Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Vegas Golden Knights Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Vegas Golden Knights Prospects
After their historic expansion season, the Golden Knights went all-in in 2018-19. Between the end of the 2018 season and the 2019 trade deadline, they added an entire line, signing Paul Stastny and trading for Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. That line quickly became the Knights top line in the playoffs. Unfortunately, Vegas would fall in seven games to the San Jose Sharks, thanks to one of the most controversial five-minute major penalties in recent memory.
The Golden Knights off-season saw the team forced to make moves to remain salary cap compliant. Colin Miller was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. They unloaded David Clarkson‘s contract on the Toronto Maple Leafs, picking up Garrett Sparks in the process. They also moved Erik Haula to the Carolina Hurricanes. Unable to fit Nikita Gusev in under the cap, he was traded to the New Jersey Devils. Meanwhile, Ryan Carpenter and Pierre-Edouard Bellemere left as free agents. The Knights will now look to their prospects to replace the depth that has left the team this off-season.
2019 Draft Picks (Grade A): Peyton Krebs, Kaedan Korczak, Pavel Dorofeyev, Layton Ahac, Ryder Donovan, Isaiah Saville, Marcus Kallionkieli, Mason Primeau,
Graduations: Oscar Dansk (age), Malcolm Subban (age), Tomas Hyka (age, free agent)
Top Prospect: Cody Glass
Centre — shoots Right
Born April 1st, 1999 — Winnipeg, Manitoba
Height 6’2″ — Weight 185 lbs [189 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 1st round, #6 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
In a year plagued by injuries, Glass was dominant when he was on the ice. In 38 WHL games, he scored 15 goals and 54 assists for 69 points. Glass also added one goal in one playoff game. He was named a first-division all-star in the Western Conference. When the Winterhawks season ended, Glass joined the Chicago Wolves scoring five points in six regular-season games and 15 points in 22 playoff games. He also played in the World Juniors, scoring six points in five games and being named a top-three player on Team Canada.
Cody Glass is a good but not a great skater. Once he gets going, he shows very good speed. He could stand to work on his first step and his acceleration though. There is a bit of a short and jerky quality to his starts and it robs him of some quickness. If he can improve this area he will be even more dangerous. Glass has good agility and edgework, which helps him to be very elusive in the offensive zone and through the neutral zone. His balance and strength are also decent but could be improved with more lower-body strength.
Glass has good hands, with the ability to stickhandle in tight spaces and make moves one-on-one. He protects the puck extremely well down low, extending plays and keeping possession. He shields the puck well, using his body to keep defenders away, while also having the good balance to fight through checks. Glass is good in board battles, and could be even better as he adds some muscle to his frame. He also has the passing skills and vision to make his linemates better and put up points. Glass is a creative playmaker, finding a way to get the puck to a teammate, even when there doesn’t appear to be much of a lane to do so. He can make those passes on both his forehand and backhand and through tight spaces.
He also has a decent wrist shot and good release. Glass’ quick hands help him to finish plays in tight to the net. What really sets him apart offensively though is his hockey IQ. He is almost always in the right spot or making the correct play with the puck. He puts the puck into good areas, allowing a teammate to get it and make a play. Glass then finds an opening, and looks for a soft spot in the defence to get open for a return pass.
Glass shows a very strong two-way game. His hockey IQ translates to the defensive end of the ice, where he shows good positioning and excellent anticipation. A strong and active stick creates turnovers, which he quickly translates into offensive opportunities. He also is willing to block shots. Glass can kill penalties, as well as being strong in the face-off circle.
Glass has all the skills needed to be a future number one centre in the NHL. The question for the Knights will be how to develop those skills. With Haula gone from the organization, there seems to be a spot open for Glass. He will compete with Cody Eakin and others for the third line centre role. Expect Glass to start the season in Vegas. If he earns enough minutes he will stay with the team, but if he needs to be overly sheltered and is playing fourth-line minutes, the Golden Knights might consider letting him play bigger minutes in the AHL. At 20-years-old, he needs to play.
#2 Prospect: Peyton Krebs
The Golden Knights drafted Peyton Krebs with the 17th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Krebs. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#3 Prospect: Nicolas Hague
Defence — shoots Left
Born December 5th, 1998 — Kitchener, Ontario
Height 6’6″ — Weight 215 lbs [198 cm / 98 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2nd round, #34 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Hague had his first full pro season, scoring 13 goals and 32 points in 75 games with the Chicago Wolves. He also added four goals and 11 points in 22 games during the AHL playoffs. His four goals were the most by any defenceman in the AHL playoffs.
Coming in at 6-feet-6-inches tall, Hague is a giant on the blue line. His skating is surprisingly quick for a player his size and his stride long and fluid. He does have some problems with particularly speedy smaller forwards, but for the most part, his skating is more than adequate and gets Hague to the areas of the ice he needs to be. He plays a strong two-way game and covers a lot of ground for a big man. His edgework and pivots are also good for his size but could continue to be improved. He has surprisingly good lateral agility. In terms of strength on his skates and balance, he can continue to add muscle to his frame, but his size helps him to win board battles and clear the front of the net.
In his three years in the OHL Hague scored 14, 18 and finally 35 goals. As an AHL Rookie, he put up 13 goals. Hague has an absolute howitzer from the point on the power play. His one-timer was nearly unstoppable by junior goalies and is now giving AHL goalies fits too. He also can sneak down to the face-off circles and fire a deadly wrist shot with a quick release. Hague is able to move well laterally and walk the line to open up shooting lanes to get his shot through. The shot has good accuracy and he gets off his one-timer quickly.
Hague has improved his passing skills as well. He makes a good breakout pass from his own end and looks to make the smart play at the opposition’s blue line. This is an area he really worked on but there are still times he needs to be even more patient to make the right play. That said, he is likely to be more of a trigger-man than quarterback at the blue line at the pro level.
Hague isn’t likely to lead the rush but is willing to join it as a trailer. He can unleash his slap shot, as well as a powerful wrist shot as the fourth forward on the rush. He has decent stickhandling ability. While he won’t lead a rush, Hague can make a move or two to skate the puck out of danger and start the transition game with a quick pass.
The big man shows good defensive instincts for a player his age. He steers attackers to the outside, battles hard in the corners and clears the front of the net. Hague maintains good gap control. He is not afraid to use his body and push players around and knock them off the puck, but don’t expect big open-ice hits either. Hague uses his positioning and a long, active stick to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Really quick and shifty forwards can sometimes give him issues though.
After a strong first season in the AHL, Hague is will fight for a spot on the Golden Knights. There is plenty of competition though, as seen with Shea Theodore, Brayden McNabb, and Jon Merrill all left-handed defenders. Jimmy Schuldt will also compete for the spot. Given Hague’s age and his potential development, he will need to earn a top-six role as the Golden Knights will prefer to have him in the AHL instead of in the press-box as a seventh defender.
#4 Prospect: Jimmy Schuldt
Defence — shoots Left
Born May 11th, 1995 — Minnetonka, Minnesota
Height 6’1″ — Weight 205 lbs [185 cm / 93 kg]
Signed by the Vegas Golden Knights in April 2019
Schuldt finished his brilliant college career with a tremendous senior season. He put up 10 goals and 35 points in 39 games for the #1 ranked St. Cloud State team. It was enough to earn him the NCHC Player of the Year and NCHC Defensive Player of the year awards. He was also an NCAA (West) First Team All-American. For the second season in a row, Schuldt was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Also for the second season in a row, the Huskies fell in the first round of the Frozen Four Tournament. Schuldt signed with the Golden Knights after his college season and picked up his first NHL point.
Schuldt is a good but not great skater. His speed in both directions is decent, as is his acceleration and first step quickness. The best part of his skating is his lateral agility and pivots. Schuldt uses his agility and edgework to maintain his gap control when defending against the rush. He also can use it to create offensive opportunities. Schuldt’s smooth pivots help him to play a two-way game as he can transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa.
As is clear from his numbers, Schuldt can provide some offence. He makes a strong first pass out of the zone and starts the transition game. He also has the vision and playmaking skill to quarterback the powerplay. Schuldt can put the puck through tight spaces in order to set up scoring chances for teammates. He also uses his lateral agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes.
Schuldt also has a big slapshot from the point. He understands how to get it through shooting lanes and on the net. Schuldt also does a good job of keeping his shot low and allowing his teammates to get tip-ins and rebounds. He can also sneak in from the point and let go a strong wrist shot from the top of the circles. Most of Schuldt’s offensive production comes from plays set up in the offensive zone or from his breakout passes. He does not join or lead the rush very often at the NCAA level and its doubtful he will do more of that at the NHL level.
The 24-year-old defenceman also plays a strong defensive game. Opposing forwards have to be careful not to come up Schuldt’s side with their heads down, as he is more than willing to take them out with a big hit. He clears the front of the net and shows strong containment in the cycle game as well. His lateral movement helps him to force opponents to the outside and out of good scoring areas. His active stick is good at cutting down passing lanes.
Currently a restricted free agent, it is expected that Schuldt will sign a contract once the league-wide logjam of RFAs finally breaks. He will compete with Hague for a spot on the Knights blue line this season. Schuldt has the advantage of being older and is better defensively right now. His upside may not be as high as Hague, but he could make the team ahead of him this fall.
#5 Prospect: Dylan Coghlan
Defence — shoots Right
Born February 19th, 1998 — Nanaimo, British Columbia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 190 lbs [188 cm / 86 kg]
Signed with the Vegas Golden Knights as a Free Agent, June 2017.
After twice being undrafted, Coghlan signed a free agent deal with Vegas in 2017. After finishing his junior career, he moved up to the AHL and showed instant offence with Chicago. Coghlan scored 15 goals and 40 points in 66 games. He also added two assists in seven playoff games.
Coghlan is a good skater. His top-end speed is good in both directions and he has the acceleration to reach that speed in just a few strides. This helps him to play a solid two-way game. He has a very good first step, allowing Coghlan to win races to loose pucks and retrieve dump-ins and move them in the other direction. He is also strong on his skates, winning battles for loose pucks and clearing the front of the net. Coghlan could use work on his agility though. He can sometimes be beaten by especially quick forwards.
Coghlan’s offensive game translated nicely from junior hockey to the AHL. While he is willing to join the rush or pinch at the blue line to try and create offence, he picks his spots well. Coghlan has a very good hockey IQ and this helps him to find the right times to take chances and not get caught up ice. He has worked on his shot over the years and it has greatly improved. He has a strong slapshot and understands how to get it through traffic and on the net.
Coghlan is also improving as a playmaker. He is a good stick-handler and is poised with the puck. He makes smart passes, both in starting the transition game and in quarterbacking things from the point. Coghlan sees the ice well and finds the right teammate to set up a scoring chance. He can also carry the puck out of his own zone and start the rush by skating it up the ice. Coghlan is able to make moves in the neutral zone, creating strong zone entries.
Coghlan was known as a strong defensive defenceman before his offensive game unexpectedly exploded over his last two junior seasons. That part of his game has remained and also translated well to the AHL. He maintains good gap control and forces opponents to the outside and away from dangerous areas. He also has an active stick and poke checks opponents and cuts down passing lanes. Coghlan is quick to get the puck out of the zone and start the transition. He also plays physical but does so in a disciplined way avoiding penalties.
Coghlan looks like a strong defensive prospect and could push for a job in training camp. However, with the Golden Knights depth on defence, it is more likely that he starts the season in Chicago, gains more experience and serves as an injury call-up. Coghlan could challenge for a spot in 2020.
#6 Prospect: Ben Jones
Centre — shoots Left
Born February 26th, 1999 — Waterloo, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 190 lbs [183 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 7th round, #189 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Jones’ offensive numbers continue to improve. In his final junior season, he put up 41 goals and 102 points in 68 games. It was an 11-goal and 23-point improvement over the previous season. He also added two goals and seven points in 11 playoff games. A leader on and off the ice, Jones was captain of the Niagara IceDogs.
Jones is a good skater. He has a quick first step and his acceleration allows him to reach top speed in just a few strides. He uses his ability to change speeds as a weapon that can fool defenders. If Jones gets a step on his man, he can pull away and drive to the net. His top-end speed allows him to get around the ice and play a 200-foot game. Jones has good edgework and agility. He can elude defenders both with and without the puck. He could stand to be stronger on his skates. Jones wins battles on the boards in juniors but will need to be stronger to play this game in the pros.
Jones is an effective playmaker. He sees the ice well and opens up passing lanes to set up scoring chances through use of his skating and stickhandling. He can create enough space from a defender to be able to make the play. Jones makes the smart, simple play but it is very effective in maintaining possession and creating offence. He can sometimes try to force things with his stickhandling and that can lead to turnovers but did a better job of limiting that tendency over the last two years. With this improvement has come a better ability to generate offensive chances.
Jones has a very good wrist and snapshot. They also feature excellent releases which can fool opposing goaltenders. Jones can also score in tight to the net with soft hands to deke goalies, bang in rebounds, or deflect pucks. He is good at finding the soft spots in the defence and getting open for a scoring chance. Jones is aggressive in front of the net and in the corners. He does a good job of winning battles on the boards.
Jones was a defenceman in minor hockey and only switched to centre in the OHL. This helps him to play a strong two-way game. He is good in his own zone, helping to support the defence down low and protect against the cycle. His quick stick helps Jones to create turnovers and transition into offence. He is a smart player and uses his hockey IQ to anticipate plays and break them up. Jones is often matched up against the opposing team’s top lines.
Jones’ development has to be very encouraging to the Golden Knights, as it seems that they have a seventh-round draft steal on their hands. He heads to Chicago this season, where the Golden Knights hope that his offence will translate to the pro game.
#7 Prospect: Pavel Dorofeyev
The Golden Knights drafted Pavel Dorofeyev with the 79th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Dorofeyev. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#8 Prospect: Jack Dugan
Left Wing — shoots Right
Born March 24th, 1998 — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Height 6’2″ — Weight 185 lbs [188 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 5th round, #142 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Dugan had an outstanding freshman season at Providence, putting up 10 goals and 39 points in 41 games. He made the Hockey East all-rookie team for his efforts.
Dugan has a powerful stride which helps him to fight through checks and get to the net. He does this well at the junior and college levels but will need to keep adding lower-body strength in order to play this style in the pros. He also has good speed and the acceleration to reach that speed in just a few strides. Dugan can get even better. His stride is a bit awkward and choppy. Fixing that would make him even faster and more powerful.
Dugan plays a power forward style. He is a good puck-handler and can make plays even when moving at top speed. Dugan can beat a defender in a one-on-one situation and get to the front of the net. When he gets there he has the hands to finish in tight. He also has a powerful wrist shot and a good release. Dugan battles hard in the corners to win loose pucks and create chances.
Dugan is a decent playmaker as well. He sees the ice well and makes smart passes to teammates. He uses his skating, size and strength to get away from a defender and make a pass to a teammate. Dugan is quick to get in on the forecheck and create turnovers. He also extends plays and maintains possession down low in the cycle game.
Dugan is willing to bring his high compete-level and willingness to battle along the boards to all three zones. He backchecks hard and is willing to play physical in all three zones. Dugan is a smart player who sees plays developing and makes the play to break them up.
Dugan returns to Providence College next season. If he can put together another strong NCAA campaign, he will be in line for an NHL contract and a chance to turn pro. Expect him to need AHL time as well. Overall Dugan is likely a one or two year project.
#9 Prospect: Kaedan Korczak
The Golden Knights drafted Kaedan Korczak with the 41st overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Korczak. As no games have been played since that report; we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.
#10 Prospect: Jonas Rondbjerg
Centre — shoots Left
Born March 31st, 1999 — Horsholm, Denmark
Height 6’2″ — Weight 194 lbs [188 cm/88 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 3rd round, #65 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft
Rondbjerg struggled to find ice-time in the SHL, as is often the case with teenagers. He put up just two goals and six points in 45 games. He also put up one goal in six Champions League games but was held scoreless in five playoff games. The Danish-native put up six points in nine games for his country’s Under-20 National Team, including two points in six World Junior Championship Games.
Rondbjerg is an excellent skater. He has very good speed, and a powerful stride. Rondbjerg is very hard to knock off the puck and can protect it in the cycle. He fights through checks and is able to take the puck to the front of the net. Rondbjerg also has excellent first step quickness and very good acceleration. His agility and edgework could use a bit of work though. While they are good, they don’t quite reach the levels of the rest of his skating. He can improve his cuts and turns in order to be more elusive in traffic.
Rondbjerg gets in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. He is able to disrupt the opponent’s breakout and this creates offensive opportunities. He also has excellent vision and instincts. Rondbjerg almost always makes the smart play with the puck. Strong stickhandling and the ability to make plays through the neutral zone allows him to create effective zone entries. Rondbjerg is also able to quarterback things from the half boards with good vision and passing skills.
Rondbjerg also has a hard and accurate wrist shot. He gets it off relatively quickly as well. Using his stickhandling skill to change the angle on his shot would help him get the puck through shooting lanes as well as fool goaltenders. Rondbjerg is also willing to get to the front of the net to create offence. When he gets there he has the soft hands to finish in close.
Rondbjerg works hard in all three zones and is a very smart defensive forward. His positioning and active stick help him to break up plays and transition them into offensive chances. He is also physical in his own end, working hard down low to defend against the cycle game and support the defence.
Rondbjerg moves to North America and should play for the Chicago Wolves this season. The Golden Knights plan to give him a lot more ice time than he was seeing with Vaxjo last season. Given that increased ice-time, it’s hoped that the Swedish forward will find a breakout offensive season.
Sleeper Prospect: Lucas Elvenes
Left Wing/Center — shoots Left
Born August 18th, 1999 — Angelholm, Sweden
Height 6’1″ — Weight 173 lbs [185 cm / 78 kg]
Drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in 5th round, #127 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft
Elvenes spent the season in the SHL last year, scoring three goals and 20 points in 42 games with Rogle. He also added one assist in two playoff games. His 17 assists were the most in the SHL by a junior-aged player. Elvenes also played in 15 games with the Swedish Under-20 team, including four points in five games at the World Juniors.
Elvenes is a very good skater. He has very good speed. However, it is his edgework and agility that really set him apart. He can make very quick changes of direction, turns, and other lateral movements in order to get past a defender. Once he gets an opening, Elvenes has the acceleration necessary to blow past his man and create a scoring opportunity. He also has good lower body strength. This gives him the power to fight through checks as well as the balance necessary to be strong on the puck and win battles on the boards or in front of the net.
Elvenes is an outstanding stick-handler. He can make plays with the puck in very tight spaces and at top speed. When this is combined with his skating ability, he can create a ton of offence off the rush. He is also very good on breakaways and in the shootout, as well as creating space and opportunities with open ice on the power play. However, Elvenes has a tendency to rely on his skill a little too much at times. He can get himself into trouble by trying to do too much with the puck, and not effectively using his linemates.
Elvenes is very creative as a playmaker. He can make passes through tight spaces, and set up plays for linemates. Elvenes extends plays waiting for a teammate to get open and then can hit him with a quick tape-to-tape pass for a good scoring opportunity. As far as his scoring goes, he has the soft hands to finish in tight to the net. His shot has a good release but can use an increase in power from further out. More importantly, he needs to work on his accuracy, as missing the net can be a problem. While he is not a big hitter, Elvenes is willing to play a physical game, battling for loose pucks and getting to the dirty areas of the ice.
Elvenes is a solid two-way player. He brings his grittiness to the defensive end of the ice, battling for loose pucks and helping to contain opposing forwards. He backchecks effectively and supports the defence down low. His good skating and positioning help Elvenes in his own end.
The Golden Knights allowed Elvenes to be loaned back to his Swedish Club last season. This year could make the move to North America and play with the Chicago Wolves. The team would like to see his offence translate to the AHL level as Elvenes adjusts to the smaller sized ice. While he is likely a couple of years away from NHL action, he looks like a real steal given where he was drafted. Elvenes’ game likely translates better as a winger going forward.
Excellent drafting and some smart trades have helped the Golden Knights to build a strong system in just a couple of years. It has also allowed them to trade players like Gusev, Erik Brannstrom, and Nick Suzuki without really hurting the system. Upfront, the newly acquired Nicolas Roy is close to NHL ready, but there is some question about his upside. Russian forward Ivan Morozov has plenty of upside but questions about his contract status in Russia remain. Other forwards to watch include Paul Cotter, Jake Leschyshyn, Keegan Kolesar, Ryder Donovan, Marcus Kallionkieli, and Brandon Kruse.
The team also has a strong group of defenders. In addition to the players listed above, the Golden Knights also have Slava Demin and Zach Whitecloud as notable defensive prospects. Meanwhile, Layton Ahac, Connor Corcoran, Peter Diliberatore, and Xavier Bouchard round out the notable defenders in the system. In goal, the Golden Knights hope that one of Dylan Ferguson, Isaiah Saville, Jordan Kooy, or Jiri Patera develops into their goalie of the future.