At minimum, Cody Glass will hold one important distinction forever—that of the Vegas Golden Knights' first ever NHL Draft pick. But that is an event lodged firmly in the past and the future is what matters for the 18-year-old Portland Winterhawks center.
After beginning the 2016-17 campaign with little fanfare, Glass used his speed and cerebral style of play to rocket up the draft board, culminating in a 94-point campaign in just 69 games (his 1.36 points per game ranked 12th in the Western Hockey League last year, just .03 below Nolan Patrick). Unlike many players his age, Glass has a strong two-way game and possesses above-average decision-making skills.
The young center-ice man also saw significant time on the powerplay last season, ranking second on the Winterhawks with 27 power-play points (9-18—27). His special teams prowess extended to keeping his team out of shorthanded situations as well, as his 0.53 penalty minutes per contest was the lowest mark among the 12 highest scoring Winterhawks last year.
It is also worthwhile to keep in mind that Glass plays for former Penguins head coach Mike Johnston in Portland, someone who has historically preached defense above offense, making his 94-point outburst all the more impressive.
Take a look at some of his highlights from a game earlier in the season:
The main takeaway, which is most noticeable on his first two goals, is that he possesses a combination of tenacity and pure hockey sense. From winning a board battle to skating exactly where he needed to be for the eventual tap-in, Glass shows that he thinks the game at a level that borders on NHL-ready.
We'll pause for a moment right here to temper some expectations, as Vegas Golden Knights' fans should not expect to see Glass on NHL ice for, at minimum, another season. This is for a few reasons: first, at 6-foot-2 and 179 pounds, the Winnipeg native could stand to benefit from adding additional strength — it is one thing squaring off against other teenagers, staring down Dustin Byfuglien is a whole 'nother monster. Second, it would likely not be wise for the Knights to burn one of his entry-level contract years when they would most likely be playoff outsiders. In fact, it would not be terribly surprising for Glass to spend another two years in the WHL. Unfortunately, the deal in place between the three branches of the CHL and the NHL forbids a player under the age of 20 from playing in the AHL, so Glass would be stuck plying his trade against increasingly inferior competition.
Using NHL Equivalency calculations, (article here, calculator here), Glass could reasonably put up about 30 points across a full NHL season were he to debut now. Although that is mighty impressive for an 18-year-old, there is still a fair amount of seasoning the young man could use before he is a full-time Golden Knight. Plus, what is the fun of being in Vegas when you are under 21 anyway?
Verdict: In case of danger, do not break Glass' ELC. Let the man bulk up a bit and refine his skills, and then tackle the NHL as a 20-year-old future second-line center.
The kid has also got one heck of a story, but it is not mine to tell. If you have a spare six minutes or so, check out the following video from Sportsnet: