The Vegas Golden Knights don’t draft until the second round in this year’s draft, but there will still be value to be found there. With the 61st overall pick, the Golden Knights have multiple options who could help the team in the future.
Presented below are the five best options for the Golden Knights. Although, who knows. That pick might be part of the Erik Karlsson trade package.
Sean Durzi, D, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
40 games played, 15-34—49 (11 playoff games played, 4-12—16).
Durzi is an overage prospect in for his second draft at age 19. He was a top-pairing player for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL, and delivered on the point production. He’s had to deal with an ankle injury the past few seasons, explaining why he wasn’t drafted last season, but his ability to dominate in juniors is remarkable, and he’s sticking out in more than a few scouts’ eyes.
He’ll be 20 at the start of the season, meaning Durzi can become a member of the Chicago Wolves’ roster immediately, providing more depth to the Golden Knights’ pipeline.
He’s a sound defensive player, taking away shooting lanes and using his stick well, all while closing gaps consistently. He’s small, standing just 6’0”, and he isn’t often physical. He can sometimes get hemmed in along the boards because of his size, which can be a problem.
He’s a great backwards skater and does well side-to-side, but he needs a bit more growth skating forwards.
What makes him a great pick is his abilities offensively — he has all the tools required, including a solid shot, the ability to find room and get past defenders, and excellent passing. He is able to get into the play and can force shots from close in, as well as quarterback a power play.
Niklas Nordgren, RW, HIFK (Liiga)
HIFK U20: 28 games played, 13-29—42 (10 playoff games played, 6-4—10).
HIFK: 15 games played, 0-3—3.
Nordgren was a member of HIFK U20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga, the top juniors league in Finland, for the majority of the 2017-18 season. That team won third place, and Nordgren’s production was a big part of it. Nordgren was also part of the U18 World Junior Championship All-Star team, along with names like Oliver Wahlstrom and Jack Hughes.
He’s an excellent playmaker, but is a bit on the small side at 5’9”. In a league adapting more to smaller players, however, he can still be useful. He’s a primary creator, with elite passing, excellent skills with the puck, and stunning vision.
He can also get to the dirty areas, and hustles to make up for less than graceful skating. As a member of a European club, he can come over to North America almost immediately (or when ready) to transition his game. He’ll need to add weight and work a little bit on simplifying his game, but Nordgren might be the best forward available when the Golden Knights draft.
Milos Roman, C, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
39 games played, 10-22—32 (7 playoff games played, 3-3—6).
Roman is a two-way division, one who can shut down offenses and create chances at the other end. He’s unselfish, often thinking pass-first, and can make plays without space. He’s better at edge-work than straightforward skating, but he’s good (not great) in that respect as well.,
He also plays responsible defense, and has a good shot, when he chooses to use it. He underwhelmed a little in a shortened season, but he looked good in the playoffs and there is a significant chance of an uptick. In his age-17 season, Roman played against grown men in the second flight of Czech Republic hockey and looked good.
He should be a big part of Slovakia’s hockey future, and could very well be an NHL player as well, one able to play a 200-foot game and be a productive middle-six center.
Liam Foudy, C, London Knights (OHL)
65 games played, 24-16—40 (4 playoff games played, 1-1—2).
Sticking with the speed of the modern game and that the Knights have within the organization, Liam Foudy would be an excellent pick. Foudy was actually a member of the London Knights this season, and was promoted mid-way through after the Knights traded some of their players. As a result, his first- and second-half numbers are considerably different.
He’s got a good shot, which helps him score goals, but so does his blazing speed. Foudy is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft class, can move with or without the puck, and showed an increased ability to pass and set up shots as the season went on.
He’s more of a two-way forward, someone who can play on both special teams units, but is perhaps better on the PK. That speed can be incredibly useful in the transition game, and it shouldlead to significant chances of his own.
And what a pedigreee! His father, Sean, was a CFL veteran, and his mother, France Gareau, was an Olympic sprinter.
Stanislav Demin, D, Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)
57 games played, 9-36—45 (20 playoff games played, 2-5—7).
Demin is an American defenseman who’s gone through a journey hockey-wise. He played with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and then went up to the BCHL, one of the lower level Canadian junior circuits, playing hockey in Washington state. He was one of the best defensemen in that league, though, and that looks good for his track record.
He needs to find more consistency, as his defensive tendencies need work and he can sometimes disappear on the ice. However, Demin is good at moving the puck, can lead a rush up the ice, and has good skating for a 6’2” defenseman. His stick-checking ability is also quite good for a player of his age. He’s a relative project in terms of a second-round pick, but late second-round picks are not made for immediate impact.
He’ll head to Denver University next season, and while they’ve lost head coach Jim Montgomery to the Dallas Stars, they do have a good history of developing defensive talent. Demin could be the next prospect from that system.