It’s been a couple weeks since the Vegas Golden Knights were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the San Jose Sharks, but their position in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft remained a mystery.
At least until Wednesday night.
With San Jose beating the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 to advance to the Western Conference Final, the Golden Knights are officially locked in with the No. 17 overall selection in this year’s draft. Had Colorado defeated San Jose, Vegas would have earned the No. 16 overall selection.
Some notable players selected No. 17 overall in past drafts include Mathew Barzal, Tomas Hertl, Jake Gardiner and Zach Parise, to name a few.
Now that we know where the Golden Knights will make their first-round selection, who could they end up picking? At this point, it’s impossible to say for sure. However, there are a few prospects likely to be available in the middle of the first round that may entice the Knights.
Does that last name look familiar? It should. Suzuki, the younger brother of former Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki, could be an option for Vegas at No. 17. Suzuki led the OHL’s Barrie Colts with 25 goals and 75 points in 65 games. Barrie’s second-leading point-getter, defenseman Tyler Tucker, trailed Suzuki by 16 points.
Suzuki isn’t quite the player his older brother figures to be, but he does project to be an effective playmaker in the NHL. If he’s availabe when the Knights are on the clock, it wouldn’t be shocking if they called his name.
The Golden Knights love players with size, and Lavoie brings that to the table. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound forward had a solid regular season for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads (32 goals, 73 points in 62 games), but is coming off a particularly impressive performance in the postseason. Through 21 playoff games, the Montreal native has netted a whopping 19 goals and 30 points. This leads all Halifax skaters by 11 points.
Lavoie has an early birthday and will be 19 by the time the regular season begins. However, his size and scoring ability make him an attractive option at No. 17.
Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will turn 35 in November and become an unrestricted free agent ahead of the 2022-23 season. He clearly has plenty of fuel left in the tank, but it may not be a bad idea to draft his eventual replacement now.
Knight, with a last name fitting for a spot on Vegas’ roster, is the best goalie prospect available in this year’s draft. And while goalies aren’t typically taken in the first round, he may be a rare exception. Knight was downright sensational for Team USA in the IIHF World U18 Championship and was also very impressive for the U.S. National U18 Team (2.36 GAA, .913 save percentage in 33 games). Vegas may not be all that crazy about picking a goaltender in the first round, but Knight could be worth the risk.