Jesse Granger

Talking Vegas Golden Knights With Jesse Granger Of The Athletic

featured image photo – courtesy of Jesse Granger/The Athletic

Recently, I spoke with Jesse Granger, who covers Vegas Golden Knights at The Athletic.

We spoke on Tuesday, prior to the Vegas Golden Knights development camp. I asked Granger several questions about William Karlsson‘s new contract, the draft, Cody Glass’ development and more.

Let’s take a look at what Granger had to say.

Interview

Josh: What are your thoughts on the William Karlsson deal?

Jesse: Yeah, so I think it was I think it was good deal for both sides. The Golden Knights obviously want to lock up Karlsson long term. He’s one of their best players and super important to the team obviously. Karlsson plays all three phases of the game. He’s one of their best five on five players, on the top power-play unit and he’s the best penalty killer on the team. In fact, he’s one of the best penalty killers in the league.

Past him, they have Paul Stastny and then after that the centre position isn’t nailed down. So, they got him locked up for a long term eight year deal at a very reasonable price and 5.9 million it’s probably a lot less than he should have got. But, it’s also good for Karlsson because the guy wanted to live in Vegas and that was his number one priority.

I have a story that came out today. I talked to him and basically he chose living in Vegas and being with his teammates over trying to get more money. He could have easily played hardball with the team and forced his way to arbitration and became a UFA and could have gotten paid a lot more by some team out there, but that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to be in Vegas. He wanted to stay with his team and just really good friends with Jonathan Marchessault. And Alex Tuch is going to be in William Karlsson’s weeding this weekend.

So, it was a good deal for both sides and they got it done quick enough to allow the Golden Knights to have plenty of time in the offseason to work out other things. So it was good for everyone.

Josh: Since the expansion draft and coming over from the Blue Jackets, Karlsson has improved significantly. What do you think has helped?

Jesse: Well, it’s definitely who he’s playing with and the minutes that he’s getting. When he was with Columbus, they saw him as a fourth line checking center with the sense of responsibility and to be honest, they didn’t really give him much of a chance to play offense. I mean, he was stuck with fourth line players that chipped the puck into the zone and weren’t offensively creative.

If you look at his stats winners in Sweden, before he was drafted, he was an offensive player like he is in Vegas, and he just didn’t produce in Columbus. So, he comes over to Vegas. A couple of crazy things worked out in Vegas for Karlsson. So he ends up getting that first line center role. And he took it and ran with it. He plays with two really offensive minded players in Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith. Those guys helped him along. They helped him use that offensive ability that he had from Sweden and his offensive numbers exploded.

He took a little bit of a step back this year, but he was still really productive and I believe that he’ll improve on those numbers next year.

Josh: How do you think the Vegas Golden Knights did at the draft in Vancouver?

Jesse: So, I think the Golden Knights did a great job at the draft. They got a lot of value especially with their pick of Peyton Krebs. He’s the guy that was projected to go top five/top 10. If you look at every draft prospect expert including our guys at The Athletic, Corey Pronman had him in the top ten. The only reason he fell was because of his Achilles tendon injury that happened ten days prior to the draft and skate blade cut through his socks. The blade cut his tendon in half and that led to major surgery. But, he’s a guy that’s not gonna have to play in the NHL for two or three years at earliest. So, the Golden Knights didn’t really mind and so they took him at 17. I think that he’s a player that’s much better than a normal 17th overall pick.

He’s a great two-way forward. He was a captain as a 17 year old in junior. He was on a really bad team in junior, but he led him team to some wins.

And then you look at the later draft picks and they did the same thing. A lot of value pics that they got later than they were projected to go, so I think it was a good overall weekend to draft. They got a goalie after letting Malcolm Subban‘s contract expire. So, it was a very successful weekend.

Josh: Do you believe that Krebs is better than Cody Glass?

Jesse: I don’t think he’s better than Cody Glass. Right now at this point, obviously, Cody Glass is a lot better than him as he’s a lot further along in his development. Cody Glass really showed how far along he is when he stepped into the AHL at the end of the season and he was dominant.

Sometimes the players from junior can go to the AHL like that and then it takes some some time to adjust for him. For him, it was pretty much instant. He scored two goals in his first game and helped lead the Chicago Wolves to the Calder Cup final. He had three game winning goals in the playoffs including two in overtime. He’s just been really dominant. I just spoke with him an hour ago. He’s here for development camp. He’s absolutely looking to make this roster. I think he’s ready to make that jump to the NHL. Now, the Golden Knights have a really talented lineup, so it’s going to be tough for them to break into that. But, I think Cody Glass is an NHL player at this point.

It’s just a matter of time before he’s ready to make the jump. On the other hand, I think Peyton Krebs has the potential to be an NHL player and I think he’s really good, but its just tough to compare him to Cody, who is years in his development and is ready to make the jump.

Josh: Due to the Vegas Golden Knights cap space being quite small and with several free agents that need to get signed, do you see the Golden Knights potentially trading some of their assets? For example, maybe Colin Miller.

Jesse: Yeah, they definitely have to make some moves. It’s pretty obvious. If you look at the contracts and the numbers, they are already above the salary cap with the William Karlsson deal and they still have to sign their restricted free agents like Nikita Gusev, Tomas Nosek, Malcolm Subban. They still have a few UFAs like Deryk Engelland and Pierre-Marc Bellemare.  It’s going to be interesting to see how they get down under that cap.

They definitely have to make some moves. Like you mentioned Colin Miller. That’s the one that’s been floated around and that’s because he’s got a ton of value. He’s a young right handed defenseman. He’s got a big shot and he’s good on the power-play.

I think that a move is coming soon. We just have no idea which player they’re going to move. I could see Miller. I could see Cody Eakin. I could see Ryan Reaves. If they have to, they could move Gusev. I know that a lot of teams have been calling about Gusev and trying to get him. So, I know there are lot of options on the table.

Josh: If the Golden Knights were to move Colin Miller, what do you expect that the Golden Knights want back for Miller?

Jesse: Well, I mean, we’ve seen some deals this offseason, Justin Braun got traded and I think Colin Miller is comparable to him. They (San Jose Sharks) got a second and a third, which I could see the Golden Knights getting a second and maybe a third for Colin Miller. It’s the biggest thing that we don’t know and what we can’t know is how much leverage the Golden Knights have, because other teams realize that they are in this cap problem.

So, teams understand that they have to make a deal. So maybe they’re not going to get as good of value as they normally would, under regular circumstances because teams know that they’re in a bind.

Josh: Looking into next season, do you believe that Malcolm Subban is the backup goaltender or do you believe that Vegas will bring in someone else?

Jesse: I think it’s Subban’s job to lose. I don’t fully expect him to be the backup. His stats weren’t great last year and it took him a while to get his first win. But, he was playing really well. The losses weren’t because of him, it was more due to the team in front of him that was playing terrible. And he was being put in a lot of really bad spots on the second night of back to backs against really good teams where this team in front of them was worn down. So, I talked to Dave Prior, the goalie coach for Vegas quite a bit and he has a lot of confidence in Malcolm Subban. He thinks that he can eventually be a starting goalie in this league. So, I fully expect Malcolm Subban to be back. But, Fleury is the man and he’ll start the majority of games. Yet, I do believe that Subban has a pretty good lock on the backup position.

Josh: In terms of the Vegas farm system, what prospects have caught your eye over the development camp and throughout their time in the system?

Jesse: The development camp starts this week, so I haven’t gotten to see them on the ice yet. But, I was down in San Diego for the Calder Cup Conference Final. In the Western Conference finals, the Chicago Wolves played the San Diego Gulls and I was extremely impressed with Zach Whitecloud. You hear about Nick Hague, who was a top pick and he is obviously going to be really good and Dylan Coghlan is another young kid. But, I don’t think that Whitecloud gets enough credit.

He’s probably the most complete defenseman down there. He’s probably the most NHL ready. He never makes a mistake and he’s always making the smart right play. He may not make the flashiest plays, but he doesn’t make mistakes and that’s what Gerard Gallant really values at the NHL level. So, I was impressed by Zach Whitecloud. I was also impressed by Dylan Coghlan. They’ve got a great group of defense. And we didn’t even mention Jimmy Schuldt, who was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. He was one of the best college players in the country this year. So I haven’t gotten to see him much, because he was up with the big club. They’ve got a ton of good defenseman, but the forwards are where they really need to improve. They have Cody Glass and now you bring in a Peyton Krebs and that looks a lot better. So, the forward prospect pool need to be built up a little bit more, but the defensive prospect pool is phenomenal.

Josh: If the Vegas Golden Knights can get some cap space back, who do you believe that they’ll target in free agency?

Jesse: To be honest, I don’t think they’re going to be very active in free agency. This team already doesn’t have enough space to sign its own players. So, if they do sign free agents, I don’t think it’s going to be any one well-known, it’s gonna be a fringe player that maybe is an AHL guy. They are set to lose a lot of their AHL players this year to free agency. Daniel Carr, who won the MVP in the AHL is a free agent, so he’s going to leave. Brandon Pirri, who’s the guy who was back and forth, he just went over to Russia. They’re losing a lot of those type of players. So, the free agents they sign are most likely going to be playing in Chicago and not Vegas. If they do sign free agents, I honestly believe it’ll be their own. Deryk Engelland wants to come back and Pierre-Marc Bellemare is a guy who wants to come back to Vegas. If they can make room, I believe that they’ll bring back their own guys, but they aren’t likely to go out and sign someone else.

Josh: Do you see any Chicago Wolves making the Vegas Golden Knights opening night roster?

Jesse: I think the guys that have the best chance are Nick Hague, Zach Whitecloud and Cody Glass. Obviously all three of them have a chance. The only issue is that the Golden Knights roster is so full, that they may have to send them down to start the season because they are waiver exempt and they don’t want to risk losing them. So, I think that maybe one of those guys can make it out of camp. But for the most part, they’re going to start the year in the AHL. And then if there are injuries or things that happen throughout the year, then they’re going to have a chance to come up.

Thank You Jesse

Thank you Jesse for taking the time to speak with me. I look forward to interviewing you again in the future!

player profiles from hockey-reference.com

featured image photo – courtesy of Jesse Granger/The Athletic

 

WHL Playoffs: Western Conference First Round Preview

WHL Playoffs: Western Conference First Round Preview

After 68 games, it is time to begin the best part of the season, the postseason. In the West, it was the US Division that saw a lot of success, as teams from the States took five out of the eight playoff spots. The divisional matchups will make for some great action, while the lone inter-divisional matchup should be intriguing to fans on both sides.

B.C. Division

(1) Vancouver Giants vs. (WC2) Seattle Thunderbirds

Vancouver has had one of the best seasons the franchise has had in recent memory. Just a few years removed from three-straight last place finishes, the Giants finished the regular season atop the Western Conference standings. Thanks in large part to a very solid defence core and incredible goaltending. Bowen Byram has been solid on the blueline for Vancouver. While his +33 plus-minus is best on the team, his 71 points is second in team scoring behind Davis Koch, and third in WHL defencemen scoring. David Tendeck and Trent Miner have been the best goaltending tandem in the league. They are third and fourth in goals-against-average with Miner’s 1.98 GAA and Tendeck’s 2.48 GAA.

The Thunderbirds come into the playoffs on quite a roll, winning eight of their final 11 games, including a big win over Victoria, and a sweep over Portland in the final weekend of the regular season. Matthew Wedman has been a bruiser for Seattle, while leading the team points with 77, he also led the team in penalty minutes with 110. Noah Philip has been an incredible playmaker for the Thunderbirds, leading the team with 49 helpers. Off his 75 points he scored this season, 33 of them came on the power play. 

Between these two teams, yes the mismatches are eminent. However, the teams are fairly matched on the offencive side of the puck, as the Giants, in total, scored 228 goals, while Seattle potted 231. Home ice has not been a factor in any of the four games between these two, as the road club won all four matchups.

My Pick

This will be a battle between the pipes, as good as rookie Ross Roddy has been lately for Seattle, he does not measure up to the level that Miner and Tendeck are at. Seattle will give everything they have, but the Giants will find a way to take the series in seven.

(2) Victoria Royals vs. (3) Kamloops Blazers

Talk about “blazing” your way into a playoff spot, Kamloops won five of their last six games to catch Kelowna on the final day of the regular season to force a tiebreaker matchup, which the Blazers won on Tuesday night. It was quite a run for a team that does not have a whole lot of offence in their arsenal, as they have scored the fewest goals among any team in the WHL playoffs. That means it will be up to rookie Dylan Garand to step up for the Blazers in this series. After Dylan Ferguson fell into a slump in the second half of the season, Garand took the reigns and was phenomenal, as he only gave up more than two goals once in his final six starts. 

While the Blazers have the least amount of goals scored, the Royals have the second-least amount of goals scored with 199 goals this season. Where they differ from their counterparts is how they ended the regular season. Victoria lost five of their last six games heading into the playoffs, including an 8-0 thumping at the hands of Kamloops. No Royal has more than 50 points this season, but five players have more than 40, including defenceman Scott Walford, who finished second on the team with 47 points.

Don’t expect a lot of high flying offence in this series, as neither team has any game-changing talent up front. It’s going to be a battle of defencive systems between Blazers Head Coach Serge Lajoie and Victoria’s Dan Price. Each game in this series may come out as a one-goal game, making each contest exciting until the final buzzer. Despite the last meeting of the regular season, the Royals have handled themselves well against the Blazers, winning all four games on home ice.

My Pick

If it comes down to the netminders, you have to give Kamloops the advantage with Garand in net, especially the way he’s been playing, Blazers in six.

U.S. Division

(1) Everett Silvertips vs. (WC1) Tri-City Americans

The ‘Tips Finished third in the WHL behind Vancouver and Prince Albert with 99 points this season. In a season where the team was expected to take a dip following the graduation of, now-Philadelphia goaltender Carter Hart, Everett has flourished. Connor Dewar and Bryce Kindopp have been outstanding on the top line, and the addition of Zack Andrusiak from Seattle has added a huge offencive boost. However, it has been the goaltender who has once again garnered the spotlight, as Dustin Wolf has made his case for the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy for WHL Goaltender of the Year. Wolf finished first in the league in wins (41), goals-against-average (1.69), and save-percentage (.936).

Tri-City is not looking in the best of shape heading into this first round. Along with losing their final five games of the regular season, the Americans also lost 10 out of their last 11. It will be huge for Tri-City’s leading scorer, Parker AuCoin, to step up if they want any chance in this series. The Americans possess one of the best youngsters in the WHL, as Krystof Hrabik finished third in rookie scoring with 51 points. Defenceman Aaron Hyman has helped the offencive effort as well, as his 50 points his tied for 10th in blueline scoring.

Given that Everett has been so consistent this season, it will be difficult for the struggling Americans to trip them up in this series. With the tight-knit defence from the Silvertips, along with the timely scoring from their top-two lines, expect Tri-City to have their handsful on both ends of the rink. Even when Tri-Cityis able to break through for a scoring chance, they run into Dustin Wolf.

My Pick

A defencive juggernaut against a team that has struggled at times to find goals, ‘Tips in four.

(2) Spokane Chiefs vs. (3) Portland Winterhawks

Portland sure has had a very interesting season. The team started out looking to contend for a division title, and continued to impress well past the Holiday Break. Then, on February 23rd, Cody Glass suffered a gruesome-looking knee injury that ended his season. The Winterhawks have not been the same in his absence. Joachim Blichfeld continued to produce in his absence, and ended up leading the WHL in points with 114, and tied for the most goals with 53. Players such as Jake Gricius and Reece Newkirk have had to pick up the slack, but have only done so mildly with Gricius posting 61 points, while Newkirk amassed 59 points.

The Chiefs on the other hand, were able to make a late run in the final month of the season to snag home-ice advantage right from underneath the Winterhawks. Spokane went 7-2 in the month of March, and riding high heading into the playoffs. Riley Woods had a solid end to his season, as the Chiefs’ leading-scorer registered 10 points in the month of March. Ty Smith was a big player at both ends of the rink for Spokane this year, including putting up 69 points, good for fourth among WHL defencemen in scoring.

Two teams heading different directions heading into this series, the Winterhawks need to find some form of consistency if they want to knock off the Chiefs. While Blichfeld has been good, Portland will need more from their second and third line to step up. Each team took three of the six games during the regular season. However since Glass’ injury, the Chiefs have taken the last two meetings, both in Portland.

My Pick

Without the x-factor that Glass is, Blichfeld cannot carry the team himself against a hot Chiefs club. The ‘Hawks keep it close, but the Chiefs pull it out in six.

All stats and records found from the WHL and Elite Prospects.

Canada

Top Ten Drafted Prospects Vol. 1 – Hockey Canada

Tired of the prospect lists? No? Good. Here’s another series.

It’s the middle of February, but if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking of prospects just as much as you’re thinking of NHL hockey. As a result, I’ve decided to form another list looking at the future of the NHL. Only this time, I’m going to narrow it down a little bit. I’m going to be taking the top ten DRAFTED prospects and sort them into groups of 10 by country. Top 10 Canadian, American, Swedish, Finnish, etc etc. Without further ado, let’s kick things off and look at what Hockey Canada will have to offer in the future.

10. Gabriel Vilardi (C, LA Kings – 1st Round, 11th Overall in 2017)

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It’s been a tough season for Gabe Vilardi. He appeared in four games with the AHL’s Ontario Reign, registering one point, before being sidelined with a lingering back injury. It seems as though Vilardi will be out for the rest of the season, but he’s still an incredibly talented prospect who has all the tools to be a future #1 center. He has good size at 6’3 and 201lbs and is effective at both ends of the ice. Things should get back on track rather quickly for Vilardi once he recovers.

9. Evan Bouchard (D, Edmonton Oilers – 1st Round, 10th Overall in 2018)

Not a lot of people agreed with me, but at one point I had Bouchard in my top three rankings for last year’s draft. Why? There is a ton to like about him. He’s right handed, has good size at 6’2 and 198lbs, he’s good defensively, and put up 87 points in 67 junior games last year. He actually played in seven games for the Oilers this season, scoring his first NHL goal. After his NHL stint he was sent to play for Hockey Canada at the World Juniors. After notching 3 assists in 5 games in the tournament, he was sent back to the London Knights. Currently he has 44 points in 37 games playing in a top pairing role. If all goes according to plan, Bouchard will be a top notch defenseman for the Oilers in the future.

8. Philippe Myers (D, Philadelphia Flyers – Undrafted, Signed ELC in 2015)

Nota lot of people know who Philippe Myers is, and he’s well aware of it. Since going un-drafted in 2015, he’s made it his mission to make the other 30 teams (at the time) who passed on him regret their decision. The ’97 born right handed defenseman is a monster on skates at 6’5 and 209lbs and has been very effective in the AHL this season, putting up 29 points in 48 games thus far. With Myers, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg, and Ivan Provorov among others, the Flyers are more than set on the back end for years to come.

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7. Owen Tippett (RW, Florida Panthers – 1st Round, 10th Overall in 2017)

In Tippett’s draft year, the one thing that separated him from other prospects was his shot and raw goal scoring ability in general. He’s spread out his offense a little bit more this year but he’s still lighting it up with 30 goals and 64 points over 46 games. At the last World Juniors he was an offensive force for Hockey Canada, scoring 4 points in 5 games and showing off impressive offensive skills. He saw seven games of NHL action last season where he scored his first NHL goal, but has been in the juniors ever since. Having recently turned 20, Tippett will more than likely play in the AHL next year if he doesn’t make the Panthers.

6. Maxime Comtois (LW, Anaheim Ducks – 2nd Round, 50th Overall in 2017)

After a small dip in production, Comtois slipped to the second round where the Ducks pounced on him. And so far, it’s looking like a very smart decision. The Quebec native played in 10 games with the Ducks this season and impressed in that span with seven points. He then unfortunately went down with an injury before joining the AHL’s San Diego Gulls on a four game conditioning stint and then getting sent back to junior. He’s currently playing for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL where he has 39 points in 19 games with them. Seeing how he produced in his short NHL stint, Comtois will almost certainly join the Ducks full time next season.

5. Jordan Kyrou (C, St. Louis Blues – 2nd Round, 35th Overall in 2016)

After a victorious final OHL season, Kyrou joined the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s putting up points at almost a PPG pace with 37 points in 38 games thus far and has also seen 16 games of NHL action. While he only put up three points in that span, he should definitely become a top six center for the Blues in the future with the right development.

4. Nick Suzuki (C, Montreal Canadiens – 1st Round, 13th Overall in 2017 to VGK)

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Originally a first rounder of the Vegas Golden Knights, Suzuki is an incredibly talented forward with offensive ability oozing out in every category. In what will more than likely be his final OHL season, he has 77 points in 51 games split between the Owen Sound Attack and the Guelph Storm. Whether he begins next season in the NHL or the AHL next season is a mystery, but regardless in the long run he’s going to give the Canadiens a significant boost up front.

3. Morgan Frost (C, Philadelphia Flyers – 1st Round, 27th Overall in 2017)

Frost was originally projected to be a second round pick in 2017, but the Flyers took a chance and selected him at 27th overall and so far, it’s looking like a very, very good pick. Frost has been all over the scoresheet this season, with 103 points in 53 games for the OHL’s Sault St. Marie Greyhounds and eight points in five games for Hockey Canada at the World Juniors. With totals like these, it’s hard to believe Frost won’t be in the NHL next season.

2. Cody Glass (C, Vegas Golden Knights – 1st Round, 6th Overall in 2017)

Cody Glass made headlines in 2017 as the first ever draft pick in the history of the Vegas Golden Knights organization. And so far, it’s looking like Vegas might have drafted their future #1 center. Glass is likely in his final season in the OHL, and he’s currently in the process of tearing up the WHL with 69 points in 38 games with the Portland Winterhawks. The 6’2 right handed center also put up six points in five games with Team Canada at the World Juniors. Like Frost, it’s hard to believe that Glass won’t be in the NHL next season.

1. Cale Makar (D, Colorado Avalanche – 1st Round, 4th Overall in 2017)

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It’s incredibly early to be making Calder Trophy predictions for the 2019-20 season. Aside from the obvious contenders such as Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, there is… another. Yes, I believe that Cale Makar will easily be in the running for the Calder Trophy. Mark my words. Not a lot of Canadians play in the NCAA during their development, but Makar is and he’s doing more than making his name known. He currently has 36 points in 31 games for UMass-Amherst this season and hasn’t slowed down one bit. While all of the attention in Colorado goes to their top line of Landeskog, Mackinnon, and Rantanen, next year you’ll be seeing the cameras on Makar.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time where I’ll go over the top ten drafted American prospects.

All stats used provided by HockeyDB.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Josh Tessler

Vegas Golden Knights

Top Ten Prospects Vol. 29 – Vegas Golden Knights

Welcome back to my top ten prospect series.

I know it’s been an incredibly long time since I posted one of these. It’s been a hectic month. But things are back on track. Last time, we took a look at the Vancouver Canucks top ten prospects, highlighting the Canucks top ten were Quinn Hughes, Olli Juolevi, and Thatcher Demko. Today, we’re going to be having a look at the brand new Vegas Golden Knights farm system. Without further ado, let’s dive in and have a look.

1. Cody Glass (C, 1st Round, 6th Overall in 2017)

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Making headlines as the first draft pick in the history of the Vegas Golden Knights, Glass is looking like a good one. He’s been tearing up the WHL ever since he was drafted and will be in the pros next season without a doubt. Glass has 69 points in 38 games this season, and if his development goes smoothly, he could very well end up being the Knights’ future number one centre.

2. Nic Hague (D, 2nd Round, 34th Overall in 2017)

The Knights drafted the hulking 6’6 defenseman in the second round despite the fact that he was originally projected to be a first round pick. With Glass, Brannstrom, Nick Suzuki (since traded to Montreal) and Hague, Vegas slayed their first draft. Hague is currently in his first pro season with the Chicago Wolves and has 23 points in 53 games thus far.

3. Lucas Elvenes (C, 5th Round, 127th Overall in 2017)

With all of the hype over their picks in the first two rounds of the 2017 draft, the Knights might have discovered another gem in Lucas Elvenes. The 6’1 Swedish centre is currently in his second full season with Rogle BK of the SHL and has put up 16 points in 34 games thus far. It’s entirely possible that the Knights could give Elvenes a closer look in North America next season if they feel he’s ready for it.

4. Xavier Bouchard (D, 6th Round, 185th Overall in 2018)

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A late round pick in 2018 after having a decent second season with Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL, Bouchard has completely revamped his offensive game this year and is having a career season, putting up 42 points in 51 games this year. Given the fact that he’s 18 years old and is 6’4 with a right handed shot, Bouchard is suddenly a very attractive prospect for Vegas and could be given an extra look in the future.

5. Dylan Coghlan (D, Undrafted, Signed in 2018)

After a successful senior season in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans, Coghlan earned himself an entry level contract from the Vegas Golden Knights and is off to a great start in his first pro season. In 45 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, Coghlan has 26 points. He has good size at 6’2 and shoots right-handed, which will likely work in his favour as he pushes for a spot on the Golden Knights’ roster.

6. Slava Demin (D, 4th Round, 99th Overall in 2018)

Demin earned himself a selection after a solid sophomore season with the Wenatchee Wild of the BCHL, and is currently having a great year with the University of Denver. He’s currently riding a 13 point campaign through 29 games, and given the fact that he’s 18 years old these totals are very good. He will likely remain playing college hockey for the next three or four years and look to improve his game each year with the hope of eventually earning an entry level contract.

7. Ben Jones (C, 7th Round, 189th Overall in 2017)

Jones is a speedy centre who’s steadily gotten better every season. He’s been playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs from the minute they drafted him, and Jones has really broken out offensively this year with 90 points in 59 games thus far. He has the option to return to the OHL for his overage season next year, but it’s entirely possible that Vegas gives him a look in the AHL next season.

8. Peter Diliberatore (D, 6th Round, 180th Overall in 2018)

Diliberatore didn’t have much of a scouting report on him when Vegas took him in the 6th round, given that he was drafted out of high school. He’s playing for Quinnipiac University this year however and is having a very good season. The 5’11 left handed defenseman has 15 points in 32 games, solid totals for his age. He will likely remain at school for a few years before the Golden Knights give him a shot at the pros, but his totals are promising thus far.

9. Jack Dugan (LW, 5th Round, 142nd Overall in 2017)

Originally drafted out of high school in 2017, Dugan spent a season in the USHL before making his college debut this year with Providence College of the NCAA. Dugan has a very good 28 points in 32 games this season and has a few years left to play out in college if he doesn’t join the Knights’ before that.

10. Ivan Morozov (C, 2nd Round, 61st Overall in 2018)

Morozov is a skilled Russian centre who has split time between the MHL, VHL, and KHL this season (Russia’s version of the CHL, AHL, and NHL respectively) and has been pretty solid. His totals aren’t exactly mind blowing, having not registered a single point in 11 KHL games, but he’s still young and could just be a long-term overseas project for the Golden Knights.

Thanks for reading! Tune in next time where we’ll go over the Washington Capitals top ten prospects.

stats from eliteprospects.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Canada

World Junior Championship Preview: Team Canada

Hockey Canada, the defending World Junior Champions are back again this season, and they have raided North America for the best talent, and have put together a roster that is stacked with NHL prospects and eventual draftees.

Hockey Canada knows how important this tournament is in the development of talent in Canada. Canada has won the most gold medals in the tournament with 17, and have won the second most sliver medals behind Sweden and Russia/Soviet Union. The Canadians, all-time, are 198-47-8 along with 21 ties in the tournament. They have been the precedent that other countries strive to be, and consistently have been favourites going into every tournament.

Great Expectations

No, not the Charles Dickens novel.

With amount of success that Canada has had, there is no question that they are expected to perform well in the WJC. Especially after two separate five-peats in the tournament (1993-1997, 2005-2009), experts and fans alike expect to Canada to be in the Gold Medal Game. Of course when you are pumping talent through such as Sidney Crosby, PK Subban, Connor McDavid, and many others, there is plenty of merit into believing that Canada is a favourite to win. This is why when the Canadians fall short, the tournament is looked upon as a failure. There is no question that it is a lot of pressure to be on such young talent. However, it sometimes brings out the best in these players. With plenty of talent up-and-down the roster, there are plenty of expectations for this year’s team.

Who to Watch For

Ian Scott

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Of the two goaltenders Team Canada possesses, Tim Hunter has quite the coin flip on who should start. However, it would be unfair if he did not give Scott a fair chance in group play. The Toronto prospect is a very quick, side-to-side moving net-minder. He is quick to get into position, and uses his size to take away net from the shooters. His puck playing abilities are also exceptional, and he showed that off as he scored a goal back on November 16. Scott has almost came out of nowhere, as have the rest of the Prince Albert Raiders. He is 23-2-0-1 this season, with his 23 wins being second in the WHL. His 1.61 GAA and .943 SV% are best in the league. It looked like Michael DiPietro may have been the shoe-in starter for the tournament, but they way Scott has played this season, he has definitely made his case why he should be the number one guy.

Josh Brook

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Moose Jaw sent a real playmaker in Josh Brook. The Montreal prospect has incredible vision in the offencive zone. His passing is pin point, and when he can get his heavy shot away, it spells trouble for the opposition. His size really helps him in his own end, as he uses it to clear out the front of the net, and outwork forechecking opponents. This year, the Warriors’ captain is fourth in defencemen in the WHL, and his nine goals tie him for most by a d-man. He will be put out on the ice in almost every situation for Canada.

Noah Dobson

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The New York Islanders made a wise decision regarding their future when the selected Dobson in the first-round this past summer. An extremely skilled defenceman, Dobson is also a very smart player as well. In the offencive zone, he is able to see the play develop, and make plays that some other defencemen will not make. On the defencive end, he reads the play exceptionally well and makes it difficult for teams to enter the zone cleanly. His shot is very accurate from the point, as he is able to shoot around screens and on net. Despite playing a very poor Bathurst team this season, Dobson is still one of the top scorers on Titan. His plus-minus over his three year ‘Q’ career is also worth noting. He is a -30 this season, however his career total is still a +37, as he was +34 in his rookie season, and a +33 last season on his way to the Memorial Cup.

Morgan Frost

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The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are back towards the top of the standings in OHL’s Western Conference, thanks in large part to the play of their star centre. Frost has very quick hands and very accurate wrist shot. His quickness and agility gives him the ability to put himself in position for a quality scoring chance. His vision with the puck superb, he can fit a pass into a tight spot where some players will even think to look. Frost is third in scoring the OHL with 58 points. He leads the league in helpers with 38 assists this season. He is also dominant in the face-off circle as his 390 wins on the dot are good for fifth in the league. Watch for Frost to play down on the half-boards on the Canadian power play.

Alexis Lafreniere

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The youngest player on this year’s squad, Lafreniere has made his case why he should be allowed to play with the older kids on the world’s stage. For a 17 year-old, Lafreniere has the confidence of a 21 year-old. His hands are just lightning quick, especially in tight in the slot. He will look in trouble against a defenceman at one point, then find himself in the open with a scoring chance the next. He has a firm shot to go along with it, he can pick corners, and the find the tiniest holes left by the opposing goaltender. This season with Rimouski, he is tied for fourth in QMJHL scoring with 54 points, and second in assists with 37 helpers. He played for Canada in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup this past summer and was phenomenal, tied for the lead in tournament in scoring with five goals and six assists en route to Canada’s gold medal.

Cody Glass

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Another terrific playmaker for Team Canada. Glass has continuously improved in his now fourth full season in the WHL. Glass has amazing vision when he has the puck in the opposition’s zone. He will find an open man, even if nobody else can see them. His speed allows him to open up space for himself to create, and even finish, scoring chances. Despite being an outstanding passer, his shot is almost as impressive. It is very hard and the puck will go exactly where he wants it to. After scoring 102 points last season with Portland, Glass is on pace to go over his total from last year. In only 26 games, he as 12 goals and 42 assists for 54 points, which is still tied for fourth in the league, despite him not playing a game for the Winterhawks in almost a month.

Roster

Goaltenders

Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires, OHL)

Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)

Defence

Evan Bouchard (London Knights, OHL)

Josh Brook (Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL)

Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan, QMJHL)

Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)

Ian Mitchell (Denver Pioneers, NCAA)

Markus Phillips (Owen Sound Attack, OHL)

Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs, WHL)

Forwards

Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Spokane Chiefs, WHL)

Shane Bowers (Boston Terriers, NCAA)

Maxime Comtois (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL)

MacKenzie Entwistle (Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL)

Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)

Cody Class (Portland Winterhawks, WHL)

Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL)

Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic, QMJHL)

Brett Leason (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)

Jack Studnicka (Oshawa Generals, OHL)

Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack, OHL)

Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

Joseph Valeno (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL)

Schedule

Dec. 26 vs. Denmark (8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT)

Dec. 27 vs. Switzerland (8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT)

Dec. 29 vs. Czech Republic (8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT)

Dec. 31 vs. Russia (8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT)

All stats found on eliteprospects.com

All records found on iihf.com

Featured Image Photo Credit – Pixabay.com