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Golden Knights Prospect Rankings – October 4th, 2023

Most of the rookies have been sent to where they will play for this season and we were able to get a good look at many of them. So, it’s time for an update to the SinBin Prospect Rankings.

Six players dropped out of the rankings, the most ever, leaving just 22 skaters and five goalies in the system. A familiar face has risen back to #1 while a newcomer checks in at #2.

**To view the full SinBin Prospect Rankings including the criteria used to rank the players, click here.**

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: Zach Dean (Trade), Ivan Morozov (Loan), Pavel Dorofeyev (NHL Experience), Peter Diliberatore (Trade), Connor Corcoran (Age), Ryder Donovan (Age)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 21 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 2

The VGK coaching staff has gotten a good hard look at Brisson this offseason and it definitely seems as if they like what they are seeing. He’ll probably still need some seasoning in the NHL, especially when it comes to stick and physical battles, but he will play NHL games this season.

More on Brisson
2/11/23 – Ranking: 2 – Brisson’s first full year as a professional has not gone the way he and the Golden Knights wished. He’s not scoring at the pace expected for a 1st round pick sniper, and his physical game hasn’t matched the level of the AHL level to this point. 19 points including seven goals simply isn’t good enough in 37 AHL games. He still has the elite shot, and he still has some high-end vision with the puck, but there still needs to be quite a bit of improvement if he wants to become the player the Golden Knights expected when they picked him 29th overall.

8/16/22 – Ranking: 2 – 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.

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.

 

2) David Edstrom (F)
Acquired: 2023 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #32 overall
Age: 18 (February 18, 2005)
Most Recent Team: Frolunda (SHL)
Previous Ranking: N/A

As an 18-year-old Edstrom has slotted right into professional hockey and he’s already producing. He has 6 points in 7 games and is a mainstay in the Frolunda lineup. He’s a big strong kid who is a good skater for his size. He’s aggressive on the ice and willing to push people around (or out of the way) to get to where he needs to go. As one of two remaining 1st round picks in the VGK system, the upside on Edstrom is definitely as exciting as any prospect in the pool.

 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

3) Layton Ahac (D)
Acquired: 2019 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #86 overall
Age: 22 (February 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #6

Ahac showed up yet again this summer and training camp and has put himself in the hat as a potential NHL call up this year. He looked every bit the part of an NHL defenseman in the preseason and was calm and collected in all of the rookie games. He’ll need to take some steps offensively if he’s ever going to be a majorly impactful player, but there appear to be NHL games in his future.

More on Ahac
2/1/23 – Ranking: 6 – The biggest riser of any prospect on this update is Ahac. The main reason for this rise was his play at Training Camp when he went up against his NHL teammates. Ahac impressed much more than he ever has both with his composure in the defensive zone and his puck-moving skills. He’d always been thought of as a defense-first d-man but there is definitely more to his game when he’s around more skilled players. The numbers haven’t been there in the AHL (4 points in 34 games) which is concerning, but he didn’t look discernably different than Korczak and Kaedan is knocking at the door of being an NHL regular.

8/16/22 – Ranking: 22 – Coming into camp as one of the older players it was expected that we’d finally start to see what made Ahac a 3rd round pick. There wasn’t much to show for it aside from sound positioning and proper decision-making in the defensive zone. He’s probably not physically imposing enough to make it to the NHL on defense alone, so that offensive touch is going to have to come at some point.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 16 – Ahac has been battling through an injury that kept him out for the majority of the first half of the season. He’s finally gotten himself into the lineup but hasn’t made a huge impact at the AHL level. His skating looks good, especially in going back to get pucks, but there will likely need to be a little more willingness to jump into the play if he’s going to become an NHL player.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 15 – Scouting stay-at-home defensemen is always going to be tough, and that’s the case with Ahac. He actually flashed a lot more of an offensive game on different viewings I had, but he’s certainly not going to be labeled as an offensive-minded defenseman any time soon. Like Pachal, there’s probably a bit more of a role of him this season. Can he climb the depth chart?

2/3/21 – Ranking: 15 – Unlike the player ahead of him at this point (Diliberatore), he needed to go back to college to continue developing on both ends of the ice. Scoring as a defenseman at the NCAA level is tricky, and Ahac still likely projects as more of a defense-first option. He has one goal and six assists in 17 games, numbers that would need to improve if he’s going to stake his claim as a high-end prospect he was hoped to be as a 3rd round selection.

4/16/20 – Ahac disappointed a bit at the Fortress Invitational in Vegas and didn’t make much noise as a freshman at Ohio St. However, there’s no way that should mean it’s time to write him off. His skating ability alone is worth keeping him on the radar and he should get better and better as he progresses through his college career. It might be a while until we see him in Vegas, even in the AHL, but if he can develop the way the Golden Knights envisioned, he has the tools to be a solid player.

11/16/19 – Ahac has cemented himself as a staple in the Ohio State defense, which is impressive as a freshman. Statistically, he’s not going to blow you out of the water, but Ahac is a very good defense-first defenseman. He and the Buckeyes will be at T-Mobile Arena for the Fortress Invitational in early January.

7/5/19 – The tall, skinny, defenseman is headed to Ohio State to play college hockey this year, but he sure impressed in camp before leaving. His skating was impressive, his poise was excellent, and his passing from the defensive zone was suburb. I would have liked to see a little more jump to his offensive game, but in a first camp, as a 3rd round pick defenseman, he looked pretty darn good.

 

4) Jackson Hallum (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 3rd Round, #91 overall
Age: 21 (September 8, 2002)
Most Recent Team: University of Michigan (NCAA)
Previous Ranking: 10

Yet again, Hallum was one of the most exciting players on the ice at Development Camp. His speed and playmaking jump off the page to whoever is watching and it definitely appears he’s starting to truly understand how to play at a speed quicker than everyone else on the ice. He needs a big college season though to keep the upward momentum. It didn’t happen last year, maybe it will this year.

More on Hallum
2/11/23 – Ranking: 10 – Hallum was impressive in Rookie Camp and the hope was that his speed would help him dominate games in college. That hasn’t quite come to life in his freshman year at Michigan as he’s scored just four goals and added eight assists in 26 games. There has to be more to his game than speed, hopefully, that happens in the next few years at Michigan.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 7 – Everyone knows Jackson Hallum can skate like the wind. That was on display for anyone and everyone to see once again at his first Development Camp. The question was whether or not he could do anything offensively with a gear faster than everyone else on the ice. He didn’t exactly light the scoreboard up, but time and time again he was putting defenders in bad positions either creating scoring chances or drawing penalties. There’s a lot to be excited about for a kid getting ready to make a significant leap in competition this season as he heads to Michigan.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 13 – Moving up a level hasn’t seemed to slow down Hallum, either physically in his skating or in his scoring. There’s always going to be a concern as he continues to progress to tougher levels, but 49 points in 41 games is nothing to scoff at in the USHL. The penalty numbers are a bit odd though as he’s taken 70 PIM this season. Will be interesting to see if he remains this type of pest.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 12 – Yet again, Hallum torched the high school circuit, putting up 41 points in 21 games. Now it’s time for a massive step up in competition, not only in who he’ll play against, but who he’s playing with. We mentioned the stacked University of Michigan team when talking about Brisson, it’s even more interesting for Hallum, who may not even find his way onto the ice at all. If he can make an impact on that team, we’re really onto something, if he doesn’t, we might learn that the high school numbers were a mirage.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 17 – The speedy high schooler is once again shredding kids he’s much better than in Minnesota preps. Seven goals in six games and another 10 assists is certainly going to excite anyone, but the competition is about as weak as it gets for an NHL Draft pick that it’s not time to get overly excited. Missed seeing him in a Development Camp, hopefully we do in 2021.

 

5) Matyas Sapovaliv (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #48 overall
Age: 19 (February 12, 2004)
Most Recent Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Previous Ranking: 3

Sapovaliv did not flash like we had hoped in the most recent Development Camp and rookie games but there’s no doubt the skill is there for him to be a useful center. He put on a bunch of weight and it shows in the way he is able to use his body forecheck. The skating, which was a concern, does not seem to be as big a problem as was described after he was drafted.

More on Sapovaliv
2/11/23 – Ranking: 3 – As he’s set to hit his 19th birthday tomorrow, Sapovaliv has soared up the list. This actually has a lot more to do with others dropping, but Matyas has done everything you can ask for in his first season post-draft. He posted seven assists in seven games at World Juniors and was utilized as a defensive specialist as well. He’s also posting strong numbers in the OHL with Saginaw. His forechecking continues to be a strong suit and his ability to read the game as a defensive center is strong. He certainly looks like he has an NHL future.

8/16/22 – Ranking: 11 – The concern during the draft on Sapovaliv was his skating. At Development Camp, it was not notably poor which is a good sign having stepped on the Vegas ice just days after being drafted. He’s a strong forechecker and his awareness in the defensive and neutral zones is great. He potted a goal at World Juniors, but there were definitely some signs that he was struggling to keep up as the tournament went along. He’s a real boom or bust type prospect, and it’s not hard to see some of the characteristics that make VGK believe he’ll boom.

 

**To view the rest of the SinBin Prospect Rankings, click here.**

What I’m Looking For From The Golden Knights At The 2023 Rookie Faceoff

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the first time since Vegas hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 13, Golden Knights players will step on the ice to play a hockey game against players from another team.

Yeah, that’s a stretch, but hey, real hockey is so close, just let me get away with this one.

Tonight is the first of three games for the Golden Knights at this year’s Rookie Faceoff taking place in Vegas and Henderson. VGK’s rookies will take on the Anaheim Ducks tonight and the San Jose Sharks tomorrow at the Dollar Loan Center, and the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at City National Arena.

Vegas’ roster includes 17 draft picks including 1st rounder Brendan Brisson and 2nd round picks Matyas Sapovaliv and Daniil Chayka. Here’s what I’m hoping to see from the team this weekend.

Time for the Jakubs to really make a name for themselves

In the 2021 Draft the Golden Knights used back to back selections in the 4th round on players with the first name Jakub. The first Jakub picked was Jakub Brabenec from Czechia. He showed out well in his first few camps with the Golden Knights but was a bit underwhelming in Development Camp this summer. The other Jakub, Jakub Demek has not had a ton of time on the ice in Las Vegas. He has missed several camps with injury including this summer’s Dev Camp. However, when he has been on the ice either in the WHL or for Team Slovakia, he’s been excellent. The powerful forward should finally get a real chance to assert himself in a VGK jersey and it could catapult him up the prospect list. A point-per-game is the minimum expectation for both Jakubs in these three games.

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Golden Knights Prospect Rankings – February 11th, 2023

As the NHL trade deadline nears, the prospect pool will likely come into the spotlight as the Golden Knights are expected to once again be buyers on or before March 3rd.

The Golden Knights’ prospect pool is one of the shallower in the NHL, but there are still plenty of players capable of making an impact down the road for the big club.

In this update, we have a new #1 skater and a new #1 goalie, three players have graduated out due to NHL experience, and a few familiar names continue slipping down the rankings.

**To view the full SinBin Prospect Rankings including the criteria used to rank the players, click here.**

Recently Removed: Korczak (NHL experience), Cotter (NHL experience), Pachal (NHL experience)

SKATERS

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

1) Jakub Brabenec (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 4th Round, #102 overall
Age: 19 (September 11, 2003)
Most Recent Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Previous Ranking: 4

It’s been an eventful year for the 19-year-old 4th round pick. After impressing during his time wearing a VGK sweater both in the summer and fall, Brabenec headed back to the QMJHL where he continued producing both goals and assists. He was traded to the Sherbrooke Phoenix where he has picked up his pace even more. But, the most impressive portion of Brabenec’s year was the trip to World Juniors. He was excellent the entire tournament, one of Czechia’s most influential offensive players. He averaged a point per game and made plays against the biggest teams and players in the tournament. He sees the game at the speed necessary to play at the next level.

More on Brabenec
8/16/22 – Ranking: 4 – 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 ferocity. He’s definitely not ready for the NHL, maybe not even the AHL, but the future is bright.

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.

 

2) Brendan Brisson (F)
Acquired: 2020 Entry Draft, 1st Round, #29 overall
Age: 21 (October 22, 2001)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: 2

Brisson’s first full year as a professional has not gone the way he and the Golden Knights wished. He’s not scoring at the pace expected for a 1st round pick sniper, and his physical game hasn’t matched the level of the AHL level to this point. 19 points including seven goals simply isn’t good enough in 37 AHL games. He still has the elite shot, and he still has some high-end vision with the puck, but there still needs to be quite a bit of improvement if he wants to become the player the Golden Knights expected when they picked him 29th overall.

More on Brisson
8/16/22 – Ranking: 2 – 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.

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) Matyas Sapovaliv (F)
Acquired: 2021 Entry Draft, 2nd Round, #48 overall
Age: 18 (February 12, 2004)
Most Recent Team: Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Previous Ranking: 11

As he’s set to hit his 19th birthday tomorrow, Sapovaliv has soared up the list. This actually has a lot more to do with others dropping, but Matyas has done everything you can ask for in his first season post-draft. He posted seven assists in seven games at World Juniors and was utilized as a defensive specialist as well. He’s also posting strong numbers in the OHL with Saginaw. His forechecking continues to be a strong suit and his ability to read the game as a defensive center is strong. He certainly looks like he has an NHL future.

More on Sapovaliv
8/16/22 – Ranking: 11 – The concern during the draft on Sapovaliv was his skating. At Development Camp, it was not notably poor which is a good sign having stepped on the Vegas ice just days after being drafted. He’s a strong forechecker and his awareness in the defensive and neutral zones is great. He potted a goal at World Juniors, but there were definitely some signs that he was struggling to keep up as the tournament went along. He’s a real boom or bust type prospect, and it’s not hard to see some of the characteristics that make VGK believe he’ll boom.

 

**To view the rest of the SinBin Prospect Rankings, click here.**

GOALIES 

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

1) Jiri Patera
Acquired: 2017 Entry Draft, 6th Round, #161 overall
Age: 23 (February 24, 1999)
Most Recent Team: Henderson Silver Knights (AHL)
Previous Ranking: #2

Patera has been excellent in the Silver Knights’ goal despite playing behind one of the worst teams in the AHL. He’s been clearly better than NHL veteran Michael Hutchinson and at times he’s even looked better than another NHLer, Laurent Brossoit. VGK’s future between the pipes is very cloudy heading into next year, there’s a real chance Patera inserts himself into that picture.

More on Patera
8/16/22 – Ranking: 2 – Patera is going to get a shot to state his case in camp, then preseason, and then early in the regular season likely at the AHL level. With the VGK goalie room either inexperienced and banged up, opportunity is there for the taking for everyone wants to take it. Patera has shown out well in some chances and not as well in others.

2/23/22 – Ranking: 2 – When given the chance, Patera has looked every bit an AHL caliber goalie, and I mean that in a good way. Despite bouncing between the AHL and ECHL this season, he’s been strong when he’s been in the net in either Henderson or Fort Wayne. It’s incredibly close between he and Ferguson, but they are both miles behind Thompson.

8/7/21 – Ranking: 2 – It was definitely good to see Patera getting plenty of time with the NHLers at the end of the season on the taxi squad. His AHL numbers were a bit of a mess however as he went 2-4-0 on a team that won the division. It’ll be interesting to see if he wins the job as the backup in Henderson this season. There will be a battle to back up Thompson, and Ferguson absolutely might win it.

2/3/21 – Ranking: 3 I probably dock players for injuries more than I should, but it’s just tough to keep guys up in the rankings when they aren’t healthy. Value certainly has dropped on Patera as he was likely to compete for the backup AHL job and now he’s on the sideline watching Ferguson and Thompson compete for it. His injury isn’t expected to be too long-term, but every day missed hurts.

4/16/20 – Patera had a masterful year in the WHL playing for his NHL GM’s team. He was easily the best goalie in the league and showed the promise that had him as the second goalie ever selected by the Golden Knights. Now it’s time for Patera to really face some challenges. He’ll likely sign a contract and end up in the ECHL where he’ll have to compete for a starting role. He went from #4 to #1 in these rankings in a short time, which proves just how close this group of goalies still is.

11/16/19 – Patera has found himself in a bit of a battle just for playing time in Brandon. He has started just eight games, while draft eligible Ethan Kruger has seen the nets 14 times. Patera’s stats are better, but playing time is a good indicator of form in Canadian juniors.

7/5/19 -He dropped down to 4th on the list last time due to a shoddy performance at World Juniors. He stays at #4 now because the guys in front of him all look very good. As a whole the goaltenders had their best camp yet, with all four of them looking good for the most part. Patera definitely seems to be progressing and is starting to track the puck a bit better than he had the previous times we’ve seen him. I was down on the goalie prospects in the system, but after doing this exercise again, ranking Patera 4th, and realizing how good he was in camp, the depth in the system actually looks pretty good.

1/8/19 – Patera is the only one of the Golden Knights goalie prospects to have made a World Junior roster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good while playing with the Czech team. He had a miserable game the one he was in the net and even had the blooper of the tourney tripping while trying to get back to the net. His numbers in Brandon have been pretty good though, so don’t go crazy. These are 19-year-old goalies we are talking about, if any of them pan out it would be amazing.

9/12/18 – Despite having the best stat line of any of the three goalies, he was the least impressive. It may have a lot to do with the fact that the Kings rookies did not generate much offense, but Patera seemed to lose track of the puck quite a bit. It’s important to note though that the gap between #1 to #4 is fairly slim here. Couple good periods and Patera could be first.

7/28/18 – Patera was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft and is looking forward to trying his hand against better competition this season. He made a couple of incredible reactionary saves during 2018 Development Camp, one in particular that still boggles the mind as to how he kept the puck out. He seems to have quick reflexes and is a fairly large guy for his age.

 

**To view the rest of the SinBin Prospect Rankings, click here.**

Four Golden Knights Prospects Heading To World Juniors

It’s that time of year again. Well, now that the hockey schedule is back to normal.

Christmas time means World Juniors and this year’s tournament features plenty of intrigue for Golden Knights fans. Four VGK prospects are set to represent their countries in the 2023 edition of the IIHF World Junior Championships, and all four should play a big role for their respective teams.

Zach Dean
Canada

Vegas’ most recent 1st round pick has had a bit of a rocky road since being selected 30th overall in 2021. He took an injury early in Development Camp this summer which left us once again not getting to see much of him in a setting amongst his peers.

However, since he’s returned back to Gatineau he’s doing what you’d hope any 1st round pick would do. Dean has tallied 17 goals and racked up 18 assists in 27 games in the QMJHL and is certainly one of the best players on a pretty good team.

Dean was on the extended roster ahead of the last edition of this tournament but did not make the final roster. Now, he’s expected to play a fairly significant role as a bottom-six forward and penalty killer.

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

Jakub Brabenec
Czechia

One of the standouts from Development Camp this summer, the 19-year-old crafty winger will be an important offensive option for the Czechs. Brabenec has a knack for the net but is also a stellar passer of the puck. His numbers have slipped a bit this season in Charlottetown but a lot of that likely has to do with the overall strength of the team more so than his play.

Brabenec should play high up the Czech lineup and will be a key piece to the power play.

Matyas Sapovaliv
Czechia

Also playing for the Czechs is the Golden Knights’ highest pick in the most recent draft. Sapovaliv was excellent in the summer edition of World Juniors and he’s continued that strong play posting a point per game in the OHL this season.

Sapovaliv’s game is much more defensive-minded so points are not always going to come the way he plays. Expect the same in this tournament on a Czech team that has quite a bit of offensive talent. However, Matyas will likely find himself playing many of the tough minutes and taking on some of the hardest matchups. Plus, he’ll likely be a key penalty killer.

Team Czechia takes on Canada in the first game for each team, on December 26th.

Carl Lindbom
Sweden

Lindbom made Team Sweden’s roster at the last edition of the tournament but didn’t see a second of action. That’s not expected to be the case this time as he heads into the tournament as the presumptive starter. Lindbom has posted excellent numbers this season in Sweden’s 2nd league, HockeyAllsvenskan.

He’s touting a 15-6-0 record with four shutouts, a 1.76 goals against average, and a .936 save percentage. He’s on pace to have one of the best seasons as a U20 in that league’s history.

This will be a new experience for Golden Knights fans as VGK have never had a goalie prospect actually play consistently at World Juniors. A few Golden Knights goalie prospects have made their respective teams but never has one been handed the reigns as the starter to begin the tournament. Lindbom is expected to be between the pipes as Team Sweden open the tournament on December 26th against Austria.

Stock Up, Stock Down: 2022 Rookie Faceoff

(Photo Credit: Rob Schneidmiller, Ice Time Southwest)

The Golden Knights rookies finished off the annual Rookie Faceoff tournament in San Jose with a record of 1-1-1, winning on Friday against Arizona. Most VGK prospects participated in two games with a few hitting the ice for all three. Goalie Jesper Vikman started the second two games while Isaiah Saville played the first and came on halfway through the third.

We’ll have a full update to the SinBin Prospect Rankings towards the end of main training camp, so for now let’s just highlight a few guys whose stock is rising and a few whose stock is falling.

Stock Up

(Photo Credit: Scott Strande, Ice Time Southwest)

Artur Cholach

Prior to this tournament in his time with the Golden Knights, the 6th round pick was most known for representing Ukraine at the most recent Draft. After this tournament, he’s should be known much more for what he does on the ice than where he’s from off it. Cholach looked like a dominant shutdown defenseman in all three games. Each of the first two games he was paired with an offensive-minded defenseman and he held down the fort as his partner ventured forward. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s positionally sound.

Ben Hemmerling

The most notable aspect of Hemmerling’s game this weekend was his motor. Quite simply, he never stops. You can find him busting his butt all over the ice trying to make the next play no matter how far away he is from the puck. There’s still a ways to go in his offensive game, but the groundwork is there. Playing against him has to be such a pain.

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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.

Golden Knights Did Their Due Diligence On 2nd Round Pick’s Critical Weakness

It seems almost too obvious to point out, but the fact of the matter is the NHL is a league of skating. The better you can skate, the better you can play.

So, when you flip through the scouting reports of the first player the Golden Knights selected in the Draft this year, there’s good reason for concern. Here are just a few snippets about the 48th overall pick, Matyas Sapovaliv.

His lack of speed doesn’t just affect him in the defensive zone or when coming off of the walls either. His lack of top-end north-south speed forces him to make plays at half speeds more often than a lot of other forwards in transition. –NHL Black Book

He lacks agility and explosiveness, and despite his strong two-way play, he needs to skate backward quicker to improve his defensive abilities. If he wants his offensive prowess to translate to the faster AHL and NHL level, he needs to improve his skating. -Sean Raggio, TheHockeyWriters.com

Will need to improve his mobility and processing speed as he matures but has middle-six NHL potential. -Nick Richard, DobberProspects.com

Literally, every in-depth scouting report on Sapovaliv mentions his below-average skating.

It was evident to the Golden Knights too. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Bob Lowes mentioned he and his staff understand the issues with his skating. He also said he believes it’s correctable and that’s why he became a Golden Knight.

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