Vegas added a winger and three defensemen with its four combined fifth- and sixth-round picks at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The Golden Knights selected winger Brandon Kruse (No. 135 overall) and defenseman Connor Corcoran (No. 154 overall) in the fifth round as well as defensemen Peter Diliberatore (No. 180 overall) and Xavier Bouchard (No. 185 overall) in the sixth round.
Kruse is a small winger, listed by the Knights at 5-foot-9 and 154 pounds. The 19-year-old overage prospect from Bowling Green State University shares the same alma mater as Golden Knights general manager George McPhee. Kruse registered 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists) in 41 games for Bowling Green this past season.
There is not a whole lot out there on Kruse, but like the Golden Knights’ fourth-round pick in Paul Cotter, Kruse hails from the state of Michigan. In fact, Kruse and Cotter were teammates in the 2016-17 season with the Brooking Blizzard of the North American Hockey League.
Corcoran, a 17-year-old right-handed defenseman, stands at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds and describes himself as a “simple player” who tries to model his game after Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. Corcoran registered 24 points (3-21—24) in 63 games with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League this past season.
Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers describes Corcoran, known as a defensive defenseman, as “a two-way defender who is a very good skater with excellent straight-line speed and very good mobility.” Corcoran also has a bit of a physical edge to his game and is apparently a good gap control player, too, which makes him sound like a promising prospect.
There is also some familiarity with Corcoran in the Knights’ organization because he played for Chicago Wolves head coach Rocky Thompson while he was with the Spitfires. He credits Thompson for accelerating his development.
Corcoran is expected to attend Golden Knights development camp next week.
With their first selection in the sixth round, the Knights drafted another defenseman in Diliberatore, who is committed to play at Quinnipiac University next season. The 5-foot-11, 161-pound rearguard is from Bedford, Nova Scotia and registered 17 points (4-13—17) in 28 games with Salisbury Prep last year.
Jeff Cox of SBN College Hockey considers Diliberatore’s strengths to be “mobility, feet, shots from the point, vision in transition and power play quarterback,” while he lists “defensive zone play/positioning, gaps, lacks ‘pro’ size” as his main weaknesses.
Diliberatore should have plenty of time to develop at Quinnipiac, and it’s likely to be a few years until we even see his name surface in the Golden Knights organization.
Bouchard had a rough sophomore season with Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL), registering 21 points (3-18—21) and a minus-30 rating in 65 games.
The 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenseman is said to be a smart hockey player, though, so there is reason for optimism that the 18-year-old Quebec native can bounce back at the junior level next season. Bouchard also will attend Vegas’ development camp next week.