookie Camp/Games Bold Predictions

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.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.

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SinBin.vegas Golden Knights Prospect Rankings – August 7th

The latest edition of the SinBin.vegas Prospect Rankings is here! We’ve got a player making his first appearance in the Top 5 as well as a pair of 2021 draft picks cracking the Top 10. Here at the Top 5, click through to see all 29 skaters and six goalies.

Criteria to qualify for rankings:

  • Must be younger than 23 years old for skaters, 25 years old for goalies
  • 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: Dylan Coghlan (NHL)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Peyton Krebs (F)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #17 overall
Age: 20 (January 26, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Vegas Golden Knights
Previous Ranking: #1

An unfortunate injury kept Krebs from getting his shot to star on the biggest stage in the playoffs this year. Now, he’s going to have to compete amongst a suddenly deep group of forwards to even earn a spot out of camp. His waiver exempt status will certainly play against him early in the season, but by the end of 2021 Krebs should be a mainstay in the VGK lineup.

More on Krebs
2/3/21 – Peyton Krebs is close. He’s not there yet, but he’s close. If there’s one positive that’s come out of COVID is that it’s given the Golden Knights a chance to drag Krebs along the development path. He was in the bubble in Edmonton, he was in camp with the Golden Knights, and now he has a chance to be in AHL camp and maybe even play a few games before he has to go back to the WHL. I know people want him on the roster now, but it’s not time yet. His acceleration is impressive, his vision is very good, and his ability to make the right play in tight spaces and along the walls is solid for a player of his size. I think the future is as a winger, not a center, but I think the future is bright for this kid.

4/16/20 – Krebs did everything he was supposed to since the moment he was drafted. He got himself healthy, he had a chance to practice with the NHL team for a day, and then he went back to the WHL and dominated putting up 48 assists to lead his team despite playing only 38 of the team’s 63 games. The only disappointment was that he was not selected for Team Canada at the World Juniors, but that was more due to where he was in his rehab as opposed to his skill level and worthiness to be on the team.

11/16/19 – 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 wear 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.

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, plays 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: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

2) Kaedan Korczak (D)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #41 overall
Age: 20 (January 29, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #4

Korczak worked his way up the depth chart for the Silver Knights as the year went on but could never find his place in the lineup permenantly. That should change this year as he’ll probably end up on the HSK top-pair fairly quickly. He’s close to being NHL ready, but the group of seven defensemen in front of him at the NHL level will likely keep him down. Wouldn’t be shocked to see his NHL debut in 2021-22 though.

More on Korczak
2/3/21 – The moment Vegas drafted Korczak we knew he was going to be a big guy, but he’s already a monster just one season removed from his draft year and he’s probably only going to get bigger. As he progresses through high levels like World Juniors and the AHL, it appears his calling card will be more as a defense-first penalty kill type player, but he’s certainly looking like he has an NHL future, and probably a long one.

4/16/20 – There’s nothing not to like about Korczak’s game. He’s got size, he’s a good skater, he’s physical, he’s calm on the puck, he can move the puck, and he’ll chip in offensively. His numbers will continue to look good in the WHL, but it’s all about how he looks against better competition going forward and unfortunately we aren’t going to get to see much of that any time soon.

11/16/19 – Korczak looked really good at camp and he has taken that game to the WHL racking up 14 points in 19 games for the Kelowna Rockets. Korczak is the type of defenseman that the Golden Knights are desperately looking for at the NHL level. Of course, he’s not ready at this point (nor would he be available to them anyway) but he’s a mobile, puck-moving d-man who will chip in offensively while taking care of his own end. The next time we really get to see what Korczak has to offer will likely be for Team Canada in December. If he can show something special in that tournament, the 2nd round pick is going to be in the top-five on this list next time for sure.

7/5/19 – The Golden Knights moved up in the draft to select Korczak and it didn’t take long to show why they valued him so much. In his own end, he’s a rock, defending both with his feet (mainly by keeping terrific gaps) and his stick. But what impressed me most with Korczak was his willingness to jump into the rush, or even start a rush. He reminded me a lot of Nate Schmidt, where the entire offense just looks more dangerous in transition when he’s out there.

 

3) Ivan Morozov (F)
Acquired: 2018 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #61 overall
Age: 21 (May 5, 2000)
Most Recent Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

The biggest question mark right now on Morozov is when is he going to make the trip across the pond and come to North America. Once he does, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he jumps to #1 on this list instantly. He’s been dynamite in the KHL playing center for one of the league’s best teams. He even went to the World Championships where he added three points in eight games. This kid is the real deal, but he’s not worth thinking about until he leaves Russia.

More on Morozov
2/3/21 – If Morozov was doing in the AHL what he’s doing in the KHL the excitement level surrounding him as a prospect would be much higher. The KHL is notorious for making life very difficult on young players and at age 20 Morozov is playing at a high level for one of the league’s best team’s. He’s a 200-foot center that has the hands to score and create for others. 11 goals in 47 KHL games is nothing to scoff at and once he decides it’s time to give North America a shot, I think he’ll be a Golden Knight shortly thereafter.

4/16/20 – Morozov had a pretty wild year playing in three different Russian leagues and in the World Juniors. He impressed at the World Juniors and he was starting to really put it all together in the KHL playoffs. He’s the type of player that is going to get a majority of his goals through hard work and willingness. The problem in his game is that he shuts off from time to time. It ends up leading to breakdowns and penalties. Hopefully it’s something he grows out of because he has enough talent to be an NHLer.

11/16/19 – This is a deceptive one because Morozov actually moves up in the rankings, but he really shouldn’t have. He’s been unable to crack the KHL roster for SKA St. Petersburg and he hasn’t exactly ripped up the Russian minor league, the VHL. World Juniors will be important for Morozov as he may be a top-six center for Russia.

7/5/19 – Yet again, we didn’t actually get to see him play as he skipped Development Camp for the second year. Thus, he ends up soaring down the rankings even though he appears to be a player with a real future. He’s young enough to play for Russia in World Juniors this year, and he should have an expanded role. Hopefully the numbers start showing up in the KHL this year too.

1/8/19 – The first real chance we’ve gotten to see Morozov was a good one. He looked very good at times as the 4th line center for Team Russia. His selection to this team was impressive in the first place as Russia historically does not like to choose 18-year-olds for their U20 team. However, Morozov helped make an impact and looks like a terrific 200-foot player. His backchecking was probably the most exciting part of his game as he constantly would come back into his own zone, break up a play and then get the puck moving forward. Still want to see a lot more of him, but don’t be surprised if he’s in the top 3 or 4 the next time I update this list.

9/12/18 – Did not attend Rookie Camp

7/28/18 – Unable to attend Development Camp following the Draft, Morozov remains a bit of an unknown. However, he has recently signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg (yeah, the Shippy one) and was selected with Vegas’ only pick in the top 75 of the 2018 Draft which indicates he’s highly regarded. He has quick hands and should be a strong two-way center if/when he makes it to the NHL. A trip to World Juniors would do well for him to move up this list where he probably belongs.

 

4) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 19 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: 3

Brisson had a solid freshman season at Michigan scoring 10 goals and adding 21 points in 24 games. He’s a power play weapon and will continue to be a point producer at the NCAA level this season. However, with Michigan’s stacked lineup, his playing time will be interesting to monitor. Michigan had four of the top five picks in the 2021 Draft and all are expected to be on the roster this year. As a late 1st round pick from the year prior, Brisson should be able to hold down a permanent spot, but we’re definitely going to learn a lot about him as to where coach Mel Pearson has him in that stacked lineup.

More on Brisson
2/3/21 – Brisson’s selection to the eventual gold medal-winning Team USA at the World Juniors was incredibly impressive considering how stacked that team was. He offers something unlike anything we’ve seen from a VGK prospect to this point and that’s an unbelievable shot. He loves to sit in the circle on the power play and rip shots past goalies who know it’s coming and still can’t stop it. He definitely has a ways to go in regards to strength and experience and the offensive play can improve in other areas aside from the shot, but there’s no doubt Brisson has an exciting future. 

 

5) Lukas Cormier (D)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #68 overall
Age: 19 (March 27, 2002)
Most Recent Team: Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 10

Cormier took the most significant jump in this edition of the rankings and it’s well deserved. 54 points in 39 games in the regular season to go along with nine more in eight playoff games cannot go unrecognized. He’s still young and with his small frame he’s likely to take a little longer to even be ready for the AHL, let alone the NHL. He should get a chance to participate in training camp with VGK and maybe even get into a few preseason games. Both will be key in seeing where the ceiling could be on him. Basing it just on his junior stats though, the ceiling is very high.

More on Cormier
2/3/21 – This kid is a little firecracker and he’s going to be a fun one to keep an eye on as his career progresses. He’s an offensive wizard, especially on the power play and he’s feisty enough to give people problems in his own end. 21 points in his first 14 QMJHL games has people in Eastern Canada buzzing and his invitation to the ridiculously stacked Team Canada World Junior camp should turn heads. We’re a long way from seeing Lukas in a Golden or even Silver Knights jersey, but there’s absolutely some intriguing upside here.

Click through to see all 29 skaters and six goalies.

GOALIES 

1) Logan Thompson
Acquired: Signed as Free Agent on July 13, 2020
Age: 24 (February 25, 1997)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 1

While Thompson still remains the clear #1 goalie in the system, VGK’s unwillingness to hand him the reigns in 2021-22 is concerning. He won the award for best goalie in the AHL and served as the backup for many games throughout the postseason, however when Vegas moved Fleury, they quickly went out and replaced him with an NHL level backup in Laurent Brossoit. Now the question is how do the Golden Knights keep him if he doesn’t get the 28 games necessary to avoid Group 6 free agency.

More on Thompson 2/3/21 – This kid has impressed me so much that I decided to change the qualifications so he could be on this list. Thompson was dynamite in both preseason games in the AHL and he’s been a nightmare to score against in every practice. He’s a very confident goalie that loves to chirp at shooters, whether in practice or in games. For the first time in VGK history, they may have a legitmate NHL goalie in waiting.

Click through to see all 29 skaters and six goalies.

Sending Star Prospects To World Juniors; Teams Aren’t, But They Should

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like most things in the world nowadays, this year’s World Junior Championship is unique. Because there’s no NHL season currently taking place, many countries have access to players they would otherwise not be able to have on their rosters. Names like Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Dach, Jack Hughes, and others are all eligible to play but teams are starting to hold them back.

The Golden Knights have multiple players who are expected to take part in the competition. Peyton Krebs and Kaedan Korczak seem like locks for Canada, Brendan Brisson will be on Team USA, and Marcus Kallionkieli and Lukas Cormier each could be there as well.

For Vegas, none of these players are expected to make major impacts at the NHL level, well, at least not to the level of a Hughes or Lafreniere.

But what if they did? Where would we stand?

It’s a tough decision for any NHL club, especially with the uncertainty of the upcoming season. However, with the schedule of the tournament, there’s no reason to hold these guys back from a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The World Junior tournament is slated to end on January 6th. Even those most optimistic NHL fan knows the regular season isn’t starting before then. So, these key young players would be missing the beginning of training camp and at the very least one preseason game.

In exchange, they’d be playing in competitive games on an international stage with massive expectations on their shoulders. For me, this is exactly what you want for your upcoming stars.

Personally, the benefits seem to far outweigh the drawbacks. Missing camp means very little, especially this year when many of the meetings will be conducted virtually. I’ve seen COVID used as an excuse not to send a player when really it should be an excuse to send the player. There will be no safer place than the World Junior bubble. Finally, injury fears have to be put aside considering we are expecting these guys to play 60 games in four months. If we are afraid of 10 games at the junior level, how can you expect a player to survive the rigors of an NHL season?

Highly competitive games are hard to find, especially in 2020. For guys like Lafreniere and Hughes, they may not see a game as important as the ones the kids at World Juniors will see for years.

It’s an enviable situation to be in and unfortunately, the Golden Knights are not in it. If they were, I’d be strongly in favor of sending anyone eligible, even if that player was expected to have a massive impact in the NHL.

Luckily, this poor decision by the Rangers and Devils will actually benefit the Golden Knights. Krebs and Brisson will find themselves higher up the depth chart and get more minutes.

VGK And The 2021 World Junior Championships

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the NHL’s next season, there is meaningful hockey on the horizon. The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship starts on Christmas Day and multiple Golden Knights prospects will be there participating.

The tournament is scheduled to be played inside the Edmonton bubble from December 25th to January 5th.

The Golden Knights have five players with a chance at participating.

Peyton Krebs
Canada

Krebs participated in camp with Team Canada ahead of last year’s World Juniors. Having just returned from his Achilles injury Krebs was left off the final roster that ultimately went on to win the gold medal. This year, Krebs will be a focal point to the Canadian roster, likely centering one of its top two lines.

Team Canada will be stacked this year with a host of 1st round picks that will include the 2nd overall pick in this past Draft, Quinton Byfield, and may even include the #1 selection, Alexis Lafreniere as well.

No matter how it all shakes out though, this will be Golden Knights fans first chance to see the most important prospect in the VGK system play meaningful high-level competition.

Kaedan Korczak
Canada

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It would be a surprise if Korczak misses out on the final roster but his role on the team is very much in question. There are six 1st round pick defensemen that have been selected to the initial 46-man Team Canada roster. But, only two, Bowen Byram and Thomas Harley, were selected in the 2019 Draft with Korczak.

Being older and right-handed will likely give Korczak a leg up but these are still tough waters to navigate to get significant playing time on a roster brimming with talent.

Hopefully, for the Golden Knights sake, he has a strong camp in November and the claims a spot for the important group stage games in late December.

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