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2023 Development Camp Observations

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The Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights wrapped up their yearly summer Development Camp. Every draft pick since the 2020 Draft attended plus a host of Silver Knights, Ghost Pirates, and camp invitees.

The group was split into two teams that practiced together for the entire week and participated in two scrimmages. Here are my observations from 2023 Development Camp.

  • Jackson Hallum is very fast.
    • This is really not news as it’s been the defining feature of his game since he was selected in the 3rd round of the 2020 Draft, but boy did it show up on the ice this week. He scored three times in the scrimmages (no one else had more than one), and he was noticeable all over the ice in both games. His hands and mind definitely appear to be catching up to his feet. Certainly an exiting prospect moving forward.
  • Isaiah Saville is on another level compared to the other goalies.
    • This is certainly not to say any of the goalies were bad (they definitely weren’t) but there’s a certain calmness in the net and playing the puck with his stick that Saville possesses the others simply don’t at this time. Saville should get plenty of starts in the AHL this year and it wouldn’t surprise me if he pushes Jiri Patera for the starting role.
  • Brendan Brisson has improved as a passer and playmaker.
    • There wasn’t a single power play for his team in the two games in which he played so we didn’t get to see his most dangerous weapon, but Brisson made an impact with his precise passing. Coming off watching a playoff run that ended in the Stanley Cup, accurate passing is something I’ve kind of taken for granted, but then watching prospects play you see the importance of it.  Brisson was excellent setting up his teammates multiple times for good looks. Can’t say I’m fully convinced he’s ready to take an NHL spot away from a guy like Paul Cotter or Pavel Dorofeyev, but this is the closest I’ve ever felt.
  • Daniil Chayka is a rock.
    • After four periods of not really noticing him I decided to really focus on his game in the final two periods, and I was impressed. He broke up a number of plays in the neutral zone, was excellent on and off the puck in the D-zone, and activated multiple times offensively but wasn’t found by teammates. I’ve always believed he has a good shot at being an NHLer, I’m pretty convinced of it now.
  • Two roster invitees impressed me, one in each game. Scrimmage 1 it was Robbie Fromm-DeLorme and scrimmage 2 it was Jayden Lee.
    • Fromm-DeLorme is a WHL player who went undrafted and is known as an energy type guy. He looked like much more than that in the first scrimmage as he was consistently driving the play for his team. Passing, forechecking, hustle, IQ, hands, I liked all of it from him. Unfortunately, he got hurt in the second game and missed a chunk of it.
    • Jayden Lee, a four year defenseman at Quinnipiac, was uber confident on the puck. He dusted multiple guys at the blue line and even poked in a rebound goal in the first game. Despite scoring in Scrimmage 1, he was better in the second one. It’s hard to describe beyond, he just looked like he’s better at this sport than pretty much everyone else.
  • Daniel D’Amato is close.
    • The Henderson Silver Knight who has been around multiple camps with the Golden Knights continues to stand out every time he’s on the ice. There’s still a bit of skill lacking in his game which is why I wouldn’t project him to be ready to break through to the NHL any time soon, but this kid can really play. He’s noticeable in all three zones and has a very strong stick. I expect him to have a good year in Henderson and potentially start to take steps towards moving upward.
  • Mathieu Cataford was the most impressive 2023 Draft pick
    • He just seems to have a nose for the puck and for the goal. His skating looked good especially through the neutral zone and he was typically in the right place for rebounds. I’m always extremely careful to judge the guys that were picked last week in their first Development Camp, but I’ve definitely got my eyes on him moving forward.

2023 Golden Knights Draft Picks: Who Are These Guys?

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The Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights selected David Edstrom with the 32nd overall pick in the 1st round. They are slated to make four picks on Day 2 with the first coming in the 3rd round at #77. Here’s a quick rundown of what we know about each player selected by the Golden Knights in the 2023 NHL Draft.

3rd Round – #77 (from BUF)
Selection: Mathieu Cataford (F) – Halifax (QMJHL)

An average-sized two-way forward who can play center or wing. Cataford’s biggest strength is how he thinks the game as he’s not the fastest or most skilled forward but knows how to be in the right spots to be a complementary player.

Has a good shot and also knows how to score in tight. Just an overall solid player with every tool in the bag but without any truly wowing qualities.

Posted 75 points on 31 goals and 44 assists in the QMJHL last season.

There are a lot of different layers to Cataford; he can do just about everything to a decent level. There’s no real weakness to him, but also nothing high-end in terms of skill level. If we look at how he scores his goals, yes, he can score from in-tight, but he can also score from distance and from the bumper role on the power play. This demonstrates his potential diversity as a goal-scorer at the next level. He’s an offensive dual-threat with both his shooting and passing skills in addition to playing on the inside (he’s not a perimeter player). He’s physically involved along the boards and has a solid compete level in all three zones. His play away from the puck is also quite advanced, his effort level on backcheck is solid, and he anticipates plays well in the neutral zone with great ability. His great stick activations to block passes and passing lanes make him useful on the PK, and he can sacrifice his body to block shots as well. -NHL Draft Black Book

3rd Round – #96
Selection: Arttu Karki (D) – Tappara (Finland)

Karki is an offensive-minded defenseman who is spectacular on the power play.

Won the Finnish league and was the 2nd leading goal scorer of all defensemen.

His best asset: his hands. He can beat players one-on-one and can get himself out of trouble deep in his zone by displaying his high level of puck handling to escape pressure. He’s very cool under pressure when retrieving pucks, demonstrating a high level of confidence with the puck on his stick. A beast on the power play (in Finland’s junior league, anyway) he has a big-time point shot he uses to one-time pucks effectively. He scored many goals off one-timers in a stationary position, often from the faceoff circle on the right side of the ice. However, he does need to incorporate more deception skills when he uses it, as he’s a bit of a one-trick pony right now. He needs to add more fakes, use off looks and hesitation fakes more often, and incorporate more movement at the line. -NHL Draft Black Book

Offensive-minded defender who controls the offensive blue line with poise. Shows good mobility but needs to improve his overall pace of play in order to maximize his potential as an effective NHL puck mover. –DobberProspects.com

6th Round – #192 Overall
Selection: Toumas Uronen (F) – HIFK (Finland)

A speedy winger, Uronen has shown the ability to score and set up teammates playing in the junior league in Finland. Scored 43 points in 39 games while adding 42 penalty minutes.

He’s a bit small for the rigors of the NHL game though. He’ll have to bulk up while maintaining his speed if he’s going to make it in North America.

He will additionally use his speed in the offensive zone to force defenders to rush their breakouts and cut off passing lanes. He can be a creative player with accurate saucer passes and good vision from the outside but the play is rolling in the offensive zone he tends to stay more on the perimeter as opposed to heading to the net like he does on the rush. He gets off his shot quickly and evades shot blocking defenders but needs to lean into his shot on his front foot as opposed to his back foot. -NHL Draft Black Book

**Trade – VGK trade #224 to CBJ for a 2024 7th round pick*


(Huge shout out to both the NHL Black Book and Draft Recrutes. Both guides are spectacular and are must-buys for anyone who loves the NHL Draft. I’ve bought both every year the site has been around.)

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