It’s about that time. The 2019 NHL Entry Draft is less than a week away and the Vegas Golden Knights, after not having a first-round selection in last year’s draft, are set to make the No. 17 overall pick.
But who will the Knights select? There are a number of possibilities. Here’s a breakdown of each player likely to be on the Golden Knights’ radar, sorted in alphabetical order.
If there’s one trait that particularly fits the Golden Knights’ system, it’s speed. And Newhook certainly does not lack speed. Newhook is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft, and it won’t be a huge surprise if he’s available at No. 17.
There’s a reason he may still be on the board when the Knights make their selection, though, and that’s likely due to the fact that he’s coming from the BCHL. In comparison, the level of competition of the CHL or USHL is far superior to the BCHL, and some teams may be uncertain about Newhook’s ability to play in a more competitive league.
But Newhook didn’t just play well in the BCHL — he absolutely dominated. In 53 games, the Newfoundland native scored 38 goals and 102 points as captain of the Victoria Grizzlies. And against better competition in the U18 World Championship, he finished the tournament with five goals and as many assists in seven games.
He may not be the biggest forward (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), but Newhook is a dynamic skater with a ton of skill. He has committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, so he’ll have a great opportunity to prove the doubters wrong in the college ranks.
Another player lacking ideal size, but makes up for it with excellent puck skills and hockey sense. At 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, don’t expect Bobby Brink to knock your socks off with his physical play (or lack thereof), but his abilities in the offensive zone are nothing short of remarkable.
Brink just finished up his final season with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, tallying 35 goals and 68 points in 43 games. Despite missing 19 regular-season games, he still ended the season ranked fourth in scoring and third in average points per game with 1.58 (trailing only Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte).
Brink is headed to the University of Denver next season and figures to play a significant role for the Pioneers. Based on what we’ve seen from him in the USHL, he may end up being one of the more exciting players in college hockey.
The Golden Knights already have a pretty healthy amount of young defenders in the pipeline. Nicolas Hague, Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt all look to have real potential as future NHLers. Still, that shouldn’t keep the Knights from drafting another defenseman if a blueliner winds up being the best player on the board.
Cam York is one defender the Knights may have an eye on. The University of Michigan commit is coming off a big season for the United States NTDP, scoring 14 goals and 65 points in 63 games. York sees the ice very well (this is evidenced by his 51 assists this past season) and possesses a good shot from the point.
Like Newhook and Brink, York is a bit on the smaller side. At just 5-foot-11 and 172 pounds, he could stand to add some extra muscle — especially as a defender. That said, his game is not dependent on physicality. York is what many consider an “offensive-minded” defenseman. He may not dish out big hits or clear out the crease as well as most bigger defenders, but he’s a dynamic puck mover capable of quarterbacking a power play at the next level. Everything he does is very calculated, and it’s quite uncommon to see him make a play that winds up harming his team.
Seider played in Germany’s top professional league (DEL) this past season, scoring two goals and six points in 29 regular-season games. In the postseason, Seider seemed to step his game up a bit (at least in terms of scoring). In 14 playoff games, he registered five assists and a plus-6 rating while helping his team win the DEL championship. He also earned DEL rookie of the year honors.
Another good puck-moving defenseman. Unlike Cam York, though, Seider has optimal size for a defender — 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds as an 18-year-old immediately catches a scout’s attention. Even at that size, Seider skates very well and often joins in on the rush when the opportunity presents itself. While he can contribute offensively, he truly shines in the defensive zone, using his size and smarts to limit scoring chances for the opposition.
It’s not often that German prospects go in the first round of the draft, but Seider is worthy. Our own David Ciss wrote a more detailed scouting report on Seider earlier this month. You can read that here.
Krebs is coming off a big season for a bad Kootenay Ice club. In 64 games, the Calgary native scored 19 goals and 68 points — which led the team by a significant margin — as a 17-year-old team captain.
Not long ago, some considered Krebs worthy of being a top-10 pick. However, he suffered a torn Achilles while training earlier this month, which will all but certainly impact where he gets taken in the draft. According to The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, he will likely miss training camp and return to action early in the regular season.
It may behoove the Golden Knights to take Krebs at No. 17 if he is still on the board. Though it is unfortunate that he could out of commission for a while, the odds of him playing in the NHL next season would be slim to begin with. Krebs still needs some additional time to develop, though he already does possess some excellent tools — his vision in the offensive zone is outstanding and he can skate with some of the best prospects in this year’s draft. Plus, he plays a responsible 200-foot game, which fits the mold of what the Knights like in their forwards.
Lavoie underachieved in his draft year, but he certainly made up for it in the postseason. After scoring 32 goals and 73 points in 62 games for the Halifax Mooseheads in the regular season, Lavoie went on a 23-game rampage in the playoffs, netting 20 goals and assisting on 12 others before his team fell to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for the Memorial Cup.
Lavoie is a bigger forward (6-foot-4 and nearly 200 pounds) capable of scoring from just about anywhere on the ice. While his shot is dangerous, he is just as capable of creating plays rather than finishing them. Despite towering over many of his opponents, Lavoie doesn’t play the most physical game, but he is still effective away from the puck thanks to his wingspan.
I projected Lavoie to the Golden Knights in the 2019 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft. You can read more about Lavoie here.
The Golden Knights drafted Suzuki’s older brother Alex in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Who’s to say they won’t draft another Suzuki at No. 17?
There’s a lot to like about Ryan Suzuki. He’s one of the best playmakers available in the draft and plays a solid two-way game. He was far and away the best player on a weak Barrie Colts team this past season, scoring 25 goals and 75 points in 65 games, which led the team in scoring by a considerable margin.
At 6-foot and 180 pounds, you likely won’t see Suzuki lay the body very often. But that hasn’t kept him from playing a sound game away from the puck. Suzuki sees the ice incredibly well and was even trusted to play on the penalty kill this past season for the Colts.
I wrote a more in-depth analysis of Suzuki’s game last week. You can read that here.
Even at 34 years old, Marc-Andre Fleury remains one of the best goaltenders in hockey. Still, it may be in the Golden Knights’ best interest to prepare for life without Fleury.
Spencer Knight is the best goalie available in this year’s draft and arguably the best American goalie prospect in years — possibly ever. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound 18-year-old is coming off a very good season, logging a 2.36 goals against average and .913 save percentage in 33 games with the United States NTDP. Knight was even better in the U18 World Championship, logging a 1.51 GAA and .936 Sv% in six games. Knight is ridiculously quick and moves around the crease with ease. You don’t usually see Knight make the eye-catching, highlight-reel saves, but that’s often due to the fact that he is always square to the puck and rarely gets caught out of position.
Goalies aren’t taken in the first round too often these days, but Knight is certainly worthy of a first-round selection. The Golden Knights lack a truly promising goalie prospect, but drafting Knight would immediately change that.
If his surname is any indicator, Knight could be an excellent fit in Vegas.
There’s no guarantee that Podkolzin will even be on the board when the Golden Knights make their selection. The 17-year-old has already established himself as one of the better European prospects in the draft, and it’s possible that he could end up being a top-10 pick.
His contract situation, however, makes things a bit interesting. Podkolzin still has two years remaining on his contract with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg, meaning he will not be able to cross the pond until the 2021-22 season. Some teams may be turned off by these circumstances, causing him to fall in the draft.
Podkolzin is capable of playing in any given situation — 5-on-5, power play, penalty kill — and was sensational in last summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Though his contract situation isn’t ideal, waiting a couple years for his arrival would certainly be worth it. If, and this is a big if, he is still on the board at No. 17, Vegas would be crazy not to pull the trigger. But considering the Knights’ need to unload some contracts, it’s also possible they could ultimately trade up — perhaps for a player like Podkolzin.
Soderstrom isn’t the biggest defenseman (just 6-foot, 183 pounds), but his resume is impressive.
The 18-year-old played most of the season against grown professionals in the SHL with Brynäs IF, logging four goals and seven points in 44 games. He also played a significant role for Sweden’s gold medal-winning U18 team. He is a very good puck-moving defenseman with some excellent mitts, but also plays much bigger than his size indicates. Though isn’t the most physical blueliner, Soderstrom is a formidable defender with a good stick and doesn’t shy away from contact.
Soderstrom still has one year remaining on his contract with Brynäs. The extra year of seasoning in the SHL should be good for him as he continues to add muscle and play against quality competition in the Sweden’s top professional league.