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.)
6 – Skilled Forward (Suzuki, Elvenes, Dugan, Kruse, Dorofeyev, Donovan)
5 – All-Around Center (Glass, Morozov, Cotter, Krebs, Primeau)
5 – Two-Way Defenseman (Hague, Corcoran, Bouchard, Korczak, Ahac)
4 – Offensive Defenseman (Brannstrom, Campoli, Demin, Diliberatore)
4 – Goalie (Zhukov, Patera, Kooy, Saville)
3 – Defensive Forward (Leschyshyn, Rondbjerg, Jones)
1 – All-Around Winger (Kallionkieli)
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.
4 – 6’2”
3 – 5’11”
3 – 6’1″
2 – 6”0’
1 – 5’9”
1 – 6’3”
1 – 6’6”
4 – 185-189
3 – 180-184
2 – 170-174
2 – 175-179
1 – 165-169
1 – 190-194
1 – 195-199
1 – 210-214
4 – 6’2”
1 – 5’9″
1 – 5’10”
1 – 5’11”
1 – 6’4”
1 – 6’6″
4 – 190-194
2 – 185-189
1 – 160-164
1 – 174-179
1 – 215-219
2 – 6’2”
1 – 6’1”
1 – 6’3″
2 – 203-207
1 – 180-184
1 – 190-194
The Golden Knights seem to lean towards first-year eligible players, like most teams, but have dipped into the overage pool a lot more in the previous two drafts (6 of 18) than the first one (0 of 12).
22 – Draft Year
6 – Overage
Finally, Vegas’s hand preference has kind of equaled out over after adding in the 2019 Draft. Following the first two they seemed to put a premium on right-handed players, but now we’re back to double the lefties than righties, which is normal across the NHL. Though, they did pick a right-hand catch goalie for the first time in 2019 in Isaiah Saville.
10 – Left-handed Forwards
6 – Left-handed Defensemen
5 – Right-handed Forwards
3 – Right-handed Defensemen
3 – Left-catch Goalie
1 – Right-catch Goalie
That brings us to the 2020 Draft. Vegas’ first selection is slated to come at #29 before they must wait more than a full round to select two players in the 3rd at picks #68 and #91. They’ll round out the draft with a 6th round pick at #184 and a 7th at #215.
We may as well try to pick the lottery numbers to guess the selections in the later rounds, but here are a few options that seem to fit the Golden Knights mold for the 1st round pick.
Prince Albert (WHL)
A 6’2″ 188 pound “highly-mobile, two-way defenseman” from the WHL, say no more. A few mock drafts have Guhle going well before the Golden Knights at 29, but he would be the exact type of player Vegas would love to have. Weakness in his offensive game may scare the Golden Knights a bit, but his compete level and skating coupled with his size and where he’s from would likely put him in the running to be a VGK pick.
Eisbaren Berlin (Germany)
Vegas has never dipped into the German market during the draft, though they may be tempted to in this draft as there are a number of excellent Germans available. Reichel is the one that seems to fit Vegas the most both in where he’s projected to go and his style of play. He’s a versatile winger that excels at both ends of the ice. He’s a good skater who possesses a lot of skill and play-making to go along with his defensive prowess. Vegas tends to lean towards centers, but this draft may be deeper on the wing which could force them into selecting one.
Grieg is a player that is described in the way that screams Golden Knights. Words like tenacity, fearlessness, pressure, energy, and “gets under his opponent’s skin” jump out. He’s a two-way winger (something Vegas hasn’t drafted a lot of but clearly love based on their NHL roster), who is known for his forechecking ability and relentlessness. It’s probably a stretch that he’ll make it to 29, because he’s slated to go in the top 20, but if he does, McCrimmon won’t be able to help himself but to select VGK’s first Wheat King draft pick.
Holloway is the prototypical VGK Draft pick center. He’s played both wing and center, plays in all situations, is a strong skater, and is described as a “jack of all trades, master of none.” He even has the negative trait most Vegas picks possess, inconsistency. He played last season for Wisconsin, which made him teammates with 2019 pick Ryder Donovan giving the Golden Knights just a bit more familiarity.
I can’t help myself but to put the other Wheat King on the board. He’s similar to Guhle in that he’s a strong skater in an NHL-ready body. Words like “smart,” “two-way,” “strong,” and “transition” fit what VGK are looking for. He’s an overage player which could put fast track him to the NHL and he’s widely considered a complete player already. The Golden Knights seem to like sure things and this kid looks like he’s one.
Another winger but another good fit for what Vegas values most. A smart 200-foot player that is considered “pass-first.” He outworks his opponents in all three zones and plays what was described as an “efficient and intelligent” game. The Golden Knights usually aren’t afraid of players that don’t flash but instead are solid, steady options. If he were a center, he’d probably be one of the most likely options on the board.