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7 prospects to watch during Golden Knights rookie camp

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The kids are coming to town!

Vegas Golden Knights v Vancouver Canucks

The Golden Knights unveiled the official roster for next month’s rookie camp Friday, which begins on Sept. 6. All of Vegas’ top prospects, including Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki and many others, will be in town to make their case for a roster spot.

Here’s a look at the full rookie camp roster:

In all, 26 prospects will be attending rookie camp. Of those 26, though, there are only several who have a legitimate shot at making the Golden Knights’ roster in the not-too-distant future. Many of these prospects are still a year or two (if not more) away from earning a full-time role in the NHL, but these are the names you’ll want to remember as the rookies showcase how far they’ve come over their last year of development.

Erik Brannstrom, D

Brannstrom isn’t far off from carving out a spot on Vegas’ roster. Granted, it doesn’t appear likely that will happen this summer, but there’s a lot to like about the soon-to-be 19-year-old (his birthday is Sept. 2). The former first-round draft selection is an elite skater with terrific playmaking ability in the offensive zone. He sees the ice incredibly well and is bound to quarterback a power play at some point down the road. Brannstrom is no physical specimen by any means, but that doesn’t hold him back from playing a solid defensive game. His speed and tenacity more than make up for his lack of size. Against grown men, Brannstrom scored two goals and 15 points in 44 SHL games last season. At just 18 years old, that’s certainly nothing to dismiss.

Nick Suzuki, F

Suzuki, like Brannstrom, is a bit on the smaller side, but makes up for it with his intelligence and uncanny playmaking ability. The 19-year-old registered 42 goals and 100 points (fourth in the OHL) for the Owen Sound Attack last season, leading the team in scoring by a whopping 31 points. Suzuki was particularly impressive during the World Junior Summer Showcase, where he put his deadly shot on full display.

Suzuki still has some bulking up to do, but he figures to be an exciting player at the next level.

Cody Glass, F

All eyes will surely be on Glass at rookie camp — not much of a shocker considering he was the sixth overall selection in the NHL Entry Draft a year ago. Glass, 19, is coming off an impressive 37-goal, 102-point campaign with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, so it’s no surprise that many believe he could be ready for the NHL as soon as this season. He clearly checks the box offensively, but his solid two-way play is what really made him such a high draft selection. He’ll need to really dominate both in rookie camp and training camp to make the roster, but another year in the WHL would do Glass no harm as he prepares for his first season in the NHL.

Nicolas Hague, D

Hague wasn’t named the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman of the year by accident. As captain for the Mississauga Steelheads last season, Hague led all OHL defensemen with 35 goals and also led the Steelheads with 78 points through 67 games. Though he’s inconsistent defensively, the 6-foot-6, 214-pound defender possesses a cannon of a shot from the blue line and projects to be a solid point producer at the next level. Hague is expected to begin the season with the Chicago Wolves, and it’s possible we could see him in a Knights uniform as early as this year so long as he continues to work on his defensive game.

Lucas Elvenes, F

Elvenes has been a pleasant surprise for the Golden Knights. After being selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Elvenes put together a fantastic campaign in Sweden last season. In 28 games with the SHL’s Rögle BK, Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points and averaged over a point per game for Allsvenskan’s IK Oskarshamn. He figures to play an even larger role in the SHL this season as a 19-year-old and could turn out to be a heck of a find for George McPhee and company. With a solid camp, Elvenes’ stock should rise even further than it already has.

Zach Whitecloud, D

Whitecloud isn’t the flashiest of prospects, but he definitely seems to have a future with the Golden Knights. Signed as an undrafted free agent in March, the 21-year-old defenseman tallied four goals and 19 points for Bemidji State University last season and led the team with 51 blocked shots. Whitecloud is no offensive dynamo, but he plays a responsible defensive game and could see some time in the NHL this season. He played in one game for the Golden Knights last season, finishing the night with a plus-3 rating in 16:42 of ice time.

A quick scouting report from George McPhee following Whitecloud’s signing:

He’s a mobile defenseman who moves the puck real well. He’s a safe player right now, we think he plays kind of conservatively. We believe that he could give us a lot more offensively and there’s lots of room for growth there, so I like that his base attributes are that he’s good, safe and conservative. And if we can build the offense into his game, that could be a pretty good player.

Ben Jones, F

Jones is such an intriguing prospect. Selected in the seventh round of last year’s draft, Jones opened a lot of eyes last season by potting 30 goals while ranking third on the Niagara IceDogs (not including Sam Miletic, who was traded to Niagara midway through the season) with 79 points in 68 contests. He may never make as much of an impact as prospects like Glass or Suzuki, but he’s proving to have a higher ceiling than many thought when he was originally drafted.