In 2022-23, the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights used 35 players. Among them were three Top 5 picks, five 1st rounders, and seven players who went undrafted.
Jack Eichel led the group as the highest-selected player going 2nd overall in the 2015 Draft. Alex Pietrangelo, Phil Kessel, Shea Theodore, and Brett Howden all also went in the 1st round. The undrafted group was headlined by Jonathan Marchessault, Zach Whitecloud, and Logan Thompson.
This summer, the great JFresh has been conducting surveys from fans to examine what a “re-draft” would look like from each season. With the knowledge of years of NHL games, it’s much easier to see now that Mark Stone shouldn’t have been a 6th rounder or Shea Theodore probably should have gone before Mirco Mueller, Frederik Gauthier, or Curtis Lazar.
JFresh’s surveys go all the way back to 2003 which means every drafted player on the Golden Knights roster was eligible for the re-draft from their corresponding draft year. Of course, undrafted players were ineligible, so Marchessault couldn’t fit into the Top 5 of the 2011 Draft, which we would have.
Here’s where each Stanley Cup champion Golden Knight fell in the re-draft from each season. The differential from their actual draft spot is listed in parentheses.
The Golden Knights are loaded with high-ticket talent and proven leaders. When Jack Eichel makes his Vegas debut the 31st franchise will be one of the league’s most dangerous teams. Tonight’s opponent, the Anaheim Ducks are skilled but built much differently. Through the draft the Ducks became younger, cheaper and much more competitive than they had over the last few seasons. For instance, Anaheim had an eight game win streak, one of their players string together a sixteen game point streak, and currently sit one point above the Golden Knights in the standings. It’s a bit of a shock to fans of teams in the Pacific Division.
Since their arrival, Vegas is 18-3-0 all-time against Anaheim. The Golden Knights have outscored the Ducks 79-41 and allow only 1.95 goals per game. It’s been a one-sided series to say the least. This season the two teams met in late October and as usual the Vegas won 5-4. However, the box score won’t tell you Vegas blew a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period, or Anaheim scored three unanswered goals in a five minute span, or the game was decided in shootout.
If it wasn’t clear before, trading for Eichel was clear sign the Golden Knights are in a full win-now mode. Whereas the Ducks are playing without any organizational pressure. It’s all about building chemistry, experience, and making an unsuspected run towards the playoffs. Of course, every team desires deep playoff runs but few are constructed well enough to win a Stanley Cup. Vegas is one of them. Anaheim is showing early signs they could be in the future.
With their first selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft the Golden Knights selected Brendan Brisson from the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He’s a 5’11” forward who is most known for his playmaking skill.
Brisson is a naturally gifted winger, who blends some of the best hockey sense available in this class with high-end skill. His playmaking can be as dynamic as his slapshot. A shot doesn’t mean much if he doesn’t have the spatial awareness to take advantage of it, but Brisson is gifted at turning himself into a back-door passing option or cycling into a soft area where he can receive the puck. -NHL Black Book
Brisson is the son of hockey agent Pat Brisson who represents Jonathan Marchessault and Nic Roy. He grew up in Los Angeles and has played in the USHL since 2018. Brisson is committed to attend the University of Michigan.
"We're extremely excited about the player we selected, Brendan Brisson. One of the things that excites us is his trajectory, he's really shown improvement over the last two years. Our scouts are really excited about how high his ceiling can be." -McCrimmon
Brisson on his father's client Jonathan Marchessault
"I haven't met him but I've heard a lot of good things about him. I love the way he shoots the puck. He's not the biggest guy but he's always getting into those areas. He's a player that I would like to model my game after."
The Golden Knights are set to participate in their fourth NHL Entry Draft. This year Vegas enters with just five picks including a 1st and two 3rds which make it their lightest draft ever. In 2017 Vegas selected 12 players then followed it up by picking eight in each of the previous two years.
Thus, the Golden Knights have made 28 draft picks to help us get a feel for exactly the type of players they prefer. The Vegas front office remains untouched but we might see a bit of variance this year with a new head coach behind the bench. First, we’ll dig into the style of player the Golden Knights prefer. (Here’s last year’s edition of this same article.)
Last year Vegas opted for two skilled forwards, two all-around centers, and a pair of two-way defensemen. They shied away from both offensive defensemen and defensive forwards for the first time. Vegas has selected a goalie in each draft.
Next we move on to the “word cloud” which helps illustrate the traits the Golden Knights looks for in draft picks. These are descriptions used from our two draft favorite Draft guides (NHL Black Book and Draft Recrutes). Only positive terms were used for this portion.
The most commonly used terms are skill (14), two-way (11), hockey sense (11), strong (10), skating (9), quickness (9), and long-stride (8). The Golden Knights also seem partial towards players who are good in transition (7), have good sticks (8), play in all situations (6), are physical (5), and have a high work rate (5).
When it comes to negative traits, the most common one we see is inconsistent which showed up on five different players. The term we rarely find, literally has been mentioned as a negative for just two VGK draft picks, is skating.
Next, we move to the league in which players come from. The OHL remains atop the leaderboard with the USHL and WHL right behind it. In the 2019 Draft, each of Vegas’ first two selections (Krebs and Korczak) were from the WHL.
6 – OHL 5 – USHL 4 – WHL 3 – Sweden 3 – US High School 2 – BCHL 2 – Russia 1 – NCAA 1 – QMJHL 1 – OJHL
Through three drafts, the Golden Knights have still never selected a Brandon Wheat King, the team Kelly McCrimmon previously owned, managed, and coached. The connection remained strong though as Marcus Kallionkieli joined the Wheaties after being selected by Vegas in the 2019 Draft.
As for size, the Golden Knights have continued to run the gamut hitting all shapes and sizes. Though they do seem to love kids that are exactly 6’2″ as 10 of their 28 draft picks hit that exact height.
As a Patriots fan, I tend to lose interest after the first ten picks of an NFL draft. For the good part of two decades, New England would select towards the end of the draft, or trade out of the first round like they did last Thursday. However, the idea of a virtual draft fascinated me, and after the first pick I was hooked. Obviously things were different this year, but the NFL set a good standard for the NHL to follow.
For the most part, the NFL’s virtual draft went well, even the glitches and missteps fit. It was actually quite refreshing considering the current times. Viewers weren’t expecting everything to run smoothly when the commissioner is announcing the selections from his basement and players are finding out through FaceTime. But somehow they made it work and it was entertaining.
When you think about the amount of people that are in separate places I thought it went really smooth. It was interesting to see, you get a little peak into everybody’s personality. I thought some of the outfits were interesting. -Brad Treliving, Flames GM
The digital minds at the NHL need to be as loose and self-deprecating as the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell were. The normally stiff Goodell wasn’t as awkward as expected. He stole a page from Gary Bettman, embracing the boos from NFL fans. Heck, the first round even featured a wardrobe change by the commissioner. Bettman should skip that step, hockey fans don’t care what he is or isn’t wearing.
So how can the NHL enhance their virtual draft?
Certainly our draft is going to be remote, that would be safe to say. For sure I’m going to be watching (the NFL draft) and doing a lot of homework on not only that, but different ideas of how we could potentially do our draft. -Treliving
A virtual draft allows for imagination and innovation, and hopefully the league uses the opportunity to loosen up and entertain. Show us Bettman’s basement. Have cams set up to show players and their families huddled around TVs. Give us a personal glimpse into the lives of the players. Invite us in to see Pete DeBoer and his children hanging out like the NFL did with Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Split screens of GM’s and players on the phone, or using FaceTime. Add some personality to a league that lacks it.
With the 17th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Vegas Golden Knights select, Spencer Knight, goalie, US National Team Development Program.
It’s just too perfect, right? There’s literally a guy named Knight, who plays a position of need for Vegas, who happens to be slotted right around where the Golden Knights select in the Draft. Seems like fate. (Or a really stupid reason to pick a player, but people seem to do it anyway, so here we are.)
But before we even get into how good Spencer Knight is (and believe me, we will over the course of the next four weeks), I thought it was a good idea to take a look at highly drafted goalies to even begin to consider whether the match made in heaven should even be considered on June 21st.
Crawford (CHI, 52), Howard (DET, 64), Halak (MTL, 271), Elliott (291, OTT)
Since Marc-Andre Fleury went #1 overall in 2003 to Pittsburgh, there has been a goalie drafted in the 1st round of just eight of the 15 drafts. A total of 18 goalies have gone in the 1st round since 2004, and their success has been extremely limited.
Just five of the 18 have made more than 10 starts with the team they were drafted by. That’s 13 1st round goalies who had absolutely no impact on the team that spent a 1st round pick on them. Even the five that did work, only two ended up having a significant impact on the team that selected them (Price, Vasilevskiy). 14 years of NHL Drafts and TWO turned out to be stars for the correct team.
It’s a little better for the guy calling the shots in Vegas though.